Day 6: Psalms to God's Faithfulness

Faithfulness by Sue Kemnitz

Today’s Reading
Psalms 105, 119:137–144, 146

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. – Psalm 146:5

Observation
It’s interesting to read Psalms 105 and 146 together. Both praise God’s faithfulness yet provide different evidence of that faithfulness.

Psalm 105 emphasizes God’s “mindfulness” of the covenant made with Abraham and his descendants. The psalmist’s evidence is a veritable best of list of God’s actions in Genesis and Exodus; recounting the early history of the Hebrew people from the creation of the covenant to settlement in the Promised Land.

Psalm 146 also praises the God of Jacob and provides a list of God’s wonderful works, but this list emphasizes different aspects of God’s faithfulness and power. While these works apply to the Hebrew people, it is clear they also apply to those beyond the bloodline.

  • Verse 6 proclaims God’s creative power as the Maker and Sustainer of heaven and earth
  • In verses 7-9, God is the faithful champion and provider to those in need: the oppressed, the hungry, those who are bowed down, the stranger, the orphan and the widow.
  • Verses 7-8 also praise God’s power to heal and liberate: prisoners are set free and the blind receive sight, literally and spiritually.
  • The psalmist summarizes God’s faithfulness as loving the righteous and bringing justice against the wicked

An isolated reading of Psalm 105, away from the grand sweep of the Bible, might cause a person to think God was only interested in the descendants of Abraham. Psalm 146 reminds us of a key aspect of the covenant promise- it is a vehicle for bringing salvation to the world. “I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and will give to your offspring all these lands; and all the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring.” (Genesis 26:4)

God chose a particular people- the small, flawed and poor descendants of Abraham- to extend blessing and salvation to the world, especially to others who are also poor in resources, power, and influence. This incredible plan is echoed by the prophet Isaiah and later Jesus himself as he proclaims God’s faithful fulfillment of the covenant through him. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:8-19)

Application
God is steadfast, faithful, and consistent in fulfilling the plan to save the world.

Prayer
Steadfast Savior, your faithfulness is our anchor. The world shifts and turns. Situations change and people are fickle. The future is unknown and unpredictable. But you are our Rock. Your grace is consistent. Your provision is sure. We need never doubt your deliverance of those who turn to you, nor your love for all. Great is your faithfulness. Great are you Lord and worthy of all trust and devotion. Hallelujah! Bless the Lord our God, the Covenant Keeper! Glory to You, now and forever! Amen.

For a worship resource entitled Trusting God’s Provision, click here

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You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Book Shelf: Letters by a Modern Mystic

Letters by a Modern Mystic
Frank C. Laubach (Author)
Published by Purposeful Design Publications; 3rd edition (December 31, 2007)

My review: 4 out of 5 stars
In the 1930’s, Laubach was a desperately lonely missionary serving in the Philippines. His loneliness led him to pursue God as he never had before- continually. In doing so, Laubach’s approach to life and ministry were changed in profound ways. He wrote home about his experience and his letters were later brought together into this treasure of a book. Laubach’s writing is transparent and inspirational, encouraging and instructional. Reading these letters is a privilege which should not be missed.

From the publisher:
Have you ever considered what it might be like to live in a conscious moment-by-moment communion with God? “Letters by a Modern Mystic” recounts Frank C. Laubach’s spiritual journey as he began such an experiment. Read about the remarkable results. What might you experience in the practice of such a spiritual discipline?

Day 5: Psalms of Doubt

Doubt Was Lifted by Fabio Napoleoni

Today’s Reading
Psalms 42, 73, 77

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was stupid and ignorant; I was like a brute beast toward you.
Psalm 73:21-22

There are moments when hideous possibilities besiege us like a throng of furies and break down the doors of our brain. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Observation
Psalm 73 is a testimony of deliverance from the destructive powers of doubt. The psalmist is disheartened because the wicked prosper while the psalmist suffers. His pain distracts him from the truth and embitters him. Weren’t the pure in heart supposed to prosper? The psalmist discovers that life isn’t that simple. Yes, much of the time we receive great blessing, favor and peace from living a Godly life. But sometimes bad things happen to the faithful. Evil seems to have the upper hand.

