Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why have you forsaken me?

My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. Psalm 22:1-2 NLT

Have you ever been ignored by someone? I always hate it when someone I know won't speak to me. Even if they are not trying to ignore me, it always makes me feel unimportant.

How can you and I know if God is listening to us? How do we prove that God is not ignoring us?

For the psalmist, there has been a constant pain or period of suffering in which pleas to God to stop the pain have gone unheeded. Although the psalmist has not stopped praying, it seems as though God has stopped responding.

Many of us Christians are familiar with the very first two sentences. We recognize them as Jesus' own prayer from the cross. Many scholars and theologians have tried to explain why Jesus felt that God had abandoned him. The way I see it, Jesus was praying a psalm that fit his own situation. As we shall see in the next few days, many of the words of Psalm 22 became living, breathing reality for Jesus during his execution. It is not so much that Jesus was abandoned by God but that he found solace in this psalm, enough for him to pray it out loud from the cross.

God, help us to learn these psalms so that, in different times of our lives, we can pray these psalms and find comfort in them. We know you hear our prayers and you will never abandon us. Thank you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We celebrate your mighty acts!

We praise you, Lord, for all your glorious power. With music and singing we celebrate your mighty acts. Psalm 21: 13 NLT

What kind of Christian music do you like? Gospel hymns? Shape singing? Contemporary Christian? Christian rock or new age? High church hymns or chanting? Music from foreign lands? Taize? Gospel quartets? I like Taize and contemporary Christian.

How about your favorite worship song or hymn? What is the one you always want to hear? Do you have a favorite group you like to hear sing? Among my favorite hymns are: It is Well With My Soul and Hymn of Promise. I enjoy listening to Ladysmith Black Mambazo (South African - think Paul Simon's Graceland).

Psalm 21 ends with a reminder that we are thanking God for all God's glorious power. And we do that by singing and making music. As you end this prayer, turn to your ipod or to to YouTube and find a favorite song and take some time to celebrate God's mighty acts.

God, thank you for all your glorious power! We celebrate your mighty acts. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Power Behind the Throne

You will capture all your enemies. Your strong right hand will seize all those who hate you. You will destroy them as in a flaming furnace when you appear. The Lord will consume them in his anger; fire will devour them. you will wipe their children from the face of the earth; they will never have descendants. Although they plot against you, their evil schemes will never succeed. For they will turn and run when they see your arrows aimed at them. Psalm 21: 8-12 NLT

This seems pretty harsh. The enemies are to be captured. No one will escape. They will be destroyed as though they have been placed in a burning furnace. God's anger will be so great it will be as a fire devouring them. In addition, their children will be completely removed from the face of the earth. They will  have no descendants. They think they can plot against God but they won't succeed. They'll be turning tail and running when they see those arrows aimed at them.

All this in the midst of prayer and thanksgiving for a victory. This is a reminder to the king that all of his enemies have been destroyed. But it is also a reminder that it is because of God's help, God's own anger and revenge, that has really done those enemies in.

I don't think God is that vengeful. But I do need to be reminded that God is the power behind my own throne. It is because of God that I can succeed and call myself victorious.

God, thank you that you have given us the victory through Jesus Christ. In his name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, June 27, 2011

In God We Trust

You welcomed him back with success and prosperity. You placed a crown of finest gold on his head. He asked you to preserve his life, and you have granted his request. The days of his life stretch on forever. Your victory brings him great honor, and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty. You have endowed him with eternal blessings. You have given him the joy of being in your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord. The unfailing love of the Most High will keep him from stumbling. Psalm 21: 4-7 NLT

Quickly think about what and who you trust.

The government or the laws of your country?

Your job? Your salary? Your benefits? Your employer?

Your spouse/friends/neighbors?

Your car? Home?

How about your health?

Do you trust God? Really? Or are you likely to say you trust God then go about trying to get the same outcome on your own?

In Psalm 21, the king's victory has come about because the king trusted God. It doesn't say that the king trusted his armies or his advisers. The king doesn't trust his looks or his wealth. The king doesn't even trust his own power and influence. It is because he, an anointed king, trusts God.

