August 12 – Perseverance – With self esteem

Read Psalm 139:13-14

A woman knits a blanket. Row by row, she holds the yarn, wraps the needles, works her hands until her creation is complete. As she finishes her project, she inspects each stitch. This woman knows her blanket inch by inch. She has searched it thoroughly, even as she created its very form. She knows the value of her creation, and, no matter what happens to it now, that value will never change in her eyes.

I wonder if David pictured something like this when he wrote Psalm 139. He knew what it was like to create a masterpiece. He had created so many of the songs you and I know as the Psalms, knitting words together, inspecting each stanza, forming each phrase. Each one holds distinct value even now, thousands of years after he wrote them. Just as God had distinctly woven together David’s very being before he was born, so David had carefully crafted Psalm 139:

“You have searched me, LORD…and you know me.”

When he wrote this psalm, David constructed it in such a way as to focus on the praise due to the One who had carefully and wonderfully created him. The God who had distinctly defined his very person. David knew that his worth was totally tied up in the distinct value his Creator had assigned each stitch of his person. His worth would never change, no matter what anyone said. The enemies David mentioned in verses 19-22 could never change the value his Creator had given him from day one. No matter what might happen to disfigure his shape or mar his character, David knew his value would never diminish because the God who created him was an excellent Creator who only makes wonderful works. 

And this is how we persevere when our worth feels gone.

When we feel beaten down, having failed yet again, still our value remains unchanged. When we see ourselves as broken and unworthy of love, the God of the universe, who knit us together stitch by stitch, sees His beautiful creation, full of value. 

You see, the value is actually not about us at all. It’s about Him. And He is the perfect Creator whose works are only ever full of wonder and worth everything to Him!

Bria Wasson

August 8 – Perseverance – While displaying kindness

Read Psalm 141:5 and Ephesians 4:29

When I think of perseverance, I begin to sweat. I feel drenched, exhausted, and short of breath. You see, perseverance reminds me of training to be a stand-out athlete with lots of running and exercise. In order to be a good athlete, you must train and practice over and over. And so, all that practice and working out makes me think of running, lifting weights and…sweating.

Not my cup of tea.

I can think of other pursuits I would rather persevere towards. One such area would be to pursue kindness. We hear the slogan “Be Kind” in a lot of places today. It’s on t-shirts, posters, and embedded in children’s programming.

A single act of kindness here and there is not all that hard to achieve.

When a teacher encourages students to be kind in the classroom, they will look for a dropped pencil to pick up, or assist a fellow student in picking up trash in the hallway. Often, when students are caught being kind, they are rewarded with a treat or recognition. As an adult, it is not that difficult to contribute to a community food drive or help a neighbor care for their pets. We feel good about ourselves when we are kind.

Living a consistent lifestyle that demonstrates kindness requires perseverance. Being kind sometimes requires a person to share some hard truth. Perhaps a child needs to be corrected for inappropriate behavior, or a spouse needs to be reminded that their words hurt, or an employee needs to be told about a mistake they made. It would be easy to look the other way and ignore these problems, but it wouldn’t be kind. In the moment, the truth may not seem kind, and may not be received well. That’s why consistent kindness over time is important. Kind words and actions build trust and demonstrate love. Then, when a hard truth must be shared, it will be more easily swallowed.

Psalm 141:5 says

“Let the righteous man strike me – that is a kindness; let him rebuke me- that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of the evildoers.”

We all can begin training to be kind by following the advice found in Ephesians 4:29:

 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Pursuing kindness takes perseverance as it won’t happen overnight. It takes careful practice and repeated attempts to consistently respond with kindness. Perhaps you are a person who needs to accept the truthful words of a kind person. It can be difficult to hear that you aren’t doing something correctly or need to stop doing something hurtful. You may not even perceive the behavior as inappropriate, but let the kind words of a trusted advisor sink in and change you, even though it stings.

Use your words carefully today. Be kind…even if it requires a little sweat on your part.

Tammy Finney

August 1 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 145

Read Psalm 145:1-21

Have you ever experienced something so great that you had to share all about it to everyone you see? It could be a favorite restaurant with the best burger you’ve ever eaten, a movie theater with the most comfortable chairs you’ve ever sat in, or the best hotel that had the most wonderful service you’ve ever experienced! When we know something is great, we talk about it!

In Psalm 145, David can’t stop talking about his incredible and amazing God! There are 21 verses where the psalmist declares he will exalt and praise God. That He is a mighty King, worthy of all glory! He says that no one can measure His greatness and that it’s a name so good every generation to come will know it. David had experienced something SO GOOD that he couldn’t stop talking about it!

