Bible Reading Plan- Psalms by Theme

In these uncertain times, we need the raw honesty and rich promises of the Book of Psalms. The Psalms are timeless, anchoring, and encouraging.

Our reading plan is adapted from a reading plan 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.

CLICK HERE for a PDF of the reading plan suitable for printing. 

Use these prompts as you read each Scripture.
ATTENTION: Read or listen to the scripture. What word, phrase or verse captures your attention? Underline it or copy it onto a piece of paper.

CONNECTION: What connections do you see to other scriptures? To your own experience or current situation? Or, to the character or promises of God?

ACTION: What is God inviting you to trust, say, or do? How will your life be different because of this scripture?

PRAY: Talk to God about what you just experienced or anything else on your heart.

STILLNESS: Spend 5-20 minutes in silence looking to God and listening for God.

PS- If you don’t own a Bible, or need a translation of the Bible which is easy to read, consider using Bible Gateway. This is a free website and app with many excellent translations. (I like NRSV and The Voice) Click Here for a video demonstrating the site.

If you begin this reading plan the week of April 2, reading five days per week, you’ll finish the plan the week of July 5.

Blessing- Psalms 67, 72
Blessing- Psalms 84, 128
Calling to God- Psalms 4, 5
Calling to God- Psalms 22
Confidence- Psalms 27, 36

Confidence- Psalms 71, 125
Deeds of God- Psalms 9, 118
Deeds of God- Psalms 18
Doubt- Psalms 42, 77
Doubt- Psalms 73

Faithfulness of God- Psalms 105
Faithfulness of God- Psalms 119:137–144, 146
Fear- Psalms 37, 49
Fear- Psalms 91
Identity- Psalms 8, 139

Meditation- Psalms 119:9–16, 41–48
Glory of God- Psalms 19
Glory of God- Psalms 24, 29
God is my Helper- Psalms 115
God is my Helper- Psalms 54, 119:169–176

Rejoicing- Psalms 30, 47
Rejoicing- Psalms 97
Righteousness- Psalms 1, 15, 112
Sin & Repentance- Psalms 25, 32
Sin & Repentance- Psalms 38, 51

Power of God- Psalms 68
Power of God- Psalms 93, 135
Praise- Psalms 65
Praise- Psalms 98, 138
Prayer- Psalms 17, 20

Prayer- Psalms 102
Protection- Psalms 59, 62
Protection- Psalms 124
Safety in God- Psalms 11, 16
Safety in God- Psalms 46, 142

Justice of God- Psalms 7
Justice of God- Psalms 26, 82
Mercy- Psalms 13, 28
Mercy- Psalms 86
Music- Psalms 66

Music- Psalms 149, 150
Nature- Psalms 50, 104
Nature- Psalms 147, 148
Peace- Psalms 23
Peace- Psalms 133, 119:161–168

Salvation- Psalms 3, 14, 121
Thanksgiving- Psalms 75, 136
Thanksgiving- Psalms 106
Trust- Psalms 31
Trust- Psalms 40, 56

Victory- Psalms 21, 76, 144
Wisdom- Psalms 90, 111
Wisdom- Psalms 107
Worship- Psalms 33, 34
Worship- Psalms 145

Refuge, Strength, Near: A Prayer Based on Psalm 46

god refuge strength Psalm 46-1

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:7
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 46:11
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Holy and Mighty God
You are our refuge and strength
You are near- a present help well proved

You are victorious over every conflict-
every division, destruction, and deficiency
The conflict between nations
The conflict within my own nation
The conflict in my city
My family
Your church
The conflict in my heart

You are my refuge… my refuge… my refuge
You are my strength… my strength… my strength
You are near… near… near
A present help well proved

I am in awe before you
I am safe and seen before you
I am humble
I need you
I am grateful
I am yours
I am still

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Refuge, Strength, Near © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Based on Psalm 46

You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Degrenia, revlisad.com
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon- Stillness (Psalm 46)

Sermon Series Seeking God 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Seeking God
Message 5 of 5: Stillness
Scriptures: Psalm 46
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 2/23/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire contemporary worship service, including the message.

From Screens to Stillness: Challenge of the Screens, a selection from Becky Eldredge’s terrific blog
Our world drastically changed on January 9, 2007. What happened on this date? Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, stood at a press conference and announced that Apple had reinvented the phone. He said it had software for everything, the world’s best media player, the world’s best telephone, and the world’s best way to get on the web, and in addition to that, it had a camera.

