Posts tagged ‘Psalm’

May 21, 2015

Peace for the Hurting

by Bethany

May21


*Editor’s Note: Last week we explored how to fill our prayers with
arguments before the Lord. This week, we model prayers that do that.

Lord,

Meet with us this morning. Awaken us with a song of praise in our hearts and on our lips. Give us a vision for service in our cities. Incline our hearts to the Word and not to getting gain. Fill us with your Spirit of wisdom, joy and righteousness. Make us happy children, spouses, parents, friends, citizens and colleagues. Bind our hearts to one another and bind our hearts to you through the new covenant that is sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

As we look at the world around us, we see great turmoil. Not only is there confusion in our own country, there is disorder throughout the nations. 

We pray, as the psalmist did in Psalm 74; “Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name. Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long. Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.”

Do not leave your work unfinished. What you have begun, do not fail to complete. You are an unchanging God, who will do in the future what you have done in the past. For you do not turn from your purpose and cannot be thwarted in your design.

Therefore, go before us, as you did with the Hebrews. March through the wilderness and shake the earth. Cause the heavens to pour down rain in abundance. In your goodness, provide for the needy, displaced, homeless, and weak. Make yourself known to them. 

You are a God who cares for victims of violence and oppression. You spread your cloak over refugees and foreigners. For your people were aliens in a land not their own and you sustained them. We were aliens without an inheritance to your promises and you adopted us through Jesus. Therefore, heal your people and use us as your hands and feet.

Amen.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 30 (Listen – 5:52)
Psalm 74 (Listen – 2:34)

Arguing with God
Part 4 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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May 20, 2015

A Fitness for the Display of Grace

by Bethany

May20

*Editor’s Note: Last week we explored how to fill our prayers with arguments before the Lord. This week, we model prayers that do that.

Lord,

How great is our dilemma! For silence best becomes us in your presence, but love inflames our hearts and causes us to speak. Were we to stay quiet, the stones would cry out; yet if we speak, what shall we say? 

As A.W. Tozer shows in The Knowledge of the Holy, the nearer we approach the throne, the less sure our words become. Teach us to know what we cannot know, for no one – apart from the Spirit – knows the things of God. Yet we yearn to know what cannot be known, to comprehend what is incomprehensible, to touch and taste the unapproachable. Deep calls to deep and we long to return to you. Let faith support us where reason fails.

There is a wall, infinitely high, that separates us from you. Our sin is a great obstacle to knowing and enjoying you. Therefore, have mercy on us this morning. For our iniquity is great. 

Why should you go about doing little things? You are a great God and we are great sinners. For we confess the words of the psalmist in Psalm 73, “Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.” We cannot hide from you. Our sins are laid bare before your eyes.

Yet in our unworthiness, there is opportunity. For there is a fitness in us for the display of your grace. The greatness of our sin makes us perfect platforms for the greatness of your mercy to be displayed. Let the greatness of your love be seen in us. The power with which you restrain yourself is great indeed. 

So we creep down at the foot of your throne, crouching low and crying, as Charles Spurgeon  in Order and Argument in Prayer, “O God, do not break us. We are bruised reeds. Oh! Do not tread on our little lives. They are but as the withering grass. Will you hunt us? Will you come out? Will you watch us? Because we are so little and because the greatness of your mercy can be shown in us even though we are so insignificant, we plead that you would have mercy on us.”

In Jesus, in whose name we plead, we have the final answer to our dilemma. We come to you through his wounds and mediation. In him, your steadfast love is good. Turn to us, according to your abundant mercy. Save us and build up your people so that your name will dwell among us.

Amen.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 29 (Listen – 5:05)
Psalm 73 (Listen – 2:56)

Arguing with God
Part 3 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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May 8, 2015

Renewal in Failure

by Steven Dilla

MayEight

Psalm 54.6-7
With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble. 

“Principles are like prayers,” Maggie Smith’s character Lady Grantham explains on Downton Abbey; “noble, of course, but awkward at a party.” The Dowager Countess is right in many respects, principles are awkward — cumbersome and even forced — but that’s just at first. After a principle gains steam it’s called character. Actions which initially require deep intentionality grow natural and become the bedrock on which reputation is built.

Likewise, “the words of psalms in worship helps us to ‘grow into’ beliefs and attitudes about God, note C. Richard Wells and Ray Van Neste in their book Forgotten Songs: Reclaiming The Psalms for Christian Worship. “Therefore, worship is not just expressive, it is formative.”

“The feelings the psalmists express are ones we need to ‘own’ for ourselves…the psalms give us forms for our feelings. Thus, the sentiments and feelings the psalmist expresses become normative for us.”

Growing character through determination and discipline is not distinctively Christian. In many respects the ability to do so is a reflection of the potential and strength woven into beings created in God’s image.

