July 23 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 34

Read Psalm 34:1-22

This Psalm has a special memory for me. My sister and I shared a bedroom, but she is 8 years older than I am and moved to college by the time I was 10. We looked at this Psalm together and we made up a song. I still sing it in my head as I read this passage. The beauty of these truths has carried me through life. That is the powerful outcome of hiding His Word in our hearts. When we do so, He directs us, and we grow in our understanding of God’s presence and provision.

David is sharing these eternal truths from His experience with God. It is written in an acrostic form. Originally written in Hebrew, it uses the 22 letters of that alphabet to structure the many beautiful acknowledgements about and responses to our powerful and loving God. This was read and sung so others could be blessed and have their focus redirected in difficult times. How appropriate today as we face more concerns and distractions than we ever thought possible.

Why not embrace David’s challenge to use our English Alphabet and write an acrostic of the characteristics of God.

  • Almighty; B-Beautiful; C-Compassionate; E-Everlasting….keep going! Read them out loud today and enjoy worshipping our wonderful God!

Secondly, pray portions of this Psalm out loud so your soul can be refreshed.

Acknowledge His position in your life!

“Lord, you are worthy of my praise at all times. My soul boasts in you! You are to be exalted and magnified in my life.” vs. 1-3

Admit to Him and others around you what He has done and can do for you!

You, Father deliver me from all my fears! You have taken away all my shame. You save me from my troubles!” vs. 4-6

This passage expresses the use of the senses. Worship includes all we are.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!” Vs 8

Listen, I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Vs 11

It then instructs us in our soul journey. When we desire life and want to see many good days, we need to keep our tongue from evil and deceit. Instruction is clear to us to depart from evil and do good; seek peace and keep our focus on the Lord. Vss. 12-14

During this time of uncertainty and less control, I am thankful to have the Word of God to instruct, refresh, and lead me to pray truth to my soul.

Celeste Kern

July 22 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 23

Read Psalm 23:1-6

Have you pressed into God’s goodness to see what it really means to you?

I once heard a worship leader who I admire say, “Sometimes my most bold stance of faith looks like believing He is good enough for me to come to Him with my disappointments and find Him there. Sometimes it has looked like being sad and finding a shepherd there ready to hold me; a comforter who is comfortable with pain. Finding the shepherd who knows how to lead us through a valley so that we don’t stop and make a home in the valley, but will walk us through it. Is He good enough for you to be rested in His grasp?”

When I heard that statement, I thought of Psalm 23. I think most always when I hear the word “shepherd,” I think of it.

I remember being in Israel at the end of my Great Commission Bible Institute year, in Bethlehem overlooking a field. My pastor, at that time, who spent the year teaching us, began to teach again. He asked us to take out our Bibles and turn to Psalm 23 and he began to show us what being a shepherd to sheep looks like…and then, it came to life.

Here is my prayer; Where is your heart after reading Psalm 23?

(vs1-2) Father, help me to give up control of my life and lean on the truth that You are all I need. You are more than enough for me and in You, I have everything. No matter how many times I forget that You are good, thank you for leading me and guiding me back to You and always calming my mind when it begins to wander.

(Vs3-4) Lord, You call me holy and make me new. May I walk behind You and follow Your path and always choose righteousness for Your glory and Your glory alone. Though at times I walk with sadness and disappointments, thank you for always being next to me. Thank you for always reminding me that You are my protector, You are my comforter, You are the only one who can bring me peace.

(Vs5-6) You are preparing a place for me. A feast of all feasts and, even though I have enemies, even though I can be my own worst enemy, You remind me that all of me is welcome to Your table. That I don’t have to hide any part of me because You’ve created every part. You never let go and always provide above and beyond my expectations. Your grace is sufficient, Your love is measureless and nothing can separate me from You. Help me to continue to run towards Your pursuit, to not hold on to this life and what’s in it but to look forward to where I was intended to be and live in that hope.

Help me keep my eyes on You.

Amen.

Kelly Lawson

July 21 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 19

Read Psalm 19:1-14

I recently listened to an interview with an author who specializes in writing memoirs. She said what keeps her reading someone’s memoir is not their troublesome story, but rather, what has kept the author’s ‘pilot light’ lit in the midst of their troublesome story.

