Tag Archives: psalms

Stewardship of Our Roles #2

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As I was looking for a filler to finish off our church newsletter this morning (yes, I am the editor), I came across this poem I wrote years and years ago.  I thought I’d share it as it speaks to our many roles in life and how to handle them.

A Modern Day Psalm

Dear Lord,

Does life really have to be this hard?

I just want to be myself for a change instead of someone else’s

Wife or

Mother or

Daughter or

Employee or

Boss or

Whatever it is I spend most of my time being.

Sometimes my relationships seem to be strangling me instead of fulfilling me …

I want to be free

I want to please myself.

The trouble is I’m not really sure who I am or what pleases me

I’m to accustomed to being all of those other people instead.

Maybe I can find myself and You, too, if I really pray.

Maybe there’s a place for me in Your plan.  Me the wife, and mother and daughter and sister and all the other Mes.

Maybe You’ll tell me if I listen.

 

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Stewardship of My Reading

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“All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.  All things are lawful, but not all things build up.”  1 Corinthians 10:23

Anyone who reads our blog regularly knows that I am an avid reader.  I read all sorts of things:  suspense novels, historical fiction, novels that address ethical questions, legal thrillers, nonfiction books about the brain, mental illness and other medical issues, spiritual autobiographies, books on prayer and other aspects of Christian living, the Bible (of, course) and more.  None of these books are “unlawful” and sometimes I use my reading time to just relax and take my mind off my responsibilities and the stress of everyday life.  Of course, we learn something even when we read books that seem merely escapist — we increase our vocabulary, travel to foreign cultures, grow in understanding people very different from ourselves, etc….I’m sure you could add to the list.  However, it is also true that some books are more edifying than others.

Gracious Uncertainty: Faith in the Second Half of LifeMost of the time I am reading two books at once:  one that is just for fun, and one that builds me up in some way.  I read my serious book for a bit first thing in the morning (when I’m fresher) and the other one throughout the day and before bed. Right now my morning book is called, Gracious Uncertainty: Faith In The Second Half of Life by Jane Sigloh.  In the forward, Jane is described as a “wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, poet, vintner, cook, gardener, and story keeper.”  The book is a serious of short essays, starting with a memory about her spiritual life, many from her childhood and youth.  It has inspired me to look back on my own spiritual journey and consider writing some of those memories down for my children and grandchildren.

I also try to do my Bible study early in the day.  I’ve been reading through the book of Acts (that’s what we’re studying in our Tuesday morning class at church) and parts of 1 Kings (our Sunday School unit this quarter is called ‘Kings and Prophets–we’ve been using material from Concordia Publishing, if anyone is interested).

My point in all this is simply:  if you’re a reader, like I am, be a good steward.  Read to relax, but also try to also spent time with things that are truly worthwhile.  Don’t have much time?  Pick a book like the one I mentioned or a devotional that has short chapters or essays and read one a day.  Read through the gospels in small bites.  Read a Psalm each day.  Then think about what you’ve read.  Write down quotes or verses that strike you.  Talk to others about what you’ve been reading. Build yourself up.

P.S.  The Lutheran Ladies recently signed up to be B&H/Lifeway Bloggers, and review new books.  Look for our book reviews on our blog and B&H Publishing website.  Hopefully our reviews will point you toward some edifying reading!

Through the Generations

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“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”  Psalm 145:4

There’s another type of unity in the church we haven’t discussed yet, and that is the unity between the Church Triumphant (the saints in Heaven) and the Church Militant (those of us still fighting the battle here on Earth).  In case you are wondering, when Lutherans say “saint” it does not refer to certain particularly holy people:  we believe all Christians are both saint and sinner.

It is our responsibility to pass the faith on to the next generation.  In the founding documents of our church (St. Paul’s Free Lutheran of Leitersburg, Md) our forbears expressed the desire that their children would remain true to the evangelical faith and confessions of the church and would pass it on to succeeding generations in the community.  That’s been going on for 190 years now.  Those of us at St. Paul’s may not be physical descendants of those charter members, but we are certainly their spiritual descendants.  When I worship in our old sanctuary, my voice and my prayers are joined with theirs.  I can feel that unity.  Some Orthodox churches feature paintings of saints on the columns and ceiling of the church:  a reminder that those who went before are still with us.

In our Lutheran communion service we say “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify your name” …another important reminder that our fellowship includes those who have gone before us.  We may not think about it often, but we should.  It’s a source of peaceful strength.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

Who are your witnesses?  Who are you witnessing to?  Please send us your stories.

Dwelling In Unity

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“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

It is like the precious oil on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down the collar of his robes!

It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!

For there the Lord has commanded the blessing. life forevermore.”

Psalm 133

I’ve always loved this Psalm.  It is one of the “Songs of Ascent”  thought to be sung as pilgrims ascended to the temple during Jewish festivals.  It rejoices in the blessings of God and family.

There is nothing that contributes more to our happiness than living contentedly with those around us;  and nothing more miserable than being surrounded by discord and disagreement.  This is so obvious that it astounds me to realize how often we spend our time (whoops, back to last month’s theme) being aggrieved and angry with people.

The Bible gives much good advice on getting along with one another.  We like to think that “those others” are just difficult, but guess what?  The burden of getting along  rests with you and me, and with controlling our own, often selfish, behavior.  In Romans, Paul tells us:

“If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.”  Romans 12:18

Now comes what I call the YBH question (yes, but how?)  Well we can ….

“Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”  Romans 12:15

“Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be conceited.”  Romans 12:16

“Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:9

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to what is honorable in the sight of all.”  Romans 12:17

Most of all,

“Let love be genuine …Love one another with brotherly affection.”  Romans 12:9-10

Whenever there is a lack of harmony, I need to ask myself, “what is my part in this?”  Do I love others, all others as children of God, and therefore my siblings? (or do I consider some of them not worthy of my interest, not as “good” as I am) Am I sincerely happy when things go well for them, and sad when they don’t (or am I secretly envious when they do well, and gloating when they fail?).  Do I try to build others up, giving them honor and credit? (or do I tear them down behind their backs?)  Do I bear patiently with the faults of others? (or do I lash out when they do something wrong?) Am I quick to offer help? (or do I want to keep my time and money for myself?)  Is my love for others genuine (or just lip service?)

Of course, admitting and working on my own faults is difficult–but the reward is peace with God and others.  Isn’t that worth the price?  What do you think, readers?

 

At All Times (Again)

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In a previous post, I blogged about how as friends, we are told to love “at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).  I happened to notice recently that that there are some other things the Bible instructs us to do all the time.

“I will bless the Lord at all times;  his praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul makes its boast in the Lord;  let the afflicted hear and be glad.”  Psalm 34:1-2

Hmm…I guess if I am constantly blessing God, I’ll remember that all of my gifts come from Him (I won’t be arrogant) and others will be comforted by the way I handle my problems and troubles.  Sounds pretty good.

“Trust in him at all times, O people;  pour out your heart before him;  God is a refuge for us.”  Psalm 62:8

It’s nice to know there is Someone who will always listen, Someone I can count on, if I just remember to trust and turn to Him whenever I need solace. This should keep me from worrying so much.  Another good idea.

“Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.”  Psalm 106:3

The word “blessed”  means extraordinarily happy.  Doing what’s right, not only benefits those around me, I’ll be happier myself. I won’t get tangled up in deceit or be consumed with regret and guilt.

All of these verses from Psalms are summed up in the following New Testament passage:

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

In other words, spend your time with God.  Pray to Him, praise Him, lean on Him, listen to Him.  He loves you and is  waiting to be your friend, AT ALL TIMES.

 

 

In Hot Pursuit

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According to the dictionary, to pursue means to chase or run after something or someone.  We pursue the things we really want and are interested in. What are you chasing after in your life?  Is it money?  A beautiful home?  A prestigious job? An expensive car?  A certain someone who attracts you?  If we’re honest, we realize many (if not most) of the things we pursue have to do with worldly approval or success.

The Bible tells us to pursue a whole different set of things.  For example:

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

Pursue is a verb, an action word.  This means I must not only think peace is a nice idea, I must do what I can to promote it.  Maybe this means compromise, or putting another person first.  Certainly it means caring more about the other person than winning or getting my own way.

Here’s another one:

Pursue love and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts…” 1 Corinthians 14:1

Pursuing love means behaving in a loving way to all of God’s children–not just the ones I care about or the ones who treat me well.  It means using my gifts to encourage and support others, not to promote only myself and my own interests.

Finally:

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”  1 Timothy 6:11b

Pursuing righteousness and godliness means going against my natural inclination by doing God’s will instead of my own.  Pursuing God’s way means trying to be selfless instead of selfish.

I know I’ll never completely stop pursuing the wrong things;  but staying close to God through study, worship and prayer will help me remind me of the things I really want.

“For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18b

Run after God.  Pursue the eternal.

 

 

 

Psalm 1–A Psalm of Obedience

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Image result for images of like a tree planted by streams of water

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his day they meditate day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.  In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

The Road Map

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This is a continuation of the ideas in yesterday’s post about the Sunday sermon at St. Paul’s.

Joseph followed the directions God sent him orally, through the visitation of angels and in prophetic dreams.  Those sorts of occurrences were rare even in Bible times, so we can’t expect to rely strongly on them today to guide our decisions.  However, we do have an important road map for finding our way.

“Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

The Bible is God’s word.  It enlightens us.  It informs us.  It guides us.  It’s hard to follow any path in darkness, but the verse above tells us that God’s word brings the light we need to follow Him.  Try imagining it like the luminaries that some churches put out on Christmas eve, along the street or sidewalk.

Of course, the Bible does not contain specific instructions for every situation.  It does have broad principles that can point us in the right direction.  It also contains the life stories of many of God’s people.  As we study them, we learn how to deal with similar challenges and temptations.  The book of Psalms is another great place to start.  In Psalms you will find every human emotion known to man.  The Psalms can teach us to cry out to God, in any situation.

You can come to church each week and hear God’s word.  Better yet, you can study it every day on your own or with others. What a great New Year’s resolution that would be!  Follow God’s road map and you will always walk in the light.

“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  1 Timothy 3:16

Pursue Peace

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Everybody longs for peace.  We tend to think of peace as something internal and passive:  a gift that God imparts to us simply because we are His people. Then we wonder why we don’t have it in our lives. However, the Bible tells us over and over again that peace is something we must actively seek. It doesn’t come naturally, even to Christians. Consider the following verses:

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

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.  So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”  Romans 14:17-19

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies;  you know they breed quarrels.”  2 Timothy 2:22-23

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God;  that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled …”Hebrews 12:14-15

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