If you were to flip through the pages of my Bible, you’d see every pen color in the rainbow and more- circles and boxes around specific words, underlines, scribbles, notes, and doodles galore! The book of Psalms has crinkled pages because of the marks I’ve made throughout each chapter. God has used these chapters to transform my heart and I don’t ever want to forget those moments, so I jot them down! The biggest reason I love this book of the Bible is because of chapters like Psalm 145. There are one-hundred and forty-four chapters before it that contain poems of hurt, pain, confession, praise, wisdom and so much more that always lead right back to the reason we have hope. Every chapter points our eyes directly to the goodness of God and the thousands of reasons that He deserves all the glory and all our praise on this side of Heaven and for all eternity.

Even when things don’t seem good, God gives us so many reasons to worship and praise Him for how He has loved us and continues to care for us every single day. As you pray through Psalm 145, I want to challenge you to thank God for the moments in your life when you’ve seen Him move. It could be big moments that changed the course of where life was headed or a small moment that reminded you just how big God’s love is for you. Then, take a moment to read through these 21 verses and THANK God for each thing!

Becca Harbaugh

July 31 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 139

Read Psalm 139:1-24

“If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

Psalm 139:8

Have you ever had an experience where you could have been killed? A close call that you survived and are not sure why?

Since I was involved in a serious car accident, I have had reminders of that day. And then I am thankful to God. And I believe He is with me all the time, including those 10 seconds that ended in a broken knee, surgery and a totaled car. The fact that I am still here is proof to me that God was with me and He still has a plan for me on this earth. And within 5 seconds after crashing into a cement wall, a woman opened the passenger side door and prayed to Jesus that I would be OK.

Psalm 139 tells me that God is always with me –  no matter where I go, before birth, after birth and after death on earth. He is with me while I’m sleeping and when I’m awake.

On the day of the car accident, I was working at Valet parking at Wooster Community Hospital. A man with one leg asked me to park his car, and he told me the brakes and the accelerator were switched. I did not think that would be a problem. So I got in his car and, the next thing I know, the car is lunging forward and I am moving. And I didn’t know where the brakes were. The brakes were in a different place on the floor of his car. I could not stop the car!

But this accident has brought many blessings my way. And one of them is that I have had more time to read the Bible while recovering.

Have you ever noticed that many times the writers of the Bible talk about God’s right hand?

“Your right hand, Oh Lord, shattered the enemy.” (Exodus 14:6b)

“Your right hand upholds me.“.  (Psalm 63:8)

“Then he placed his right hand on me” (Revelation 1:17)

“…even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast”. (Psalm 139:10)

One message I have learned from reading Psalm 139 is that God is always with me. In life and in death.

Tom Weckesser

July 30 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 127

Read Psalm 127:1-5

Reading this Psalm made me think of how many things that I have done or tried to do on my own without God’s help.  Webster defines vain as “having no real value, marked by futility or ineffectiveness.” That’s my life without Christ at the center. However, when I put Christ first, reading His word, praying, worshiping with my whole heart, things happen that I could have never imagined.

I remember early in our marriage, we were building a house. About two weeks after the foundation had been laid,  my husband had an accident at work, suffering a broken ankle.  I remember sitting with him in the emergency room as he was questioning what we were going to do. How were we going to continue to build with him unable to work at his job? As we were our own general contractor for the house, how was the work going to be done? Were we going to be able to get the house completed before winter? Many questions loomed larger than life. Yet, in the midst of all this chaos, I remember a calm that was only possible through Christ. I knew that, no matter what happened, it was not a surprise to God.

Many unusual things happened as a result of that situation. Friends and family rallied around to help with the building process. Subcontractors came ahead of schedule because my husband was at home. Because of the time of year, worker’s compensation checks were equal to what his regular salary would have been. We were blessed with an anonymous gift given through the church that paid for floor coverings.  We always knew that it was God’s love and provision for us.

Continuing on in the Psalm, verse 3 states “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” In the middle of the situation with the broken ankle, we found out that I was pregnant with our second child. Not exactly what our time table was, but it was all in God’s timing. Early on, I had some difficulty, resulting in my needing to rest more, rather than working on the house. But that, too, was all in God’s hands as I learned to trust Him instead of working it out for myself.

As I look to the future, I ask myself the question, “Am I letting the LORD build my house? Or am I doing my own thing with no real value or effectiveness?”

How about you? Do you trust God to “build the house” that He has planned for you?

I pray that it is so.

Linda Joy Geiser

July 29 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 121

Read Psalm 121:1-8

I am sorry to admit that my eyes and my thoughts don’t always turn immediately to the Lord when I am faced with adversity. Psalm 121 serves as a great reminder that they should.

You may have noticed the intro to these eight verses. These words represent a “Song of Ascents.” This is one of fifteen psalms (Ps. 120-134) that were used by Jewish pilgrims making the journey to Jerusalem and the temple. As pilgrims neared the holy city, they were faced with an “ascent.” It was quite an uphill climb to reach the city. And the House of God itself was located on the “Temple Mount.”