The key word is seems. In seeking God through worship, the psalmist takes on a new perspective. The psalmist’s view of the present situation is widened. He can now see the whole truth, the big picture. God is near the suffering (vs. 23) and “good to the upright.” (vs. 1) No one will escape God’s truth and justice. “Indeed, those who are far from you will perish; you put an end to those who are false to you.” (vs. 27)

By doubting we come to inquiry, by inquiry we come to truth. – Peter Abelard

Application
Genuine worship of the One, True, Living God corrects our perspective.

Prayer
Good, Good Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me, a right perspective. Root out any bitterness you might find. Any doubts. Any distractions. Replace them with your truth and light. You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Help me to see people and situations as you see them. Place your eyes and your heart within me, that I may love you and follow you faithfully. Amen.

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You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 4: Psalms to God's Deeds

Eye of the Storm by Susan Bee

Today’s Reading
Psalms 9, 18, 118

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies. – Psalm 18:3

Observation
The bold imagery of Psalm 18 sweeps you along, like you are right there hearing David tell the story of the battle and the victory. This psalm of thanksgiving also appears in 2 Samuel 22 and can be divided into five sections.

  • Section 1 (vs. 1-3): David sets the stage with a passionate praise list naming God as his deliverer.
  • Section 2 (vs. 4-18): Instead of describing the battle like a reporter, David uses storm imagery to describe the desperation of his situation and the power of God’s deliverance: earthquake, smoke, darkness, thunder, hot coals. “Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. He reached down from on high, he took me; he drew me out of mighty waters.” (vs 15-16)
  • Section 3 (vs. 19-36): David uses somewhat softer imagery in this section to describe God’s relationship with him. God delights in him. (vs. 19) God causes David to move like an agile deer (vs. 33) and sets his feet on wide, safe ground. (vs. 36) “This God—his way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.” (vs. 30) David believes his rescue is a reward for his faithfulness to God.
  • Section 4 (vs. 37-42): David describes with graphic detail the violent way he destroyed his enemies once he had the upper hand. As a Christ-follower I feel called to work and pray first for the deliverance of both myself and my enemy.
  • Section 5 (vs. 43-50): David closes by giving God more praise for establishing him as a powerful king, revered by his own people and those of foreign lands.

Application
In the day of trouble, call to God with boldness.

Prayer
Ageless God, my battles are so different from David’s…or are they? I am not a soldier forced to kill or be killed. My wars are far more civil: a skirmish with a friend or family member, a clash with an unjust system, a conflict within my own soul. My enemies do not carry soldiers’ armaments, yet I carry the slugs of every encounter. Like David, I know I will drown and die beneath the pain and chaos if you do not come to my aid. My enemies and I will both be lost. Come our Rock, our Shield, our Savior. Come our Guardian, our Deliverer, our Hope. End the wars without and within. Raise us both to a wide and peaceful place. Amen.

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You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 3: Psalms of Confidence

not-ashamed-to-praise

I am NOT Ashamed to Praise Him-R-U? by RealPainter

Today’s Reading
Psalms 27, 36, 71, 125

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. – Psalm 36:7

Observation
Psalm 36 opens with a list describing “the wicked.” Their actions reveal their motivations, priorities and the condition of their hearts.

  • In the depth of their being (their hearts) they hear the voice of sin more than the voice of God. (vs. 1)
  • They do not respect or revere God, instead embracing evil. (vs. 1, 4)
  • They do not have a teachable spirit, but are egotistical (vs. 2, 4)
  • They believe they are so smart they will never be caught doing wrong. (vs. 2)
  • Their words cannot be trusted. (vs. 3)
  • Their behavior is foolish and destructive (vs. 3, 4)

Next, the psalmist provides an important lesson. Instead of contrasting the condition of the wicked with a description of “the righteous,” the psalmist describes the greatness and glory God. Naming God’s character and deeds are acts of praise. The psalmist’s praise list is both direct and emphatic, that’s what makes it so powerful: your steadfast love, your faithfulness, your righteousness, your judgments, you save, your wings provide refuge, your house is full of abundance, you give delight, you are the fountain of life, your light sheds light on our lives. The list builds and builds to a crescendo of praise. Praise builds trust and confidence in God. Praise destroys fear and puts things into perspective.

Application
Why should I ever fear when I know and am known by such a God?

Prayer
Mighty and Everlasting God, Generous and Patient, Merciful Healer, Strong to Save, defend me from every attack of doubt, despair and destruction. You are greater. You are victorious. You are good, now and forever. Amen.

