Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What a silly dream!

Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning. Psalm 73: 17-20 NLT

I love the imagery of God laughing at the wicked and their silly ideas, laughing as a person might laugh at their dreams when they wake up. Although the dreams might have felt real or made the person anxious or afraid, the pleasant discovery upon waking is that they were not real. “It was only a dream!” is a comforting thought. To be able to laugh at those same dreams is also very soothing.

What kind of anxious dreams have you been having lately? Perhaps you have found that your dreams are more like reality. What kind of fears has life brought to you recently? Have you been hoping to wake up and discover it was all a dream?

Think about your dreams and your life. Is there anything in the past that you can truly laugh at now? Do you think God may be laughing at those who are causing you worry and stress? What can you see about your self that you believe might give you a good chuckle later on?

God, help us to laugh at those silly thoughts we might have – about ourselves, those we know or even about you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why be Christian?

Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long, every morning brings me pain. If I had spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Psalm 73: 13-16 NLT

Now we are starting to really feel some self-pity! The psalmist has been complaining about how wicked people not only get away with their bad behavior but they succeed in life as well. They are powerful and wealthy. At this point the psalmist is beginning to wonder why they have kept themselves so good and pure. Was this all for nothing?

Sometimes it does seem that way. We try to understand why we must suffer when non-believers appear to live practically painless lives. God never gives us a guarantee of an easy life. In reading scripture, it seems as though most of the faithful do suffer for their faith. Christ, Paul, John the Baptist and many of the prophets lost their lives because of following God. At this point, one does begin to wonder why anyone would be a Christian.

Yet, being a believer also means the rich reward of living close to and rightly with God. When we do suffer, we have one to whom we can vent. We have one to whom we can appeal for help and protection. God is our rock, our redeemer and our strength. God also brings contentment for what we do have. And God can take away our jealousy of others.

God, thank you for your insights this day as to why the wicked prosper. We still don't understand it but we are grateful for your love and mercy on our lives this and every day. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What does God know?

They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what's happening?” Look at these wicked people – enjoying the life of ease while their riches multiply. Psalm 73: 8-12 NLT

The psalmist continues to rant about evil people who prosper and the envy it produces. This part of the psalm also reminds us of the confusion it produces among society. If someone who is evil gets away with it and does very well for themselves, how come God allows this to happen? Maybe God either doesn't care or – gasp!- doesn't even exist.

So why does God allow wicked people to prosper?

I don't think our life with God can be measured in terms of how wealthy or powerful we are. We are blessed when we remain righteous and have more than we need. But God cares more about our hearts than our wallets. This does not mean that if a wealthy person who did evil things suddenly recanted and repented, they would lose everything. It probably would mean that they would be willing to make reparations and give more to those in need – that kind of desire comes from the heart. Just look at the story of Zacchaeus.

What is in your heart?

God, help us to put aside jealousy and focus on our relationship with you. May we share out of our abundance and be grateful for all your blessings. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It Isn't Fair

Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don't have troubles like other people; they're not plagued with problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! Psalm 73: 1-7 NLT

Who do you envy?

When I look around and see the people I envy, I notice that many of them don't even attend church. A few of them may consider themselves Christian. Most of them probably couldn't be bothered unless it got them something: power, votes, prestige, etc. Like the psalmist, they seem to have pain free and stressless lives. All kinds of good things seem to come to them with ease.

But I tell myself that I have something even more precious: a close and abiding relationship with God. And I also remind myself that the appearances of the folks I am jealous of are probably only facades of what is really going on with the proud who prosper.

God, help me to remain a person whose heart is pure. Take away my jealousy and envy. Let me be content with what I have and happy in our relationship, even when life takes ugly turns. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, February 24, 2012

Amen and amen!

Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things. Praise his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen! (This ends the prayers of David son of Jesse.) Psalm 72:18-20 NLT

What kind of prayers do you say for your children or those who are like children to you?

The entire Psalm 72 is David's prayer for his son, Solomon. He knows that Solomon will reign after him and he is praying that he will be a just ruler. Perhaps part of that is David's own desire that he would have been more like that. Instead, David was a warrior king. That is why God did not allow him to build a temple to God. There was too much blood on his hands. But Solomon would be a different king.

