Psalm 35-37

Last night I attended a church gathering in a friends living room. We were prompted to share with the group where we find joy in our relationship with the Lord. 

Someone shared about how deeply satisfying it is to have a solid foundation with God. He compared it to earlier in his faith, when he wavered in belief during every trial.

The theme I notice a lot in the psalms is how much David leans in to his foundation with God. Whether he’s running for his life, or experience great military success, or entangled by adultery, his words are soaked in faith. I loved these verses today: 

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” 37:7

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.” 36:5-7

It’s a beautiful thing to set down roots in God’s love. When the hard times inevitably come; we have stable ground to stand on. When doubts swell in our mind, fed by anxiety and fear, we are tethered by truth. 
-Carly

Psalm 32-34

“Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”‭‭(‭33:20-22‬)

“Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together!” ‭(34:3‬)

The LORD is great and worthy of our praise! He has forgiven our sins and taught us His most beautiful ways! He has given us the gift of love, life, joy and goodness!

Every day I want to see Him with new eyes and experience His goodness on new levels. I don’t want to keep my small view of Him in a comfortable box, I want to know the greatness of fearing Him, my incomprehensible LORD.

I have to read and re-read these psalms. They are full of truth and light. Meditate, with me, on these words. Confess your whole heart to the LORD. Trying to keep something from Him is futile and painful. Be free in the presence of our LORD to sing and declare His glory.

Happy Saturday!

-Bethany

Psalm 29-31

“I entrust my spirit into your hand.” 31:8

My Bible commentary notes that Jesus used this phrase when he was dying on the cross. Stephen also repeated these words in Acts 7:59 as he was being stoned to death. Can you imagine that? Facing a torturous death and still having the faith to say “God, I completely trust you”?

I always catch myself trying to break off pieces of myself to give to God, while tucking others behind my back. I trust him to provide resources and finances for my family, but I close my fists over my physical safety, in an effort to have control over it.

When God asks us to commit to him, he is asking for our whole selves. Our possessions, our families, our careers, our desires, everything!

What are you struggling to entrust to God? Or, what are you most afraid of losing?

What’s beautiful about the gospel is that we don’t have to solve those heart issues on our own before we come to God. He wants us to bring those things to him and work through them alongside you. You don’t have to hide away or grow distant from him.

I love how David ends chapter 31:

“So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!” 

Following God is empowering. Coming to him, admitting your struggles and requesting his help isn’t a sign of weakness or failure. It’s the mark of humility; an attribute Jesus clothed himself in. Life is one big monumental struggle with pride. What does that battle look like for you right now?

 

-Carly

 

Psalm 26-28

“Blessed be the LORD! For He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.” (28:6-7‬)

I must admit, mercy isn’t something I regularly pray for. Vindication, yes; mercy, no. Recently this fact has slapped me in the face. Who do I think I am?

I like to point out my righteousness as a reason God should answer me, much like David does in 26:1. I love justice, but suddenly, I really love mercy.

The popular verse in Micah 6:8 orders as such:

  • DO justly
  • LOVE mercy
  • WALK humbly

These really tie into each other. Doing justly can often lead to pride and the desire to “bring someone down so justice can be served”. Mercy and humility fly out the window.

If I’ve learned anything from working here in Greece, it’s that I am a mess, a sinner, in desperate need of a savior. There’s a lot of uneducated elbows bumping, over here, as many unqualified people (such as myself) rush to answer a very complex, advanced issue. The battle between volunteers, NGOs, the UN, churches, etc. is weird and certainly the worst part. I cannot forget to walk humbly.

I frequently receive encouraging messages from friends and family, showering me with praise for the amazing things I’m doing, and I’ve gotta say, I don’t deserve it. I’m making mistakes. Who knows what’s helping and what’s hurting? I’m not a professional. At best, I’m a strange friend. Sometimes I’m afraid to come home because people will realize just how much of a not hero I really am.

My soul is tired. I spend a lot of time stressed and angry. I don’t even know if I’m mad at the right people. I’m coming home a broken person and right about now I love mercy.

I haven’t been merciful, I’ve been judgemental. And now I find myself praying as the tax collector in Luke 18:13 crying, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Thankfully, Jesus says that tax collector goes home justified.

Today my heart sings praises of thankfulness to my LORD, my shield, who has heard my plea for mercy.

There’s no being selective about who receives mercy. There’s no favoritism on who receives justice. There’s no one excused from humility. Even Jesus was humble (Philippians 2:6-8).

