Category Archives: Psalms

Silence

Not a creature is stirring, not even the church bats.

For many, the silence here could be deafening but for me it is welcomed.  Release time, confirmation and Wednesday Night Live are done for the year.  My secretary doesn’t work on Wednesdays.  My cell phone is on vibrate.  The lights are off (except for the light shining through my office window). And the only potential noise is the church phone or a surprise visitor (both of which may startle me if they happen).  So for the time being I am enjoying the silence (I just wish I could fix this squeaky desk chair then all would be good).

I do have things to accomplish today (and they will get done) but this pastor needs some silence for a while:

[11] And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. [12] And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  (1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV)

[10] “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10 ESV)

Hmmm…God encourages silence, day dreaming and just being still.  I like that. You don’t need to be moving all the time to be doing the work of the Lord.  You don’t need to be talking all the time to be communing with God.  You don’t need to be with people all the time to be productive.  Sometimes it is just about you and God; alone, together and in silence.

But don’t take my word for it, read your Bible.

So…

Silence your phone.
Lock your door.
Hide from the world.
Resist the blinking notification lights on your phone or tablet.
Don’t respond to that text message you just got.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

You have God’s permission.

The pastor -|—

Praying scripture

The following is a prayer based on Psalm 23 that I wrote for a funeral; a prayer I prayed before preaching the message:

O Lord, you are our shepherd, therefore we shall never be in want; for you make us lie down in green pastures, you lead us beside quiet waters and you restore our souls. Thank you, Oh God. We ask now that you may guide us in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake; for we want to give you praise and glory.

But during this time of mourning, Oh Lord, it feels as if we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  We ask that you may comfort us with your presence, keep us from fear and protect us from the evil one.

May we feast at your table in complete peace and comfort and security as You anoint us and fill our cups to overflowing.

Oh Lord our God, thank you, for your goodness and love follows us all the days of our lives, and through faith in Jesus Christ we are confident that we will dwell in Your house forever.

Amen.

_______________________________________________________

Don’t get me wrong here.  I am not trying to re-write scripture.  I just enjoy praying through scripture and using scripture to give my prayer a voice…and what better place to do this than in the Psalter.

When my wife and I were freshly grieving our failed adoption I immediately started reading in the book of Psalms.  I found those places where the psalmist was crying out to God; asking how long; wondering where God was at.  I was thankful that the psalmist gave me words to pray as I “borrowed” his words.  I was also thankful for the reminder that God is faithful. The psalmist may have been crying out to God but he usually ended with words of praise for God. I need those words too…so I “borrowed” them as well.

What a great diversity in the book of Psalms. No wonder Martin Luther called the Psalter a “little Bible”.

So…if you need some words for your prayer today…try the book of Psalms. If you don’t needs words right now…go to the Psalms anyway. You will need them eventually.

Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—

Praying

I have been on a roll recently, writing prayers…

Praise be to God!

Maybe this is coming out of the spiritual discipline I have taken on this Lent: Using a prayer journal.  It is amazing what happens when you just let go and not force something out, but just let your spirit pray; talking and listening to God.  I’m still trying to get used to handwriting my prayers in my journal, but I am finding that I am enjoying this more and more.  The hand cramps force me to slow down, and I need that.

The following prayer is one I wrote to be used as the prayer before I preach the sermon on Feb 24th.  In the back of my mind I was thinking about Psalm 27.  I wrote and posted a prayer based on that Psalm the other day.

So let us go to God in prayer as we prepare for worship…

Father in heaven, you are a holy and awesome God.  You are worthy of all praise and worship.  You are faithful and full of grace.  In you there is shelter and life.  In you there is salvation.  May we seek your face in the midst of fear.  May we seek your shelter in the midst of storms.  And may we dwell in your house forever and ever. Through Jesus Christ you have conquered all that would besiege us and promised us a future; you have promised us life through faith in Jesus Christ.  Strengthen our faith in the face of fears and may we always seek you.  Now may the words of my mouth and the mediation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, Oh God, our Rock and Redeemer, Amen.

