Category Archives: Psalms

Chasten Us, oh Lord

A prayer excerpt, from Charles Spurgeon, that I read this afternoon. His prayers challenge me and help me go deeper in my relationship with Christ. And so I share this with you in hopes that you too will continue to search out your relationship with God in Jesus and go deeper and deeper with him.

Lord, we ask that Thy Word may chasten us whenever we go astray,
may it enlighten us
whenever for a moment
we get into darkness.
May Thy Word be the supreme ruler of our being.
May we give ourselves up to its sacred law
to be obedient to its every hint,
wishing in all things, even in the least things,
to do the will of God from the heart
and having every thought
brought into captivity to the mind of the Spirit of God.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. [Psalm 119:9]

The Pastor -|—

Dwell

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord , make me dwell in safety.
[Psalm 4:8 ESV]

Meditate on this verse tonight as you prepare to retire for the evening, and if you are not lying down in peace, then why? What is it that is preventing you from seeing and knowing the Lord? What lie is Satan telling you?

Whatever it is…

…stop it.

Turn to Satan and say, “Go back to hell. I belong to Jesus.”

Now, lie down in peace and trust that God has your life.

Sweet dreams.

The Pastor -|—

I Dare You

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
[Psalm 139:23-24]

Have you prayed a prayer like this before?
Have you dared to ask God to show you “any grievous way” in you?
Have you asked God to lead you “in the way everlasting”?

This is a dangerous prayer, but an awesome one. It is one that leads to transformation. If you pray this prayer with all your heart; meaning every single word, how does God not joyfully grant every aspect of this prayer to you? But this is not a magical incantation. This is not a rubbing of the genie’s lamp.

This is a prayer of faith.

God knows your whole being.
God knows the depths of your heart.
God knows your secret sins.
God knows every skeleton you hide.
God HAS searched you and knows you.

So that is not the issue but rather God making this known to us; that we may know that God knows. And knowing that God knows and that God has not left us; that is powerful. That is grace. And when I see that God sticks with me even though God has searched me and has found everything I would rather keep hidden, I am lead to be better. I am drawn closer to God.

Not out of fear but out of love.

And so this prayer is about God,
revealing that which does not bring God glory;
revealing that which draws me away from God.
revealing that which darkens my path, so much so, that I don’t faithfully follow.
And then revealing His grace.

So since God knows you better than you know yourself, confess your sins but don’t stop there. Don’t just rack your brain for sins to confess, but listen as God reveals to you ways you have disobeyed and then receive those “grievous ways”; confessing them as well.

And upon hearing amazing grace: My child, I forgive you. The next part of the prayer is about God leading us in the way everlasting.  This is the repentance part. Confession and absolution falls short if there is not a desire to repent. That’s just cheap grace. And so upon confessing and hearing forgiveness, pray for God to lead you into repentance; “in the way everlasting”.

Wow, what a dangerously awesome prayer.

So I dare you to pray it and then I dare you to listen. Go ahead I dare you. God is waiting to transform you.

Holy God, search me and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting! In the name of Jesus, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Symbol Man

Hebrew - Beth

No worries, I am not following in the footsteps of Prince and becoming symbol man or the blogger formerly known as The Pastor. But if I were to become a symbol man or something of the sort, I like this one. Not just for is aesthetic appeal but for what this symbol refers to. So I am keeping this symbol in front of me.

So why the symbol?

The symbol is called a bet, and it is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

O.K., that makes sense but that still leaves more questions.

Hold on, there is more.

Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem. It is broken up into 22 sections of 8 verses (one section for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet). Each verse within a particular section begins with that corresponding Hebrew letter. The section titled, bet, (the above symbol) refers to verses 9-16 which reads as follows:

(9) How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
(10) With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
(11) I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
(12) Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
(13) With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
(14) In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
(15) I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
(16) I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

These verses caught my attention yesterday as I was preparing devotions for our local radio station; particularly verse 9 about how to keep one’s way pure.

You see, (and you really don’t need me to tell you this), our world is filled with so many distractions. Satan is on the prowl, looking for someone to devour. Just yesterday I read about a pastor who got caught up in prostitution and was arrested. He said he had a moment of “great weakness”. I am not judging him but I can’t help but wonder if that weakness was due to taking his eyes off of God; by not guarding his way according to the Word of God.

I am not suggesting that I am tempted to engage in prostitution (and I am definitely not tempted) but there are other temptations that Satan uses to attempt to draw me away from God. We all face these attacks. Some battles we win and many we lose. And in those defeats I look to another symbol; one that points to God’s incredible love and grace:

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Forgiven, I live to continue to fight the fight of faith.

How?

By guarding it a according to the Word of God; by loving God’s Law; learning it; meditating on it; memorizing it; reading it. And keeping at it, for when you drift away from reading scripture you quickly forget, because we all have very short term memories when it comes to God’s Law and the Gospel.

Guarding one’s way can not be done through clever tricks or strength of mind or simple human will power. Guarding one’s way is only done through the strength of God through the Holy Spirit. The Word of God.

And so I am going to keep this symbol in front of me as a reminder to fight the fight of faith; guarding my way according to God’s Word. And you too, Christian, fight on, going in the strength of God, guarding your way according to His Word and clinging to God’s awesome grace in Jesus Christ.

Holy God, may I always keep Your Word in front of me; that I may not turn away and go astray. But when I do go astray, retrieve me as a shepherd hunting down a lost sheep and restore me to life. It’s in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor (a.k.a. Symbol man)  -|—

Worship Prayers ~ Majestic God

It feels good to be back at it and writing again even though I enjoyed some quality time with my children as my wife volunteered at Shetek Lutheran Ministries (Slayton, MN) this past week.