Just a few months prior to this announcement in January 2007, Facebook opened its doors to all above the age of thirteen in September 2006. Later in 2007, Twitter began. Google launched the Android phone in 2007 as well. Amazon came out with the Kindle. Mobile traffic drastically increased- 100,000% from 2007 to 2014.

So much changed in a short amount of time about how we communicate, how we interact, and how we go about building relationships. An article I read once in Forbes magazine stated that on average we get 121 emails a day, and we check our phones every twelve minutes. That’s over 80 times a day! The article said that for every interruption it takes us fifteen minutes to refocus. Our brains are exhausted from continually pulling in and out of focus all day….

While there is a gift to technology, the advent of the handheld screen is impacting our bodies, our health, our creativity, our mental health, and so much more. As I follow business literature I am seeing more and more being written about the value of pausing, of silence, and of being still. Every time I read a new book or article about this, I chuckle. The “medicine” they are offering people is the tried and true contemplative prayer practices our Christian faith has lauded for hundreds of years. It’s the medicine people taught me these past two decades, and I passionately want to share with others. I believe people are longing to live a different way and to have tools to help them combat the busyness and embrace the gift of stillness and silence.

I believe this, too. In the midst of trouble, stress, need, and a big pile of work, my last instinct is to be still. God invites me to cultivate stillness as my first instinct.

I’m learning how to do this and I hope you are learning right along with me. Since we began this sermon series, I established a new morning rhythm of Sacred Reading, Scripture, and Stillness. Already it’s making a huge difference.

I am different on the days I practice my morning rhythm than when I don’t. It’s simple. It’s classically Christian. It is Biblical and available for all of us.

Psalm 46:10-11
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge

Definition of Contemplative Prayer by Becky Eldredge, From Screens to Stillness: Embracing Silence and Stillness in the Day-to-Day
Contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition is about being still and silent with someone-God. We do not enter silence, stillness, and solitude alone. We go to be with someone.

For me, stillness is about recognizing the presence of God who is already there. This is what makes our practice of stillness different than practices outside the Christian tradition. Other practices seek answers within a person’s own self or seek to connect to larger energies or “universe.”

We seek the person and presence of God. We become still enough to realize the Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is not angry or distant but is our refuge.

Jennifer Gehman’s Testimony. Find Jenny at www.jennygehman.com
I’m part of an online group of Christian authors know as Bookwifery. We meet for an hour on Fridays to encourage one another, resource one another and pray for one another.

Jenny and her family have been praying about a major life change for her family- moving to a new city and a new job. Her word for the year is SOAR, yet all she could visualize was an eagle protecting its young. The wings folded over, wrapped around.

It makes sense. She cares for an adult child with special needs. She also has a strong hospitality calling, so she’s constantly welcoming people into her home.

She kept going to God in stillness. The Holy Host as she describes God. This past week this is what she heard- SOAR, Sweetheart, open and rise.

Do you hear the invitation in that? The affirmation. Not condemnation or mocking. An invitation to a new adventure, a new perspective, a bigger picture. They have decided to move and take on the new job.

There are a zillion questions yet to be answered, yet as she told the story her face lit up. She was almost giggling giddy. We all felt the lift, the soar of it.

It all came from stillness. This is for all of us.

Psalm 46
God’s Defense of His City and People. To the leader. Of the Korahites. According to Alamoth. A Song.

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah

Selah-(See-lah), it’s like breath. We’re not sure exactly what it means, but we suspect it means “stop and listen.” Stop and listen to the instruments? Stop and listen in the silence? Whatever it was, it was “stop and listen to God and let this promise sink in.”

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
    see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Three times the Psalmist reminds us that God is our refuge and strength. (Psalm 46:1, 7, and 11) Our Deliverer. Our Savior.⁠

Three times the Psalmist reminds us God is near. A very present help- well proved.⁠

Knowing this we can be still and know God is God⁠
I AM, exalted among the nations⁠
I AM, exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10)⁠

Knowing this we can be still⁠
⁠There’s no need to self-medicate with busyness and distraction
There’s no need to hustle for our self-worth or salvation
⁠There’s no need to fear our dependence on God
⁠There’s no need to fear what might come up in the stillness

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Knowing this about God brings us to stillness and brings us stillness.