Yes, sometimes God answers us, because we have walked in righteousness. But hallelujah, He answers us, because He is merciful.

-Bethany

Psalm 23-25

I wake up, moving a little slower than usual. I pour cold cream in warm coffee and lower myself into couch. It’s raining out. I’m dreading my list of chores; my back aches and I didn’t sleep well. I reach for my phone, scrolling through emails, text messages, images of couples from Valentine’s Day yesterday on Instagram.

I field a few work emails. One requesting urgent prayer for the repercussions of a long draught in East Africa, leaving a children’s home temporarily without water. I open up my prayer list to add it to the top and my eyes move down the list. A wonderful man riddled with cancer. Millions of people across the world seeking refugee. Someone who unexpectedly lost their job. A woman facing her third miscarriage.

I set my phone aside and open the leather cover on my Bible. My fingers find the bookmark and I open to the Psalms. My tired eyes scan the first words of today’s reading:

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” 23:1-4

We have all that we need? What about those without water? Those fleeing their homes in fear for their lives globally? With failing health or with grief weighing them down with boulder-like strength?

I want to tie this post up in a bow. But the truth is, this is the journey we are all on with God. There’s not immunity from sorrow, trouble or dark, winding valleys. But there is a Great Shepherd, quenching our thirst, feeding our hunger, guiding our paths and calming our fears. He parts seas. He walks on water. He brings in the clouds, he clears them away. He is sovereign over water. Over weather. Over war. Over marriage. Over birth. Over death.

Is your heart heavy today? Bury it deep inside these promises:

The Lord is our shepherd, we have what we need: Him. His presence in our lives meets all our needs. It conquers every fear, it heals every broken heart and it hears every prayer.

 

-Carly

 

 

 

Psalm 20-22

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.” (‭20:7-8‬)

Replace chariots and horses with nuclear power and the American military and think on this verse again.

We, in the west, are obsessed with safety. One of my professors in Bible college suggested safety was the true American God. I wasn’t ready to go that far, but the assertion has stayed with me.
“Be exalted, O LORD, in Your strength! We will sing and praise Your power.” (‭21:13‬)

How do I exalt the strength and power of the LORD? I can say I trust in Him, and cover myself in these words like a warm, fuzzy blanket, but David wrote many Psalms while hiding in a cave, running for his life. Is my trust anything like David’s?

There have been many moments in my life where I’ve been deeply shaken and this song has filled my mouth:

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

This usually slips out when I realize I was standing on something sinking and in that moment of panic, grab the Rock.

The LORD left instructions, in Deuteronomy 17 for the future kings of Israel, and verse 16 tells them not to get horses from Egypt. Don’t return to Egypt for help. Didn’t you see me destroy them without any help from horses or your common military tactics? I will continue to fight for you. Trust in me, not earthly strategies. 

What are my safety nets? What back up plan have I set up just in case the LORD lets me fall? This wouldn’t work in a marriage; keeping secret bank accounts and separate social circles. Am I doing that with the LORD?

To be sure, there are areas of my life I have grown to trust the LORD with; but other areas remain. What are yours? What is keeping you us from trusting Him, the Only Solid Rock?

Be glorified in us as we trust you, LORD!

-Bethany

 

Psalm 17-19

Wasn’t chapter 18 great?

“You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. You a light a lamp for me, The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.”

“You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. I chased my enemies and caught them; I did not stop until they were conquered.”

“You gave me victory over my accusers.”

Reading intimate descriptions of David’s interpersonal relationship with God is so inspiring. I grew up going to church in the 90’s. There was a lot of emphasis in youth group on how Jesus was cool, laid back and relational. Praying to him felt easy. The Holy Spirit was portrayed as tangible.

But I’m trying to imagine David’s God. It was definitely a more formal time, religion more prominent than relationship. Before Jesus. Before the Holy Spirit intervened. Yet still, he pens deeply emotional words to his God. He writes that He is always with him, that he bends down to listen to his mere mortal words.

David doesn’t write that life is perfect. He writes about needing rescuing, about his darkness, his enemies and accusers.

I’m so encouraged by David’s relationship with God. I wonder if he had any idea that his songs and journal entries would be read by millions of people for thousands of years. Praising God can be a ministry in itself. And these days, we have plenty of platforms to do so. Is God lighting up your darkness, answering your prayers, going before you and catching your slipping feet? Share that with someone. Follow up with friends who have been praying for you.

May our hard circumstances bring glory to God, advance the gospel and encourage the disheartened.

 

-Carly