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.
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!
One thing I have discovered about myself is that I like to employ a variety of perspectives when I am in a learning mode. It helps me round out my view and see things from different angles. I also need to focus intently if I am going to move forward. Otherwise, I get distracted.
In 2019, PrayerPoints will take a little different approach compared to other years. It might not be your thing, and that’s ok. I won’t be offended if you choose to find another way to prepare during this Lenten season.
This year, my encouragement to you will be to reflect and journal your thoughts as you contemplate the verse and writing prompt provided each day. If you don’t like to write, you can choose to video or audio record your thoughts. You can also simply pray all around the topics with no “record” of your thoughts. Feel free to adapt it to your needs. But don’t be afraid to try something new. It is important to not get so caught up in perfecting the process that you miss the chance to step away from your regular routine, create some space, and do some honest reflection during this Lenten season. Writing things down helps me gather my thoughts and it might be a useful tool for you as well.
Each day, starting today, I will provide you with a prompt that will serve as your PrayerPoint for the day. I will write my responsive prayer/thoughts and you will write (or otherwise consider) yours. On the following day, I will share what I have pondered/prayed for that prompt and I will also assign the next prompt. If you want to email me your response, I would be privileged to read it. But if you want to keep it between you and God, that is completely fine. There is no requirement to share, but the option is available. Some people, like me, benefit from outside accountability.
Where you have been in life will absolutely inform and impact how you see and hear Scripture and each experience you go through. If you have been an underdog, you will likely have a huge heart for a fellow underdog. If you have watched addictive behaviors in your home, you may (or may not) have compassion for others who struggle with addiction. Allowing God’s Word to cast light on how and what we process as we go through life is a way to grow in our understanding of our experiences, particularly in the light of God’s Word. We each come with our own prayer perspective. I encourage you to allow God to shape and mold your prayer perspective because it will help you make sense of your trials and tribulations. Remember, your words can comfort, love, and support others as they journey alongside you through this life.
So much of what we walk through in this physical life has a spiritual correlation. You might be able to make that connection with these PrayerPoint prompts. If you are in the midst of processing the physical realm of these things, the spiritual connection may not be apparent and that is okay. The connection may come later.
This time during Lent is for contemplation and reflection and might include things like:
Where am I in my relationship with God?
Am I stuck somewhere on the road toward healing?
Am I in a place of repentance?
Am I struggling with pride?
What has God done for me through Jesus?
How does Jesus’ death and resurrection impact my daily life?
May God bless you as you discover more about His love and provision for you in the weeks to come.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
re·frain1 rəˈfrān/ verb
stop oneself from doing something. “she refrained from comment” “the demonstrators have promised to refrain from violent behavior”
synonyms: abstain from, desist from, hold back from, stop oneself from, forbear (from), avoid, eschew, shun, renounce;
informal swear off;
formal forswear, abjure
It doesn’t seem that people refrain from much these days! So many families would still be intact if people would refrain from embracing those they have no business embracing…or those who have issues with addiction would abstain from alcohol and other drugs…and, really, the list can go on and on. And on.
Honestly, I struggle with it myself as well. There are things I need to refrain from and the season of Lent is always a good time to really contemplate those things. Each day I should be sontemplating these things. What are those behaviors I need to finally set aside for my own mental, physical, and spiritual health? It doesn’t have to be illegal for it to be unhelpful in my daily walk. What things should I refrain from because others look to me as an example or simply because the behavior is sinful and I know better.
I know better and I choose to do what I want anyway.
I don’t believe knowledge is power. Knowledge may bear some potential for power but nnowledge alone is ineffective. Grafting knowledge with a change in behavior is getting closer to where the real power lies. We are absolutely sinners, each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean we need to keep on actively sinning. There are many behaviors that lead to challenging consequences and yet we still participate in those things. We might not do the same things as one another, but we all do things that compromise ourselves and others.
What is one thing that trips you up and has regularly caused problems in your life? Is it time you put more effort into removing it? Sometimes knowing why helps but sometimes the “why” doesn’t much matter — that “seeking” can also be used as a crutch to inaction.
I am comforted when I see God’s Word and I know that others have struggled before me with these ideas, with the sin, with knowing they can be loved and wretched, all at the same time. And I am convicted of not tapping into God’s strength and grace to overcome my evil foes!
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful naturea slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:14-25 NIV]
I was thinking about the verse I want to rest upon during Lent. There will be a lot of movement in my life in the upcoming months so this one seems appropriate:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
And this one is always good to keep in mind because while we are not “of this world” we certainly are here in this world for a purpose:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15
But here is where I have settled:
We are often coming and going and not taking enough time to reflect, rest, and be restored. The focus for 2017 Lenten PrayerPoints will be devotional thoughts that relate to being “On the Road”. Certainly, a part of traveling means rest and standing still. Sometimes we choose our times of “still” and other times we do not. “Being still” might be an uncomfortable place to be–especially if someone is known as a “doer”.
