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Archive for the ‘Praying the Psalms’ Category

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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Prayer – In the Time of Despair

You can read scripture just as well as I can, but let me direct you today to Psalm 6. I was planning on studying Psalm 6 yesterday, but God (in His Grace) directed me another way yesterday morning. Then coming to it today I found that this Word would not have spoken to me yesterday as it did this morning. I needed to hear it fresh today.

The weight seemed a little heavier this morning in praying for others, and I began to wonder if I was (like a friend says) “just worrying before the Lord” instead of really praying. Is it naivety to simply say, “You handle it Lord”? Am I just hiding my head in the sand and pretending the troubles don’t exist, if I hand them over to God? What part am I supposed to be playing in all of this?

After batting this around for a while (without coming to any real peace, but simply surrendering it) I opened my Bible to Psalm 6, and God spoke to my heart, then said, “Share this, this morning. Someone else needs to hear it, too.”

First is the Psalm (to speak to you) and them the Psalm as I prayed it.

 

Psalm 6

O LORD, don’t rebuke me in Your anger or discipline me in Your rage.

Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak. Heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.

I am sick at heart. How long, O LORD, until You restore me?

Return, O LORD, and rescue me. Save me because of Your unfailing love.

For the dead do not remember You. Who can praise You from the grave?

I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.

My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.

Go away, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping.

The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD will answer my prayer.

May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified. May they suddenly turn back in shame.

 

Prayer of Psalm 6

O LORD [please] don’t rebuke me in Your anger or discipline me in Your rage [although You have every reason to.]

[Please] Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak.

[Please] Heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony [I am literally aching, and]

I am sick at heart [and so confused].

How long, O LORD, until You restore me [and give me some peace of mind]?

Return, O LORD, and rescue me [from this feeling of despair].

Save me [I pray] because of Your unfailing love [I have no right to ask, other than Your hesed.].

For the dead do not remember You. Who can praise You from the grave?

I am worn out from sobbing. [Oh God… I am so tired]

All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. [There are even nights that I too, cry myself to sleep]

My vision is blurred by grief; [I can’t see any way out] my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies [there is just so much to contend with!]

            [But then! A breakthrough, and a sense of peace rushes over me, and I cry out]

Go away, all you who do evil, for the LORD HAS HEARD my weeping!!!

The LORD HAS HEARD my plea; the LORD WILL ANSWER my prayer.

            [Praise the Name of the Lord!]

May all my enemies [and every situation] be [as] disgraced and terrified [as I was]

May they suddenly turn back in shame [and as they do, my problems will be insignificant when compared to the Greatness of my God!]

 

O Father, I lift up to You those in despair this morning. We seem to do this over and over, Lord. Why can’t we simply “let go, and let God…”? Or, do we feel that that is too “simplistic”? Help us, Lord, for we are weak, and too blind at times to see Your presence. Open our eyes, as you did the servant of Elisha’s, to see Your mighty host surrounding us, and to know that You hold us in the palm of Your hand. In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

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