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.

Putting the day to rest

The journey from anxiety to assurance means traveling down the road of prayer and trust in God. Psalm 3 is a morning psalm; Psalm 4 is an evening psalm. I find it encouraging to remember that the Jewish day begins with the evening. The former day is settled and the new one is approached with confidence and trust.

Psalm 4.8

I don’t need to carry the day’s events and struggles to bed with me. I need not wake to them in the morning, either. Perhaps that is what is meant by Psalm 1:2.

…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Lord, help me remember to bring all my moments to you and leave them with you. Thank you for coming into my journey and walking beside me. May the peace that you give rest me at night for the coming day.

Stop and think

Psalm 3.8

Following be careful who you listen to and where you are (Psalm 1-2) is a painful Psalm 3. David is on the run, betrayed by many, even his own son. I see the word selah appearing three times. The word encourages me to stop and think, “Could it be true?”

many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.”Selah  Could it be true? Of course, it isn’t. I must be careful to listen to the right voice. Even my heart might betray me.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah  Could this be true? Stop and think. Oh, yes, this is marvelously true for me at all times.

Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah Could this be true? Stop and think. Yes! I am greatly blessed in every way.

Lord, help me listen to your voice alone and open my heart to embrace what is true, regardless of my situations.

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.

Peace and victory

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

What did Jesus say…to whom…which promises peace with him and victory over a troubled world?

The setting is Jesus with his disciples. He is going away and all they have heard and seen will be tested. Will they stand or fall? To help them stand, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. Being filled with God’s spirit is the same as personally walking with Jesus. The result of standing strong in the Spirit, allowing his truth to rule my thoughts and actions, is peace with him and victory today.

The source of peace is God, not myself; it never is my peace but always His. The request, Come, Lord Jesus opens the door to his reigning, victorious peace.

Lord, I invite you into this day knowing that your presence alone can bring peace to my heart.

Predicaments

Psalm 3 is a beautiful picture of peace in the middle of a predicament.  The first two verses describe this predicament. Verses 5 & 6 pictures the writer as sleeping peacefully. So, what sits in the middle of predicament and peace? The truths of verses 3 & 4 are key.

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.

Lord…you…the one…the Lord…he…his

Once again, I am faced with a decision: when difficult, unpleasant times come, where will my focus be? What will grab my attention? The truth that ultimate victory comes from the Lord alone is to be my focus through these times.

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Lord, you alone are my rescuer and Victor. May I be disciplined to look to you when the unexpected comes.

A call to praise my Lord

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! He forgives your sins—every one. He heals your diseases—every one. He redeems you from hell—saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence. (Ps 103:1–5)

Too often, my attention has been drawn to what my Lord does for me. Verse 2 encourages me to not forget a single blessing. However, this time, my heart is drawn to the repetitive He. He alone does these things for me because it is his nature.

He forgives because he is the forgiver. He heals because he is the healer. He redeems because he is the redeemer. He crowns because he is royalty himself. He wraps me around with goodness because he is good. He renews because he is the renewer.

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In short, I am longing more for him than even what he does for me. I dare not forget his unceasing blessings because they turn my eyes upon the one who blesses.

Lord, all good things come from you alone. Thank you. But, even more than that, thank you for revealing your heart through those things. Forgive me for complaining or ever believing you hold out on me.

Self talk

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer. Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, “Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?” They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?” Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. (Ps 42:5–11)

Self-examination quickly gets to the heart of an issue. No sugar coating. Just honesty. This is why I love these verses. The writer questions himself and points his heart to great truths. God puts a smile on my face, He’s my God. God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night!

These truths confront all my fears and answer my questions. The writer feels down, crushed, let down, unprotected and abandoned. As real as these things feel, they are not true. And, left unattended, they can fester into an infection. So, what can I do when afraid or down? Simply said, I will fix my eyes upon my Lord. Focus on him.

Lord, I trust and surrender to you. Like the writer of this psalm, take my anxiety away. Point me to the truth about you. May all my worries be fashioned into prayers.