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February 1

O Lord, your love endures for ever;
do not abandon the works of your hands.
The Lord will make good his purpose for me;
Psalm 138:9

Imploring God and trusting God all in the same verse. The works of God’s hands are many. This may encompass the entire universe. But in that vastness, I am confident of God‘s purpose for me, the individual, not even a speck in the infinity of the universe.

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January 30

Happy are the people whose strength is in you!
whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.
Psalm 84:4

More and more I am thinking about how I follow Jesus. I am trying to make this more a part of my life.

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Faith Matters

January 29

Put your trust in him always, O people,
pour out your hearts before him,
for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:9

In these troubled times, I need to remember to put my trust in God and take advantage of God’s refuge. My hope is in Jesus.

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January 10

Lord, you have searched me out and known me;
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You trace my journeys and my resting-places

and are acquainted with all my ways.
Psalm 139:1-2

Psalm 139 can be read in two ways. First, there is no getting away from God’s scrutiny. God knows everything. (Worse than Santa Claus.) Or God can never lose you. The New Testament supports this reading. Jesus tells three parables in Luke 15 to demonstrate this.

  1. The lost sheep.
  2. The lost coin.
  3. The lost (prodigal) child.

I had not realized until today that a song we sing at Taize comes from this psalm.

TAIZé – IN OUR DARKNESS LYRICS(http://www.songlyrics.com/taiz/in-our-darkness-lyrics/)

January 3

Psalm 68

No quotation today. Psalm 68 stands as a whole with its wild imagery of storm and battle, its praise of God and its military recollections and its national pride. It almost feels like a hymn ascribed to Baal, the god of storms. The Lord has claimed his titles for God alone and yet the psalmist acknowledges God’s care for the poor and punishment of evildoers.

I have always found Psalm 68 exhilarating with its wild images of God riding on the clouds through the heavens, defeating God’s enemies and the people celebrating. Today though I am in a more sober mood and these images of warfare disturb me. Yes, God is our defender. Yes, Paul tells us to put on the armor of Christ, but I know that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers , for they will be called (children) of God.” (Matthew 5:9 NIV children substituted for sons) With mounting tensions in the Middle East, especially with Iran, peacemaking seems the far better choice than drone strikes and escalating rhetoric.

January 2

While I am reading the Psalms and thinking about goals, Psalm 34
presents three. I will look at them individually.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
Psalm 34:1

This is not a strong suit of mine. It is one form of prayer that does
not come naturally to me.
Blessing and praise are not always my default. I am trying to say
“Have a blessed day” when I leave my bus, but “Thank you” comes far
more naturally. I have tried writing in a gratitude journal, but both
journaling and finding ways to be grateful in a meaningful way is
hard. I could write almost every Wednesday and Thursday: “I am
grateful for my Bible study.” and it would cease to be gratitude. It
would be a item to tick off. This would not mean I wasn’t grateful. It
would just mean that the gratitude itself would stop being one and
just be what I wrote down for those days. I could probably find a
weekly gratitude for each day and then the exercise would collapse
under its own weight. It is like going around the Thanksgiving table
and people say the same thing every year, a version of “For health and
strength and daily food we praise thy name, O Lord.” I want my
blessing and praise to be in the moment. Often my moments are focused
elsewhere, like not falling when I am stepping off the bus or not
losing my sense of direction when walking home.

Come, children, and listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Psalm 34:11

I don’t do this much when I am participating in Bible study or
preaching, but I think it is a worthwhile goal. Thinking of Jesus as
ever present, God with us. Some may argue that Jesus came so that we
might not be afraid of God, of judgment, that Jesus brought us grace,
but we had that already in the Hebrew scriptures. God is slow to anger
and abounding in steadfast love. I think of fear of the Lord as
reverence and acknowledgment of God’s presence so I want that
awareness to be closer to me than it currently is.

My third selection is this:

Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:14

This is a lofty one in the starkness of biblical absolutes. This is
more of a consciousness thing, being aware of when I fail to do good
and when I need to actively seek a more peaceful interaction.

I suppose all three really boil down to this: “I will bless the Lord
at all times.”