Monday, June 26, 2017

Psalm 67

Summary: The psalmist wants God to bless the psalmist's people, that the world might see those blessings and praise God.

Response: I mean, yeah? But we are blessed for much more than showing God's glory as an end in itself. God's blessings are meant to be shared, from time and money to skills and relationships. It's hard, but worth it to get past "bless me" to "bless through me."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Psalm 66

Summary: David sees the whole earth worshiping God. He recounts a defining act, when God parted the waters for His people to cross. Even though the relationship isn't perfect on humans' ends, God still offers discipline, mercy, and renewal. David finishes by extending an invitation to that same relationship.

Response: God really is worthy of all this praise. So many times, I'll go through the motions, but I don't want to be desensitized to God's greatness.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Psalm 65

Summary: David praises God for His mercy. In His forgiveness, God chooses to gift the earth His abundance.

Response: Yes, I like this one a bit better, not because I'm not challenged by it. You have to be in a certain mood to accept God's forgiveness, and I don't always have that.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Psalm 64

Summary: David contends that, even though people try (and sometimes succeed) in hurting innocents, God sees and doles out justice.

Response: And, again, I prefer to focus less on the God who avenges and more on the God who saves. But thanks I guess for the vengeance? I suppose I'd rather a perfect God try to wield it than me; I'd let it get to my head.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Psalm 63

Summary: David confesses that God satisfies him, like cool water or fine meat after being in the wilderness. This is why he thinks about God day and night, delighting in the very thought of God.

Response: (yes, there's also a kill-my-enemies part, I'm ignoring that for today) God is amazing all on His own, whether or not we choose to acknowledge it. I pray I would​ seek and find Him more and more and have the boldness to call it out when I see it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Psalm 62

Summary: David can't find anyone to trust but God. The humans all around him will break trust given the first advantageous opportunity. So he goes all in on God.

Response: Now this one I think I get. You can't quite say "God alone" and then extol the virtues of anyone else. If it's God alone, He's it. I pray I could lift Him that high mentally, even though He deserves so much more.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Psalm 61

Summary: David compares God to the top of a mountain, at which one is safe.

Response: Hey, other than an oddly placed "long live the king" segment, this one was fairly normal. David wants to be like a welcome visitor or one under temporary shelter with God; how cool then that God wants to offer permanent residence in Him!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Psalm 60

Summary: David notes God's rejection of His people. He asks to be saved from his enemies.

Response: Again, feeling rejection and feeling salvation. Maybe it's that feeling a change in your own heart is really difficult? I don't know. Still we press on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Psalm 59

Summary: David compares his enemies to a pack of wild dogs and more or less asks God to put them down.

Response: I briefly considered not posting about this one today. Still, I want to work through this, even though I've done it before. Yes, I get that David's life was literally at stake, that he is really faithful to God and that his enemies are really bad guys. But it's hard to reconcile a kill-'em-all mindset with a Jesus I know that, when His enemies threatened to kill Him, literally died and took their sin with Him. Compared to that, David's pleas for his versions of justice or revenge just seem unloving.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Psalm 58

Summary: David belittles the wicked who, though they have power here, do not have it for long. He calls on God to judge them harshly and makes several grisly metaphors.

Response: I continue trying to persevere through these psalms. God grant me patience!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Psalm 57

Summary: David, hiding from enemies, praises God as safe Shelter but also a great Glorious One, whose might and praise stretch farther than the eye can see.

Response: Yes there's the enemy-snare thing; I'm not worried about it just this second. Help me to dwell in You, Lord, when stress comes; help me to join freely in the praise You deserve.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Psalm 56

Summary: David asks for God to destroy his enemies, promising to serve joyfully in return.

Response: Hey, we got something! I guess that's not fair to David, literally captured by a neighboring country. Still, the last verse is something I can really sink my teeth into.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Psalm 55

Summary: David, betrayed by a close friend, wants to hole up in God's presence and let Him kill off the traitors.

Response: I am glad these psalms are here for when we feel betrayed, but the simple fact is that, if anything, I feel more at fault for any wrong that comes my way.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Psalm 54

Summary: David asks again for God's help to (you guessed it) kill his enemies.

Response: God, keep me patient. Help me to defeat myself and my selfish desires. Help me submit to Your will.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Psalm 53

Summary: Just like the last psalm, David opens by discussing sinful people, who delight in the destruction of God's people even as they become more aware of the consequences. He prays for God to help protect them.