If an anointed king can do it, we can too.

God, we trust you. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, June 26, 2011

You have given me my heart's desire

How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord! He shouts with joy because of your victory. For you have given him his heart's desire; you have held back nothing that he requested. Psalm 21: 1-2 NLT

Psalm 21 seems like the answer to Psalm 20. In the previous psalm, the prayer was for help for the king in a time of need. This psalm seems to be a prayer of thanksgiving for God's answer to that prayer.

What prayers has God answered in your life lately? Have you taken time to thank God for answering your prayer or prayers? What can you say to God about answered prayer?

When I look back over the past two years, I see so many answers to prayer that I could not see the answer to at that time. God didn't always answer my requests the way I wanted them answered nor did God answer them in what I considered a timely fashion. However, they were answered in God's way which was perfect.

I am ashamed to say I have not always given God the thanks for answer those prayers. I would like to do so now. Would you join me?

God, thank you for all your answers to my prayers. I look back and see what wondrous things you have done in response to my cries for help or simply my heart's desires. I know you continue to work in my life and hear my prayers. Thank you, God, thank you! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Boast in God

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed king. He will answer him from his holy heaven and rescue him by his great power. Some nations boast of their armies and weapons, but we boast in the Lord our God. Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm. Give victory to our king, O Lord! Respond to our cry for help. Psalm 20: 6-9 NLT

Who do you know that has been rescued by God?

How did God show God's strength and power in that person's life?

Can you boast of God's power over all other things such as prestige, popularity, money and knowledge?

What kind of actions would God have to make in your life for you to put your trust and stance on God 100% of the time?

If God has already done this, can you say in about three sentences what God has done for you to boast in God's power rather than your own?

When can you share this with someone who needs to hear it?

God, we should be boasting in your power alone. But often we boast instead on the money we make, the things we own, and the people we know. We ask for victory in your name and in your way, Lord. Help us to find the words to share with others what you have done in our lives. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, June 25, 2011

May God answer all your prayers

In times of trouble, may the Lord respond to your cry. May the God of Israel keep you safe from all harm. May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem. May he remember all your gifts and look favorably on your burnt offerings. May he grant you heart's desire and fulfill all your plans. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory, flying banners to honor our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers. Psalm 20: 1-5 NLT

What a wonderful prayer! When this was written, I imagine it was meant as a prayer for the king, specifically King David. I think that is especially seen in verse 2 when it talks about receiving help from the sanctuary and from Jerusalem. That would be help in terms of the ark of the covenant and an army of the people. The response is for all the people to shout for joy. When the king is victorious, everyone is victorious.

You and I may want to pray this over someone we know. Perhaps it would be a good prayer when someone is in distress. Another time when this prayer would be appropriate would be when someone is about to embark on a journey or a new start in life. It would certainly be great prayed in a group setting so that the we would be those present and listening. And I don't know who wouldn't want someone to pray that God answers their prayers.

Let's pray this prayer together today:

In times of troulbe, may the Lord respond to our cries. May the God of Israel keep us safe from all harm. May he send us help and strengthen us. May he remember all our gifts and look favorably on our offerings. May he grant our heart's desire and fulfill all our plans. May others shout for joy when they hear of our victory, flying banners to honor our God. Lord, may you answer all our prayers. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, June 24, 2011

My rock and redeemer

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19: 14 NLT

I pray this scripture every Sunday. This is because this is the prayer I pray right before I preach. These aren't just words for me, however. I try to sincerely pray that everything that comes out of my mouth is acceptable to God. I also ask God to work on my thoughts so that even before I speak what is in my heart is also acceptable to God. Then I end by recognizing that it is God who gives me strength, courage and redemption. I stand upon God not on my own two feet.

I suppose I should be praying this prayer every day. Shouldn't my words and thought be acceptable to God all the time, not just in the pulpit?

What about your heart? Your words? Your dependence on God? Does this prayer mean anything to you?