If you decide to have a verse or chapter or book of the Bible to focus on during this season of Lent, I would love to hear what it is! Write it out, sketch it out, go to canva.com and create some digital art, or do whatever you need to do to connect with the verse and tuck it away in your heart and mind. And then pay attention! Whenever I do this, I see God’s connecting points for me in conversations with others, in sermons, in songs, and in my life. Ruminating on Scripture is always a good idea.
I am praying for all of us as we journey with God and spend time with Him during this season. May He find hearts willing to learn, grow, and change to reflect His love and grace and forgiveness more accurately. As we travel through life we will meet many travelers. We can give more to others when we ourselves are refreshed.
On the Road!
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
Emphasis makes a big difference in each of those questions. Sometimes we don’t necessarily have an end goal in mind–we are just out and about. Sometimes it’s ok to not know the destination because, truth be told, we often think we have a place where we will end up and we are really disappointed when we don’t ever get there. Or we don’t get there the way we imagined we would.
Sometimes we strive for a goal and find we never get there because we took the wrong path or we had a misinformed goal. For example, if one grows up in a family with a lot of tension or sadness due to money struggles, one might think that amassing a lot of money will lead us to “happiness”. It rarely works that way.
Where do you hope to be and how do you think you might get there?
It is always good to think about our life’s direction in general, but the Lenten season is a great time to consider if we have strayed off the path of forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, service, prayer, kindness, sacrifice, self-control, or [fill in the blank]. Drifting away a bit may not seem so bad when we can see the road but we can quickly lose sight of the road altogether. Sometimes we need to “reset”, get re-oriented, and start again.
GOD’S WORD informs our LIFE and impacts the decisions we make.
So let’s get informed! What does God have to say? Grab your Bible or download a Bible App on your phone. Look for a verse or two you might want to commit to memory during this Lenten season. Write it out on an index card, in your journal, or make a digital image so you can have it on your phone. I would love to see your verse and if you do anything creative with it. Of course, being creative isn’t the point but pondering it is! When we take the time to read God’s Word, ponder, and pray, He changes us. And, we likely will find a new perspective on our travels–both on where we are going and where we have been.
So, where ‘ya headed?
Quick note: Don and I will be “on the road” and I will be posting things as we travel. We would appreciate your prayers for a safe journey!
“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” Psalm 95:2
It is so important for me to start my day being thankful for what God has done for me. It helps my perspective and my focus and it helps me to be more loving to others, even on those days when I don’t get enough sleep. Whenever I read Psalm 95, I hear the song posted below in my mind, but it is also a part of the liturgy in LCMS (Lutheran Church ~ Missouri Synod) congregations so I am happy to have two reference points for it!
I know I have mentioned the power of music and Scripture memory before. If you are a part of a congregation that uses liturgy, you know that after sitting in church week after week and year after year that there is so much Scripture tucked away in your brain. You can be really young, and a non-reader to learn it and you can be challenged with vision issues and still participate. Music filled with Scripture can bridge ages and abilities and can be such a blessing to a congregation.
So, a little bit about this Psalm 95 posted below: John Michael Talbot is Catholic and I was introduced to him when I was about 13 (now I am 50, so this was quite a while ago). For me, this is an awesome “morning song” — a great way to get my mind headed in the right direction!
During Lent, the use of alleluia is often restricted in some church bodies. In the LCMS there are some other practices Check out the article Keeping a Holy Lent ~ a post from the LCMS with some great explanations.
Trigger Warning: This song does have Alleluia in it. So if that is going to bug you, don’t listen until after Easter.
Do you notice those times when either exactly what you needed was provided or you were in the right place at the right time to provide for someone else? They are powerful moments – particularly if we recognize them. I anticipate they are going to happen because they seem to often enough and I don’t want to miss them when they do. I also don’t want to miss out of the opportunity to recognize (and thank) WHO is behind it.
It is so easy to write up my list of things to do and forget to first thank God for His provision and faithfulness for yesterday and ask God to bless my today. If I am in the habit of recalling what He has already done for me then my eyes, ears, and heart are tuned into His work and I see those golden moments much more clearly.
As you journey through this season of Lent, I encourage you to look forward with positive anticipation at the work God is doing in and through you. Take note. Give thanks. Trust Him. Sometimes His way of providing is something we would never have been able to imagine (for example, Jesus’ provision for us on the cross) but He delivers in ways beyond our understanding.
Heavenly Father, Give me eyes to see You and faith to trust You even if my eyes are unable to see. Thank you for your past provision. I look with anticipation to the future.