Response: I dunno? Having a hard time connecting with this one. Have all sinned, or just the non-Israelites? I know God forgives, but I have trouble discerning confidence David might have with arrogance.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Psalm 52

Summary: David summarizes the wicked, people who lie and steal for their own benefit. He knows the fate awaiting them includes God taking all that was ill-gotten. By contrast, the wise put their trust in God to be kind and also just in His judgement.

Response: It's becoming more and more clear that God has to prune. Not every ministry started has to continue indefinitely, and few really can without being corrupted or twisted. Not every tongue can be counted on to stay true with its message. I pray I have the patience to seek God's discernment as, to be honest, I have a big change coming up soon in my life.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Psalm 51

Summary: David knows he has sinned big time (not in this story, but he sleeps with a married woman and has her husband killed in military action). He pleads with God for forgiveness. David boldly asks not to be left without God's presence; he also gets past the Law and its sacrifices, noting God would rather have hearts that turn to Him than empty offerings.

Response: Here again is Relatable David. Yeah, I've done some sinning in even my short life; and I've gone through the motions in worship services at times. It's very easy for me to get lost in musical details and never get "into" worship (or to get right out of it soon thereafter). Lord, make me ever more dependent on You, that I need Your presence every day.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Psalm 50

Summary: The psalmist paints a picture of God as almost a natural disaster, clearing His path off the holy mountain. God doesn't want empty sacrifices​, He says; He wants a real change in people's hearts, from fear and obligation to joy and gratefulness.

Response: (Asaph, our psalmist, was probably a singer for the Temple?)

(Holy crap, fifty psalms! A third of the way in, I can't say I'm impressed with all of them, but I've enjoyed digging deeper and getting some real treasures.)

I say natural disaster because it talks about God carving out trees and a burning fire on His way down the mountain. As it says, He isn't hiding.

And His judgement comes with a plan forward or at least an alternative. I can only pray I make such an attitude adjustment.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Psalm 49

Summary: The psalmist proclaims as equal the rich and poor, with both dying at the end of their lives. Still, he says that all the rich and their belongings will burn like trash.

Response: What then to do with wealth? Place it in God's care and/or aid His people.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Psalm 48

Summary: The psalmist praises God as Protector of Jerusalem, and therefore his home and people. God inhabits every nook and cranny of the city and pushes back any attempt at capture.

Response: So the problem of evil (how did I get there? Gimme a sec): why does God allow evil things to happen when He's all-powerful? I believe in free will, that we can choose to go with God's will or on our own. Through the biblical kingdom of Israel's history, its people would turn away from God over and over. "God, we don't need your help. We have this on our own." And so God backs off. He could have prevented the siege of Babylon or Roman rule, but Israel asked Him not to interfere, so he respected their wishes.

Lord, I do this too often myself. Keep me from this sin (I tried folly here, but it's too nice a word) and keep me company reliant on You.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Psalm 47

Summary: The psalmist shouts God's praises, as the One who installed Israel among the nations and the One who reigns over all nations and peoples.

Response: I like the second half better but the entire psalm is easy to digest. Eventually I'm going to get into some deeper emotion, but I'm happy to just be happy for a bit.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Psalm 46

Summary: The psalmist announces God as Protector through the most difficult times, from war to Armageddon.

Response: I tend to be very picky on subject matter for worship songs I lead  I don't do a whole lot of end times songs, for instance, because I feel like people who focus on that aspect of the story tend to turtle up instead of continuing to evangelize (and I have a tough enough time with that anyways). But this one might be just a bit different, not offering a prediction but simple faith and confidence in God.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Psalm 45

Summary: The psalmist praises a royal marriage. Woo.

Response: Like, that's it. I'm not really sure I would've been any happier about it yesterday, but oh well. On to the next tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Psalm 44

Summary: The psalmist praises God for past deliverance in the first section. This salvation goes back generations. But the second section tells us of recent defeats and anguish, as the psalmist cries out for God to save His people.

Response: I'll admit, the second half surprised me some. The first part can read as nostalgic celebration, but on re-reading it can sound whiny (they got it, why not me? It's so unfair). I'm a firm believer that God, bring creative, finds different ways to speak to different people at different times. Some (like Bible study, discipleship, and prayer) are mainstays, but many feel almost new. It's not my gift per se​ to start new ministries, but I hope I can​ be faithful in supporting them.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Psalm 43

Summary: In a very similar theme to the last psalm, the palmist cries for God's help, praising His deliverance from a godless enemy.

Response: Help me, Lord, to see through Your eyes what really is and isn't part of Your will.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Psalm 42

Summary: The psalmist languishes upon being trapped far away from the Temple. He wants God like a deer sprints to a stream and like two nearby streams seem to call out to each other.

