Psalm 42 – Thirst for God

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Did you hum along with the first line of this psalm?  That’s an oldie but goodie.  This opening truly speaks to me as I thirst for God.  Are you feeling distant from God, wondering if He is there?  Perhaps you are struggling from grief or sadness, struggling with the loss of a loved one clinging to precious memories of a time gone by.  We all have those things that we hold on to, those things we can’t let go of, perhaps traditions start to become more important than what we’re trying  to memorialize.  Take a moment just to ponder what this might be for you.

Maybe you’ve heard people around you say, “that’s not the way we used to do it”?  I have heard that many times over the years, and I may have even uttered those words myself on occasion.  But as I reflect on that I have to wonder if we are limiting God when we think inside the box like that.  Are we not keeping ourselves open to the new thing that God may have in store for us, for the new revelation of something even greater?

The heart of the psalmist acknowledges his sadness but firmly states: “I will put my hope in God, I will praise him again.”  Satan can really toy with us, our emotions, our thoughts and actions.  He can make us believe it IS all about us and that our losses and our tumults are all that matter. When this happens, we are overwhelmed.

So where do you place your hope?  It is my hope we can all find a way to look to God’s guidance, his provision, his ultimate will and trust that He is in control.  How can we praise him in ALL things, and at ALL times?  Whether we like our surroundings or what is happening around us, we need to focus on the “WHO” we are worshiping.  Right?

Let’s pray:  Lord, help me in my frustration toward others who are closed minded and selfish.  I worry that such people will spread this nastiness and the harm may be more than we can bear.  Lord, we cry out to you for help, for reassurance that we are living in your will.  When I feel alone in my sadness, give me comfort to know that with you I can overcome.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 41 – Have Mercy

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Here is another example of a prayer for mercy.  I wonder as it begins what the original text meant and the intent of the author.  As I read verses 1-3, it seems as if all those provisions are only for those who are kind to the poor.  Do you read it that way, too?  Is the author the one who has been kind to the poor at this point, or poor himself, watching those that help him be blessed?  I’m just curious.  Either way, I always have a sense of peace when I help the needy, like giving pesos to the blind old woman at the market, sponsoring a child, donating toward a business start up in a third world country, helping my neighbors here in Mexico, a very poor country in the midst of a financial crisis.  Lord, bless them all!

The psalmist quickly shifts to his own plea for mercy.  He was truly troubled and a bit paranoid it seems.  And nestled within his cry comes a prophetic word in verse 9, did you see it?  Could it be reference to Judas and Jesus perhaps?

This psalm is the last in the section (Psalm 1-41) dealing with suffering to sorrow to great joy.  This underlying theme as been a repeating pattern you have probably noticed.  I’m looking forward to the next section.  I appreciate the timeless nature of the psalms and how our laments and struggles of today can resonate with these writings as if the writer were here today.  The Bible is so cool that way.  God is a genius, but we already knew that!

How do you let the words of Scripture guide your day?  Think on  that for a moment.  Perhaps you call to mind a Bible passage or Biblical truth at a time of confusion, doubt, trouble, or praise.  You can then make sense of something, act in a manner that reflects Christ-like behavior.  Look for opportunities today to call on God’s wisdom, His Word, to help you today.

Let’s pray.  Lord, I long to be closer to you.  Forgvie me the times I try to take control.  Give me eyes to see those around me and in the world that need you or need a message from you.  Use me to be that angel of mercy that touches lives today.   In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 40 – Joy in Trusting

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Didn’t this psalm just uplift you?  This is a great psalm, made into songs probably more than once.  It begins with such a delight in the Lord and what he has done.  There are times in my life when I was in the pit of despair, and looking back it was God who pulled me out, brushed me off, and set my feet to dancing!  When God rescues us from our pain and struggle and we then give him the glory for others to see his victory, that is pure joy.

It doesn’t take long for the psalmist to move past praise and assurance to make his plea for help.  And in conclusion it ends with a humble declaration.  Quite a nice form, I should think.  It’s like the psalmist was overcome with so much joy, despite feeling broken and afraid, and that joy and thanksgiving was overflowing, and does overflow for those who trust in the Lord.  It doesn’t necessarily mean our trials are gone.  No they are still lurking all the while, but is is possible to feel the joy and confidence that being a follower provides, even when we have fears and struggles. How great is our God to allow us our freedom yet be there for us always!

