Psalm 116-118

“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. The LORD preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the LORD In the land of the living. I believed when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.”” (116:5-11)

This passage struck a chord in me. Trauma feels like drowning. As the psalmist describes previously, “cords of death entangling.” Your brain starts skipping like a broken record and panic rises like a flood of waters.

When I find myself in the midst of a traumatic situation, or something triggers my PTSD, I get really dramatic, shouting about how my life is marked by affliction and, yeah, maybe even screaming, all men are liars!” This reaction resonates in my recent history.

It’s hopeless! It’s too broken! The problem is too complex!

But then I do call out to the LORD, and He does in fact rescue me. It might take awhile to calm down though. I look around, maybe pat myself down and mutter, “you’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay.” Which is a little less eloquent than, “return to rest, O my soul, for the the LORD had dealt bountifully with you.” 

That sentence really nails it. In the weeks since returning from Greece, I feel that’s what I’ve been trying to do, but haven’t had the words. Now there they are, sitting in 116:7 like they always have.

“From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.”‬ (‭118:5‬)

He knows what I need when I call Him. He answers. His loving kindness is everlasting. Wow.

I’ve been a mess of reunions, small talk, reports, numbness, sobs, taxes, luggage, insurance, policies, meetings, rants, tears, laughter, political debates and long stretches of staring off into space.

I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay. Return to rest, O my soul…

When I stop and look at the LORD, I’m met with eyes that have seen all I’ve seen and more. How perfect that He is the God of all comfort. 

God isn’t some fancy, religious idea. He is everything. His Word isn’t a series of verse band-aids for life’s scratches. He is deeply, profoundly, the answer to everything. He created me and He sustains me. If He asks me to pour out my life for Muslims, refugees, the people He loves so desperately, than I’m certainly going to do that, and He certainly is going to rescue me when things get traumatic and dramatic. He’s not afraid of my screams and rants. He’s not afraid of my panic-stricken absolute statements.

He is there.

He is gracious.

He is righteous.

Yes, our God is compassionate.

He preserves me, the simple.

I shall walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

-Bethany

Psalm 113-115

“Who can be compared with the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people! He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the Lord!” 113:5-9

I love these beautiful qualities about God! But let’s not forget, we are called to make these qualities about ourselves too. We are invited into the kingdom-shaping work that God is doing.

What does that look like for you? How can you be reaching the poor and needy?

A childless woman in this context would be completely rejected from society, seemingly worthless. How can we come alongside those society rejects? Who are those people? 

If you have been reading along with us the entire book of Psalms, GOOD. WORK. We are going to take a break after Psalm 118 and come back to the rest of the book later. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible with great content and we want to give it the attention it deserves.

So, on Friday morning, we will starting the book of 1 Corinthians. Can’t wait!

 

-Carly

Psalm 110-112

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” (111:10‬)

“Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments.” (‭112:1‬)

The one who fears the LORD is marked by grace, compassion and generosity. They are blessed. The LORD provides for those who invest in people:

“He has given freely to the poor, His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted in honor.” (112:9‬)

Fearing the LORD often means caring about His opinion over anyone else’s. When I stop to consider my actions, it comes down to who I am hoping to impress. It’s very sweet that God has chosen to be impressed by giving sacrifically to others, prioritizing those who can’t help themselves, and trusting His designs.

He will handle everything and take care of our needs. He will enthrone our King Jesus in His ways and times. He will employ us in taking care of each other. He reigns on earth in the hearts of His people.

You will find, anywhere His people are caring for the poor, the orphan, the widow, the foreigner and the oppressed, His Spirit is there. Extra measures of grace is there. He works mightily on their behalf.

Wisdom finds its origin story in prioritizing God’s opinion. What does it look like to fear Him today? How can you prioritize His priorities?

-Bethany

Psalm 107-109

I wear a lot of different hats right now. I’m a mom to Taylor. A daughter to my parents. An administrative assistant to Visible Grace. A nanny to two children. A team leader to my church. A blogger (who isn’t, right?). A friend, a neighbor, a volunteer, an amateur cook to my husband and a subscriber to Real Simple.

When I’m organized, my life is a well-oiled machine. You know how it goes. Scheduled appointments. Routines. To do lists. Etc. But lately, I’ve been dropping the ball in almost every area of my life. I’m juggling some new responsibilities, tying up some legal loose ends (I didn’t do it), nursing a toothache, and standing in the face of a big change. I’m behind in work emails, my house is a disaster and Taylor is out of clean pajamas.

