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.

Summer in the Psalms

You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms. We’ll begin Monday, May 23, 2011. If you need to, feel free to start a little later or take some breaks as your schedule dictates.

Our reading plan comes from Zondervan Publishing. I appreciate how they grouped the Psalms by theme. It will be interesting to approach this book by theme rather than reading it straight through.

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 http://www.lifejournal.cc/ or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

For more great Bible Reading Plans go to:
http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/Bible/Plans.htm?QueryStringSite=Zondervan

Your sister and servant in Christ- Lisa <><

Peacemaking


Matthew 5:9 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

The followers of Christ have been called to peace. … And they must not only have peace but also make it. And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult. In the cause of Christ nothing is to be gained by such methods. … His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. They renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they overcome evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

We build too many walls and not enough bridges. – Isaac Newton

Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith;
it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.
– Hillary Clinton

Peacemaking often involves dismantling entrenched power. We see this when we consider Gandhi’s efforts to do away with the oppression of the caste system or Martin Luther King Jr. working to end segregation and ensure civil rights or the Sisters of Loretto working for justice for coal miners in West Virginia. This is the work of a God who changes the usual order of things, who rocks the boat, who deposes those in high positions. And this is the God we serve. – Mary Lou Redding, The Power of a Focused Heart

No, fighting for peace is rarely a glamorous affair. The icky work of peacemaking is about leaning into discomfort and swallowing your pride. It’s the scary undertaking of feeling ALL the feelings–and choosing love anyway. It’s sticking around for tough conversations when you’d rather stab a pillow. It’s parking your butt in the vinyl kitchen chair and meeting in the middle instead of hiding out at Starbucks. It’s baking scones for your love when you’re feeling vulnerable and exposed. It’s choosing to believe that your husband isn’t going to break your heart, even though your ex-boyfriend butchered it beyond recognition. It’s refusing to say scarring words–the ones you can’t take back and that he’ll never forget; words that will break both your Humpty Dumpty hearts forever. Peacemaking is “Grab the Clorox and clean the toilet bowl” kind of work. It’s also beautiful, sacred, holy work. – Tina Francis, Jerry Springer Scones: A Love Story

When someone walks into a crowd and sprays death and suffering around, the news media will spend hours telling us about a deranged shooter, but only mention in passing someone who gives their life in shielding a loved one from the bullets. Why is this? It’s because we are transfixed by the nature of violence. We are fascinated, in both fear and wonder, with violence as a form of power. Held back by our belief in the apparent power of violence, we have yet to come to realize that love is an even greater power.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Spread Love

The response to injustice is to share.
The response to despair is a limitless trust and hope.
The response to prejudice and hatred is forgiveness.
To work for community is to work for humanity.
– L’Arche Founder Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

James 3:16-18 (NRSV)
For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

I must confront these Moros with a divine love which will speak Christ to them though I never use His name. They must see God in me, and I must see God in them. Not to change the name of their religion, but to take their hand and say, “Come, let us look for God.” – Frank C. Laubach, Letters by a Modern Mystic

Click here for the amazing and powerful story of James Zwerg, one of the original Freedom Riders of the civil rights movement.

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

God, Our Help and Home

John 14:2 by Mark Lawrence

In John 14, Jesus promises to go and prepare a place for us, a place for many to dwell with God in peace. His promise is echoed throughout the scriptures.

The following liturgy draws together several of those scriptures, weaving them between verses of the classic hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past (United Methodist Hymnal #117, verse 1, 2, 3, 6).

I pray this offering will encourage you to draw close to God. May you dwell in the house of our Lord, now and forever. – Lisa <><

To live in the world without belonging to the world summarizes the essence of the spiritual life. The spiritual life keeps us aware that our true house is not the house of fear, in which the powers of hatred and violence rule, but the house of love, where God resides. – Henri Nouwen, Behold the Beauty of the Lord

Canticle: God, Our Help and Home
ONE SPEAKING: John 14:1-3 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 84:1-2 (NIV)
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

ALL, SOME OR ONE SINGING
O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne,
still may we dwell secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

ONE SPEAKING: Matthew 7:24-25 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.”

ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

ALL, SOME OR ONE SINGING
Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting, thou art God,
to endless years the same.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come;
be thou our guide while life shall last,
and our eternal home.

Compilation © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The scripture translations and artwork in this post are copyrighted. Please refer to the Copyright Information Page for more information.