Below are my worship preparations this week (July 12). The opening prayer is something I have done before (taken from Psalm 8). I just love these words from the psalmist as they give words to my heart as some of the many reasons I worship God. So feel free to use these in whatever way brings glory to God.

May this Lord’s Day be one filled with joy as you worship this awesome and majestic God of ours. Let’s pray…

Opening Prayer
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which YOU have set in place, what are we that you are mindful of us; that you care for us? Yet you have made us a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned us with glory and honor. You have given us dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under our feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
And that is why we worship You, oh God; Your majestic and glorious name. No other god has done or can do what You do. No other god loves us as You do. No other god has given their son that we may live. No other god is majestic or glorious or worthy of worship. And so we come praising You and seeking Your Word. Receive our worship.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
In Jesus most holy and majestic name we pray, Amen.

Prayers of Intercession
Holy God, majestic and wonderful, compassionate and merciful, in Your abundant mercy we ask that You may hear our prayers and give to us not according to our will but may Your will be done. May our spirits be rightly aligned with You and may our desires be wholly focused on You. May we seek You with our whole hearts and grant us to receive from most Your gracious hand.
Lord in Your mercy…“Hear our prayer”

For those caught in the cycle of poverty or homelessness or under-employment, grant relief through Your children as we live out our faith. May we see the world around us as a mission field; to share Your love and to show mercy through acts of kindness. Lord in Your mercy…“Hear our prayer”

For the Church, oh Lord. We are not just an organization that meets together but we are Your hands and feet; the body of Christ. So may we not sit idle as hurts and injustices abound. May we not turn away from our calling. May we seek to know Your holy Word better. May leaders be faithful and disciples be raised up to follow You. And may Your Gospel be boldly proclaimed. Lord in Your mercy…“Hear our prayer”

Holy God, majestic and wonderful, compassionate and merciful, receive these petitions and may we be faithful to continue to seek You day in and day out. May our lives be ones of worship, so much so, that those around us are drawn to You, not to us. All glory and honor and praise and worship be to You, oh God, through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

Post-Communion Blessing
May the body and blood of Jesus Christ which brings forgiveness of sins, excite and stir you to forgive others as you have been forgiven; seeking to bring praise to God and to restore relationships for the sake of the Gospel, let us pray…

Post-Communion Prayer
Bring healing to troubled souls, oh God, as we bask in the joy that Jesus Christ was given for us. Bring hope to the hopeless, life to the lifeless, purpose to the lost and joy to the downtrodden. May this holy meal drive us to long for the Great Banquet that You have prepared for all believers. Through Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

Benediction
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and grant you peace.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Avoiding the Legos

image

Walking in a dark room can be a dangerous undertaking, especially in my home; one filled with toys from a 2 year old and an 8 month old. I have learned the hard lesson to never take for granted safe passage through our dark living room. I either use my smart phone or activate the screen on my Fitbit to cast just enough light to guide my path.

[In case you’re wondering why I don’t turn a lamp on – my little girl’s room is right off the living room with only French doors and a curtain to keep the light out]

And to travel through this dark world without the light of God’s Word is also a dangerous undertaking; but for far worse reasons than simply stubbing your toe or stepping on a Lego. God’s Word lights the path of righteousness that we are to walk .

“You lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake”
(Psalm 23:3)

For when darkness descends upon us, Satan is going to be quick to be a false guide to lead you away, or worse yet ~ Your adversary, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour(1 Peter 5:8) It’s only the light of God’s Words that is going to reveal Satan’s evil schemes to deceive you (or devour you).

I can think of a few times in my life when darkness descended upon me but the Spirit led me to the light of God’s Word:
~ After our failed adoption I was lead to the Psalms (lament and praise)
~ After the Charleston shooting last week I was lead to 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.
~ After a rough morning with my 2 year old I was lead to Matthew 4.

God’s Word was indeed a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
God’s Word shined a light on the prowling lion waiting to devour me.
God’s Word shined a light to keep me on the right path when the path of bitterness seemed like a good way.
God’s Word shined a light on the righteousness won for me through Jesus.
God’s Word shined brightly in the darkness to cast away my fears.

So never think you know how to navigate dark times. Just because you may have been there before, never take for granted that you know the path. It’s in that complacency that you will step on the proverbial Lego and turn away. Activate the light of God’s Word in your life to avoid stepping on those Legos as you follow the path of righteousness no matter how scary the path may look; trusting God’s Word and not your fears.

Holy God, I am in awe that you would give us Your holy Word. May we use the light of Your Word to guide our way and trust the path that is revealed. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Lists of Praise

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14 ESV)

Oh God, You are my…
Creator
Life
Hope
Salvation
Refuge
Shelter
Shield
Defense
Rock
Father
Lord
All in all
Sure foundation
Provider
Sustainer
Abba
Peace
Delight
Comfort

PRAISE BE TO GOD!

Oh God, You are…
Holy
Life
Loving
Faithful
Compassionate
Merciful
Forgiving
Just
Worthy
Powerful
Almighty
Wonderful
Caring
Wise
Trustworthy
Sovereign
Truth
Awesome
Righteous
Pure
Gracious
Precious

PRAISE BE TO GOD!

Oh God, I am…
Loved
Safe
Secure
at Peace
Thankful
Joyful
Worshipful
Content
Blessed
a Disciple
a Evangelist
Your child
Your handiwork
Your servant
Your creation

PRAISE BE TO GOD!

Oh God, I lift my praise to You. Keep me steadfast in Your Word that I may never turn aside after false gods. And may I continue to add to these lists for they do not even come close to describing You, oh God. All praise and worship be to You, through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.

The Pastor -|—