Response: As part of my small group at church, we've been working on praying the Lord's ​prayer. It's been interesting, and I like how it directs my focus away from my problems and toward His solutions.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Psalm 41

Summary: David asks for God's protection from the many people around him who slander and plot against him.

Response: I hope we see more of David later on in the Psalms. This is the end of the first group of them, and tomorrow's will - gasp - not be one of his, and this last one left a sour, paranoia-laced taste in my mouth​.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Psalm 40

Summary: David, saved by God, showers Him with praise for deliverance, then asks for it yet again.

Response: Keep saving me. It wasn't expressly written, but the point gets across (to me, anyways) that David feels like this salvation can't be a singular event, but a continual renewal. And let me clarify: yes, I believe Jesus died once for all people and for all sin, but we (I) need to keep accepting that grace.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Psalm 39

Summary: David decides to use his tongue only for God's purposes. The words that spill out talk only of his sin and desire for mercy.

Response: I know I'm in the same boat; I am so busy with my day that I feel I can't do anything for God. Lord, help me to slow down, to trim excess, that I might talk with You more and more.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Psalm 38

Summary: David asks God for an end to His judgement. It's killing him, literally in the poem, not to be aligned and in good standing with God. Even without a Word from Him, and even with his enemies and family taunting him, David continues to seek God out.

Response: Lord, bring what's between You and me to the forefront of my mind. Help me to accept the grace that lets me change and be in right standing with You.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Psalm 37

Summary: David again compares the wicked to the godly. The latter group has God's protection and gains land that the former group loses.

Response: I guess my big problem with us-vs-them is that it gives up. Yes, there are people who are just plain wicked, who know they are doing wrong and delight in it. And I certainly know very few truly godly people, though the ones that come closest are still bright diamonds in the rough. But I feel like most of us are just tossed around, almost too busy to fight a lot of battles without God's help. To give up on someone like that, lump them in with the truly evil, and carry on just irks me.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Psalm 36

Summary: David describes evil people, being selfish to the core. He then describes God, ever loving. Finally, as he's done before, he asks God's protection from evil in his life.

Response: I'll be honest: many times, I feel less like the righteous in this chapter and closer to the wicked. I don't like to be there, but if I'm honest, I know I can't get to that other side on my own. For me, it's not "save me because I'm righteous" so much as "save me from my own wickedness."

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Psalm 35

Summary: David tells God to protect him from his enemies. In return, David will praise God wherever and whenever.

Response: Again, even knowing that David and I are different beasts, I spent the whole psalm going "nope nope nope."  Telling God what to do, more us vs them (including "I'm perfect" and "kill them"), making praise conditional... The list goes on. I'm trying to find a pivot here. The best I have is that I'm sure I'd say much of the same if I was actually in the life-or-death situation David was in.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Psalm 34

Summary: David praises God, who protects and provides for those who trust Him. Unlike the wicked, who destroy themselves, God's natural act is to defend the godly.

Response: Again, this is the goal. I'd love to be here that whole time, but I know I'm not there nearly often enough. Side note, I loved the us mentality of the psalm up until he had to go in the direction of us vs them.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Psalm 33

Summary: David sings God's praises because He created and cultivates the world and everyone in it. Not only is He in charge of little details in Earth's physical makeup, but He guides each heart.

Response: I'm a musician, and sometimes my mind will do what animators call "Mickey Mousing," where a song will fit into the scenario in question. But my brain will tend to focus on a song's technical aspects before the lyrics, which kind of defeats the purpose. I guess what I'm saying is, I hope to have given more control up in what/how I think so God can give me more focus.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Psalm 32

Summary: David talks through God's forgiveness. Without it, he wastes away. Once he has it, he is safe and hears praises to God from others who have it. And he gets to make those praises himself!

Response: If I remember correctly, the selah thing here is a break in the action. If this had had musical accompaniment at any point, I'm pretty sure the guitar (or more likely lute) solo would have gone there. But it helps chop the song up so we get these different aspects of the story, which I greatly appreciate. And we have yet another glimpse of Human David, who is less than perfect and will admit it! I like that guy because I know that I'm that way, too.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Psalm 31

Summary: David paints a picture of the end of his days, where enemies are still persecuting him. He thinks it is his end, that God has abandoned him because of his sin, but God steps in and serves as his shelter.

Response: I'm not sure if David was actually older when he wrote this, but a less brash and more pensive tone is good evidence toward that notion. Lord, I too have failed again and again. Yet you continue to shelter me and provide for me. Your love really is amazing!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Psalm 30

Summary: David praises God, recounting a time when God turned His back on him only to forgive him again out of love.