What struggles are you facing now that test your ability to feel joy? Focus on those for just a moment, but then re-read the verses 1-8 and soak in the truth.

Some of my favorite verses that I’ll dwell on today are “He lifted me out of the pit of despair” and “He has given me a new song to sing”.  I am so grateful for what God has done in my life.  I need to work harder at being more like the psalmist and not being afraid to talks about the good news hidden in my heart.  It’s easy with other believers to share and be affirmed, but I need more boldness to look for other times and places to share.

Let’s pray.  Lord, thank you for your unfailing love for me.  Oh, how you are mindful of all, astounding and magnificent.  Help me to be a beacon of your light in the world today (and always), touching each person I encounter with your love. In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Psalm 39 – Be Positive

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I don’t know about you, but today’s psalm seemed  little disjointed in it’s flow, almost like a rant.  I had to read through it several times and then I found myself scouring the study notes to see what they had to say.  Even the notes left me feeling a little lost, so I read the psalm again, and this time the light bulb went off.  I had given myself time to truly shut out the confusion and set aside “me” so I could soak up the lament and heart of David as he cried out to God in this psalm.  I can’t explain the difference. It’s when God’s word truly takes a hold of you and speaks.

That whole cleansing of me was probably more monumental in terms of revelation than the words on the page, but David’s words are pretty cool, too.  He starts off by saying “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say.”  Okay, that’s good counsel for us, too, and we should be careful in what we say because words can hurt, even without us knowing it.  Why is it so easy for us to complainn and find fault in something, some situation, or someone.  Why is it so much negative comes out of our mouths or clouds our thoughts?  Is that  easier than being positive?  Clearly our psalmist is struggling to be positive, he is nearly bursting with inner turmoil.  He is thinking of his own mortality and how our lives are but a “moment” to God.  While I’m not sure how he knows this, I love the anaswer he has to his own question in verse 7.  “My only  hope is in you.” That is, God.

In  his struggle to not speak negative, he cries out to God, spewing forth his lament with the one i n charge.  God is in control and has our lives in his hands.  It makes so much more sense to go right to the source and leave others out of our misery, our confusion, our doubt, our anger, etc.

I don’t know  about you, but I can do a better job of minding my tongue and shining with the joy of Jesus.  Let’s make an attempt going forward to put a filter on what comes out of our mouths, because we can’t take it back once it’s out there.  Let’s remember who is in control and that we need to let go of our negativity lest it cause us to sin.

Let’s pray.  Father, thank you for this reminder today.  Helpt me to be positive in all I say and do.  Forgive me when my mouth rushes ahead of You and what you would have for me to say.  Cleanse my heart and make me whole.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 38 – Remember Me

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True despair.  The psalmist is in a horrible place.  Such woe in this psalm. It is a bit of a contrast to some of the others thus far, yet the cry out to God for rescue is not new.  The psalmist is clearly struggling and suffering, yet through it all is waiting on God, knowing God is listening.  If my body were failing or physically challenged like is described, I think this psalm would really strike a chord with me.

We probably have experienced, at one time or another, severe debilitating pain, and if not us, someone close to us.  When we are “racked with  pain” it is hard to do the things you need to do.  As our bodies are screaming out in pain, it is all we can do to push through the pain to get through the day. Our psalmist is ascribing his pain and misery to his sin,  and adds grief to his list of calamities.  Our psalmist is repenting of his sins here, convinced that his sin has made him sick, diseased and separated from his loved ones and even God.  He repents and seeks God asking that he not be abandoned.  We, too, in times of struggle look around and ask God to rescue us.  I’m just not sure I’ve ever thought it was my sin that caused my struggle.  But as I look back at those times in my life when I was really struggling, I can see clearly now that I was in that situation because of sinful behaviors.  Very interesting.

In what ways do you struggle?  Are you struggling now with something that needs God’s intervention.  Consider these situations and take them to God.

Let’s pray.  Lord God, you know that my struggle is trying to do it all in my own strength.  I know better, God, so forgive me.  I may not be crushed with pain or have an anguished heart, but I need you Lord.  I need your help in getting my daily tasks done, in cleansing my heart from impure thoughts, for restoring my love and passion for life.  Refresh mem, use, me and forgive me for  my selfish heart.  I love you Lord.  Amen.