May God bless your day :)

The pastor -|—

Psalm 27 prayer

Oh Lord, my God, you are my light and my salvation;
of whom shall I fear.
Oh Lord, my God, you are the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid.
When the evil of this world advances against me,
When Satan fires his flaming arrows at me,
When Satan prowls around like a roaring lion,
When people spread falsehoods about me,
I will be confident; for you are with me.

Loving and holy God;
I want to dwell in your house,
I want to gaze upon your beauty,
I want to worship you forever.
Please keep me safe from the evil one.
Please protect my faith from Satan’s onslaughts.
Please watch over my life.

And…
Teach me to follow you better.
Teach me to know your laws better.
Teach me to be more obedient.
Teach me to be more faithful.

I want to give your name glory and honor in my life.

Thank you, loving God, for being my fortress and stronghold.

Amen!

The Pastor -|—

You got to want it

I am working on a confirmation lesson plan about confession and as part of that lesson we are going to be reading Psalm 19.

[Pause here and go read that 15 verse Psalm.  Cue Jeopardy theme...]

Did you read it?  Seriously…did you read Psalm 19 and meditate on it?  I could make life easier for you and just include the text in this post, but part of me is feeling feisty today so no easy way out for you.  I want you to actually open your Bible to read the scripture text.  Online or on your smartphone is fine, just read the text.

O.K…I’m ready to move on…

I read Psalm 19 yesterday and started jotting down some teaching points for the class.  I wrote a couple questions that I want to ask.  I mulled over how the discussion might go.  I started anticipating some questions my students might ask.  But I got stuck on what the psalmist was doing.  Not stuck on how I want to teach this Psalm and the topic of confession, but I got stuck because of what it was saying to ME.

[Scripture has a funny way of doing that sometimes.]

In verses 1 – 6 I hear the psalmist saying how awesome God is.  When you look around you can’t help but see the majesty of God.  You can’t help but see the awesome power of God; written in the sky and in all of creation.  God is so worthy of our worship and praise.  And this I know, but when someone makes you stop and pay attention; it hits you…again.

In verses 7 – 11 I hear the psalmist singing the praises of God for how awesome His Law is.  God’s Law is right and just and perfect and trustworthy and radiant and pure and righteous and sure and…(I’m sure we could go on and on).  God’s Law is precious and worthy to be followed and obeyed.  And this I know, but once again it is being held up before my eyes as I see it anew.

Last but not least, the psalmist confesses his sins in verses 12-13.  And in verse 14 I am captured by these words: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” A statement pointing to the psalmist’s humility before God.

Wow…is this where I am at when I come before God confessing my sins?

If God is not awesome and worthy in your sight what motivation is there to confess anything.  Confession can’t be a checklist item.  It can’t be something done out of coercion.  Confession of sins needs to be a humbling and heartfelt act of worship before a holy and gracious God.  If it is anything less than that we are just fooling ourselves (and definitely not fooling God). Basically…you got to want it.

The power of God’s awesome forgiveness can only be known through a heartfelt sense of our unworthiness and  sinfulness.  Look around.  God is everywhere.  God’s glory is being proclaimed through creation.  Meditate on that. Meditate on the fact that you do not deserve forgiveness, but because of Jesus forgiveness is offered.

Wow…that is amazing! That is Good News!

So…have you read Psalm 19 yet?  Do it.  Confess for your sins.  And know God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ our risen Lord and Savior.

The pastor -|—

Praise in 2013

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
[Psalm 150]

Loving and gracious God, we give you thanks and praise as we begin another new year together.  As I look back there have been ups and downs; joys and sorrows; happiness and sadness; but through it all you have been there.  There is much to be thankful for and much to praise you for.  As we begin this new year together may we not stray from your commandments and may we not forget who’s we are.  May we make the most of every moment to glorify your name and take advantage of every opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus. Loving God, all that we have is from you.  May we use what you have given us to bless one another in this new year and beyond.  May you receive all glory, honor, praise and worship.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen!

Happy New Year everyone!

Praise be to God…always and forever!

The pastor -|—

Give thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
[Psalm 136:1-3]

And don’t just give thanks today, but rather every single day of the year.