God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Free of Guilt

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep me from deliberate sins! Don't let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. Psalm 19: 12- 13 NLT

We often think about asking for forgiveness for sins we have already committed. But how often do we ask God to help us avoid committing sin altogether? We just assume that we are going to sin and can admit it later.

These verses help us to think a little differently. Instead of asking for forgiveness, they ask God to cleanse us from unconscious sins. This scripture recognizes that we often have sins lurking in our very being, our personality, our perception of the world around us. When we get into certain situations, these sins bubble to the surface and cause us to do wrong. Likewise, we all have certain quirks or sins that we are all the time asking for forgiveness. How about we stop letting these things control us?

If we do these, won't we be free of guilt?

God, cleanse me from hidden faults. Keep me from deliberate sins -- don't let them control me! May I be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Read Scripture Because

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight to life. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey ripping from the comb. They are a warning to those who hear them; there is great reward for those who obey them. Psalm 19: 7-11 NLT

Why read and study scripture?

Because doing so will revive your soul. It will make even the simpest person wise. Reading God's word will bring joy to you heart.  You will have insight into life. You will have warning and great reward by obeying scripture.

Why is this? Because God's law is perfect and trustworthy. God's commands are right and clear. Through studying God's word we grow in reverence which lasts forever. Each thing the Lord commands is true and fair. In reading, studying, and following, we desire more of God's word as someone would desire more gold or more honey.

Do you need a revival? Wisdom? Joy? Insight? Reward?

Read the Bible.

In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nothing can hide from the sun's heat

The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat. Psalm 19: 4b- 6 NLT

Nothing can hide from its heat.

Can we have an amen?

This has been one of the hottest springs I can remember. I dread August if this is what late spring is like! Perhaps you live somewhere that is not as hot right now. Or someplace where it doesn't get warm at all.

Wherever you live, is there anywhere you can hide from the sun's heat?

Sure you can go indoors but that is only good when the air conditioner is running, right? If it goes out you are going to be very warm.

Nothing can hide from the sun's heat just like nothing and no one can hide from God. Sometimes it seems like God is really keeping an eye on us while at other times we are able to get by with not following God as well as we should. But God has not gone away. God is still there, just as the sun will still be rising in the morning.

God, there is no place we can escape from your presence. We are simply thankful that you love us and are eager to show mercy and grace. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, June 20, 2011

Telling about God's glory

The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world. Psalm 19: 1- 4a NLT

The first part of these verses was on the wall outside the planetarium at my Alma matter. It was always interesting because the planetarium is right next to the chapel and both were designed by the same architect.  I don't know why these verses were put there but I can imagine that it may have been in response to being so close to the chapel. In one building, you are going to hear the word of God coming from the mouths of people. In the other building, you will hear the word of God spoken by the heavens but without any voice at all.

Take some time tonight (or if it is cloudy tonight at least some night this week) and go outside to look up at the stars. I hope to be a the beach myself and do lots of stargazing. Look carefully with how the glory of God is told by the silent skies.

What do you hear?

God, even the heavens tell of your glory and speak of you without saying a word. Help us to do no less in our own lives and our own speaking. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The Lord lives! Blessed by my rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted! He is the God who pays back those who harm me; he subdues the nations from under me and rescues me from my enemies. You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies; you save me from violent opponents. For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing joyfully to your name. You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to you anointed, to David and all his descendants forever. Psalm 18: 46-50 NLT

For some reason, these verses seem to remind me of graduation. Wouldn't they be great on a congratulations card:

The Lord lives! Blessed be our rock! My God be exalted!
God has gotten you through these days of school.
He has subdued homework and rescued you from detention.
God has held you safe from the reach of poor grades and failure.
God has saved you from teachers that seemed to have it out for you.
You have done it!
For this, O Lord, we will praise you in the ceremony; we will all sing our school song joyfully in your name.
You give great victories to your graduate.
You show unfailing love to those receiving their diplomas.
Congratulations, grad!