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Sermon- Stillness © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon- Quiet Your Soul (Psalm 131)

Sermon Series Seeking God 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Seeking God
Message 3 of 5: Quiet Your Soul
Scripture: Psalm 131
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 1/26/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire worship service, including the message.

If your brain was an animal, what would it be?
There are times when my brain resembles an animal more than a human.

  • A monkey brain- reacting rather than responding to the new or unexpected
  • A hamster on a wheel brain in constant motion- thinking, planning, working and it won’t stop
  • A squirrel brain- distracted, chasing this thought or feeling then chasing another one
  • A dog brain- grabbing hold of an idea or feeling (like resentment) and it won’t let go

What do we long for? We long for peace of mind.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)

We long peace of mind, for quietness.
Even something deeper than that, rest for our souls.
The good news is we can have it no matter the season or circumstance.

Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Let’s hear the testimony of Ruth Haley Barton on how she found rest for her soul. Ruth Haley Barton, author of Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence and the book Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation.

I didn’t have a jar of river water, but Pam was kind enough to loan me her snowglobe. This snowglobe settles in about 10 seconds. In practicing solitude and silence I don’t settle this quickly. It’s a new practice for me. I’m learning.

What I do know is that I need it. The idea that we can be all jumbled up inside and settle into a quietness of the soul is a promise and gift of God. These practices are ancient. They are not new nor new age. We’ve just forgotten them or never been taught them.

Rest for our souls- The Christian Practice of Solitude and Silence. Some refer to it as Christian Contemplation, Contemplative Prayer, or Christian Meditation. I like the word stillness. It sounds more approachable.

What is it? We stop. We stop making demands on God. We stop making demands on ourselves. We leave productivity and accomplishment behind for a time. It’s being rather than doing.

We stop and spend time with God. God is God. God is present and waiting. I belong to God.

Psalm 131- a song of quiet trust. A song of ascents used as folks made their way up the mountain range between Jericho and Jerusalem. They were heading to Jerusalem for worship at the Temple. A song of David, the shepherd king, the man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22)

Psalm 131, NRSV
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.

The Psalm is directed to God, as is the Christian practice of Solitude, Silence, and Stillness. Notice how striving and achieving are left behind- my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not too high. I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 

There is humility. There is dependence, as a child.

We had a preschool party recently. It was baby palooza, so many babies. One of the moms asked if I wanted to hold her baby and I said, “YES!” I had the joy of holding a three-month-old baby Elias, a nugget of love. He came to me and nestled in.

My soul is calmed and quieted like a weaned child with its mother. 

The Christian practice of Solitude, Silence, and Stillness is very different than the practice of Eastern Meditation. In our practice, we are seeking God and stopping. In Eastern practice, I am doing. I am striving for self.  All I need is within me. I can heal myself. I can attain a higher state of consciousness. I empty my mind. I control my breathing. I control my emotions. I control myself. (notice all the I’s)

How to Practice Stillness. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands palms up on your lap. This is a posture of openness and receiving. Set a timer for 5-20 minutes. Take a deep breath. Gaze on God and allow God to gaze on you. As your mind is distracted, center back on gazing at God.

Distracted, by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Sometimes you are distracted by your prayers,
your desires pulling so many ways
like chores, the must, the ought,
the please oh please,
the wouldn’t it be better if.

Forget your prayers
and pay attention to the Beloved,
sit without purpose,
simply gaze,
and be without excuse
beheld.

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Sermon- Quiet Your Soul © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Calm the Storm in Me (Mark 4.35-41)

hurricane-irma-satellite-noaa-ht-jc-170905_12x5_992

A satellite image of Hurricane Irma released by NOAA

In a group setting, the words in regular print are spoken by one voice and the words in bold print are spoken by all.

When the waves rise high above our ability to see your face…
Still my soul, Lord Jesus,
Calm the storm in me

When the howling wind and the pouring rain drown out the sound of your voice…
Still my soul, Lord Jesus,
Calm the storm in me

When the thunder and the lightning distract us from Your presence in every circumstance…
Still my soul, Lord Jesus,
calm the storm in me
that I may re-member in your presence
that I may be light in the chaos
that I may be of use to you in your saving and restoring work

Calm the Storm in Me by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, based on Mark 4:35-41
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Calm the Storm in Me © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.