Often, in the morning, I will read the particular Psalm, Old Testament, Gospel, and New Testament lectionary readings for the day, then journal my responses to them with these questions in mind:
• “What do you want to say to me, Lord, through these readings?
• What do you want me to know and remember?
• What do you want me to hear and hold onto?
• What do you want me to feel and be confident of?
• Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
One morning in May of this year, these were the lines that caught my attention, and my journalled responses:
- Ps 40:2, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” God lifts me up out of the messy, muddy, trapped places I find myself, and gives me the gift of a solid, secure, firm place to stand and live. I’m so grateful for this grace.
- Ps 40:13, “Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.” This prayer implies that the Lord is one who is pleased to save me and help me without undue or unkind delay. He isn’t biding His time, but is attentive and present. Any delay on God’s part is strategic and not arbitrary.
- Ps 54: 4, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” I can have confidence that God really is my help, and the One who sustains me. I am sustained by God himself.
- Ex 34:21, “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.” There are seasons when we will be sorely tempted to work when we should, and when God invites us, to rest. Our culture amplifies, endorses and even embodies this temptation.
- Ex 34:29, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” There is a radiance in our countenance when we are in conversational relationship with God. This is the holy mysticism that some resist for fear of being misled or misguided by some other presence. Counterfeits copy something of value. We don’t toss the valuable because it has been counterfeited. We use discernment to be sure that we are only embracing the genuine article.
- 1 Th 3:9, “How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?” There is a gratitude and joy we can have in God’s presence as we think of those we serve in the gospel. This is the nature of “abiding for others” in prayer.
- Mt 5:37, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” I don’t have to reinforce the truth I speak with vows and promises and oaths. I can be a person who says “Yes” and lives “Yes,” or says “No” and lives “No.”
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