I feel really guilty and am convinced if I’m a Good Employee and a Good House Wife and a Good Mom that I’ll feel better about myself. I feel tempted to earn my spot.

This morning, my eyes quickly scanned the psalms, as I searched for a verse to feel connected to. I wanted something to soothe me, like salve on burned skin. I didn’t find that, but I loved this verse in Psalm 109:

“For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.”

It reminded me that I follow the God who loves the needy. Needy people rarely have something to offer back. God loves me and I do not have to prove myself to him, earn my spot or perform. I’m repenting of religious tendencies this morning and basking in his grace and unconditional love. But also, I’m going to make a to do list, start the laundry, return a few calls and play with my son uninterrupted. I’m searching for the balance of being responsible in the roles God has placed me in and living in his grace, making room for my own mistakes and not finding my identity anywhere else besides in the God who stands with the needy.

 

-Carly

Psalm 104-106

“He made the moon for the seasons; The sun knows the place of its setting.” (104:19‬)

Remember God as our brilliant Creator. There are many chapters in the Bible which delve into His designs. Even some which gave away aspects of creation before being “discovered by modern science”. Is the earth flat, or does He sit above the circle of the earth? (Isaiah 40:22)

Certainly the recounted wonders of God’s intricately designed creation flies in stark contrast to “the image of the ox that eats grass” (106:20), underlining the absurdity of worshipping anyone/anything other than Him.

Have you ever watched the video series Planet Earth? For myself, and many others, it is a worshipful experience. Creation is unbelievably beautiful and complex. God is humorously creative and stunning.

Consider the wonders of creation today. Watch planet earth, the discovery channel, or just look out your window. Hike, explore, hold a baby, exercise your complex body! Then worship our Creator God who so wisely created seasons and designed everything down to the make up of our atoms.

Thank you, LORD, for your glorious works and for being so thoroughly good.

-Bethany

Psalm 101-103

“Let all that I am praise the Lord.”

This caught my eye this morning. The psalmist writes “praise the Lord, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom, let all that I am praise the Lord”. They mean they desire every cell in their body to praise God, giving him the glory he deserves.

In my opinion, a lifetime of praising God is possible through perspective. It’s tempting to think “I will follow and praise God if I could just have/get/be ____”. But, he is always deserving of praise and everyone’s life is marked by his grace.

Check your perspective this morning. Set aside the things that you think are going wrong and dwell on the reasons God is worthy of praise. When I look at it that way, my list is long.

I saw a beautiful sunrise. I had food to eat this morning. I have a job to go to (and am running late for). I’m sharing a big meal among friends and neighbors tonight. I have a healthy family. Signs of spring are everywhere. I have the pages of the Bible right at my fingertips. I’m not the woman I was before. I’m less selfish. More gracious. God is actively changing my heart and revealing more of himself to me every day. Let all that I am praise the Lord for this!

What’s your list?

 

-Carly

 

Psalm 98-100

The titles of these psalms in the NASB are: 

  • A call to praise the LORD for His righteousness 
  • Praise to the LORD for His fidelity to Israel
  • His steadfast love endures forever a psalm for giving thanks

Praising God for who He is (good, righteous, holy), praising Him for what He does (remains faithful, executes justice), and giving thanks for all of it, especially His relentless love, sound like a beautiful discipline for every day.

I’ve been challenged, lately, to focus on the good. I’ve been desperate to keep my eyes glued to the LORD’s. I’ve reconsidered grudges and found I don’t have the energy for them anymore. Life is in reconciliation.

I am eternally grateful to know the LORD is not like me. He doesn’t need advice, He doesn’t change His mind, He always knows the best and highest way. He doesn’t get confused by the messiness of life or the seemingly endless shades of grey. My anxiety is always a blatant ignoring of His track record of faithfulness. It does me well to spend time praising Him for that.

I can see blue sky out my window this morning and I will certainly praise Him for that. I can rest in the knowledge of His goodness in all I don’t understand. Do you know humility is super freeing? Remain in the places of truth.

“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (100:3)

Let’s praise Him today for being God instead of us. Let’s rest, knowing we are His dearly beloved sheep. 

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

-Bethany