May 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 from last summer:

A little over a year ago we had a fire at our house and had to be out for a couple of 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

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May 27 – 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 headed, 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

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May 26 – 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

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May 25 – 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 that 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 welcomed 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 seperate 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

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May 24 – 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 that 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

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May 23 – 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

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May 22 – Praying Through the Psalms – Psalm 46

Read Psalm 46:1-11

Can you think back to the moment where you first consciously decided to trust the Lord with something uncertain in your life? I spent some time thinking about that today as I was writing this devotional. After I gave my life to Jesus what was the first major decision I trusted Him with?  For me, it was going on a mission trip. I was a young awkward sophomore in high school who was uncertain of himself and at the time was still uncertain about what being a person of faith meant, but I felt God tugging on my heart to say “yes.” Like every other time I have said “yes” to God, I found that trusting in Him changed my life and perspective.

Certainly, in the times in which we live, we are faced daily with choices where we have to put our trust in the Lord. Whether it be deciding to return to work, or whether to stay in college with the financial uncertainty of the world, or whether it is safe enough yet to go and see your family, every day we are making choices that involve risk and ultimately trust in the Lord’s will for our life. But I think today the Psalmist is trying to remind us that while it is good to be trusting the Lord in the decisions we make, above all we need to simply put our trust in Him.

Even in the midst of our darkest moments, there is one hope to which we can cling. Look at the truths the Psalmist reminds us of today. Even when the earth gives way and everything around us is crashing down; we shall not fear because God is our rock and refuge (v. 1-3). Even when it seems like we are alone and no one is with us; our God is ever-present and with us through the storm (v. 7, v.11). Even when it seems like all hope is gone; our God is bigger and stronger, heck He has beaten death… and he can beat this virus (v.8-10). I’ll be honest, I’m not great at math (that’s why I went to law school!) but the odds are on our side when we put our faith in Jesus whether it be in a big decision or simply just trying to choose joy over fear.

Over the past eight weeks as we have lived through lockdown I have heard it said again and again that “if we can be certain about anything it’s that there is a lot of uncertainty.” While I appreciate the sentiment, and recognize that a lot of uncertainty does exist, I disagree. In the world in which we live we can be certain of a few things – God is good, Jesus is King, and in Jesus, the best is yet to come.

Taylor Bennington 

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