Blessed

I was pondering Psalm 32 today. Below is the New International Version. If you have the time, just look at one section at a time and think it over and let it soak in.

As usual, my mind is all over the place when I read something as vivid as this Psalm. The metaphors and similes are amazing — David, the author, felt the same things I feel today.

But it is important that feelings aren’t the top dog here. Feelings can be important. And they are real but they aren’t always really accurate. I might not feel blessed, but I am. And there may be days that I don’t feel loved, but I am.

I do think an important key is in the third section: Keeping silent slowly destroys us from the inside out. But confession is so good for us and restores our relationship with God.

Confession is always a good thing, but particularly as we contemplate during this season of Lent.

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.

 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Me first….

I usually defer to others. Not because I don’t consider myself worthy of whatever it is we are deciding or doing but because I often do not really have a preference. When I do have a preference, I share it. But there are absolutely times when I need to be first:

in Confession: While I am not required to confess to others in order to be forgiven it does go a long way in relationships. It is good for me to be first to confess my wrongs. There are plenty of them, of course. But waiting for someone else to confess when I am in a conflict with them isn’t helpful. The longer I wait, the longer I am stewing and justifying my own behavior. Instead of digging my heels in and waiting, I should take the first step.

In Forgiveness: I should never hesitate extending forgiveness. It actually benefits me more than the offender. God knows the heart. And He certainly knows mine after all these years. He knows all I have been forgiven for. And while He casts my sins as far as the East is from the West, it would be good for me to remember just as a point of reference. It is a huge shame to withhold forgiveness. But when I do, the true damage is done to me and my relationship with God.

In Giving: When it comes to sharing, I can start things off: lead by example. Others may not follow along, but it should not dissuade me. Giving often does more for the giver than the receiver and the act of giving grows my heart and my compassion.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

As we prepare for Jesus in these days leading up to Christmas, PrayerPoints will be published daily. To learn more about the history of Advent and history behind the advent wreath and candles, CLICK HERE!

Darkness

Do you know someone who lives “in the dark”?

There seem to be so many more people struggling with anxiety and depression these days. Sometimes it is the person you least expect. The challenges of loving someone who find themselves frequently “in the dark” are heartbreaking. Please pray for not only those who struggle but also their friends and family members.

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I don’t have particularly dark days but I know people who do. I can’t imagine living in a shroud of darkness, struggling to find light in a day. I know it is disorienting, intimidating, and overwhelming. If you have been in a dark space, you know what I am saying. Even though I can use my imagination, sometimes I am at a loss at how to assist someone struggling through a dark time. I can always pray, and I do, but there are times something more tangible is needed.

It is true that a dark time can be the result of sin and confession and absolution is an amazing gift to someone struggling in that way. It is amazing how guilt, shame, and unconfessed sin can create darkness in our lives. Healthy Biblical counseling can be a great blessing. But that isn’t the only reason for depression. Depending on the circumstance, a psychiatrist and a psychologist can help. Medicine can be useful. Supportive friends and family, healthy eating, regular sleep patterns, and exercise can all be components that benefit someone stuck “in the dark”.

Pay close attention to those you know who struggle in this way. A little extra time from you, a listening ear, and encouraging words may be a way to help them (or their loved one) navigate through a dark space.

On the Road,

Liz

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PrayerPoints ~ Saturday, February 27th

James 3-17-18w

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 32

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ — and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”    Psalm 32:5

It is so easy to be so shocked and appalled and caught up in everyone else’s sin yet neglect our own important self-reflection and confession. Confession is so important because it is an acknowledgement of sin in our own lives.

Consider those things in your life you would like to confess because they weigh on you. You can certainly just confess those things to God — I find it helpful if I talk out loud since I am a verbal processor. But if you want some feedback in the way of spoken forgiveness, seek out a healthy pastor or priest for absolution.

Confession so often becomes one of those things we look for in others but, maybe, are not so keen on surrendering ourselves. Sometimes our busy and distracted lifestyle interrupts the time we need to contemplate our sin and confess it as such.

And the peace and healing that comes from confession? Unparalleled. That’s why it is said, “Confession is good for the soul!”