I need God’s voice. I need His words to fuel my ‘pilot light’ in the worst of windy storms.

Prayer is as much talking to God as listening to Him. This Psalm is all about His voice. I’m so thankful that He is a generous God who is willing to speak to us through His creation, word, and spirit.

 Psalm 19

 1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

God, thank you for reminding me of your power and beauty in creation. You spoke the world into being. You hold all things together. I’m in awe of your creativity, enormity, vastness, and generosity. I need to know you are with me. When I look at the stars they tell me that you are a genius. When I feel the warmth of the sun I am reminded of your love for me. When I watch it rise and set I am reminded of your control and consistency. Nothing is too hard for you.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

God, forgive me for doubting your word. All of the refreshment I need is found in your words. As I spend time reading your words, build my trust in you. Help me to do what you say and walk in the wisdom of your perfect words.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

God, your words are always right. I want to be right in my dealings with others, in my relationship with you, in business and in rest. I want to be aligned with your word. Thank you for the joy that comes when I surrender to your word. Thank you for directing my every step as I listen to you.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

I am in awe of you, Lord. I want my life to agree with everything you say. Thank you for the promise of eternity with you and for giving me a firm place to stand. Nothing is more precious or sweeter than your words to me.

11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

God, help me heed the warnings you give me in your word. Thank you for promising an eternal reward for obedience to you. Forgive me for the things I do that I shouldn’t do and for not doing the things that I should. Show me my sins and give me the courage to turn from them. Thank you for your patience and grace. Keep moving me to deeper surrender and faith in you. I want to live and love like Jesus.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Father, I see you through creation. I hear you in your word. I see you and you see and know me. Nothing is hidden from your sight. May the resounding music of my heart and mind be pleasing to you. You are my Lord. You are my Rock. You are my Redeemer.

Amen.

 Shelly Eberly

July 20 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 8:3-9

Read Psalm 8:3–9

Did you ever ask yourself, “Why am I here? What’s the purpose of my life? What am I doing on earth anyway?” Sooner or later, all of us ponder those issues. The Psalmist answered those questions in the 8th Psalm.

King David also looked around at creation and wondered about the significance of his existence on earth.  Then he came to a crucial conclusion: If we do not see ourselves as the handiwork of the God who knows all there is to know about us, life will seem meaningless.

In Kingdoms in Conflict, author Chuck Colson wrote that the prevailing view of modern scientists is that:

“A chance collision of atoms created life. Subsequent mutations over thousands of years evolved into the extraordinarily complex creature we know as a man. If this is true, man is nothing more than an accident that started as slime or, as one theologian has put it, we are but grown-up germs. Our intuitive moral sense rejects such a trashing of human dignity.“

Yet David was clear-headed about all of this. Even though you and I have been made “a little lower than the heavenly beings,” in God’s sovereign plan, He crowned us “with glory and honor.” In other words, we were created by God and for God. The Apostle Paul said it like this, “…All things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16b – NIV).

As our Creator, God has given us a primary responsibility in life: we are to “rule” over His creation (cf. Genesis 1:28). Some call this having “dominion“ over the earth.  Others call it “creation care.”  Whatever name you give it, it means to manage the resources God has given us in this life. That includes everything we possess in life – family, time, money, health, possessions, job, friendships … everything that we call “ours” actually belongs to God.  Throughout life, we should ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do with what belongs to you?”  When you see your life through that lens, it shapes how you spend your time and energy.

In the 19th Century, a Sunday School teacher invested his time in a Boston shoe clerk and led him to Christ.  The clerk’s name was D. L. Moody.  Moody became a great evangelist who influenced a young preacher named F.B. Meyer.  During a meeting on a college campus, Meyer brought J. Wilbur Chapman to Jesus.  Chapman became involved with the YMCA and arranged for a former baseball player named Billy Sunday to come to Charlotte, NC for a revival meeting.  Several business leaders were so enthused about the results of the meeting that they invited Evangelist Mordecai Ham to preach in that city.  In the following meeting, a young man named Billy Graham yielded his life to Christ.

