Psalm 51, Day 5

Devotional for Friday, May 22

Psalm 51:13-15
Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to you.
Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise you.

With restoration comes responsibility. We speak to the “rebels” knowing we are people who have been part of the rebellion. This is not an arrogant “I will teach.” This is a humble desire to show others the way home.

We also are reminded this is King David’s psalm of repentance, and that the king knew his sins went beyond lust and adultery. Through abuse of power, he had shed the blood of Uriah, and perhaps he also felt the weight of having killed with his own hand.

Even with dark pasts, forgiveness is possible, as is life beyond our sins. Drunks and addicts become counselors, once God has worked on them. Thieves become respected advocates for the downtrodden, if they let God in. Killers may face a lifetime of worldly punishment, but with an understanding of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, they also can become remarkable conduits of grace in very frightening places.

Teach! Sing! Praise! It is your right—not a right you have earned, but one earned for you by Jesus Christ on the cross.

Lord, give us visions of new paths and our lives restored for the benefit of others. Amen.

With Praise and Confession

Devotional for Saturday, May 16

Psalm 66:16-19 (NLT)
Come and listen, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell you what he did for me.
For I cried out to him for help,
    praising him as I spoke.
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
But God did listen!
    He paid attention to my prayer.

People like to hear life lessons from someone who has experienced success. The psalmist here lays out a pattern of prayer that proved effective for him.

As he went to God, seeking relief, he remembered that our first task is to praise God. The relationship between God and creation always has to be in proper context; God is over all things, and we are made to praise! Our praise may be expressed in different ways, depending on our limited abilities, but we need to use the talents we have been given.

Have you ever considered opening your personal prayer time with a song of praise to God, or a poem about God, or a small work of art glorifying God, assuming you are equipped in such ways? If you lack such talents, how might you praise God with the talents you do have?

As Jesus noted during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where the people fail to cry out, the rocks may take up the cause. Praise of God is hard-wired into creation, and we need to remember this truth whenever we turn our faces to God.

Confession also was an important part of the psalmist’s prayer. We likely have not achieved anything close to holiness. It helps to confess our sins before God, acknowledging we are unworthy to be before him.

Centuries after the psalmist wrote his words, God humbled himself to take on flesh and die for our sins, and our creator is pleased when we express humility, too.

Praise and confession are key components to a reverent approach to God. God paid attention in the psalmist’s day, and he is paying attention now.

Lord, may we always draw near your throne in a respectful and humble way, and may what we ask be aligned with your teachings and your will. Amen.

Prayer for the Day, with Extras

Devotional for Saturday, April 18

Here’s another guided prayer, this one based on Psalm 118:14-24. Again, I’ll invite you to pause at the end of each paragraph, lifting up specific names and situations as they come to mind. Please note that several links to song files are embedded. Think of them as little Easter eggs to find.

“The Lord is my strength and my might. He has become my salvation.” Indeed! As your Easter people, we now know how you work. Christ the Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

Our songs of victory are muted in the sanctuary this year, but not in our hearts. O victory in Jesus! Christ the Lord is risen today! Easter people, raise your voices! He lives! We sing these words in our hearts now, and we shall sing them in your congregation again.

I have sinned but shall not die, not forever. Christ went to the cross for me, Christ is risen to prove my resurrection will be true. We shall all sing together in the new Jerusalem, giving glory to the Lamb of God.

You have shown us the way; the gates of Paradise are re-opened, the Spirit rushes to us, and we are transformed. Reveal to me my flaws and sanctify me.

Thank you for Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of salvation. O Lord, you have done a marvelous work, and your people rejoice so you may be glorified.

Amen.

How Will You Praise?

praisehands


Devotional for Wednesday, March 25

Psalm 146 (NRSV)

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!


It is important to lift up words of praise. Praise is not thanksgiving. Prayers of thanksgiving are important, too, but praise is when we exalt God just because.

God made us so we could bask in divine love and adore our Creator, declaring his loving nature. When we praise, we participate in a cycle designed to bring joy to all involved. When we fail to praise, we miss out on the benefits of that relationship.

“I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.” The psalmist doesn’t say, “I will praise God when life is smooth and I am happy.” We praise God throughout our lives, regardless of our circumstances.

For us to be fully what God made us to be, it helps to find our preferred ways to lift up praise. There are many praise psalms like the one above. Reading them out loud is a great way to praise God! Instead of giving you a list of praise psalms, I’m going to give you a challenge. Go through the psalms and see how many leap out at you.

Psalms were once sung. They still can be, if you use a resource like Julie and Timothy Tennent’s “Metrical Psalter,” which has become a regular resource for worship planning at Luminary.

And there are other ways we routinely praise God through music. Here’s a familiar one, courtesy our choir director, Roxanne Cabrera, and our pianist, Briana Wells:

 

So, a simple question: How will you praise God today?

Lord, you are mighty, you are holy, you are tender, you are loving. Praise the Lord!