In a Time of Need

11374766_417075665144516_1072785693_nIt was on this day one year ago that I rushed back from vacation because of a family emergency. Before that phone call, I had enjoyed several days in the mountains, often relaxing by the fire and reading and journalling through Scriptures. On the plane, I opened my Bible to the bookmark among the sleek pages, and I continued reading, reflecting, and claiming God’s promises, jotting notes in the margin. Among the chaos and uncertainty, I found the familiar peace of God’s presence.

I find it as no coincidence that I am revisiting those same pages one year later, perhaps a reminder of God’s peace and presence. In that year, everything has not worked out “my way.” Yet I trust God more and know Him better.

And I thank Him for the reminder of the following verses I highlighted that night on the plane:

Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come before You. Do not hide Your face from me in my day of trouble. Listen closely to me; answer me quickly when I call. (Psalm 102:1-2)

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord. (Psalm 104:33-34)

My heart is confident, God; I will sing; I will sing praises with the whole of my being.(Psalm 108:1)

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate. (Psalm 116:5)

I called to the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me and put me in a spacious place. The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is my helper, (Psalm 118:5-7b)

Teach me good judgment and discernment, for I rely on Your commands. (Psalm 119:66)

Let my cry reach You, Lord; give me understanding according to Your word. (Psalm 119:169)

The Cymbals Finale

psalm-150The psalms are rich with authentic faith. They encompass who God is and how we struggle through our relationship with Him. They express the highs and lows of faith. They claim His promises and our doubts. They are raw and solid and inspiring. And they end with a bang, like a final crash of the cymbals!

Hallelujah!
Praise God in His sanctuary.
Praise Him in His mighty heavens.
Praise Him for His powerful acts;
praise Him for His abundant greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet blast;
praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with tambourine and dance;
praise Him with flute and strings.
Praise Him with resounding cymbals;
praise Him with clashing cymbals.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.
Hallelujah! (Psalm 150)

If you’ve never read through the psalms, begin today.

If you have, begin again today.

Sometimes I Need a Visual

42b7f3e7b4107dcaf70bf8078a35b744Sometimes I need to “see” my faith, just to catch a glimpse of something my heart is inextricably wrapped around, although my mind often can’t wrap completely wrap around it.

That’s part of faith. Being certain about the uncertain…and being willing to be uncertain at times. Yes, I know “Those who believe without seeing are blessed” (John 20:29). And that is me some of the time, but that’s not me all of the time. I’m on a journey of faith.

The visuals I sometimes get while reading through Scripture are rarely much about me. Instead, God lets me glimpse Him: His character, willingness, love, and mercy.

He reached down from heaven
and took hold of me;
He pulled me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too strong for me. (Psalm 18:16-17)

God reaches to me. He takes hold of me. He pulls me and rescues me.

He interacts with me. He’s invested in me. And for that, I am grateful.

Praying through the Psalms: The End Is Just the Beginning

prayingpsalmsimageAs our Praying through the Psalms series closes, it’s not an end as much as a beginning. My prayer has been for you to soak in God’s Word. To claim the truth He gives you about Himself and for your life. When we merely skip through the sections of Scripture we most want, we miss out on many things God has to say to us. When we’re at a loss for words for our prayers, or we’re in a rut, God’s Word is the best place to start. And that’s what we’ve done…started.

We haven’t prayed all the way through Psalms, but you can continue on your own. Or, grab a friend and commit to holding one another accountable as you pray through Scripture. Use the prayer tips I’ve provided along the way. Need a reminder? Simply type “prayer tip” in the search bar, and you’ll have at least a dozen ideas to dig into a growing prayer life.

We need God. I need God. You need God.

Keep talking with Him. Keep listening.

Praying through the Psalms: Psalm 77

prayingpsalmsimagePsalm 77

I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and He will hear me.
I sought the Lord in my day of trouble.
My hands were continually lifted up
all night long;
I refused to be comforted.
I think of God; I groan;
I meditate; my spirit becomes weak.Selah

You have kept me from closing my eyes;
I am troubled and cannot speak.
I consider days of old,
years long past.
At night I remember my music;
I meditate in my heart, and my spirit ponders.

“Will the Lord reject forever
and never again show favor?
Has His faithful love ceased forever?
Is His promise at an end for all generations?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger withheld His compassion?”Selah

10 So I say, “I am grieved
that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
11 I will remember the Lord’s works;
yes, I will remember Your ancient wonders.
12 I will reflect on all You have done
and meditate on Your actions.

13 God, Your way is holy.
What god is great like God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
You revealed Your strength among the peoples.
15 With power You redeemed Your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.Selah

16 The waters saw You, God.
The waters saw You; they trembled.
Even the depths shook.
17 The clouds poured down water.
The storm clouds thundered;
Your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
lightning lit up the world.
The earth shook and quaked.
19 Your way went through the sea
and Your path through the great waters,
but Your footprints were unseen.
20 You led Your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Read Psalm 77 aloud.

What seems to get in the way, things that distract you or get you “stuck” as you read through the psalm?

What is God highlighting for you to focus upon?

Read through Psalm 77 again, this time, pausing to yield to God, praising who He is and how He provides and giving Him everything that might be holding you back in faith.

Praying through the Psalms: Psalm 76

prayingpsalmsimagePsalm 76

God is known in Judah;
His name is great in Israel.
His tent is in Salem,
His dwelling place in Zion.
There He shatters the bow’s flaming arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.Selah

You are resplendent and majestic
coming down from the mountains of prey.
The brave-hearted have been plundered;
they have slipped into their final sleep.
None of the warriors was able to lift a hand.
At Your rebuke, God of Jacob,
both chariot and horse lay still.

And You—You are to be feared.
When You are angry,
who can stand before You?
From heaven You pronounced judgment.
The earth feared and grew quiet
when God rose up to judge
and to save all the lowly of the earth.Selah
10 Even human wrath will praise You;
You will clothe Yourself
with their remaining wrath.

11 Make and keep your vows
to the Lord your God;
let all who are around Him bring tribute
to the awe-inspiring One.
12 He humbles the spirit of leaders;
He is feared by the kings of the earth.

Read Psalm 76 aloud.

What seems to get in the way, things that distract you or get you “stuck” as you read through the psalm?

What is God highlighting for you to focus upon?

Read through Psalm 76 again, this time, pausing to yield to God, praising who He is and how He provides and giving Him everything that might be holding you back in faith.

Praying through the Psalms: Psalm 75

prayingpsalmsimagePsalm 75

We give thanks to You, God;
we give thanks to You, for Your name is near.
People tell about Your wonderful works.

“When I choose a time,
I will judge fairly.
When the earth and all its inhabitants shake,
I am the One who steadies its pillars.Selah
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn.
Do not lift up your horn against heaven
or speak arrogantly.’”

Exaltation does not come
from the east, the west, or the desert,
for God is the Judge:
He brings down one and exalts another.
For there is a cup in the Lord’s hand,
full of wine blended with spices, and He pours from it.
All the wicked of the earth will drink,
draining it to the dregs.

As for me, I will tell about Him forever;
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.

10 “I will cut off all the horns of the wicked,
but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”

Read Psalm 75 aloud.

What seems to get in the way, things that distract you or get you “stuck” as you read through the psalm?

What is God highlighting for you to focus upon?

Read through Psalm 75 again, this time, pausing to yield to God, praising who He is and how He provides and giving Him everything that might be holding you back in faith.