So the next time you wonder about the meaning of your life, remember: God put you here for a reason. He wants you to know Him and manage what He has entrusted to you – your life, your time, your resources, and your money – all need to be invested for His glory.

That sounds like a big job to me! It’s a job that will take a lifetime.

Bob Fetterhoff

July 19 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 8:3-4

Read Psalm 8:3-4

I’m not much of an astronomer. I can pick out a few constellations on a cloudless night, like the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Orion, and the North Star, but that’s about it.

Yet, like the Psalmist, I am fascinated by God’s creative handiwork in the heavens. I feel like King David when I consider what He has created. I am both amazed and mystified. And I’m not alone.

Just ponder these observations about the sky above us:

“If the Milky Way galaxy were the size of the entire continent of North America, our solar system would fit in a coffee cup… Yet this vast neighborhood of our sun- in truth the size of a coffee cup – fits along with several hundred billion such galaxies in the universe. To send a light – speed message to the edge of the universe would take 15 billion years!” (Philip Yancey).

“One of the objects relatively near to us, a star named Epsilon, is actually larger than the orbit of the planet Pluto in our solar system! If it were hollow, it could contain more than 2.3 billion of our suns!“ (James Dobson).

“Why is the sun 12,000° hot? Why not 1200°… Or 120,000°… Or 24,000°? Why was the earth fixed at exactly the right distance away so that we could have a pleasant temperature this morning? Why not twice as far, twice as close, or 1000 times as far? Answer: because all life would perish…. This planet was designed by God so that it would support one thing:  life. Without life, earth would be another planetary wasteland… Why life? Because only through life can matter understand God and glorify its maker! Only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can the designed know and glorify the Designer” (Chuck Swindoll).

This is what David understood!  The glory of the universe not only points to the ability of the Creator, but also reminds us that He created it all for us to enjoy!  It is His masterpiece which reminds us of His ability and calls us to worship Him.

Author and Pastor, Max Lucado, wrote, “We live in an art gallery of divine creativity.”  19th Century British historian and mathematician, Thomas Carlyle, said, “The universe is but one vast symbol of God.” The great American inventor and scientist, George Washington Carver, said: “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”

So are you tuned in to God’s channel?  Tonight … or tomorrow night … or whenever it’s clear again… take a walk outside and say to your Creator, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, who am I that you would love me enough to make it possible for me to have a relationship with you?” And worship Him!

Bob Fetterhoff

July 18 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 8:1-2

Read Psalm 8:1-2

No doubt about it! Psalm 8 is one of my favorites – especially verse 2:  “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.” Talk about a great reminder of both the simplicity and grandeur of worshiping our Creator!

I love the words to an anthem that our choir used to sing: “O Lord, our God, the majesty and glory of your name; transcends the earth and fills the heavens. O Lord, our God; little children praise You perfectly, And so would we.”

It’s such a delight when my grandchildren sing worship songs which they’ve been taught by their parents or that they’ve learned at church. My wife has taught them (and hundreds of other kids) to worship God by singing, “Lord, You are more precious than silver. Lord, You are more costly than gold. Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds. And nothing I desire compares with You.”  That brings tears to my eyes!

So what can you and I learn from children about worship? Let me suggest the following things…

  1. Children worship with a great sense of wonder. Have you walked outside on a starry night with a five-year-old recently? As you looked into the sky together, you both probably exclaimed, “Wow!” One of the tragedies of life is that we lose that sense of wonder as we get older. This psalm prods us back to the wonder of God’s creative power all around us.
  2. Children also worship God with a great sense of energy. Children at Grace Church have learned much about worshipping God from energetic leaders like Pastor Randy Moomaw and his sons, Kyle and Tyler. It’s common to hear children singing loudly when I walk past a classroom on Sunday morning. I love that!! The Apostle Paul wrote: “Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you. God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure” (Phil. 2:12b-13 MSG). Too often I’ve watched adults who are supposed to be worshiping God look like they ate pickles for breakfast.  What a tragedy!
  3. Children also worship God with a great sense of trust. That’s why a toddler will jump into your arms in a swimming pool! They trust easily. Jesus said we need that same kind of trust in God: “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven“ (Matthew 18: 3b NIV).

