Psalm 59 – Help Me!

Read Psalm 59

Do you feel like you’ve read this before? The psalmist is really feeling overwhelmed with fear of attack.  Do you know anyone that is struggling with paranoia or fear?  I am sure this psalm will resonate with them.  The imagery of vicious dogs prowling and scavenging can really give you a vivid picture of the fear the writer was feeling.  Maybe terror is a stronger word more fitting.  Have you ever been terrified?

Many people ask me if I feel safe since moving to Mexico.  I would have to say I feel as safe here as I did in the U.S.  You will find evil everywhere you go.  The important thing to remember is who your protector is. God’s love is our only true defense in this world. While I can’t imagine the fear the psalmist is encountering, I do feel a sense of dread or uneasiness when faced with conflict.  I’m a people pleaser and never want there to be conflict around me, but we’re human, so there will be conflict.  In those times, I need to lean on God trusting him to provide. I am strong with the strength of God.

The first step to facing our fears is to be open to the fact that we are children of God. Once we realize and accept this truth, we should be able to boldly take a stand against that foe, we can be transformed and freed from our chains.

Enjoy a song by Chris Tomlin here. Also, scenes from the movie “Amazing Grace”.

Let the words of 1 Peter 5:6-7 resonate with you today.  “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you”

Let’s pray.  Father God, thank you for being our protector, our friend, our guide.  Help me to always give you the honor in the way I live my life. Help me to let go of any feelings of doubt or shame or fear. Fill me with the assurance that I am yours and your strength for me is sufficient.  Lord forgive me when I try to do it all on my own.  Reel me in and may my eyes be on you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 58 – God’s Justice

Read Psalm 58

Justice.  This psalm begins with this word, and I find it truly sums up the heart of this psalm. This theme resonates greatly in society today in ways we might never have expected. Everyone wants justice or maybe just acceptance. Having worked in the legal field most of my working career, the term “justice” takes on another meaning for me, entirely. You can imagine the things I’ve seen over the years, the unfairness, big business eating up the little guy.  But the psalm today focuses on the evil of their day.

Here the psalmist s super serious about justice and you get the feeling he is trying or hoping to get even with his enemy or those he perceives are against him.  These enemies “spit venom”.  I think we are seeing the first bullies.  Bullying today has truly gotten out of hand, and while we are trying to get it under control in our schools, our workplaces, etc., the problem appears to have Biblical roots!

No human is perfect, and therefore perfect justice will never be found on earth.  We know, or should know, that God is the perfect judge, and he will judge us fairly when our turn is at hand.  We should be asking ourselves at least daily, “God, was my behavior, were my thoughts, pleasing to you today?  How can I be better and become more like you?”  Have you ever asked such a question.  If not, take a moment now to do so.  What do you think our world would look like if everyone had a mindset like this and asked God these questions everyday?

Let’s pray.  Lord, help me today to reflect you in all I say and do.  Bless those I encounter, and use me to give them reassurance where there is doubt, confidence where there is weakness, joy where there is sadness, and love where there is none.  Thank you in advance for each opportunity. In  Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 57 – Confident Heart

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What an image, to huddle beneath the shadow of God’s wings.  His mighty protection, his mercy is great!  In the version of this text I was reading, verse one says “until this violent storm is past”, and in the version I’ve linked above, it reads, “until the danger passes by.”  When I think of a storm, literally a thunderstorm, I immediately picture our three fearful, nervous-Nellie dogs during a storm huddled in my arms when the lightening streaks across the sky and the thunder booms.  Especially the thunder.  How they seek comfort and protection, so we seek the security of our heavenly father, and to nestle “beneath his wings” does sound like a safe place.

This psalm opens with an image of us coming to God for protection.  He will protect us, guard us, rescue us on a much grander scale than we can imagine.  Our storms may be depression, loss of a job, dispute with a friend, financial hardship, etc. The psalmist takes us quickly from the acknowledgement of the protection to praise.  This is so uplifting.  He doesn’t wallow in his fear.  In fact, he calls it out, “I am surrounded by fierce lions”.   Do you ever feel like your problems are bigger than you are?