God, help us to celebrate our achievements and the achievements of our loved ones by giving you due credit and praise. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You gave me victory

You gave me victory over my accusers. You appointed me as the ruler over nations; people I don't even know now serve me. As soon as they hear of me, they submit; foreigners cringe before me. They all lose their courage and come trembling from their strongholds. Psalm 18: 43-45 NLT

I wish my dog understood these verses. She has just turned 1 year old but is still very much a puppy. She has incredible energy and confidence. We have hired a trainer and I continue to work with her each and every day. However, there is no submitting in her. Cringing? Doesn't happen. Lose her courage? Nah. Come trembling from her stronghold? Well, she has learned to leave her kennel with a bit less enthusiasm but no trembling is involved. The trainer just keeps telling me to keep up the good work.

In this psalm, no training is necessary. That is because God has given David victory. God has appointed David as the ruler. People David has never met are now serving him. David is the ruler and the conqueror because of what God has done, not what David has accomplished on his own.

Maybe I haven't done as much in relying on God when training my dog... or in other areas of my life. I am much too likely to depend on myself no matter what the issue is. Shall I give my endeavors over to God today?

God, you are the one to give victory and do the appointing. You are the one, not ourselves, who gives control and leadership. Help us to realize this today and every day. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, June 17, 2011

Swept like dirt into the gutter

I chased my enemies and caught them; I did not stop until they were conquered. I struck them down so they could not get up they fell beneath my feet. You have armed with with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. You have made them turn and run; I have destroyed all who hated me. They called for help, but no one came to rescue them. They cried to the Lord, but he refused to answer them. I ground them as fine as dust carried by the wind. I swept them into the gutter like dirt. Psalm 18: 37-42 NLT

Well, this is a nice positive story about ultimate revenge. Who wouldn't want their enemies ground under their feet as fine as dust and swept into the gutter like dirt? I have destroyed all who hated me; the end.

What I find the most positive is that the one doing all the destroying describes how the enemies have fallen. However, they don't take all the credit for it. God has armed them for the battle. God has given them the strength to subdue. God has not listened to their cries for help even as the psalmist is grinding them to fine powder.

The victory is ultimately God's. Vindication such as this can only happen with God's help. Perhaps you and I can only stand back and let God do the destroying. Certainly, we would only too eagerly want to completely destroy our enemies. God may want to be available in case there is any saving needed in the situation.

God, you give us the victory. You also are the one who takes care of your own enemies. Help us to love our enemies and leave the vindictive stuff to you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, June 16, 2011

God's Gentleness

You have given me the shield of your salvation. Your right hand supports me; your gentleness has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. Psalm 18: 35-36 NLT

These verses must have been in Paul's mind when he wrote the letter to the Ephesians and ended with encouraging them to put on the full armor of God. Paul talk about the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation but the imagery is similar. Paul also talks about having feet ready to spread the good news -- some translations say the good news of peace. And here it is God's gentleness that has made the psalmist great. Both this imagery and Paul's imagery seem odd. Can you dress in armor and bring peace? Can God's gentleness really make one great?

One thing I am learning more and more recently is about God's dichotomy. God loves the world and sends his only son .... to die in order to save us all. Jesus is the Messiah, the one to save God's people but he doesn't have an army. In fact, he is executed by the very ones who have conquered the land. These things make no sense.

Can God really give us greatness and strength by being gentle with us?

I come from the school of high criticism and perfectionism. The way I have learned it, those are the ways that make one great. But are they, really? Am I not better off with gentleness? Perhaps God's ways of gentleness have more to being great and good and strong.

Think about these things.... Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Strength for Today

God arms me with strength; he has made my way safe. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights. He prepares me for battle; he strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze. Psalm 18: 32 NLT

I love the imagery in this passage! God is providing what the psalmist needs.

God arms him with strength. God makes his way safe. God makes him as surefooted as a deer. God leads him along the mountain heights. God prepares him for battle. God gives him the strength to draw a bow of bronze.