So, as you go through this day, ask yourself: “Is my worship of my Creator characterized by that same sense of wonder, energy, and trust?”  If not, why not?

Bob Fetterhoff

July 17 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 1

Read Psalm 1:1-6

Prayer, that intimate conversation between us and our Heavenly Father. Some days it is full of requests, some days questions, other days praise… as we pray through Psalm 1 let it guide our conversation with God today.  Let’s read through Psalm 1; after that I have written my prayer… feel free to pray through that or use the Psalm to launch into your own conversation with our Abba Father.

Blessed is the one

who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,

and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!

They are like chaff

that the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Father I want to live my life in blessing and contentment… I know that this comes only from following you.  Show me the areas of my life where my actions need to resemble your actions, my choices to be led by your desires and my closest friends to be those who follow you.  Forgive me for those times when this is not the case.

Thank you for your Word, I need to spend more time reading, memorizing and soaking it in to be more like you.  Show me what my next step is to do this. What is one passage that I should memorize so that I may meditate on it throughout the day and when lying awake at night…maybe it is Psalm 1?

I want to be like that tree planted by a stream, its roots reaching down to the cool life-giving water,  bearing fruit for Your kingdom, and prospering when I minister to people.

God, I pray for my friends and neighbors who don’t know you.  Unless they turn to You, their life on this earth will be unfulfilled and their eternity will be spent away from You, Jesus, in a terrible place built for the devil and his angels.  Remind me of that in my next conversation with them.  Grant me boldness in my words and help me make the most of every opportunity.

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that you watch over the ways of the righteous, with the intensity, passion and tenderness that You and only You are able to do.  I want to do the hard work and discipline myself to live in a manner worthy of the calling I have received. Use me today to encourage those around me and use my life in whatever way will bring you glory.

Amen

Randy Moomaw

July 13 – Fear of – Rejection

Read Psalm 34:17-20

Rejection.

We feel rejected when someone refuses to accept us or something we believe in, or they refuse to hear us or consider our idea or point of view. A “reject” is something that is not wanted, unsatisfactory, or not fulfilling a requirement. Have you ever experienced feeling disapproved, refused, or had someone withhold understanding or affection?

We all, to some degree, have a fear of rejection. The reaction to this fear can look different depending on the person. Some of us are more wired to “fight” when we face a conflict (or a rejection)- we become hurt, disappointed, even indignant. We argue passionately for our case. Others of us move toward the “flight” response – shut down, lose confidence, and run away.

I recently heard an interesting talk at a work conference called “Rejection Proof”. The speaker had discovered that his fear of rejection was holding him back in significant ways in his personal and professional life, so he decided to embark on a journey of “rejection therapy”. The idea was to spend 100 days asking for things that were so outrageous that you would be rejected, thus helping you to become desensitized to hearing “no” as the answer. At the end of this journey, he shares some things he learned: rejection is really just someone else’s opinion, it’s also a numbers game (sometimes you just need to ask enough times to get a “yes”), and it can definitely be a source of knowledge. He also shares that instead of limiting ourselves to either “fight” or “flight”, we can instead ask “why” when we are rejected and stay engaged in the conversation instead of running away.

I was challenged to think about how I interact with others. Do I fight and argue? Shut down and run away? Or do I stay engaged, ask why, and adjust my ask? These observations can be helpful when sharing the truth of the gospel.

Fighting and arguing doesn’t change someone’s mind.

Shutting down and running away are counter productive responses.

What if we humbly ask “why” when someone is resistant to hearing about their need for grace and forgiveness? Stay engaged, humble, and respectful as we consider the response? Maybe ask for something else (like simply a consideration and open mind and heart instead of an immediate decision)?

Rejection hurts. What a comfort to know that the Lord is nigh to those who are broken hearted, and will deliver them from affliction. He sees His followers as righteous, and delivers us from our troubles when we cry out to Him. In Psalm 34:17-20, we read that our afflictions will be many, but He delivers us from them all!

Be encouraged as you face rejection. Remember that because of the grace of Jesus, you are accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6). Approaching potential rejection from a place of eternal acceptance makes all the difference!

Rachel Franks

July 10 – Fear of – Failure

Read Psalm 73:26

“My flesh and my heart faileth:

but God is the strength of my heart,

and my portion forever.”

