Day 12: Psalms of Meditation

guard-heartToday’s Reading
Psalm 119:9-16, 41-48

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your word. – Psalm 119:9

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. – Proverbs 4:23

Observation
In the scriptures, the heart is far more than an organ which pumps blood. It is the core of one’s being; the throne of our deepest desires, imaginings and beliefs. Many things vie for that royal seat: self interest, notoriety, security, wealth, fear, things, love… Whatever or whoever wear’s the crown of our heart rules the rest of us.

Christians chose to place God on the throne of their heart. The difficulty is keeping God there. Not because God runs away, but because we offer our hearts so easily to others. The psalmist reminds us to guard our hearts from inferior rulers, to be persistent and intentional about seeking the One, True Living God. How do we do this? By meditating and treasuring God’s Word. Look at all the practical ways the psalmist offers to do this: seeking, focusing (not straying, fixing), cultivating a teachable spirit, declaring, delighting, meditating, remembering. In short, meditating on God’s Word is more yummm than ommmm.

Meditation is the devotional practice of pondering the words of a verse, or verses of Scripture, with a receptive heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to take the written Word and apply it as the living word to the inner being. – Campbell McAlpine

Application
God draws near but does not force the issue. We have the freedom and responsibility to draw near to God in return.

A young brave was filled with internal conflict. He went to the chief of the village and told him that he felt as though he had two wolves inside of him all the time. One of the wolves was brave and strong. He was filled with goodness and light for everyone and everything around him. But the other wolf was hostile, angry, and intolerant. It was always seeking to hurt everyone and everything around it. The young brave explained that some days one wolf was stronger, and other days the other wolf seemed to be winning. “Can you tell me which one of these two wolves will eventually win out and gain control?” he asked the chief. “It’s quite simple,” replied the wise old man. “The one that gains control and wins will always be whichever one you feed.” – Native American Story

Prayer
Welcome Sovereign, take your rightful place on the throne of my heart. For you alone are just and true, steadfast and merciful. With you alone is the wellspring of life and grace. All others will fail me. I know because I have followed far too many. Forgive my foolish and wandering ways. Banish them from my being. Teach me to stand watch over my heart, to fix my eyes on you and your ways. Help me to feast on your word and to delight in your wisdom, for only then will I treasure you as you treasure me. Amen.

For a worship resource entitled Seeking Christ, the Word of God click here

For an excellent resource on how to meditate on God’s Word, 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 <><

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 11: Psalms to God's Justice

Psalm 120:7 "I am for peace, but when I speak they are for war." From a French publication of paintings by Benejou Rabinowicz based on the Psalms entitled Benn.

Today’s Reading
Psalms 7, 26, 82

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God.
– Psalm 7:9

Observation
In Psalm 7, the author is in deep trouble- pursued and persecuted by lying, scheming enemies so strong and violent they are compared to ravenous lions. In great need, the psalmist turns to God for sanctuary and salvation. Save me! Deliver me! Rise up, O Lord against the fury of my enemies! Let the evil of the wicked come to an end!

What’s so amazing about this psalm are the pauses for self reflection in the midst of the pleas for help. Reread verse 3, 8, and 9. See the psalmist asking, “How have I contributed to this conflict? Is this an appropriate consequence for my actions or am I just getting caught in the backwash of other people’s sin? Judge me and test me, too.”

It’s logical for us to want God to save us from our enemies, but it takes real spiritual maturity to pursue the lessons of God’s discipline for ourselves as well.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.- Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice,
we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

-The Talmud

Application
Praying for God’s justice applies not only to others, but also to us.

Matthew 7:12
Jesus said, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you;
for this is the law and the prophets.”

Prayer
Righteous Judge, Seer of seers, test my mind and heart. Help me to recognize my destructive ways. Make real to me my contributions to conflict. Thank you for your gifts of discipline and discernment. In your great mercy, deliver me from myself as well as those who wish me harm. Fill me with your Spirit. Empower me to end injustice in your Name and for your Glory. Amen.

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For a Reader’s Theater version of Psalm 7, 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.

