Tag Archives: Psalms

The Rock in the Storm

The Book of Psalms has been the topic of our Men’s Bible Study this month. The Psalms were the worship songs of the ancient Israelites and they reflect both the tremendous joy and extreme sorrow the people experienced in their relationship with God and their neighbors. One frequent theme is that in life’s struggles, God is our rock and refuge. The rock image has been a favorite of mine throughout my life.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge. Psalm 18:2

You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me Psalm 31:3

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2

Among the ancient Israelites, the sea was a symbol of chaos and catastrophe. The rock was the opposite symbol, a sign of continuity and steadfast devotion. The picture above captures some of the energy and wildness of the sea as it crashes against the rock. In that moment, the sea seems victorious, but the wave recedes and the rock remains.

In our life, we are often hit with waves of wild chaotic energy that threatens to destroy us. It can be moments of grief when we remember a loved one who has died. It can be the sudden change in the marketplace when our job or career takes a beating. Or the wave might be a diagnosis of some health issue that causes our life to spin. Or it can be a relationship that suddenly shifts in a difficult, unexpected way.

Or sometime it is the chaos we created within ourselves by the bad choices we made.

In the moment we seem overwhelmed; but we need to remember that God remains our rock, our fortress in the midst of the challenges. God is steadfast.

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. Psalm 62:5-7

God remains the ultimate source of peace, calm and hope.

Lord Jesus, be my rock and fortress today and always.

Joyful Noise Sounds Great

 O come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Psalm 95:1-2

Worship Team from Resurrection Lutheran Church

Music has such a joyful, liberating power.  When we sing in worship it starts deep within us and then spreads and fills the whole room.  Many of us love to sing; I see it on faces as worshippers sing praise to God.  That is what draws many of people to Sunday worship–the joyous worship of our God.  I am so thankful for Resurrection’s worship team who faithfully and joyous lead us in song each week.

But joyous worship is not limited to contemporary Christian music. Singing praises to God is as ancient as the Bible.  One of the oldest pieces of song is from the exodus, when the Israelites escaped the Egyptian chariot army as they fled across the Red Sea.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” Exodus 15:1

The earliest church continued the Hebrew practice of singing praise to God.  Paul encouraged the church at Ephesus, “but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts” (Ephesians 3:19).  Throughout the centuries, the church has used song as a primary means of worship.  Singing praises to God unites our heart with God’s heart.

Music has a way of touching and stirring our emotions that words cannot do alone.  You can experience it at a concert, whether it is U2 or the Vienna Boys’ Choir.  The power of song is a gift God gives us to express ourselves, whether we can carry a tune or not.  After all, the psalmist commands us to make a joyful NOISE to God.   Let us make some NOISE today!

What is one of your favorite hymns or spiritual songs?

Lord Jesus, help me make a joyful noise of praise to you this day.

Seek or Wait?

Pastor John hiking in Cascade Mountains of Washington

Tomorrow Psalm 27 will be read in worship.    Psalm 27 begins with a powerful insight, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”  God is a light to our path, but the path can be difficult, strenuous, challenging.  We fear what is ahead so we try to make our own way.   Our fear leads us a way from God, like a backpacker who leaves the trail for what he thinks is a short-cut, only to discover that he is lost and alone. 

That lost, alone person needs to get back on God’s path, but how?  The psalmist gives us two hints in how to retrace our steps.  In Psalm 27:8 the psalmist writes,  “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek.  When we have gotten off trail and are lost, we need to admit that we are lost and we need God’s direction.   To seek God’s face is to seek intimacy with God, to have a direct face-to-face conversation with our creator and savior.  This is an action of the heart, more than the mind.

But then the psalmist gives wisdom on how to seek God’s face.  In verse 14,  Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!  This can be difficult in our instant response world.   We expect God to immediately answer our requests.   Waiting can be so difficult.  Lost backpackers are instructed to find a safe place and wait for the rescue team to find them.  Their inclination is to go thrashing about in the woods, but that only makes rescue more difficult. 

Seek the Lord’s face.  Wait on the Lord.  Still wise words for us to heed in our daily walk with God. 

How do you seek or wait on the Lord?

Cross-Training

Shoveling Snow Inspiration

This morning I shoveled out the driveway after a six inches snowfall.  In the past, Saturday morning was my time for the running group and we would put in anywhere from 4-12 miles on a morning run.  But now I am in a different routine.   With a new church and with my recent running injuries, I have not been running on Saturday mornings.  I confess I miss the group camaraderie and exercise, but I am confident that I will be running again soon.

I remember reading about elite marathoner Dick Beardsley’s experience when he was injured.  He lived on a farm here in Minnesota and he spent time cross-training by shoveling snow between his house and barn so as to stay in shape.  He eventually recovered and got back on the road running.  As I shoveled this morning, I thought to myself, “Yes, you will get back on the road, be patient, stay confident.”  Then I looked up to see the sun shining through the neighbors’ trees.  Hope anew!

In one’s walk with Jesus, there will be times of challenges and frustrations.  The old patterns and ideas do not work as they once did.   At those times, we need to do some cross-training, seeking other forms of spiritual life: conversing/praying with a friend, reading a good devotional book, worshipping at a new church, going on a short mission trip, joining a new Bible Study.  Our life in Christ is not to be a rut, but a path to life. 

Psalm 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.