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Archive for the ‘Praying the Psalms’ Category

Who Has Whose Hand?

When we see an adult, with child of 5 or 6 years old, holding hands as they cross the street – we know who is holding whose hand.

But add 50-55 years to that scene – and now, who has whose hand?

I remember clearly a pastor we had once mentioning during a sermon something about God being at Jesus’ right hand. Now, we all know that Jesus is at God’s right hand, and I know he saw my puzzled look because as we made eye contact, I saw a slight smile come across his face as he continued talking about God at Jesus’ right hand…

Until… he got past the crucifixion, past the resurrection, and to Hebrews 12:2 where he read, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” And then I understood.

God was on Jesus’ right hand in mission, and Jesus is on God’s right hand in Glory!

That’s been nearly 25 years ago, and I still think of it. (I have notebooks full of notes from his sermons!) I’ve also thought of it several times this year as I’ve studied the Psalms. It’s amazing to me the number of times David has said, “You (God) take my right hand…” (Psalms 16:8; 73:23; 109:31 for example) and then the times he has said, “Let me (David) take Your (God’s) right hand…” (Psalms 17:7; 18:35 for example – actually there are some 35+ Psalms that mention God’s right hand…)

And so we ask, “Who has whose hand?”

Sometimes David has God’s right hand, and sometimes God has David’s right hand… what’s the difference? It’s certainly not that when God has David’s right hand (the hand of strength) that David is “taking care” of God.

It’s the fact that sometimes God is the strength at our right hand (putting us to work) and sometimes He comforts and protects us by keeping us at His right hand (when we’re too weak to work.)

It’s always God’s strength and salvation, it’s just that sometimes He holds our hand, and sometimes, He allows us to hold His…

As Jerry Clower used to say, “Ain’t God Good!”

God, my Father, my Strength, and my Deliverer, take my right hand and lead me into battle… and then, when the battle looms large ahead of me… may I take Your right hand in comfort and protection.

Oh God, this is almost too much for me to understand. I can’t quite wrap my mind around it.

Oh the depths of Your Word – and the heights to which it takes me – it’s dizzying, and at times, gives me cold chills and almost takes my breath.

As I meditate on Your Word, sometimes a warm wash of clarity comes over me, so much so that I scarcely breathe and don’t want to move, afraid that I may lose that understanding that is barely touching my fingertips…

Oh the wondrous joy of Your precious Word! Thank You for the treasure I hold in my hands!

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This is my first attempt at uploading audio teaching. This is being done through SoundCloud – so let’s see how it works. If you like what you hear, you may want to “follow” me on SoundCloud as Prayerlogue – or follow my blog where I will also post the teaching.

 

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How hard is it for you to see God at work in today’s culture?

Have you ever been discouraged about a turn of events? Not just when bad things happen to good people, but when very good things seem to be happening to very bad or immoral people? When it seems like justice will never be done, and the wicked get away with (sometimes literal) murder?

If you’ve ever felt that way (and who hasn’t), then you know exactly how the Psalmist felt in Psalm 73.

Psalm 73, verses 1-3, begins with what I’ve often called a “Yeah, but…” statement. The Psalmist says (to paraphrase), “Yeah I know that God is good to Israel, and especially to those with a clean and pure heart, but this is what had happened to me…” Then, he spends the next 13 verses despairing over how the wicked are getting away with everything, and, no matter how clean (pure) he tries to be, he still has problems!

“Until…” until verse 17 when we reach the “tuning point” in the Psalm.

In verse 17, we see the Psalmist’s “Ah-ha!” moment when he says, in essence, “I felt this way about what I saw, until I went into the sanctuary of God, then I perceived (or understood) their end.” Once he took his anguish to God, then his eyes were opened. Even though he was in despair, he knew enough, believed enough, to take (dare we say “drag”) his struggle into the sanctuary.  The Psalmist’s ultimate statement of faith in this Psalm is that God is good to Israel, as well as to those who have a pure heart, and when they seek God’s face, God will let them “see” Him. This is, in essence, the same thing that Jesus says in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

The Greek word for pure is kat-har-os. It means clear, pure or unalloyed. It carries with it a sense of being untainted or free from pollution. The one who is “pure in heart” will have no mixed emotions, no ulterior motives, and does not “serve two masters” (cf Matthew 6:24). When one’s heart is pure, they will be allowed to “see God.” They will not just “see God” to look at Him, or see God someday in heaven, but will see, understand, be aware, of God at work in the here and now.

They will be able to see God’s mighty hand in the circumstances of everyday life so clearly that, when others are saying “luck” or “karma” or “coincidence,” the pure in heart will be saying, “No, it’s God!” And they will know, because they will see!

 

Prayer: Almighty God, we ask that in our times of struggle You will lead us to Your sanctuary and open our eyes to see You at work. Amen.

 

 

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A poem written in the early 80’s when I was pregnant with our first child.

 

A Mother’s Eighth Psalm

The Psalmist said,

“What is man that Thou art mindful of him

for Thou hast made him

only a little lower than the angels.”

 

And I say,

What am I, that You are mindful of me?

For You have made me a woman

and capable of

creation myself.

 

And I have carried a child in my womb

and borne him into the world.