What is distinctly Christian — the linchpin of the whole growth process — is how a person responds to failure along the way. David’s life is an exemplar, even on the extreme end, of what ought to happen after a lifetime of reputation and character collapses in an instant. 

It would have been easier for David’s relationship with God to become transactional — sacrifices made in order to earn God’s benefaction. Instead, after repentance, David rejoices and offers freewill offerings. The Jewish Publication Society’s Torah Commentary observes, “The freewill offering was one which the worshiper—usually with no prior obligation or commitment—promised to give as an expression of devotion or gratitude.”

David knew he could neither deserve nor earn the forgiveness or favor of God. He lived his life in joyful response to the grace he was so generously given. Perhaps this is why C.S. Lewis reflected, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” 

Prayer
Father God, your grace is our life. Your love nourishes our souls and brings strength to our minds. Restore to us the joy of your salvation.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 16 (Listen – 6:59)
Psalms 52-54 (Listen – 2:26)

Finding Our Way
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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This Weekend’s Readings
Saturday: Numbers 17-18 (Listen – 5:58); Psalm 55 (Listen – 2:43)
Sunday: Numbers 19 (Listen – 3:39); Psalms 56-57 (Listen – 3:11)

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May 7, 2015

TBT: Repentance in Light of Forgiveness

by Steven Dilla

MaySeven

Psalm 51.9-10
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 

TBT: Repentance in Light of Forgiveness | by John Calvin 

But here it may be asked why David needed to pray so earnestly for the joy of remission, when he had already received assurance from the lips of Nathan that his sin was pardoned? Why did he not embrace this absolution?

David might be much relieved by the announcement of the prophet, and yet be visited occasionally with fresh convictions, influencing him to have recourse to the throne of grace. However rich and liberal the offers of mercy may be which God extends to us, it is highly proper on our part that we should reflect upon the grievous dishonor which we have done to his name, and be filled with due sorrow on account of it.

The truth is, that we cannot properly pray for the pardon of sin until we have come to a persuasion that God will be reconciled to us. Who can venture to open his mouth in God’s presence unless he be assured of his fatherly favor?

In proof of this, I might refer to the Lord’s Prayer, in which we are taught to begin by addressing God as our Father, and yet afterwards to pray for the remission of our sins. God’s pardon is full and complete; but our faith cannot take in his overflowing goodness, and it is necessary that it should distill to us drop by drop.

The mention which is here made of purging with hyssop, and of washing or sprinkling, teaches us, in all our prayers for the pardon of sin, to have our thoughts directed to the great sacrifice by which Christ has reconciled us to God. “Without shedding of blood,” says Paul, “is no remissions” and this, which was intimated by God to the ancient Church under figures, has been fully made known by the coming of Christ. 

Prayers from the Past
I am spent, O my Christ, Breath of my life.
Perpetual stress and surge, in league together,
make long, O long, this life, this business of living.
Grappling with foes within and foes without,
my soul hast lost its beauty, blurred your image.

— A prayer of confession from Gregory of Nazianzus, 383 C.E.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 15 (Listen – 5:09)
Psalm 51 (Listen – 2:19)

Finding Our Way
Part 4 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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May 6, 2015

Desiring the Inner Ring

by Bethany

MaySix

Numbers 14.10
Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. 

In 1944, C.S. Lewis spoke of our dangerous desire for exclusivity: “In all men’s lives… one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.”

“Men tell themselves that it is a hardship to stay late at the office on some bit of important extra work. But it is not quite true. It is a terrible bore when old Fatty Smithson draws you aside and whispers, ‘Charles and I saw at once that you’ve got to be on this committee.’ A terrible bore… but how much more terrible if you were left out! It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your Saturday afternoons; but to have them free because you don’t matter, that is much worse.”

Throughout his life, Moses was in the inner ring of fellowship with God. He led God’s people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. On Mount Sinai, the Lord would speak to Moses “face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” When God was angry with the grumbling Israelites, he almost started over with Moses only: “How long will these people treat me with contempt? … I will destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater.”

When Moses did not trust in God enough to honor him as holy in the sight of the Israelites, however, God denied his entry into Canaan and replaced him with Joshua: “After you have seen [Canaan from afar], you too will be gathered to your people … [for] you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy … Give [Joshua] some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.” Thus, God declared that no one—not even Moses—was immune from his justice, for his salvation was received by grace alone.

Prayer
Lord, Thousands of years after Moses, Jesus left the inner ring of fellowship with the Father to redeem us. He laid down his life and was killed outside the camp. If we are in him, we receive your unmerited grace to enter the only inner ring that matters. Forgive us for prizing others’ opinions more than yours. Work in us to crave being in your inner ring so that we will receive your grace to enter the Promised Land. Amen.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 14 (Listen – 6:15)
Psalm 50 (Listen – 2:26)

Finding Our Way
Part 3 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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