Our Hiding Place

The place we go to hide can become the place where we become found by God and find God for ourselves. It is a place where we can be seen and known with love and compassion, including the parts of ourselves we most want to hide from. As you find a quiet moment to listen to the words of Psalm 32, give them room to soak in like a softly falling rain.

Psalm 32:1-7 NIV
1 Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
    whose sin the LORD does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened to the text? Did it stir up a feeling within you as you listened?
What do you hear about God in this passage?
What do you hear about yourself in these words?
What is your prayer that emerges from these words? What might you ask God to do in you?

The Keeper of the Vow

Many of us, along life's journey of learning to trust, surrender and follow God make our own vows to God. Over time we discover, if we are truly honest, that we cannot fully keep our vows. The good and amazing news is that God, the Maker of the New Covenant is the one who is fully able and willing to keep the vows made to us. Our God will remain faithful to us.

He keeps every promise forever...Psalm 146:

Psalm 56:3-4, 8-13NIV

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4     In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

8 Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll—
    are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.

 10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Is there a word or phrase which stands out to you as you listen to the text?

Reflect on the fears which may reside in your heart. Bring them into conversation with Jesus. What does he say to you?

How have you experienced God to be trustworthy? Where might you desire to trust God more fully?

Journal or make a record of the vows - the promises God has made to you.

Our Exodus Story

As we continue to pray with the Psalms through Lent, this one is of particular significance. It is the hymn of the Exodus, traditionally sung or spoken before the Passover meal of remembrance. Psalm 114 invites us to remember our own Exodus story, those places where God saw our oppression, came to our rescue and delivered us to a place of sanctuary. Perhaps this story is still unfolding in your life. Take courage and ask God for what you need. Our Deliverer is surely coming.

Psalm 114 NLT
When the Israelites escaped from Egypt—
    when the family of Jacob left that foreign land—
2 the land of Judah became God’s sanctuary,
    and Israel became his kingdom.
3 The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way!
    The water of the Jordan River turned away.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
    the hills like lambs!
5 What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way?
    What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away?
6 Why, mountains, did you skip like rams?
    Why, hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
    at the presence of the God of Jacob.
8 He turned the rock into a pool of water;
    yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.

vs. 8 references: Exodus 17:6, Numbers 20:11

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word, a phrase, image, or feeling affected you as you listened to the text? How did it affect you? Bring this into your prayer with Jesus.

Remember and reflect on your own Exodus experience. Take time to journal and record your story as a remembrance. What did God do for you? What oppressive place and ruler did God deliver you from? Where did God bring you to a place of sanctuary?

How does this Exodus still affect you today? How is God teaching you to draw forth water from the rock? From rocky places? Where or how does God lead you to springs of living water for each day?

How do you like to celebrate your Exodus?

Liberation Comes

Isaiah reminds us poignantly that the "tidings of comfort and joy" proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds includes the promise of physical and spiritual liberation. This promise of freedom extends to all people: the poor, the brokenhearted, the captive prisoner, and the mourner.

Can we possibly imagine and join with Jesus in the liberation of our own hearts and those of our families, our neighborhoods, our cities?

Come, Lord Jesus. Come. Revive us again.

Isaiah 61:1-4. 8-9NLT
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me,
    for the LORD has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the LORD’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
    repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
    though they have been deserted for many generations.
8 “For I, the LORD, love justice.
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be recognized
    and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
    the LORD has blessed.”

For Prayer and Reflection:
What phrase or word shimmered as you listened to or read the text? Bring it into prayer with Jesus.

Reflect on your experience of liberation described in the text. Is there something you want to say to Jesus? Journal your conversation.

What rebuilding projects have you seen God do in your life or would like to see?

Our Fight Song

Our fight song sounds much different from the popular methods of the world for we do not battle in the flesh. There is One who fights for us. As we learn to be still, pray, trust, speak truth, worship and dwell with God, we experience God doing battle on our behalf.

For many, this is a go-to Psalm for spiritual battle, oppression and contending prayer. Learn this song, and sing it often.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91 (NLT)

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the LORD your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer.

Reflect on how or when have you experienced God fighting battle for you or sheltering you.

If you were to form this Psalm into a song, how would it sound? What elements, rhythm, tone, theme, melody, harmony, voice and/or form would you use? How would God’s voice to you sound within it?

 

A Practicum in Healing Prayer

Our Rabbi, Jesus, humbly enters a chaotic scene involving a community of disciples, religious leaders, a crowd, a family and a hurting child. Tenderly, he invites them to change their focus back to him and see how he heals the oppressed. He offers the same invitation to us today to learn his unforced rhythms of grace. Jesus’ presence is a healing presence. Through prayer, Jesus offers us his presence. When we bring another with us into the presence of Jesus, we join his mission and ministry of intercession, deliverance and healing. This day, do you hear Jesus say, “Bring the child to me”?

Mark 9:14-29 (NLT)
14 When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. 15 When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.
16 “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.
17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.
21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.
He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”
26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”
29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.

Questions to consider in your reflection and prayer:
1. As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.
2. What did you notice or observe in Jesus as he interacts with the crowd, the boy, the boy’s father, and/or the disciples? Is there anything about Jesus’ way of being that you are drawn to? Or which increases your love for him?
3. How have you experienced deafness or muteness is your own life? How has Jesus met you in it?
4. Reflect on how Jesus has delivered you. As you recall and remember, bring your story to Jesus and have a conversation with him. Is there more he reveals to you?

When Sabbath Comes

The ancient Hebrews prepared for and observed the Sabbath every week of their lives. Sabbath began at sundown on Friday evening and the entire day was spent preparing the home and the food for this shared gathering of remembrance and blessing. The Hebrew word "Sabbath" means to stop, to cease striving. When we intentionally make space to stop in the rhythm of our lives, we receive the freedom to enter God's rest and the gift of living in greater awareness of Christ's presence within and among us. Like the man in this story, we are changed and set free in the presence of Jesus.

Many in our Wednesday night group felt hope swell up within them as they prayed with this text. Some of the comments shared where:

"I underestimate the presence and authority of Jesus"
"I want to be amazed"
"When Jesus shows up, things change, shift"
"I am enlarged through the process of waiting on God"
"Sometimes, it is not easy to see the Holy Spirit working in our lives right before us"
"I want to know who you are Jesus"

Mark 1:21-28 NIV
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

For Your Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear or feel as you listened to the text? A word? A phrase? A sensation?

How do you experience the presence of Christ when you make Sabbath an intentional part of the rhythms of your life?

If you could ask Jesus anything about who he is so that you could know him more, what would you ask him? Could you ask him now in your prayer? What does he share with you about himself?