If you have ever been hiking, you may know how treacherous it can be on a path that is high up or very rocky. One misstep can lead to your death or injury. Therefore, you may find yourself panicking or not thinking as clearly. To know that God makes your feet as sure as a deer or even a mountain goal would give you greater confidence.

If you have ever tried to draw a bow, you may understand how hard it is, especially when you have to keep one arm steady while using the other to aim the arrow. I can't imagine an arrow of bronze - that would have to be the hardest of bows to draw. Yet, if God gives you the strength, this too is possible.

What do you need God to give you the strength for today?

God, please arm me with strength. Make me surefooted and strong. Give me confidence and courage. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, June 13, 2011

God is

As for God, his way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? Psalm 18: 30-31 NLT

How do you describe God?

What are some of God's qualities that you either admire or depend upon?

For the psalmist, God has several worthy qualities:

God's way is perfect.

Everything that God promises will be fulfilled.

God will protect those who ask.

There is no one like God.

No other is as solid as a rock.

What would you add to that list?

I would like to add:

God is dependable.

Perhaps that is already stated in this psalm but that is what comes to mind for me today.

How about you?

God, you are __________________. There is no other like you! Your way is perfect and your promises are true. You are a shield for all those who look to you for protection. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, June 11, 2011

With God, I can ...

In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. Psalm 18: 29 NLT

What are your talents?

Perhaps you can sew or knit. Do wood working. Detail an automobile. Cook a gourmet meal. Beat everyone at bowling. Have the highest score on a popular video game. Bring strangers or enemies together at the same table. You name it. What are the things that you are really good at doing?

Now imagine what you could do if God were behind you 100%; if  God were to give you some Holy power to get things done. What more could you do? 

For the psalmist, God can give them the strength to not only beat but crush an army. With God, the psalmist can scale any wall -- no matter how high. Alone the psalmist can do some notable things. But with God, the psalmist can do the impossible. 

What could God help you to do?

God, with you we can do the impossible. With your strength, we can conquer all of our difficulties. Lend us your power and your strength, God, when we need it the most. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, June 10, 2011


Lord, you have brought light to my life; my God, you light up my darkness. Psalm 18: 28 NLT

Have you ever had a time in your life in which you literally were in the dark? Perhaps it was because of the weather so that the electricity was not working. Maybe you were being kept in the dark from what was really going on at work or with a family member. Or perhaps you were really feeling down and just sat with the lights off. I would imagine that all of us at some time have been in the dark.

The psalmist tells God that God has brought light to their life. The psalmist says that God has lit up their darkness. I would think that light in those days was particularly precious. If it wasn't daylight, one would have to depend upon oil lamps or torches. Either one would cost money. But if God provided the light, how miraculous and wonderful that would be!

God does provide light. It isn't the light from an oil lamp or a light bulb. God's light is like the sun yet different. God's light provides truth and love. God's light in our lives gives us hope and courage. God's light reveals and sustains us.

God, you have brought light to our darkness. We give you thanks for your light in our lives. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, June 9, 2011


You rescue those who are humble, but you humiliate the proud. Psalm 18: 27 NLT

Are you truly humble?

Or do you hide your pride behind a mask of humility?

I know I have a tendency to be proud. I don't think I am haughty but I do think more highly of myself than I ought to think. On the one hand, I don't want to be recognized for doing something and yet I do want to be recognized. It is like when my husband asks me if I want something for a special occasion such as birthday or anniversary. My usual response is to say, "Oh, no, don't do anything special." What I actually mean is: "Yes, I want something special. Make me feel good about myself! Help me celebrate! Surprise me!" What happens is that my husband does as I have requested. Nothing. Then I am really upset that he did nothing. Of course, I am learning as time goes on to vocalize what I need.

I also need to stop being secretly proud. Having a mask of humility is worse than having none at all.

What about you? Do you think you are humble? Or are you proud?