Response: I am often short-sighted in the same way I feel David is here. It wasn't "I screwed up so God turned away," it was "God turned away until I convinced Him to turn back." The second implies that David didn't do anything wrong, just that God for whatever reason decided to abandon David. Lord, I know full well that, if I feel distant from You, it's that I've moved. Keep me close to You daily and hourly.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Psalm 29

Summary: Definitely a praise and worship psalm, David describes God's power through His shout. It calls to attention, it breaks the power of surrounding nations, and it strikes both fear into Israel's enemies and love into His people.

Response: As a worship leader, I often hear songs of our shouting to God; it's not happened, I don't think, that I hear about Him shouting back. Help me to listen, Lord, for what feels like screaming to You but that I can barely make out.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Psalm 28

Summary: David cries out to God, knowing that He will come to his aid. Even while waiting, he rejoices in God's provision.

Response: I'm having a hard time getting my spiritual vision in focus and have been all weekend. It feels like I've been blocked from seeing God's hand in things because of how busy the minute-to-minute is. Lord, save me from myself!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Psalm 27

Summary: David again asks for and claims God's protection over him. He says that it's this confidence that allows him to stay strong even in the face of danger.

Response: The general vibe I got from the last verse and a half is that David knows he could not have let God change his life if he didn't have the super bold faith that he did. In little ways, I know that's true for me, too, even if I haven't slain a giant or danced nude during a religious ceremony (you'd have to look that second one up).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Psalm 26

Summary: David wants God to test his mettle, finding anything that would destroy his integrity so he can live blameless before and fully worship Him.

Response: Lord, I know there are things I struggle with daily. Help me to let them go, that I might be able to give You the praise You deserve.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Psalm 25

Summary: David asks for God's help. He knows that God teaches people how to act and certainly rescues those who seek His will.

Response: I have a hard time with this line of thinking. "I'm good, so save me" doesn't work if you're not good enough, and we soon find out that no one (except One, but He choose to save and not be saved) is good enough. But God chooses to save us anyways! Yes, I believe we should try to act godly, but not in order to be saved. It's the other way around: since we've been set free from sin, we are to actually stop sinning by relying fully in the power of God. It's a bit nuanced and might​ look the same on the outside, but whereas David is very raw, I tend to overthink.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Psalm 24

Summary: David proclaims God Creator and Defender of the earth and its people. As Creator, His every action was and is creative; as Defender, His every stance inspires.

Response: This kind of worship is infectious. I love this kind of psalm that focuses on God. Lord, You are worthy of all praise. Help me not to get so bogged down in my own struggles that I forget to worship You.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Psalm 23

Summary: David compares God to a shepherd, leading him to everything he needs; and to a dinner host, providing even in the face of unwelcome guests.

Response: Hey, odds are you've heard this one. I tend to try to find the nuggets hidden away, avoiding the moments with the biggest splashes. I'd much rather study anything but the most oft-quoted psalm ever, but God still does provide and I hope I can continue trusting in Him for all I need.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Psalm 22

Summary: David starts by describing himself crying out to God continually, yet with no answer; he continues and finishes by proclaiming God's might and power even without a response.

Response: (If you're somehow reading this and haven't heard, this is one of the last seven words of Jesus. Dying on the cross, he starts the psalm, which sounds hopeless to those who don't get it but triumphant to those who know the rest of it.)

David shows humility! Wow! Help me to do the same, Lord, even as I ask for boldness before You.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Psalm 21

Summary: David recounts God's faithfulness and protection specifically to kings, of which he is one himself. He says that God not only grants kings long life and prosperity, but defense against their enemies.

Response: Again, I try my best to have respect for the context of David's thoughts. I know that kings were just a thing instead of a distraction as they usually are today. I think I get that, without a long-reigning king, disaster would befall a kingdom. But I have read through I and II Kings, and they're really bad at ruling anyway as well as short lived even when they do obey God. Lord, I pray that, where I lead, help me to serve more and more. Where I follow, help me to respect the position and the one who holds it, and guide my hand to help.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Psalm 20

Summary: David passes on the promise of God's protection to the reader, praying for victory and celebration of God's people. He also proclaims God's hand on their leader the king as the people trust in God rather than military might.

Response: My first reading felt very celebratory, but that ignores some parts and words that really give it an air of desperation. Lord, if I don't get Your help, I'm done for. Help me to hear Your word and follow Your plans.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Psalm 19

Summary: David praises God with the sun and sky, whom he says show God's handiwork. God's craftsmanship is also evident in His Law, he says; David prays not only to be forgiven of sin he knows about, but also of sin he doesn't as well as guiding him away from sinning in the first place.