Why?

for his steadfast love endures forever and ever and ever and ever…

Have a Happy Thanksgiving :)

edh -|—

Sandy

The pastor’s heart goes out to those being affected by Sandy; that massive storm hitting the east coast.  I have bee watching the Weather Channel this morning and seeing reports of what is going on and then the reporters saying the worst is yet to come.

Scary

High winds
Flooding
Rain and snow
Power outages
Storm surge

So many people are going to be affected; not just on the coast but way into the mainland; as far in as Ohio.  A large mass of area feeling the effects of Mother Nature’s fury.  And in the midst of such chaos it is easy to lose perspective and become despondent.

I believe Satan uses such weather events in an attempt to drive a wedge between people and God as every year Mother Nature proves to be a formidable foe.  But not even Hurricane Sandy can stand up to the sovereignty of God.

So…

Please be in prayer for those being effected.
Please be in prayer for those relief workers.
Consider giving to relief organizations.
Don’t lose faith.
Don’t stop praying once the storm passes.
And remember…

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
[Psalm 46:1-3]
We have an awesome God.  May God be praised even in this massive storm.
edh -|—

ADDITION:
Please remember and pray for those who were affected by this massive storm before it hit the U.S.  The people of Haiti, Cuba, etc.  Lives were lost and property destroyed.  A friend of mine brought this to my attention which shows how biased the media is when it comes to these natural disasters.  I never even considered where this storm came from.  For that I repent.

Seek the Lord

I lift up my eyes to the hills
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out
and you coming in from this
time forth and forevermore.
[Psalm 121]

This is my wife’s favorite Psalm.

When I am gone overnight she keeps this close by and reads it over and over.  You see…she doesn’t like staying in our haunted parsonage by herself.  O.K…maybe it’s not haunted but with the bats scratching their way in the walls and all the creaking boards one would be tempted to think the house is alive.  Someone once told my wife that the spirits of Salem’s former pastors were walking around and looking out for her.  For some reason that didn’t help :)

My wife hasn’t told me specifically but my guess is that she finds comfort in the fact that God is not sleeping and that God is watching over her and …

 “The Lord will keep you from all evil”

I have to admit…there is something very comforting about that phrase.  There is evil all around us and I do not doubt that Satan is using those strange noises in our house to get my wife to doubt God’s presence and sovereignty.  Satan will do whatever he can to get us to believe that we are alone; that God has left us.

God hasn’t left us and never will.

God is our help.
God is our peace.
God in our life.

Where do you turn for help?
Where do your eyes look when fears ravage you?
Who do you seek for safety?
Who do you run to for shelter?

The Lord will keep your going out
and you coming in from this
time forth and forevermore.

Lift your eyes” and seek the Lord…and don’t let spooks and goblins (or Satan) drive you to despair, but trust in the Lord’s presence and strength.  He will keep your life and bring you home through Jesus Christ…and there is nothing Satan can do about that.  Wrap your heart around that blessed assurance and sleep well tonight knowing that God is not sleeping and that God has your back.

edh -|—

Whom do you follow?

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
[Psalm 118:8-9]

Sound advice but one that is hard to put in actual practice especially during an active political season where promises are being made left and right by individuals trying to earn your trust and get your vote.

And these promises grab our attention because:
~ We see the economic struggles around us.
~ We see poverty and homeless in our communities.
~ We see people struggling to find work.
~ We see people scraping to get by each month.
~ We see troubles all around us.

Or…you may find yourself smack dab in the middle of the chaos and are looking for a savior.

But then ~ someone comes along who promises they can fix things; turn the economy around; create jobs and put more money in our pockets. When that person (or political party) makes these promises we are tempted to give them our “worship”.  After all, if they can fix what is wrong in our lives, why shouldn’t we follow them.

But here’s the problem…

…when we follow man we will be lead astray for they can only take us so far; for they are mortal and will not last forever.  If we put our trust in man/princes alone we may be happy for a season but it won’t last.

But…

…when we put our trust in the Lord we will have a joy that WILL last forever despite any hardships we may face now.  For only God can give us what we truly need: forgiveness and everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So put your faith in the Lord.
Find your refuge in God our Creator.
Place your trust in Jesus Christ.

And know true JOY ~ all the while praying for those who are in elected office and running for office; praying that God may use them.

But place your trust in the Lord, not in man.

edh -|—