God, save us from false humility. Help us to be truly humble in your presence. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How God is God

To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. Psalm 18: 25-26 NLT

These verses tell us that God reflects our strongest qualities. This doesn't mean that God is limited to any one quality. Neither does it mean that we can control God with our own individuality. It does mean that if our overall morality is not good, God will not reflect that quality but will become aggravated. God will become against us rather than mirroring our personality.

It is comforting to know that God is not all that different from me. I like the fact that God can mirror those qualities that are essential to who I am. God seems to want to be familiar to us and to be someone who reflects the best things about us. That could also mean that God then becomes someone to emulate. If you are an honest person and honesty is very essential to your life, then God is honest in an entirely holy manner. You see God and want to become even more true to who you are.

God, thank you for mirroring our very best qualities. May we not show the negative sides of our personalities but follow you as an example, becoming even stronger in your shadow. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

God will not abandon us

The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he compensated me because of my innocence. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. For all his laws are constantly before me; I have never abandoned his principles. I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. The Lord rewarded me for doing right, because of the innocence of my hands in his sight. Psalm 18: 20-24 NLT

I appreciate being innocent and following the laws of God. Staying innocent and doing right are wonderful things. Yet, how difficult that must be! I am so thankful that Jesus came and gave us hope so that we would not have to be sticklers for the law.

If this psalm is truly a psalm of David, I am reminded of two things in his life. First, I remember how he refused to kill King Saul as he was anointed by God. In fact, he even refused to be a traitor. He was able to follow God regardless of the cost to himself. Second, I recall David's own sinful behavior before, during and after sleeping with Bathsheba. He should have been on the battlefield, he should not have slept with her, and he should not have had Uriah murdered. Do I come away with feeling that even the best of men can be good followers of God but only up to a point?

And if you and I slip up, will God abandon us?


God, you will never abandon us. You want us to be innocent and to keep doing right. But when we slip up, you won't let us go. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, June 6, 2011

God delights in you.

He reached down from the heavens and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He delivered me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest, but the Lord upheld me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. Psalm 18: 16-19 NLT

God delights in you.

Recently, in my hometown, there have been a series of graffiti on overpasses and buildings that have read: You are beautiful. Of course, the city keeps painting over them and finds them to be a nuisance. But just as soon as one is covered up, another reappears in a different section of town. We all tend to love these beautiful sayings and are disappointed when they are gone. There is something so uplifting in being told you are beautiful. And you don't have to be good looking to be beautiful, either. You can be beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. And guys can be just as beautiful as girls!

Now I wish someone would start putting up graffiti that says: God delights in you.

That would be truly uplifting.

God, you delight in me. You rescued me, you delivered me when I was weak, you upheld me. You have led me to a place of safety. All because you delight in me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Mighty Shout

The Lord thundered from heaven; the Most High gave a mighty shout. He shot arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightening flashed and they were greatly confused. Then at your command, O Lord, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. Psalm 18: 13-15 NLT

Did God really give a mighty shout? Or was that thunder?

Were those God's arrows... or just powerful lightening?

Did God really uncover the bottom of the sea or the foundation of the earth?

Or is this remarkable imagery of the defeat of a hated enemy, someone with whom the psalmist is battling. This is the enemy for which the psalmist has prayed and asked God for help against.

Did a storm rise up in the middle of battle which confused the enemy and helped give a victory? Then was God seen as the cause of this storm? Did it seem so terrifying that even the ends of the earth were laid bare?

Think about a time in your life when you were convicted that God acted on your behalf. What kind of imagery would you use to describe the help that came from an unlikely source? How did you know it was God and not just coincidence?

God, you help us in many ways in our lives. Sometimes we realize what you have one for us and other times we are oblivious. We give you thanks and praise for all those times and all your help. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Making God Mad

Mounted on a mighty angel, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dense rain clouds. The brilliance of his presence broke through the clouds, raining down hail and burning coals. Psalm 18: 10-12 NLT

Okay, here we have fire and brimstone falling to the earth. Up until that last part of verse 12, the imagery of God traveling through the sky was actually beautiful. God is mounted on a might angel, he soars on the wings of the wind, he is shrouded in dark clouds then his glory breaks through like sunshine after a rain storm. What beautiful and majestic imagery!