Reader’s Theater: The Story of Pentecost

Pentecost altar display from Wikimedia Commons

Pentecost is one of my favorite holy-days. Retelling the story of the birth of the church by the Holy Spirit should be exciting. It should be equally as inspiring and empowering to the church of today as it was so long ago.

This year two of our leaders embraced this opportunity. They created a reader’s theater version of Acts 2, complete with a dancer, simple staging, and some very meaningful technical additions. It was glorious. They are happy to share their inspiration with you.

Come Holy Spirit! – Lisa <><

For a pdf of the script, click here Reader’s Theater: The Story of Pentecost

Holy Spirit Liturgy

Detail of the Holy Spirit window of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Babbitt, Minnesota, by Kevin and Tammy Gilmore.

Much thanks to Nicole Sallee, Director of Worship Arts at Community UMC in DeBary Florida, for permission to post this beautiful worship sequence. We will be using it to open our traditional worship services on Pentecost Sunday. Come Holy Spirit! – Lisa <><

Holy Spirit Liturgy
Call to Worship
ONE: Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – Colossians 3:16 (TNIV)

Opening Hymns
I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing (United Methodist Hymnal #333, vs 1-2)
Every Time I Feel the Spirit (United Methodist Hymnal #404, refrain)

Opening Prayer
ALL: Prayer to the Holy Spirit (United Methodist Hymnal #329)

Invocation
ALL: Spirit of the Living God (United Methodist Hymnal #393)

Affirmation of Faith
A Modern Affirmation (United Methodist Hymnal #885)

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compilation © 2011 Nicole Sallee
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Nicole for information and permission to publish this compilation in any form. For more information on the scripture translation, hymns, prayers and art used in this work, please refer to the copyright information page or the United Methodist Hymnal. http://pastorblog.cumcdebary.org/?page_id=1529

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit

fire-heart-961194_960_720While preparing for this year’s Pentecost Celebration, I began exploring the Biblical stories of God as Fire:

  • Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3)
  • The pillar of fire leading God’s people through the darkness and across the wilderness to the promised land (Exodus 13-14)
  • God consuming the offering in the battle between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)
  • God companioning and rescuing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the firey furnace (Daniel 3)
  • God described as a Refiner’s Fire (Malachi 3)
  • John the Baptist’s prophecy that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3, Luke 3)
  • Jesus promising that the Father would send the Holy Spirit (John 14-16)
  • The story of Pentecost in Acts 2

This led me to think about our need to be filled continually with the power of the Holy Spirit. These truths were brought together in the following worship resource. May your life be set ablaze with the strength and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. – Lisa <><

For more information about Pentecost, click here

We can be certain of one thing: transformation into God’s image and God’s purpose requires that we pass through God’s refining fire. Being made holy is not a one-time deal; it is an ongoing process that continues until we are fully reconciled with Christ at his second coming. During our lives we experience intense trials that we can use to refine our spirits. The key idea to remember is that we pass “through” and do not remain in the fire. – Enuma Okoro, Silence and Other Invitations of Advent

God is fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. And so, if we feel in our hearts coldness, which is from the devil– for the devil is cold– then let us call upon the Lord and he will come and warm our hearts with perfect love not only for him but for our neighbor as well. And from the presence of warmth, the coldness of the hater of good will be driven way. – Seraphim of Sarov

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit
Plain text is for one voice. Italics text is for all voices.

Holy Spirit, come again as cleansing fire, burning away all that is false and fruitless
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as guiding fire, lighting the way though our wilderness
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as refining fire, purifying our words, our ways and our hearts
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as prophetic fire, calling us to courage and action
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as unifying fire, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Come Holy Spirit

Come again as empowering fire, dancing atop young and old, men and women, rich and poor. Inspiring us and emboldening us to use your gifts to bless and change the world.
Come Holy Spirit

We ask all this in the name of Jesus,
the One who promised to send you,
and who taught us to pray,
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
Amen.

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Prayer: Come Holy Spirit © 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.

Be sure to also check out Purify Us by Steve Garnaas Holmes.