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The Psalms Prayer Series

the psalms

 

The Psalms have long comforted me and continue to do so because they have taught me how to express honest emotion. The sludge that hides deep in my heart is given a voice. And they show me that even when I screw up, there’s hope.

 

Further, the Psalms give us an overview of God’s faithfulness towards the Israelites and reminds us that he is faithful to us. Here in this book, we can learn about God, his heart for mankind, and insight into how our heart behaves. God’s heart is for us, and his righteousness and kindness calls us up and onward.

 

So The Psalms Prayer Series will contain a portion of Psalms, a little explanation, and a prayer for your heart. Prayer unites us so that our souls know we’re not alone. (Do you ever feel alone? I do.) Prayer creates community and God shows up when we pray. Let’s meet him there.

The Psalms

 

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” Psalms 86:11-13 NIV

 

Does your heart ever feel divided? Mine does. It wrestles back and forth like a tug o’war and eventually I fall “splat” in the mud. It races through the cycle of trust and worry, worry and trust. My heart gives problems to God and snatches them right back. It wrestles with control and surrender. It wants what it wants more than it wants what God wants.

 

An undivided heart is tied to fear. And this is what I know: there’s fear that lies and convinces us that we are beyond redemption and that’s the kind that leads to death. But then there’s the fear that brings us life and that is an awareness of the power of God and that there’s no one like him. It’s here that what was once divided is made whole.

 

His love rescues, redeems, and restores and we glorify him through praise and obedience. As he teaches us his way, we walk in his truth.

The Prayer

 

Holy God, 

 

You are beyond magnificent. You are glorious and righteous in all your ways. You lead us into righteousness and truth. May we walk in you, with you, for you, and towards you. Oh God, teach us your ways for our ways are filled with confusion, doubt, and wrong turns.

 

Guide us to walk in your truth, every day, every moment, and let us reach for you before a word leaves our mouth. Oh Lord, our hearts are divided and may we have hearts that are singularly yours–wholly and completely–not wavering, but steadfast and that is only found in you. Let us turn to you for unity, for strength, and for love. 

 

Lord, we praise you–with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Let us glorify your name as we navigate the difficulties this life presents. Our hearts are yours, Lord, all of it, all of us, for your love is great towards us because you have delivered us. The grave cannot hold you, and it cannot prevent you from bringing new life to our heart. Great is your love and we proclaim it in the dark and in the day, in the sun and in the rain, in the depths of despair and the ecstasy of joy. 

 

In Jesus’ name, Amen

The Takeaway

 

Read Psalm 86 in its entirety.

 

 

 

 

how to trade your insecurity for lasting security

security-1

Who am I? Who are you? The easy answer can be found on the ID we each carry around in our wallets, but the deeper answer is more difficult to flesh out. I know at my core I struggle with my identity. I look at myself in the mirror and see a woman staring back at me, but what I see are the hurts and beliefs that I wrestle everyday with because my life–this life–is about God and how he wants me to live not about the effects of my youth that created this uneasy sense of wondering ‘who am I?’

For the last few weeks I’ve challenged my own self-perceptions, sense of belonging and confidence within the context of God’s word and I hope you’ve been challenged as well. Today begins a tackling of another subject–one I’d rather avoid if I’m being completely honest, but needing to address: Security.

My security is not found in my ability to perform because I’ve learned that performance and abilities can fail.  My security is not in my reputation even though my reputation is important.  My security is not in the type of family I come from, my heritage, or my pocketbook, which is a relief because I’m a melting pot of nationalities and my pocket book is usually empty.

The temptation to place my security in temporal things is strong because these are things I can see and gauge and prove to myself that I’m worth something. It’s the compare and contrast thing we do with each other: ‘How am I better than so and so and how am I worse than so and so?’ and so my security rises and lowers based on where the comparison needle lands.

But it’s exhausting, you know? When my security is placed in my own ability or in someone else’s ability, I weave and bob on a floating log in an uncertain river. I go under gasping for breath and come up soaked and shivering, but still clinging to the things that I think will provide my security: performance, people, and pocket money.

I’m learning through mistakes and moments of humility that security has nothing to do with me or with you, but God himself.

What he says about me is more important than how I feel about myself. He says that in Christ, I am chosen, adopted, rescued, complete, and given access to him. This doesn’t change based on the day when I have it all together and I’m rocking the day or the day when I have one giant fail after another.