Then it gets spoiled because God doesn't just shine upon the earth; God sends hail and burning coals down to the earth.

Seems like God is still pretty angry. Pissed is actually a better word for what I see happening here -- if you'll pardon that expression. God is still majestic, God is still powerful but God is still very mad.

Have you ever felt like you had made God mad? What was the hail and brimstone that God seemed to rain down on you? Were you surprised? Do you still feel like God was punishing you?

I think we can make God mad. I just don't think God is going to send down burning coals on our heads to punish us. If God were going to do that, wouldn't God have done that when Jesus was murdered?

God, we know we can sometimes make you pretty angry. But you still love us and you offer us forgiveness and mercy. Thank you, thank you, thank you! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, June 3, 2011

Natural Disasters

Then the earth quaked and trembled; the foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Psalm 18: 7-9 NLT

After all the spring storms that have swept though the U. S.  and the tsunami in Japan recently, these verses make me uncomfortable. They suggest that earth quakes, volcanoes and storms - natural occurrences - are actually God acting on God's anger. The psalm has just said that someone called for help and this is the help that God is providing.

Certainly, there are those out there who truly believe this. Any natural disaster for them is God in action. Natural tragedies happen because God wills them to happen in order to punish.

I don't believe that.

I can't explain natural disasters. I won't even say it is the fault of people -- whether because of sin or poor stewardship of the earth. I do believe we need to turn from our sins as well as be better stewards. But do we suffer weather-related tragedy because of our fallen nature or lack of responsibility? No.

God does not want us to suffer. God does hear our prayers and God will provide ways to save us -- sometimes unexpected ways. But God does not cause natural disasters to either save or punish. Life is full of natural tragedies. God is always with us throughout, helping us to recover and use these times to become closer to God.

God, we do not blame you for any of the weather related disasters that we have experienced lately. We simply ask that you draw us closer to you no matter what. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, June 2, 2011


But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears. Psalm 18: 6 NLT

Have you ever realized how poetic the psalms are? Has it ever occurred to you that many verses have a certain repetition?

This verse is one of them. There are only two ideas in this verse. The first is praying to God when in trouble. The second is that God hears our prayer.

But these ideas are repeated using different words. It is almost as if the psalmist is afraid we won't get it the first time. The repetition is making sure we understand what is being said.

The psalms were probably meant to be sung or chanted. We are all certainly familiar with repetition in songs. We do tend to repeat verses when singing popular as well as Contemporary Christian music.

However, most of the time we repeat the same words rather than use different words to explain what we meant the first time.

Some preaching methods use the same method of repetition. The preacher opens with a story or a saying that highlights the theme. Then the preacher takes the rest of the sermon time to open up the idea expressed, to say it in ways that the congregation can understand, to repeat the main idea. I just used that method in my last sentence. Perhaps your preacher does this.

Repetition makes sure that we get what is being said. In these verses, we are to understand that we are to pray to God when we are in need of assistance and God will hear our prayers.

God, we need to remember to always call on you when we are in distress. We know that our prayers will reach your ears. Thank you for your love and listening! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Death Stared Me in the Face

The ropes of death surrounded me; the floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face. Psalm 18: 4-5 NLT

How close to death have you ever come? Have you ever been in a horrific accident or had a serious illness in which you believed you were going to die? Were you ever in a life-threatening situation? What did that feel like? How did you react?

The psalmist describes this brush with death in terms of the physical. Death captures and holds on like ropes. There seems to be no escape from the grave. The floods of destruction wash over someone -- I suppose much like a tsunami or tidal wave. When in those grips or facing such destruction, there is a feeling of utter helplessness. When death stares you in the face, you realize just how human and helpless you truly are.

Life does bring death. That is a fact. But what can help us when we feel so small? Only God. Whether God saves us from death or simply is with us through and in death, we can depend upon God.

God, thank you for your presence in our lives, especially when we face death. May we lean heavily on you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims