Archive for the ‘Psalms’ Category

Simple, basic, thanksgiving

November 23rd, 2017 by Maureen

Give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and wonderful works for the children of men. Ps. 107:8

Everybody comes to the Thanksgiving table from a different year’s worth of experiences. For some of us it’s easy to list a bunch of blessings and thank God for the bounty and abundance we enjoy. For others the path to Thanksgiving is strewn with grief, disappointment and unanswered prayers.
If we assume that God does indeed love us and that His attitudes and actions toward us are motivated by that love (If that’s not true then what’s the point?) then recognizing that and being thankful is simple.
If we insist on linking “wonderful works” to God’s love as a condition then thanksgiving gets complicated. We have to define “wonderful works.” We have to engage in arguable conjecture about why we did or did not experience our version of “wonderful works.” To make the propositional logic work we have to assign traits to God that may not be accurate.
We are better off focusing on the love instead of the wonderful works. Thankfulness for God’s love might just reveal some wonderful works we missed while we were looking for the wonderful works we specified.

Thank you God for this very good year. Use me to make next year better for someone who is wondering what happened to Your “wonderful works” this Thanksgiving.

Loud stillness

November 19th, 2017 by Maureen

He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Ps. 107:29-30

God calms our stormy thoughts to a whisper and stills the waves of worry. In the harbor of His safe arms we find stillness, rest, and peace. In awareness of His love, in the company of loving friends, in the quiet of prayer and meditation, in the rhythms of His creation is the reassurance that storms pass and that our storms neither define nor defeat us.

Lord, I am grateful that Your love is bigger than any storm I face and that Your stillness is louder than the thundering of disquiet and discouragement.

Singing with trees

November 7th, 2017 by Maureen

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. And let the trees of the forest sing for joy. Ps. 96:11-12

Though not sentient in the human sense, is nature aware of it’s Creator and responsive to Him in some way that we can tap into? Or does our appreciation of the beauty of God’s creation cause us to imagine we hear the song of trees and jubilation of fields? Perhaps it does not matter. Perhaps we just need to go outside for at least a little while every day to enjoy God’s handiwork. This moment of pause, this awe, is a slow breath, that folds us into God’s own joy expressed in nature. It’s as if the song trees sing was stuck in our heads and our hearts and when we go outside we remember where we heard it and remember we’re a part of it too.

Thank you for surrounding me with so much beauty in nature and for giving me senses to experience it.

 

The love that holds us up

October 20th, 2017 by Maureen

I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. Ps. 97:18

Unfailing love and support is God’s default response when we lose our footing. Why can’t this be the default response we have for each other? There are times when the ground under our feet shakes, literally or metaphorically and we can’t keep standing without help. And yet there is this misplaced shame associated with needing help. It needs to be okay to call out for support and to offer it without caveat or judgment. Humanity is an interconnected living organism. When we reach out our hands to help restore someone else’s balance, it is also our own equilibrium we help restore. Making life better for others brings heaven to earth and makes us participants in Christ’s restoration that is continually happening within us and around us.

Lord, I’m so glad to participate in Your unfailing love.

Prayers for protection

September 6th, 2017 by Maureen

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. Ps. 5:11

Singing with joy is not our natural response to imminent danger or feeling threatened. It certainly doesn’t come easy when we experience loss. But God’s ability and His desire to protect us are incredibly powerful. He offers us a place of protection that is so safe that fear is unnecessary and maybe even unreasonable. Sometimes our perceptions of what constitutes protection might differ from what occurs, especially when we are focused on difficult circumstances or dealing with tangible messes we hoped to avoid. Sometimes it is the peace and joy in our hearts that needs protecting most.

Lord, I take refuge in You. I am safe because I know that You are always with me, in me and for me.

“Quiet time.” I don’t think these words mean what you think they mean

May 15th, 2017 by Maureen

…for God, be silent O my soul, for from Him is my hope. Ps. 62:5

Our “quiet times” can seem anything but quiet. All the busyness and worry that consume our minds may simply turn into gut-wrenching prayers. Study time can get the wheels spinning rather than contributing to silence. We all need quiet times that remove us from our concerns and offer genuine quiet, stillness, peace, and rest. In this quiet we can feel deeply aware of and connected to Christ. In this quiet we might feel like we are breathing eternity in and out, like we are weightless in His love and grace. This kind of quiet time can make the rest of the day (including time we spend praying or studying) feel richer, more meaningful, more hopeful, more real.

Lord, thank you for refreshing my soul in the quiet.

Jesus is winning and so are you

May 4th, 2017 by Maureen

I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!  Psalms 118:21

Some life experiences can feel as if we’re fighting our way through an unwinnable battle. When we feel afraid and trapped, God offers us comfort and freedom. When we feel overwhelmed and defeated, God helps us discover His very own wisdom and strength. When time is definitely not on our side, God holds eternity in His hand. When it feels like the fate of the universe hang in the balance – whether it’s the actual universe, the massive sum of all existence, or it’s just a piece of the universe that affects us personally – we can know that the present is also the past and the future for Him, so in every now,  even the ones we have yet to perceive, Christ is victorious over everything.

Lord, thanks for the win.

Is wonder a lost art?

April 25th, 2017 by Maureen

The Lord God only does wonderful things. Ps. 72:18 (OJB)

We have information and explanations about just about anything at our fingertips. We wade through doubtful and false information. We encounter novel and complex ideas every day. Images can be changed or enhanced so that everything is more intense than it appears in real life. Is all this minimizing our sense of wonder? God is just as amazing today as He always. No human progress can elevate us to the point that we are beyond experiencing such wonder at Him that it takes our collective breath away. We may have reached a point, though, that experiencing wonder becomes a deliberate choice.

Lord, saturate every one of my senses and every way I process thought with awareness of all that You are, all that You inhabit, and all Your handiwork.

Don’t overthink it

April 19th, 2017 by Maureen

In the abundance of my thoughts within me, Your consolation brought me joy. Ps. 94:19

Obsess enough and legitimate but manageable concerns turn into worries. We can stress over every decision we have to make and second-guess the ones we’ve already made. All the details we have to remember seem to fly around our brains like mental gnats. But we need not deal with all this alone in our own minds. We have access to the mind of Christ, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the creative power and support of our loving Father always with us, in us, and for us.

Lord, help me to stop overthinking and enjoy.

Let it go, God doesn’t care like that

April 6th, 2017 by Maureen

In peace I lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, cause me to dwell in confidence. Ps. 4:8 (YLT)

We probably wouldn’t say it out loud but sometimes it’s as if we think: “If I don’t worry about this, if I don’t stay upset or outraged, if I’m not losing sleep over this, then I must not care enough and I’ve minimized the importance of this problem.” God doesn’t care like that. Peace is foundational to the way that God cares.  Of course, God has the luxury of knowing how everything is going to come out and the power to make everything okay. Fortunately we are in Him and He is in us. We elevate the importance of anything we surrender to Him and increase the possibilities for solution. All we have to do is close our eyes and let Him shift the burden of carrying our concerns to Himself. God has it without the angst.

Thank you for this sweet, restful, restoring peace.

Entering the cave of wonders

March 21st, 2017 by Maureen

I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself… Ps. 131:1b-2a

It’s more likely that we are too bogged down in the mundane to enter God’s great and awesome cave of wonders. It’s actually good to be curious, to ask questions, and to have a healthy sense of wonder. God invites us into matters greater and more awesome than we’ve ever thought to explore. We can, however, make our desire to understand, to explain, or to control completely distract and disturb us to the point of obsession. It’s not that pursuing great and awesome ideas is going to automatically create turmoil, it’s that the vast height, width, length, and depth of God’s love is the wonder that informs how we process all the other wonders.

Lord, help me to process all wonders in the joyful context of Your calming love.

A perspective on waiting

March 18th, 2017 by Maureen

Cause me to tread in Your truth, and teach me, because you are my God, my salvation. I have waited all day near You. – Ps. 25:5

Sometimes we have to sit around and wait. Sometimes we have to walk through some sketchy terrain with no end in sight. Sometimes we have to wait without understanding or being able to change anything. Sometimes it seems like things around us are going to pieces while we wait. Sometimes we feel like we are going to pieces. No matter how we perceive the wait, God is still our salvation and He is always near us; in fact, He is closer than near. He is always with us, in us, and for us; and we are always in Him. This is a truth we can walk on when we are having to wait out a bad patch or a delay in moving on to something good.

Lord, help me experience Your nearness and with-ness as I walk and as I wait in You.

The song really is about you

March 7th, 2017 by Maureen

God rejoices over you with joy; give you rest in His love; He sings joyfully over you. Zeph. 3:17

God is a really great singer and His song is about you. The Creator, God of the Universe, our Father experiences delight because He made us and He loves us and He sings about us. Knowing that we are objects of God’s love and delight can give us confidence, rest and peace. We have nothing to prove, nothing to earn. Responding to that kind of love and delight is going to transform and restore us in ways all our white-knuckled striving and straining cannot.

Lord, show me Your delight and thanks for making my life delightful.

Are you out of your mind? I hope I am

March 3rd, 2017 by Maureen

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! How vast is the sum of them. Ps. 139:17

Our vision is so often limited to the way that we are, locked into our own assumptions, backgrounds, limited knowledge and thinking patterns. We see ourselves and God from this limited place. What if in prayer and meditation we focused on God’s thoughts about us rather than on our thoughts about God? His love and grace, His wisdom and vision concerning each of us is so vast and yet so personal. We might just need to be out of our own minds to have the mind of Christ.

Lord, I want more of the mind of Christ in my vision, my thinking, and my responses. Help me see things from Your point of view.

Dancing to the music of the invisible choir

February 10th, 2017 by Maureen

Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice. Let the seas roar…; Ps. 96:11

It’s easy to miss the music of nature’s invisible choir. The music is there in bird songs and in rushing water, in leaves in the wind and in cat purrs. Some are fortunate enough to live life to the rhythm of ocean waves. So much is there when we are still and listening; when we are open to the deep wonder and mystery of God’s creation responding to His presence. Stop a minute. Listen until you hear it. Then dance to it all day. This is abundance.

Father, shall we dance?

Christmas Wonder No. 10: Shouting Stars

December 13th, 2016 by Maureen

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 display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Ps. 19:1-4
Astronomers continue to study the phenomenon of the Bethlehem star for explanation. Whether it was a convergence, a supernova, or something else, the creation couldn’t keep its mouth shut. The Creator had become a creation. For millennia people all over the world have looked up at the stars and wondered, searching for explanations and truth. In the first light of dawn three ancient Persian Magi, students of the stars, interpreted a message about a King and responded.

In his Chronicles of Narnia C.S. Lewis wrote:
“In our world, a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”
“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.” [replied the star.]

Lord, help me to notice and rejoice when something unexpected points to You.

The day the Lord made

November 21st, 2016 by Maureen

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Ps. 118:24

Rejoicing is not about finding silver linings, faking smiles, or making lemonade. Rejoicing is not rendered irrelevant by painful circumstances or even negative attitudes, but it’s not denying what we are experiencing either. Simple awareness that God is involved in our lives and loves us on this very day can put us in the spiritual, mental, and emotional state to notice all the personal love gifts and messages He’s placed in our paths for us to experience throughout the day. Having a day to rejoice in depends on how we choose to see it.

Lord, let this be a day of rejoicing, especially for those who didn’t expect to rejoice today.

 

Moments of awe and wonder

October 24th, 2016 by Maureen

Such knowledge is too wonderful to me. Ps. 139:6

Sometimes we encounter concepts that we simply cannot wrap our heads around. Sometimes God does things in ways we don’t expect and can’t explain. Sometime God challenges our paradigms and knocks down the sides of our neatly constructed boxes. Just look at how Jesus challenged the expectations of the Pharisees and even His own disciples. Be amazed. Let the miraculous grip your heart. Enjoy wonder. Experience awe. More than the insights that we can process based on what we already believe, what we’ve already experienced, what we already know, it’s those moments that leave us in awe and wonder that cause us to grow and cause our perspectives on God to grow with us.

Lord, thank you for all the wonder in my life.

That song that’s stuck in your head

October 17th, 2016 by Maureen

Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing in one voice to the Eternal, all the earth. Eternal of all the good things He’s done. Bless His name; broadcast the good news of His salvation each and every day. Ps. 96:1-2 (The Voice)

Jesus came to teach us a simple love song; a melody to get stuck in our heads and hearts; a beat that sets the rhythm of our footsteps throughout the day. This is the song that set the world in motion, the song the Father, Son, and Spirit have eternally sung. It’s a different song from the hopeless, atonal dirge filled with pride, anger, guilt, shame, and fear that human religion wrote for itself. Nobody can dance to that. When we join in with the song that Jesus is already singing we dance in rhythm with all the good He makes and the good He does with it.

Lord, I love Your song.

You (yes, you) are an amazing wonder in the mind of God

October 16th, 2016 by Maureen

Lord, You have done so many amazing wonders, and yet Your thoughts about us cannot even be numbered. No one can compare to You! Ps. 40:5

The mind that mapped the stars in every universe, the ones we know about and the ones we don’t, also mapped the human experience. The mind that set the revolutions of the heavens, created time and seasons, and the interconnected ecosystems that form the rhythms of physical existence also created the seasons and rhythms of human lives. The pleasure, attention, and purpose the Creator directs toward all the wonders in all the worlds is also fixed on human beings. Most of our perceptions about ourselves and others are limited to the thoughts we can think about ourselves, but there are amazing wonders that God thinks about us all the time…and since God is love, they are thoughts full of affection, abundance, and goodwill.

Lord, help me to see myself and others as the amazing wonders You’ve made us.