He says I’m secure in him and this doesn’t change if I have a poor performance, disappoint people, or lost my pocket money. He is the ultimate in security. But how do we begin transferring our misplacement of security in ourselves, and other people to the King of kings and Lord of lords?

It’s allowing three key truths to take root in our heart and allowed to grow.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Satan loves nothing more than to throw my sin in my face and remind me of the shame of it. God says that since I am in Christ Jesus then I’m set free from my sin and I am free to live by him and for him. My security is in knowing that I’m free from the law of sin and death and set free in the law of the Spirit of life.

Life is hard. It just is. There’s pain, cancer, miscarriages, stillborns, death of a loved one, divorce, abuse, or addictions. And sometimes the hard is something we have to face every day and sometimes it’s a memory that lives as though it is our present. Somedays it’s hard to look past our pain to see the possibilities of what is.

And what is is this: you love God, respond to his call and he works things together for good. This concept only works when we frame it with our love and response to what God is wanting to do with our junk. My security lies in trusting God that he will turn my pain into beauty.  I have to look at pain or fear or whatever in the eye and trust God with it and as he works in my heart, my insecurity is traded for security.

To understand the depth of God’s love for us can be one of the greatest obstacles to our security in Christ. Our hearts are prone to cynicism. Our minds towards doubt. We want proof and too often life proves that love is expendable. So to wrap our minds around the concept that nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus can feel impossible.

 But what if we tried? What if you and I declared that no matter what happens tomorrow at that doctor’s appointment that we will still believe God loves us? What if you and I declared that no matter who wins the presidential election that we will not be separated from the love of God? What if you and I declared that no matter how much pain we are currently experiencing in our private lives that God’s love is still deep and wide?

What would our acceptance of God’s love look like if we separated our circumstances from God’s love for us? It would look a lot like security.

belief required

Belief.

We can say we believe, but do we? When the way grows rough and the storm looms close do we believe as much as we did when the way was smooth and the skies clear? When it feels like you cannot catch your breath because the waves are crashing with increasing ferocity, do you believe with the same amount of fervor as when the water was as smooth as glass?

This question comes up to haunt me in the night. It hounds me when I am trapped in shame. It challenges my desperation. It ramrods my pride.

Yet, belief was the key to the sick woman and the synagogue ruler. It was their belief that fueled their desperation. It was their belief that prompted their seeking Jesus. Belief fueled their reception of their personal miracle.

Belief.

There were those in the synagogue leader’s and the woman’s life that did not believe that healing could come. Think of the woman: she spent all she had searching for health through the hands of mere men and instead of getting better she grew worse. She was probably written off as a lost cause and there was no one left to believe that she would be restored. Think of Jairus: his daughter was still alive when he fell at Jesus’ feet begging for Jesus to come and heal his daughter, yet, when Jesus finally arrived, Jairus’ daughter was dead. There was no hope because there was no life.

There have been and probably always will be those folks in my life who challenge my belief in my Jesus. There will be those that will tell me to stop bothering Jesus with the request that obviously is dead. I have those kind of latent dreams that I wonder if they will ever happen in this world. But the dreams persist and I hear Jesus tell me, just as he told Jairus: ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe.’

In that statement, Jairus had to choose who he was going to believe. Would he believe his friends and family or would he believe Jesus? Can you imagine the single-mindedness of Jairus as he walked those last, long, short steps to his home? Can you imagine the battle within his heart and what his mind was telling him? His heart is telling him to believe and reverberating through his mind is the news that his daughter is dead. Whose voice will be louder? Jesus or the crowd?

This is the challenge that I face. Will I let Jesus’ voice be louder in my mind and heart or will I let the crowd of doubt and logic drown it?

It wasn’t logical that by just one touch of Jesus’ hem would the woman be healed. It wasn’t logical that a child could be raised from the dead. There is no human logic that could explain or support a healing touch.

But what part of Jesus follows our human logic? I have experienced a peace that makes no sense when I look at the circumstances in my life. I have experienced the courage to take the next step to tear down idols that prevent the people I serve from growing in their worship experience. I have experienced freedom from the approval seeking junkie I once was.

These things are unexplainable outside the power of the touch of Jesus in my life.Will you believe? Will you be desperate? Will you seek out the presence of Jesus in your life? If you can, if you will to, you might experience miracles in your life that defy our human logic as well. And that is a very exciting place to be.

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