But more importantly, pilgrims must raise their perspective. Real help does not come from a sacred city on a hill. Help does not come from a building, even if its construction was commissioned by the Lord Himself. Help comes from the Creator Lord. In your search for help and solutions to your problems, lift your eyes beyond creation to the Creator. Raise your perspective beyond the all that is man-made to the maker of all things.

Beyond being the Creator, this One who listens to your prayers watches over you. Five times in these few verses, the author reminds us of His watchful care. We never escape his notice. There is never an inattentive moment when we are outside of His purview. Whether it is day or night, He is like a watchman with his eyes trained on you. He is guarding your life day and night. No matter your destination, whether you are coming or going, He is more than aware of your life situation. He is the preserver and protector of your entire lifespan…not only now, but forever.

But, as you pray to the Guardian of your life, what do you do with the statements that promise “He will not let your foot slip” (3b) and “The Lord will keep you from all harm” (7a)? Clearly many of us have twisted an ankle, most of us have suffered an accident or injury, and all of us have experienced unwanted adversity. Is He only One who observes but is unable to act? Are those promises empty?

The New Testament reminds us that the “Lord disciplines the one He loves” (Heb. 12:6), and He does so “that we may share in his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). Perhaps we are to understand the guarding, protecting, preserving God of creation as One who stands watch at the door of our lives. Nothing is permitted to enter without His divine approval and without purpose attached to it. (Check out Job 1 and 2.)

As you pray through this Psalm, will you honor the One who watches over your life?

Steve Kern

July 28 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 91

Read Psalm 91: 1-16

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most high will rest in the shadow of the almighty.” YES!  That is what we want… protection and rest. These first 2 verses remind me of a story:

A couple of years ago we had a fire at our house and had to be out for a few months. After we moved back in, I very clearly remember a moment in the backyard one night. You see, my 8 year old daughter was the one who found the fire and, as a father, many thoughts ran through my mind of what we could have lost. But on this night, my daughter and I were on the back porch looking out on the field behind the house. We have a REALLY bright light in the backyard and I remember so clearly looking out at our shadows on the ground. Her shadow was two times the size of her, but when I stood beside her, my shadow completely covered hers. 100%. And even though it was super dark in the field in front of us, she knew she was protected because she was in my shadow. She did not have to be afraid, she had her shelter of protection.

And that is how it is with God. No matter what we are walking through. No matter what we are afraid of today. We do not have to be paralyzed by that, because we are in the shadow of our Father God!  He protects us!  He gives us shelter and protection!

So, as you pray through this Psalm, I encourage you to pray about what makes you afraid. Tell God what is paralyzing you right now and ask Him to give you rest. And then talk to our God. Tell Him about your fear and ask Him for the rest…just as it says in this Psalm… rest in God. Allow Him to put His shadow of protection over your life and give you rest! If you trust in and turn to Him, He promises to do just that…give you rest.

Tim Boucher

July 27 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 90

Read Psalm 90:1-17

Do you ever catch yourself wandering down the road of worry and “what-if?” It’s easy to let ourselves slip into thinking so far ahead that we lose ourselves amidst the unknown. I remember being a small child laying in bed at night, on multiple occasions dreading the fact that I had to grow up. I cried at the thought of growing old and losing the things around me that I knew to be true. My parents would explain to me that growing up and entering new phases of life was how life worked. In our humanity, we are unable to stay in any moment forever, and yet this Psalm reminds us that, in that truth, God has been and will be our dwelling place from everlasting to everlasting (v. 1-2). Though our moments are fleeting, our God remains steadfast. In each new phase of life, in each new day, in each new moment- God upholds us with exactly what we need.

I think this Psalm reminds us of our frailty in comparison to God’s strength and might. He is in control of our days and our future. We need only trust that He’ll provide for each new day exactly what is needed. As you pray through this psalm, I encourage you to reflect on these things.

God is everlasting and never changing. Verses 1 and 2 remind us of this truth. Claim this truth over your heart and your circumstances!

We are weak, but He renews us day by day. “Like the new grass of the morning: in the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.” Rest in the truth that he provides for us each new morning. (v. 3-6)

God is all powerful and all knowing. He numbers our days and He knows each one of them- our shortcomings, our sorrows, our fears. He knows them all, and He is with us through each one. (v. 7-12)

He is good. He satisfies our every need! “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” ALL our days!

I hope that this Psalm brings you the comfort and freedom it does me. Let us remember that, though we think we see comfort in the “known,” God is steadfast and everlasting amidst the unknown. He goes before and provides for us each step of the way.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Brooke Spengler

July 26 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 73

Read Psalm 73:1-28

One of my family’s favorite pastimes is to watch the old comedy show starring Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. We actually own the complete series of the Dick Van Dyke Show and it’s not uncommon to hear a quote from an episode slipped into one of our family conversations. During the opening credits of various shows, Dick Van Dyke trips over the ottoman. His slap stick agility makes him such a great performer.

