Valley walking

Psalm 23 is one of those psalms that keeps showing me truths every time I read it. After reading it again, I see this vital lesson opening before me:

I dare not separate walking in green pastures, sitting near still waters, enjoying times of restoration and receiving goodness and mercy every day from walking in valleys.

Mountaintop perspective is not found in this psalm. It is walking with him through the valleys that these blessings are found. He is unceasingly ahead and with me; therefore, no valley causes me to fear. He leads me to my valley walks where I find comforting and healing. From the valley, I look up and see grandeur; things look bigger from the valley. The vision of my Shepherd-Lord is most intimately sharper in valleys. I am small, he is grand!

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Into the valley

Blessing, renewing, living

I am His alone

Lord, you lead me in righteous ways – you lead me into valleys. I am so cared for by you. I love that truth that I need never fear. Keep me from trying to escape the valleys. Help me accept the abundance you offer.

My precious resource

I love Psalm 19; it’s one of most marked psalms in my Bible. The focus on God’s Word is wonderful.

What is the Word like? (19:7–9)

How much do I appreciate the Word? (19:10, 11)

How do I apply the Word? (19:12–14)

Do I need my soul to live again? Do I need wisdom? Do I need a heart that rejoices? These are the rewards of the living Word in my heart and life. And all of the Word’s work is right, pure and sure.

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)

 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… (Colossians 3:16)

 

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The Word of Christ lives
Patiently transforming me
Into His likeness

 

Lord, help me to let the Word do its work in my life. Remind me where to find my resources for every day and challenge.

 

Rescue

I love you, O Lord, my strength….but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:1, 18-19
David is nose to nose with accusers. He is entrapped by dangers and problems…no escape…but the Lord
He alone takes us to the broad places. He rescues and lifts us up. No one else can do this and I dishonor him when I think I can deliver myself or depend on someone else. The great Interrupter delights in me – I am his child. I am his responsibility. I am in his care.
God has no problems, just plans. – Corrie tenBoom
Why would I turn to anyone else for rescue? Why would I ever think that I so entrapped that there is no way of escape?
Lord, you alone are my strong deliverer. Help me depend upon you alone.

Making things right

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God is unhindered in making things right. I forget that he is not affected by limitations of time or space. He hears the afflicted. He strengthens the weakest. He responds to the fatherless with a parental love and protection. He makes things right. One day, all things will be righted and justice will be forever enjoyed.

Until then, life happens. People flee terrorism. Children are hungry. People groups are desperate. As I write this, I am following the Rohingya Crisis. One-half million Rohingya refugees have fled their homes to Bangladesh.

People are living in squalor, where, in the rainy season, mud is ankle deep. International aid providers are doing the best they can. And the government of Bangladesh is doing the best that it can. – Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International

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Girls reach out for food handed out by a volunteer organization in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh.
Tommy Trenchard/Caritas

 

Lord, help! Perhaps this is one of the most honest prayers I can pray. I am unable – but you are not. Bring justice to our world. Give missionaries hope and courage where it is needed today. Make things right.

Walking by sight

I live in two different worlds at the same time; it’s easy to see these contrasts when considering Psalms 9 and 10. Psalm 9 begins with praise and Psalm 10 begins with despair. Even Psalm 10 is sharply divided between hostility and discouragement (10:1–11) and hope and encouragement (10:12–18). Simply said, the discouragement comes from walking by sight.

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Ps 10:1)

I wish I could grow beyond these extremes but, perhaps, the tension will remain until the here and now is eternally replaced by there and then. Until that time, I must try to remember that when the Lord appears to be standing far away or hiding in times of trouble, acting in a way that is just not like him, to allow my faith to overrule my sight.

Lord, one of the most beautiful things about the psalms is its honesty. Help me live by faith today and let the “whys” remain unanswered.

Majesty

Psalm 8:1 [widescreen]

The universe…the best man can do to understand it is to see it like this:

The Universe is all of time and space and its contents. The Universe includes planets, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space, the smallest subatomic particles, and all matter and energy. The observable universe is about 28 billion parsecs (91 billion light-years) in diameter at the present time. The size of the whole Universe is not known and may be either finite or infinite.

This is what we are left with when we toss away the infinite, personal God who created and sustains his creation. Man can only skirt around the question, “Where does personality come from?” He knows that personal does not come from impersonal. He is left with a quandry.

Psalm 8 reminds me that my God is that infinite, personal God who exists. He lives outside the limits of his creation, yet reaches me and knows me! He has made it possible for me to know him! Therefore, he is always bigger than my need and not bounded by anything as he provides for me.

Lord, you alone are inspiring and awesome in all you are and in all you do. Today, our world has turned its back on you and is trying to solve its problems without you. If I am not careful, I can follow the same path and live as if you are not here or somehow believe you are unable. Forgive me for those thoughts. I am your child – you are my God! Come!

Refuge

O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me (Ps 7:1)

David finds his Lord a refuge, a hiding place, a safe place. The Hebrew word can also be personalized to confidant. He runs to the Lord where he finds safety and someone in whom to confide.

The word refuge is used more than 100 times, mostly in the Psalms, which is a lesson itself. Life requires the place of refuge. It is likely the one place where we are totally real and allowed to be fully human. It is where our Lord takes us in his arms and settles us. No other place or person can be our refuge when life caves in.

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Lord, you alone are my refuge; you provide a safe place where I can be who I am today. Thank you for your welcoming, strong arms. Help me cultivate serenity through a time of solitude with you.

The disordered heart

The heart is fragile and can easily become disordered by many things. The prayer set my heart in order is what I see in Psalm 6. David longs for deliverance; what he is going through keeps him awake at night. Into this situation, God orders his heart so he can say,

The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer. (Ps 6:9)

The Lord puts to rest the question how long? (v. 3). Perhaps the situtation changed, perhaps it did not. But his heart changed, reordered. Perhaps that is the greatest work of God in any situation.

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Lord, set my heart in order.

How to live each day

Continuing the thought of starting my day with the evening (resting) and followed by the morning (working), which is the Jewish pattern, I see this marvelous verse in Psalm 5:

Psalm 5:3 [widescreen]

In the morning, when working begins, I pray, prepare a sacrifice (worship) and then, throughout the day, watch.

Prepare: the Hebrew word can have an abstract meaning of putting things in order. One of the first things I can do, as an act of worship, is entrust the details of the day to my Lord. He responds by setting my heart in order for the day.

Watch: the word means look attentively. I don’t want to miss a thing God is doing with my hours.

Lord, set my heart in order and keep me attentive to what you are doing with this day.

Waiting

Isaiah 30.18

I have never known waiting to be easy…until…I remember that I wait for him, not a circumstance to come together. As my focus changes to waiting for my Lord to do his marvelous work, I recall

he longs to be gracious to me

he shows his boundless mercy to me always

he makes all things right in his time

What I notice in this verse is his waiting. He longs for the day that he can show me his grace in a new way. How loving!

Lord, you alone are Sovereign over all. Every minute and every decision of my life belongs to you. I am very blessed as I wait upon you.