Failure.

For some, including myself, just the word invokes feelings of fear! 

Failure can be defined as a lack of success, inability to meet an expectation, giving way or fracturing under stress, falling short. Have you ever fallen short? Really wanted to do a good job at something, but found yourself unable to “pull it off”? How about expectations – your own or those others have of you? Ever been unable to meet the expectation? Like actually unable – no matter how hard you worked, or tried to explain yourself, your decision or performance just didn’t meet the expectation.

And then there’s stress… life ever been stressful? Like these past few years maybe? Have you felt like you are “giving way, fracturing under stress?” – that definition really resonated with me. I often call it “falling apart”, because to me, that’s how it feels. I can recall, in the spring of 2020, with my whole world seemingly crashing down around me, my flesh and my heart feeling like they were literally failing me. I had just been through the initial phases of pandemic planning in my new role in healthcare, and was battling opposing viewpoints from family, friends, and coworkers. Even my own viewpoints seemed at war with each other, as I could see “both sides” of every issue we were trying to navigate.

I was discussing a few particularly stressful encounters with my husband – part venting, part trying to make sense of it all – when the symptoms set in. Dizziness, nausea, heart pounding, shortness of breath… and eventually, feeling disconnected from my body and losing control – literally like I was falling apart. I later learned this was a panic attack – caused in part by unmanaged (aka high functioning) anxiety, and the lack of personal control over my emotional and spiritual well-being. And, guess what?

I started to heal from all of this when I began to learn how to make GOD the strength of my heart. This verse tells us that our flesh and our hearts WILL fail us…. it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN. We all are fallen creatures, made in God’s image, but broken by sin. On our own, we will consistently fail to meet expectations, and fall short. But if we align ourselves with God through faith in His son Jesus, we can trust Him to be the strength of our heart, and to be our portion – our inheritance, source of security, and our hope.

Friend, when you feel like you are failing, don’t fear. Fall into the arms of Jesus, and let Him carry you. He will be your strength.

What is your relationship with failure? In what way do you need to align yourself with God? How can you direct others to the arms of Jesus as well?

Rachel Franks

July 9 – Fear of – Loneliness

Read Psalm 23:4

People have so many ways to connect with others these days.

We can call each other, send an email or text message, or even record a voice message in a greeting card. However, with all these options, it is estimated that over half of the population in America feels lonely. I would say we fear loneliness. It’s not the fear of physically being by ourselves that we necessarily feel, but the fear of being disconnected and unknown by our peers or family.

We want to be understood and valued. We try to involve ourselves in so many social activities so that we don’t feel alone. During the pandemic, our socialization was restricted and we may all have felt disconnected at times. Besides restrictions during the pandemic, others feel lonely when they lose a spouse or a loved one, or they struggle to connect to a certain group, or even in a crowd of people where they don’t feel known (anyone remember jr. high?). Loneliness is an emotion most everyone feels at some point throughout their lives. I daresay, even Jesus felt lonely.

Mark 14 records the events of Jesus’ anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed about the events leading up to His death. He asked His closest friends to stay alert and pray with Him and they didn’t. He probably felt alone in His struggle.

Can you relate?

I rarely had an opportunity to feel alone as I grew up. Having a twin sister is like having a built-in best friend. We did everything together. We shared the same friends and participated in the same activities. We were together all the time. Then, we decided to go to different colleges when we graduated from high school. We were going to be 8 hours away from each other. As I struggled to find my place and connect with new friends, I learned quickly to lean in to God’s promises.

In Psalm 23:4, the writer says, when he felt lonely and overwhelmed in his darkest season of life, he trusted that God was close to him and ready to offer protection and comfort:

“I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

Just knowing that God is close is comforting.

“Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you.”James 4:8

When we endure hardships such as loneliness, we need to cling to this promise and not be afraid. God wants to be our comfort and connection. If you are struggling to feel connected, pray and ask God for His protection and comfort. Ask that the feeling of loneliness would not be overwhelming and that He would reveal ways to be connected to others in meaningful relationships. Perhaps God has brought you to this place of loneliness in order to draw you close to Himself.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9

Tammy Finney