We need to be more like the psalmist and use this pattern in our lives.  Identify the problem.  Call it out. Realize God is bigger and ask for rescue.  Then turn to praise because our confidence in God is greater than our fear of the storm.  This praise must not be kept silent but we should tell others, and let our lives be lived in such a way that thanksgiving to God is automatic.  Praising God should be reflected in how we live our life.

I often look around when I’m waiting, whether  it be in a line at the grocery store, at a stop light, in a waiting room, or even waiting for worship to begin. I am always amazed at what I see.  I see serious faces. I see people almost frowning.  What must they be thinking that has left them looking so forlorn?  Likewise, I try to keep a bit of a smile on my face at all times.  Hopefully people don’t find that too annoying.  I have had my husband ask me if everything is alright…if that smile starts to fade. I keep that smile fueled by remembering “who” I belong to, and “where” I am going.  I am a child of the king, and I will spend eternity with him!  Do you have that confidence, too?

Let’s pray.  Heavenly father I thank you that I can find shelter in the shadow of your wings.  You  are a mighty warrior on my behalf, and I thank you for fighting my battles.  Watch over my loved ones this day, and I pray they will come to a place of having the confidence in you and the spirit of praise will be overflowing in them as well.

Psalm 56 – God is On My Side

Read Psalm 56

Fear.  We all experience it from time to time, in different ways and to different degrees.  The psalmist here is afraid for his life, yet he reminds himself, and us, that “God is on my side” and “what can mere mortals do?” Certainly not touch the saving power of God and take away our eternity.

But what about you?  What happens when our fear crowds out our assurance and doubts creep in?  We feel overwhelmed by our circumstance. Right?  I don’t know what you may be fearful of, but I’m certain you are familiar with that sense of dread.  Maybe you don’t even know what you’re afraid of at a given moment, but you have that feeling of unease?

The psalmist repeats this line twice, actually three times, in this psalm, “I praise God for what he has promised”, and in other translations these “promises” are God’s “word”.  We praise God for his word, and need to focus on his wisdom for us.  God’s promise is his Son, Jesus!  Will our fear flee?  If we truly praise with our whole heart, fear will retreat.

Are you “all in” for Jesus?  I keep hearing that phrase when it comes to launching our business, and the need to be “all in” as a recipe for success.  But in reality, what we need to be is “all in” for Jesus.  Are we holding back for some reason?  What is crowding out our time with our best friend?  Take an accounting of how you spend your day.  How does your time with God fit into all those activities? Is it a priority?

Let’s pray.  Lord, help me to rearrange my priorities and take a good look at what I am doing and how I am spending my time.  Help me be more intentional on spending time in your word and listening for your voice.  Thank you for your promises. May I praise your promises today! In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 55 – Wound of a Friend

Read Psalm 55

This is a cry for rescue from not only evil enemies seeking harm, but from a trusted friend who has deceived.  There is much pain that goes along with that.  Have you experienced a situation where a close friend hurt you in some way, whether by words or inaction or purposeful abuse?  Those wounds hurt worse than if the same pain is inflicted by a stranger.

The psalm seems to mesh the two thoughts and struggles together.  So quickly that “friend” has become an enemy.  Verse 22 stands out as a good reminder amidst the lament, as if the writer took a breath and realized, “aha” this is what happens if… “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”  While that sounds good, there are times we fail, we slip up.  I’m not sure we are being “godly” then.

Are you your own worst enemy?  Do situations come about that totally throw you for a loop and distract you, frustrate you or crush you?  Do you have feelings of being overwhelmed and not having a clear picture how or why it is happening?  Sometimes our thoughts and fears can crowd our head to the point we logical thought is impossible.  Our crowded heads can also distort the truth, causing us to drift away from our one true hope, God.   We need to work on focusing on the good and turn those burdens over to God.  Now.  We need to remember where our strength comes from.  (Philippians 4:13).

Think of a situation you are holding on to.  Perhaps it involves a “friend”.  Ask God to cleanse you and restore this relationship.

Let’s pray.  Lord, forgive me for not trusting you when I lurch forward on my own.  My power is weak compared to yours, and with you all things are possible.  Help me today to set aside my feelings of regret, of anger, of hurt as it relates to those in my life that have hurt me.  Help me work through those feelings and be cleansed.  May I focus on your assurance to love me no matter what.  May I learn to love like that.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.