We often laugh at people tripping in a comedy routine, but it’s not a laughing matter when someone stumbles on the road of life. Psalm 73 is our road sign that we must heed. Warning: “Danger! Slippery rocks ahead.” The rocks labeled “envy” and “despair” impeded his walk with God. He looked around and saw the prosperity of the wicked. He envied the life they lived with ease. Around the corner of the verses, I can hear him cry out that life is not fair. Why did he work so hard to keep his heart pure? The Message Bible doesn’t beat around the bush. “I’ve been stupid to play by the rules; what has it gotten me? A long run of bad luck, that’s what- a slap in the face every time I walk out the door.”  Let’s be honest. At some point in life, that has probably been the echo of our own hearts. Fortunately the writer of this Psalm heeded the warning sign and verse two tells us that he came close to stumbling over the rocks of envy and despair, but God caught him.

Peter also slipped but was caught by God. A giant wave of fear quickly changed his course. Strong willed, determined Peter lost sight of Jesus when he focused on the circumstances that surrounded him, but Jesus caught him by the hand. I wonder if after that miraculous encounter, Peter remembered the words of David in Psalm 37? He shall not be hurled headlong; because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

The valuable lesson of staying on course is,  “Don’t focus on the problem, focus on His presence.” Verse 17 is the transitional verse. Until I came into the sanctuary of God. Until. It’s a conjunction, a connection between the woes of the first sixteen verses and the Psalmist’s new perspective. When our eyes are focused on Him, our feet will not stumble.

Rocks, waves, and storms will inevitably be in our path of life. Remember, the Lord is with you and holds your hand. Just as the song writer penned almost one hundred years ago, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face.” The Psalmist concluded, “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.” Psalm 73:28

His presence is greater than any problem.

Questions to consider:

  • What rocks or waves tend to cause me to stumble? Envy? Despair? Fear?
  • How am I heeding God’s warnings?
  • When life seems unfair, who or what do I turn to?
  • How can I live in God’s presence today?

 Charline Engle

July 25 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 57

Read Psalm 57:1-11

All of us experience fear, doubt and uncertainty.

Then there are the heartbreaks and disappointments.  Sometimes we feel like we will never be able to escape them. Something goes awry with the family. There’s discouraging news from the doctor. We face one challenge after another at work. Thus the saying, “When it rains, it pours.”

David, who wrote this Psalm, was experiencing that kind of predicament, but much worse.  He was literally running for his life as his father-in-law, Saul, who was king at the time was trying to kill him.

In his distress, David openly and honestly cries out to God for help.  From this Psalm we too will learn how to call out to God in our time of need, but in a way that lifts our spirit before the Lord. Let’s use the acrostic C.A.L.L. to help us.

Confess your need. (vv. 1,4, 6)

Confessing is about agreeing to something. When I confess my need, I’m confessing my disappointment or heartache or discouragement to God. I open my heart and my soul to God. I agree that God is God, and I’m not.  Not only that, but that I need God’s mercy, comfort, care, and help.

Acknowledge God’s Person and purpose. (vv. 2, 3, 10)

God is unchanging.  The theological term for that is immutable. His character, being and essense never change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. That’s why He is described as our rock, our fortress, our ever-present help in time of trouble. His love, faithfulness, and compassion never change.  Troubles come and go.  Others may stay.  But God never changes.

And what’s more, God’s purposes will always prevail (Proverbs 19:21).  God’s plan and purpose for your life will be accomplished, in both good and bad times (Romans 8:28-39). You can count on it.

David chose not to sulk in his hardship, but to satisfy his heart by acknowledging God’s immutable Person and His loving purpose for his life.

Long to be faithful. (v. 7)

In the midst of the trial, David said, “My heart is steadfast, O God….” Elsewhere, David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).  He both pursued God and allowed his heart to be secure in Him.  When life becomes challenging – maybe even debilitating – David encourages us to vocalize to God our steadfast pursuit of Him and our security in Him, to understand that we can “take refuge in the shadow of [His] wings until the disaster has passed” (v. 1c).

Lavish praise on Almighty God (vv. 5, 8-11)

Praise is the perfect antidote for discouragement. After we have confessed our need, acknowledged God’s Person and purpose, and affirmed our steadfast heart, we are perfectly positioned to lavish praise, which celebrates His great love, acknowledges His unwavering faithfulness, and exalts His impeccable glory. Praise lifts our heart, raises our perspective, and reminds us of our hope. When times are difficult, there is no substitute for praise from a heart that is aligned with God.

So the next time you are feeling down and discouraged, C.A.L.L. on God, because rest assured, God is at work and is worthy of our praise.

David Lawson