For original worship resources on the theme Praising God, click the links below
Hymn Text: Glorious One
Liturgy: The Glory of God’s Reign

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You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms. To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 2: Psalms Calling to God

Behold I Make All Things New by Laura Kestly

Today’s Reading
Psalms 4, 5, 22

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.
– Psalm 22:24

Mourning includes more than anger and sorrow. Mourning can include a feeling of vulnerability after we have been hurt. We feel like a target. Now that such a hurt has happened, we wonder if it will happen again. We feel unprotected in a hurtful, dangerous world, wondering whom we can trust.
– Flora Slosson Wuellner, Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey

The word vulnerable itself comes from the Latin vulnerare which means ‘to wound’, and so at the root of vulnerability is my own sense of wounded-ness. To be authentic in a moment in which I feel wounded, I have to honestly acknowledge the places where I feel hurt and then muster up the strength to just be with the pain. This takes tremendous courage.- Viral Mehta

Observation
Psalm 22 is Good Friday’s psalm. Though they were written hundreds of years earlier, verses 12-18 seem to be written by someone standing on that hill recording the events: the brutal soldiers and mocking crowd encircling Jesus, the description of his broken body, the people gambling for his clothes.

This sets the stage for the central mystery: God in the flesh hanging on the cross crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

His tongue is so swollen and he is so exhausted it’s all he can manage to say. The beauty of it is, it’s all he needs to say. As he cries out the first lines of the psalm, those who know it would have finished it for him in their hearts. They would have understood the fullness of his words: the reality of his pain and the reality of his confidence in God in the midst of that pain.

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame. (vs. 3-5)

Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. (vs. 9)

Then the glorious song of triumph and praise in verses 20b-31:

  • the Lord rescued me
  • I will testify and praise the Lord. Let us all praise the Lord.
  • God hears the cries of the afflicted. God raises up needy and provides for the poor.
  • God rules the nations. All who are now living and all future generations will remember this moment of grace and power and will bow down.

Application
Psalm 22 is brutally honest; a raw combination of wondering, reporting and confidence. A worthy model for prayer.

Prayer
Glorious Jesus, even on the cross you continue to teach us and care for us. Thank you for your grace and mercy. Thank you for your sacrifice and suffering. Thank you for your victory and power. Help us to follow you, at all times and in all situations, honestly and confidently. Amen.

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You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 1: Psalms of Blessing

God Provides for Everyone by Jagdish Shanmugam

Today’s Reading
Psalm 67, 72, 84, 128

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. – Psalm 72:19 (NRSV)

Observation
Psalm 72 is a prayer of blessing for those in leadership. It was first prayed for and by the kings of Israel. After so many kings failed and the people were taken captive, this psalm became a prophetic longing and description for God’s promised Messiah. The Messiah, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, would fulfill God’s desire to bless all people.

  • May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. (vs. 6)
  • May all nations be blessed in him (vs. 17)
  • May his glory fill the whole earth (vs. 19)

God empowers Godly leaders to cultivate environments of provision and peace. It is their duty to govern with justice and righteousness, so those under their care blossom and flourish. They use their influence and power for the good of all, especially those who are most needy and vulnerable. Systems, situations, and persons who prey on the vulnerable are the enemies of the Godly leader.

Application
When was the last time I prayed for those in positions of significant authority? Political leaders? Military leaders? Religious leaders? Leaders of industry? How can I be an agent of God’s blessing to those entrusted to my care?

No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When the expression becomes of value, they become leaders. So the point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely—all your skills, and energies, in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing…so strike hard, try everything, do everything, render everything, and become the person you are capable of being.- Warren Bennis

Prayer
Jehovah-Jireh, God who Provides, you pour out steadfast love and blessing on all people and yet so many remain in need. Raise up Godly leaders to defend your intention; men and women in places of significant authority whose hearts are broken with the cry of the vulnerable. Shield them from temptation and deception. Grant them wisdom for the difficult tasks and encouragement for the times of struggle. Keep them focused, so your agenda remains their agenda, so your priorities remain their priorities, so your values remain their values.

Raise up all who follow you to be a courageous people, ready to stand in your strength against injustice, greed, and the misuse of power. Empower us with righteousness, so our influence brings peace and goodness to those in our care. Let our words, actions and choices reflect the mind of Christ, your Servant and our Savior, in whose name we pray. Amen.

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For another devotion on this subject entitled A Prayer for Those With Influence, click here.

For another prayer based on this theme and this psalm by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled A Prayer for Justice, click here

You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.