But today that child alone must choose

“Whom ye will serve…”

and only he can

“Confess with your mouth

and believe in your heart…”

for himself

I can’t do it for him…

 

Being a creator isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

God,

what did you feel

when You turned man loose

with Your creation?

 

 

 

 

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A Thanksgiving Devotional

Psalm 100

 

A Psalm for Thanksgiving.

1: Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.

2:  Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.

3:  Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4:  Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

5:  For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. (NASB)

 

It’s amazing how things stick with you from your childhood. When I think of Thanksgiving, I always think of Psalm 100. When I was in the 2nd grade, we had to memorize Psalm 100 for a PTA program. So, I always equate the two.

This Psalm is a “feel good” Psalm. We read it and we “feel good”. But, when we examine it – when we meditate on it, it has so much more to say.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a very “logically minded” person – I want to know how things work, and why they are done. When my Mother wrote out her recipes for chicken ‘n dumplins and stack cake, I not only wanted the ingredients for the dish – I wanted to know why things were done the way they were. I’m the same way with scripture – it’s not enough for me to know that things are done; or how they’re done – I want to know why! This Psalm not only teaches us to give thanks – but how – and why.

The Psalm is divided into 2 sections: verses 1-3 and verses 4-5. In the first section we must come before the Lord. Verses 1-3a tell us how.

  • Verse 1: First of all we must “shout” (or “Make a joyful noise” as the KJV puts it.)
  • Who is to do this? “All the earth” (or “All ye lands.” KJV)

Everyone and every bit of creation is to (verse 2a):

  • “Serve the Lord”

How?

  • “With Gladness!”

Everyone and every bit of creation is to (verse 2b):

  • “Come before Him.”

How?

  • “With joyful singing.”

Everyone and every bit of creation is to (verse 3a):

  • “Know” – acknowledge – “that The Lord, He is God;”

Why do these things? Because He is our Creator (verse 3b):

  • “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;”

And (verse 3c):

  • “We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

So what does that really mean?

First – He is God (verse 3a)

Second – He is creator (verse 3b)

Third – He is owner (verse 3c)

Verses 4-5 tell us that not only are we to come before the Lord – but that we may; that we are allowed to come into His very presence! Again, we have what and how to do this, as well as why.

First we are to “enter His gates” – to come just inside the gate of the gardens of the palace.

How?

  • “With thanksgiving,” literally, with a thank offering.

And

  • We are to enter “His courts” – the actual grounds of the gardens.

How?

  • “With praise!” We are to extol and praise our God as we enter.

And

  • We must “Bless His name.” The Hebrew word for name is “Shem” which means a person’s character or authority – in other words – their very essence!

 

Think of it this way. We can come to the Palace, come through the door, come into the yard and come right up to His name – His very being! Hebrews 4:16 tells us that because Jesus (our Great High Priest) has triumphantly entered the realm of Heaven, we are allowed to not only come into the throne room, but we can come boldly! That’s not arrogantly – but with confidence – because Jesus is there!

And why are we allowed to do this? Verse 5: “For the Lord is good!” (Remember Jesus said, “There is none good but God.” Mark 10:18)

How is His goodness evidenced?

  • His lovingkindness (“His mercy” KJV), His hesed is everlasting. Ever-lasting; it lasts forever, through all of eternity.
  • And His faithfulness (“His truth endures” KJV) to all generations.

From the time of the Psalmist – to the time of the Saviour – to the time of the Church – to the day of His return, you can count on the Faithfulness of God.

And that is why we must thank Him!

Epilogue

Although I had most of these notes in my Bible, I actually wrote this meditation one day while sitting in the Target parking lot waiting for a dentist appointment. When I pulled out from the parking lot a song came on the radio that melted my heart. The song was, “The Wonder of it All”.

“O the wonder of it all, that God loves me…”

Tears came to my eyes along with the affirmation – “Yes! The wonder of it all, that God loves even me…”

May you have a glorious Thanksgiving!

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This is a prayer from the farm, written one late summer evening…

 

Father, as I sit out here on the back porch, I realize how blessed we are – how very blessed I am. As all I hear are the birds twittering, squirrels chattering, jar flies – well, jarring, and dogs barking in the distance. I think about what I don’t hear. I don’t hear families fighting, people cursing, tires squealing, or sirens wailing. I don’t hear babies and children crying from fear or hunger. And I have never, ever, heard a gun shot in anger.

I can’t even imagine hearing machine guns, tanks, or bombs.

Oh God, my heart aches for those who do…

Even our animals are blessed. Our dog moves from one spot to another and emits a low moan as she flops down. The cat stretches and begins to clean himself, without a worry (if cats worry) about where his next meal is coming from.

If our horses are injured, we don’t hesitate, we call the vet. And Father, I know there are those who can’t even call a doctor if their child is ill.  Are we wrong for what we have? Should we, like those in the early church in Jerusalem, sell our possessions and give to those who have nothing?

Or should we just be more responsible stewards, and more thankful for our wealth (and that is, what it is – wealth) and these great blessings that You’ve given us.

Father, show us what You would have us do…

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Prayer of Psalm 139

 

(After reading Psalm 139)

 

There is no greater place to be

than in the presence of the Lord.

There is no more fearful place to be

than in the presence of the Lord.

There is no more comforting place to be

than in the presence of the Lord.

And because I know

That God never changes

the difference has to be

In me.

 

O God! What do I bring

when I come into Your presence?

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