Response: I like this one! There are like five different feelings here, but I agree with them. God's creation is wonderful; His Law is the ideal way to live, though we can only fall short of it; I need God's hand to stay me away from sin; even when I do sin, I need His forgiveness; even when I sin and don't know it, I still need it. They flow pretty well, all from the majesty of the sky. Neat!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Psalm 18

Summary: Saved from Saul, David rejoices in God's protection. This is a very long psalm, so let's have a look; David calls God:

Source of strength, high ridge, stronghold, deliverer, rocky summit, shield, horn (like the attacking kind), refuge, lamp, protector, king; worthy of praise, sovereign, loyal, reliable, trustworthy, true, alive, praiseworthy, faithful.

He also recounts (again) God's might, his innocence, his enemies' guilt, and what he got God to do to his enemies.

Response: God, I know you are protecting me from things all the time. But I don't think any of them are individuals who want my death. Thank you for your protection, but be with my enemies; I really do feel I want them to succeed. Not in hurting me, of course, but in becoming better people, drawn closer to you, maybe through me.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Psalm 17

Summary: David bookends calling for God's judgement on his enemies with calling for God's judgement on himself.

Response: I'm not sure I could be so bold. I know I'm guilty of quite a bit. Maybe if it were one of a bunch of passing judgements instead of a singular, permanent one?

I had a thought for a metaphor last night at our Ash Wednesday service: which is cleaner, the cup that sits in the China cabinet or the cup that gets used and washed every day? Obviously the former starts out cleaner but, unless you come and dust it often and well, it gets dirty over time, requiring cleaning that is more difficult because of how fragile it is. Holiness is not a one time thing and trying to keep it that way. It gets neglected that way, and is less useful. Holiness, to me, is a daily surrender and cleansing, in the hopes that less and less will need rinsed off each day.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Psalm 16

Summary: David proclaims his trust in God, who protects and delights him in the present and provides for a future where he is used and not cast aside.

Response: So in the last bit, David says that he won't be sent to Sheol; as I understand it, this was basically a large ditch outside Jerusalem where people would throw stuff away that had no use anymore. It was also sort of their version of hell, to be cast aside and left out of God's future plan. I'm thankful I still get used from time to time, but hopefully I can start to see and act on more opportunities to be used by God for His purposes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Psalm 15

Summary: To be worth even a spot as a stranger in God's presence, David says, a person has to be just about blameless, living with integrity in his word and deed.

Response: I mean, it's not being holy (set apart for God's use), but each thing talked about is really about being honest so that you don't take advantage of other people. That sounds doable, though I know I've failed at this plenty.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Psalm 14

Summary: David sees the suffering of his people at the hands of the wicked and, though he wishes for God's deliverance, he acknowledges that no one is really deserving of it.

Response: Again, that David knew of these feelings, came to those different conclusions, and still felt bold enough to ask for mercy anyway is pretty amazing. I'm hoping that, with time, I find some boldness in prayer or in spreading God's love.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Psalm 13

Summary: David feels ignored because God hasn't yet delivered him; still, he trusts God to save him and praises Him even now.

Response: If anything, I feel like the one who's ignoring God, not the other way around. Lord, help me to truly make time for You in the little choices that add up to big chunks of time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Psalm 12

Summary: David paints God as a defender of the poor and needy against those who would take advantage of them.

Response: So maybe I'm just more in tune with this raw emotion of David's? Like, I'd much rather pray about justice for the less fortunate than smiting those who I feel deserve it. I know more than some just how blessed I am, so I don't want to discredit that blessing. Lord, continue to grow me in passion for You, not just knowledge.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Psalm 11

Summary: David scoffs at the notion that he should fear from wicked people when he has the backing of God.

Response: Lord, help me to trust in You to get through this week. Help me to do Your will in spite of my busyness.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Psalm 10

Summary: David sees injustice caused by wicked men all around, while God seemingly looks the other way. He pleads with God not to let them go unpunished.

Response: Now this is a primal urge I can get behind. Man injustice is rampant today. The way our ways of life are set up are designed to take advantage of one another. That's not how God designed us to live! Lord, help me be part of that change, part of that justice; help me to take that first small step.

(recommended listening: "The Trapper and the Furrier," Regina Spektor [warning: mild language])

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Psalm 9

Summary: David exclaims God's mercy and provision. Even while others give up and fall, those who are trusting in the Lord don't just survive but thrive.

Response: The Lord is good! I was fairly grossly sick yesterday afternoon and evening, but I'm feeling much better this morning. Yes, I followed steps so it would happen, but I won't miss an opportunity to praise God for healing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Psalm 8

Summary: David can't help but praise God, who formed the biggest things in our universe but stepped low to come be a part of each of our lives.

Response: Lord, show me Your grandeur, the majesty of Your works that makes me want to praise You. But reminds me more of Your intimacy, that I get to be Yours and that You choose to be mine!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Psalm 7

Summary: David compares God to a judge but also a defending warrior, asking Him to protect him and keep him safe.

Response: So over the weekend, I took my problem to some people I trust in these matters, and the main consensus is that David is showing his most primal emotions to God. After all, God's definitely big enough. I'm not always that way. My brain will have a primal thought and work it over before saying or writing anything about it. After all, my personality is that of a people pleaser, and it's not very pleasing to get yelled at or point out flaws. I know there is some value to what David is doing and, in my private time, I hope to be more fully human in that way.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Psalm 6

Summary: David pleads for mercy with great sorrow, then wishes humiliation on his enemies.

Response: But seriously! I think I'm going to have to read elsewhere, unless I get some word to keep trudging through.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Psalm 5

Summary: David uses legal language to let God hear his case. He knows that wicked people are wicked and that he has been invited into God's presence, and asks that the wicked meet their demise while he and other faithful stay with God.

Response: Did I mention before that I'm not a fan of us vs them in Scripture? Without trying to push too far, this is what brought us so much terrible history in the church, from the Inquisition to needing the civil rights movement. I understand that David is fighting true pagans, the eat-your-children kind, but I'm not; am I supposed to think this about those around me? I guess I'm not a fan of this kind of psalm. Lord, reveal Your truth in spite of what I think I want to hear.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Psalm 4

Summary: The psalmist surrounds a plea for his enemies to repent with confidences that God can and will deliver him.

Response: This might be one of the struggles for me as I trudge through the Psalms--I don't feel like I have enemies. I mean, obviously nobody is trying to pillage my house or anything, but I just don't go out of my way to cause trouble. Nor do I know anyone well enough to rebuke or exhort them that. But the deliverance? If not from anything but my own sloth, yeah, God is a great deliverer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Psalm 3

Summary: David, on the run from an attempted coup, feels abandoned by the world. Still, he doesn't put his trust there, but in God, who defends and uplifts him.

Response: Yes, I've heard of this one. It takes some effort to keep that feeling fresh and to keep that commitment holding firm. Lord, I want to rest in Your promise; help me to rely on You through thick and thin.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Psalm 2

Summary: The psalmist assumes the role of God's chosen king, beating back attempts from earthly powers to overthrow him. He asks the other kings to listen to advice, insisting that serving God is the only right way.

Response: If taken the wrong way, some of this does seem mean spirited, such as God Himself laughing derisively at the other kings. But as I wrote above, David (it's more than likely David) offers repentance even to the other nations. I need to accept that mercy, I need to change my life because of it, and it starts by offering that mercy to others around me who need it. Not "who deserve it" (I'm sure none of the other kings took David's offer, but I'm sure none deserved it), but "who need it."

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Psalm 1

Summary: (The book of Psalms is a collection of sacred Jewish poetry; the authors are somewhat anonymous, though a great many were written by King David.) The author sees those who follow wicked ways, and how their way leads to failure upon being unable to withstand God's judgement; he contrasts that with an ideal of studying and living out God's Word, which nourishes like roots close to water and bears fruit.

Response: Yup, going to the biggie. The psalmist does talk about eventual fates, but the big thing in my eye is that failing or bearing fruit is the normal action for the two groups. I know I'm not always a failure, but I want to keep rooting myself in God to be nourished by Him, to do His work.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Acts 28

Summary: The islanders help Paul get to Rome after he heals and spreads the Gospel. Once there, he again meets with the Jews and explains the Gospel; and again, some believe and others don't.

Response: First, there's an exchange with the islanders and Paul about a viper that seems ripped from a cartoon or anime. It's worth a look.

But hey, this is it? I mean, Paul appealed to Caesar, which I thought meant he was going to, y'know, talk to the guy. I guess the journey is what's important? I dunno. Not sure where I'm headed next, but getting Acts right after a Gospel really helped put it in perspective.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Acts 27

Summary: Paul's plea to Caesar is starting to happen, as he boards a boat towards Rome; God protects him even though (to make a long story short) getting shipwrecked.

Response: There was never a doubt from Paul that he would survive this ordeal--and never a doubt that the ordeal would need to take place, either. I only hope the Lord can give me such confidence to see different circumstances as opportunities, not disasters.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Acts 26

Summary: Paul testifies now before Agrippa, who understands his situation. He understands, but Agrippa cannot release Paul because he must first see Caesar, and Agrippa and Felix wash their hands of the affair.

Response: Like everyone else, I feel busy quite often. I know I need to get out and be the hands of Jesus somewhere, but like the nobles, I often stop at simply giving my opinion and moving on.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Acts 25

Summary: Paul's accusers try to game the system, asking the new governor, Felix, to move Paul (where they would ambush him). Paul replies that he'd much rather be on trial before Caesar, which Felix consents to. Still, Felix wants a second opinion, so he brings Paul before a visiting dignitary, King Agrippa.

Response: I'll be honest, I liked the spread of the Gospel better than persecution, but it is great seeing God's hand move to protect Paul, and I know that same hand guards me. When I let it, of course.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Acts 24

Summary: Paul, on trial with the governor, is accused by the high priest of disturbing the peace. Paul offers a faith-based defense that the governor needs time to process. Unfortunately, that process ends up taking longer than the governor's time in office.

Response: Literally facing his accusers, Paul does not attack them directly. I'm not sure I could do the same.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Acts 23

Summary: Paul testifies before the actual Jewish Council, which goes about as well as one can expect. He has to be dragged from there by the Roman guard and snuck away by them to a nearby governor when a few dozen men make a pact to kill Paul.

Response: Paul's testimony, unlike other times, barely gets one sentence in before it is interrupted and ended. But he made it count. I pray that my talking (mostly with students at the moment) really does show the Christ in me.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Acts 22

Summary: Paul talks to the angry mob of Jews outside the Roman barracks in Jerusalem. Giving his testimony angers the crowd, so he is brought into the barracks, but protected due to his Roman citizenship.

Response: I sort of have dual citizenship, both in the Christian music world and either classical or secular music, too. My expertise in one bleeds into the others, and makes me more effective. God may be calling you (and me) not to a far off place but just to the people around you, the ones who may be just outside that heavenly influence.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Acts 21

Summary: Each town Paul visits on his way back to Jerusalem has a church member who warns him not to go or be imprisoned. But he does go and, after some dialogue with the apostles, big surprise--he's arrested.

Response: I think Paul knows he's walking a very fine line talking about Gentiles to Jews. The apostles sounded like they hadn't fully worked out the thought process behind all of this, and of course the crowds are frenzied at this point. I hope I can avoid the knee jerk reaction to God's hand like this and search for His wisdom in the crazy.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Acts 20

Summary: Paul's whirlwind tour is almost done; he sends word ahead to the church at Ephesus so that they can meet him at the boat he's traveling on for a sermon during a layover. He reveals that the Spirit has been telling him he won't get to see these towns again, that only prison and persecution await him. But still he goes.

Response: [Already we get Jesus misquoted with "better to give than receive;" oh well] The last day or so has had at least two studies of mine talk of eventual sacrifice. It's safe to say that I've noticed. I hope God can reveal to me what I need to prune out of my life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Acts 19

Summary: Paul stays in Ephesus this time for over two years. He finds a small sect of believers in John the Baptist; he heals in Jesus' name, and others fail greatly when they try to cast out demons in Paul's name; and he resolves to go to Jerusalem before heading to Rome (going southeast to then backtrack West through the sea). Before he can go, though, yet more trouble is had when tradesmen connected to the worship of Greek god Artemis riot in Ephesus. Paul tries to enter the building they've occupied, but is forced to watch from the sidelines as one of his own is shouted down for two hours straight.

Response: [Okay so the guy in verse 33, Alexander, was probably going to try to deflect blame from Jews in general over to Paul, but that's okay, close enough for now] So we have a few aesops here if we want them, that we can't ride on someone else's coattails, and that there are things the Spirit will just veto regardless of how much we want/wish/need it at the time.

But I've been thinking about sacrifice. By tithing, by the choices and purchases we make, that affects our ability to give and, as we saw here, it can make a sizeable financial message to those who don't know Jesus.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Acts 18

Summary: After yet another almost flogging in Corinth, Paul begins a whirlwind tour, hitting Ephesus quickly before rounding back to Jerusalem by boat and running through the towns be visited in his last go around. Meanwhile, a couple he left behind in Ephesus meet and strengthen Apollos, a mighty speaker for Jesus that seemingly comes out of nowhere.

Response: I'm not sure where you are in your walk, non-existent reader, and to be honest, I'm not sure where I am in mine. To the Paul who is persecuted, may God send you the same message of hope, peace, and perseverance; to Priscila and Acquila, left behind, may God keep your hands useful and your mind sharp until God calls you again; to the Paul who revisits, may you find growth in all things and the wisdom to foster even more; and to the Apollos, may your fervor for Christ be tempered by your mentors into a refined instrument.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Acts 17

Summary: Paul continues his tour, starting in Thessalonica. The people there follow the usual pattern (some believe, others riot, Paul kicked out), and kick Paul out of the next town he visits, too. Without his traveling buddies, he settles in Athens, where the people follow any religious trend that pops up. Upon telling the Athenians about Jesus, most are skeptical but at least peaceful.

Response: I know that Paul (and I) should come to expect that most people who hear the Word will reject it, some defiantly so. It sucks, but it's part of the call as followers of Christ to spread His love.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Acts 16

Summary: Paul and his new sidekicks Silas and Timothy try going to several places, but the Spirit prevents it. Instead, Paul gets a dream asking for help from the region of Macedonia, so they go there.

In Philippi, the main town of the district, they preach and grow the church (including a woman named Lydia) until they're arrested, but are released supernaturally,  converting the jailer and his family on the way out. The leaders are terrified not because of the display of power but because Paul and Silas are Roman citizens that were just punished by a Jewish entity.

Response: The Spirit chooses different things for different people and expects different things, too. In the last few chapters, the apostles unanimously say that new believers don't need to be circumcised, but Paul wants Timothy to be respected by those he's reaching out to and so has him snipped himself. They try to go to a number of cities, but end up having to travel across the known world to get to Philippi. Hopefully I can start hearing that still, small voice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Acts 15

Summary: Church drama ensues, but not for long, as some believers from Jerusalem start telling Gentiles in other countries that they must be circumcised to be Christians. Peter and Paul are both considerably against this, and convince the assembly in Jerusalem to send Paul with a letter expressing that sentiment. Some time later, Paul and his buddy Barnabas butt heads on traveling companions and split ways for now.

Response: So they saw a problem and talked about it openly with prayer and testimony, then sent people to talk it over with the other group. This is handled super well, especially compared to dysfunctions in churches today. I think a main reason for that is the authority Paul and Peter had in their ministry, as opposed to people (admittedly myself included) who haven't been fruitful or even trying. I am hoping to get on the wagon and serve those around me, but a more-than-full-time job and continuing to grow a family is not conducive to that just yet.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Acts 14

Summary: Paul and Barnabas, kicked out of Antioch, move to the towns of Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. In each, they are at first commended (in Lystra the people think they are Zeus and Hermes) before the Jewish leaders of the town incite riots against them. But after Derbe, the pair go backwards through the already visited towns, encouraging the believers they left behind.

Response: The inspiration sweeps back through. Not for long and not in exactly the same way, but there's at least a small visit. I hope that I can start to find my small rests and be able to give the same to my wife.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Acts 13

Summary: Saul (who nonchalantly becomes Paul here) preaches to the Jewish community in a town near Antioch but, when they are outnumbered the following week by Gentiles, the Jews reject the message and Paul is forced to reject them, too, preaching to the Gentiles.

Response: Again, I have real trouble "shaking the dust from my feet." I haven't been in enough situations like that to really discern between those who don't get it yet and those who have chosen to reject it. And without being the one spreading the Gospel and seeing the reactions of the listeners, I don't feel capable of sound judgment.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Acts 12

Summary: King Herod (he the grandson of "kill the babies" King Herod in the gospel) kills James and imprisons Peter. Peter, in the dead of night, escapes with help of an angel. While the church rejoices, Herod dies.

Response: I mean, I get that Herod was killing Christians, but it still feels wrong to me to rejoice in someone's death the way the author's tone feels to me. That said, the middle section, where Peter can't get the servant girl to open the door for him, reads like a sitcom script, and in a good way. I guess, at the end of the day, these are humans and flawed and that's okay because I am both of those, too, and if they can be flawed and still have God work in and through them, then there's still hope for me, too.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Acts 11

Summary: Peter, ever the leader in trouble, returns after visiting the centurion to quarrels over the rightness of his actions. Peter explains his dream, God telling him three times not to reject clean things, and the dissenters turn and rejoice. Similarly, Barnabas finds joy in welcoming Gentile Christians in far-off cities. Finally, the church sends relief aid to cities in a famine.

Response: The church has disagreements that end in joy. Connections are found between churches. The Church serves as the hand of God in helping the downtrodden. I want my church to be like this!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Acts 10

Summary: Peter, a Jew's Jew, and a centurion of Rome (who still obeyed God, but was not officially Jewish) both receive visions to gather together and accept one another as they are, even without ritual cleanliness or Roman citizenship.

Response: On the one hand, this is us, our chance to be in the Kingdom! But on the other, I know it's my obligation to go and seek out the lost and bring them in with loving acceptance.