So, David prayer a different prayer over Solomon.

What things in your own life are you glad your children or the next generation will not have to face? What kind of legacy from you would you like them to have? Are there things you have not been capable of that you want them to attain?

At the end of his prayer, David praises God because of what wonderful things God has done. Will God not do the same for those who come after you?

Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things. Praise his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen!

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, February 23, 2012

God Bless our Leaders

May the gold of Sheba be given to him. May the people always pray for him and bless him all day long. May there be abundant grain throughout the land, flourishing even on the hilltops. May the fruit trees flourish like the trees of Lebanon, and my the people thrive like grass in a field. May the king's name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun shines. May all nations be blessed through him and bring him praise. Psalm 72: 15b-17 NLT

May the people always pray for him and bless him all day long.

How many blessings have you said for your leaders today? This week? How about this year? Too busy fussing and complaining because they aren't doing what you feel is right?

I am certainly thankful that I live in a country where I can criticize my leaders. However, as a Christian I would do better to be on my knees for them more often. And my prayers should not just be “O God, make them do what I want!” Instead, I need to pray God's blessings on them, their families and their leadership. I need to be lifting up my leaders each day to God.

Take some time today to look up (if you don't already know) your leaders – local and national. Write their names down somewhere you can see every day. Begin this day to pray for them, including to ask God to bless them.


Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Long Live the King!

He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him. Long live the king! Psalm 72: 12- 15a NLT

Wait, shouldn't the king be more concerned about national debt? How about the strength of the armed forces?

The psalmist – we are told this is actually a prayer for Solomon spoken by his father, David – wants help for the least of these. The king should rescue the poor, help the oppressed, feel pity for the week and needy and rescue them. All these should be redeemed from oppression and violence for their lives are precious to him.

While we wait for a leader who will be like this, perhaps we should take a good look at ourselves. What is precious to you? Who is precious to you? Do you hear the cries of the needy and the poor? Are you helping to rescue the oppressed and the weak? What kinds of things do you do every day to stop violence among those who have no one to defend them?

God, raise up leaders who will rescue the poor and oppressed, the weak and the needy. May they be redeemed from violence because their lives are precious. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Refreshing Rule

May the king's rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass, like the showers that water the earth. May all the godly flourish during his reign. May there be abundant prosperity until the moon is no more. May he reign from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. Desert nomads will bow before him; his enemies will fall before him in the dust. The western kings of Tarshish and other distant lands will bring him tribute. The eastern kings of Sheba and Seba will bring him gifts. All kings will bow before him, and all nations will serve him. Psalm 72: 6-11 NLT

What would a refreshing rule look like?

For me it would be a ruler who could really work with different people who had different agendas in order that the good of the people of the country was upheld no matter what. Instead of everyone trying to carry the party agenda or the lobbyists' goals, it would be great if everyone worked together for the benefit of all, not just a few groups or individuals.

A refreshing reign would create an atmosphere where the godly flourished and everyone had more than enough. Everyone outside of the country would be in awe so much so that gifts would be brought to the ruler just because of their amazing reign.

Sound impossible? Well, since nothing is impossible with God, I think we should at least be praying for this!

God, may our country be ruled in a refreshing way. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, February 20, 2012

Praying for our Leaders

Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king's son. Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly. May the mountains yield prosperity for all, and may the hills be fruitful. Help him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy, and to crush their oppressors. May they fear you as long as the sun shines, as long as the moon remains in the sky. Yes, forever! Psalm 72: 1-5 NLT

So, if you are praying for the leader of your country, such as the President of the United States, what kind of things would you be praying for?

Would you ask for them to have a love of justice? Would you want the poor to be treated fairly and defended by this leader? Would you want the leader to rescue the children of the needy and crush their oppressors?

Or would you be more interested in making sure we all prosper in our country? Would you want the leader to defend us all against those outside of the country? Would you want the leader to uphold the law, even if that meant children went without?

Would you ask that the leader always feared God? More than man or weapons or defeat?

What would you pray for your leader right now?

God, I pray for the leaders of my country. Give them a love of justice and the fear of you with wisdom and courage. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Praising God

Then I will praise you with music on the harp, because you are faithful to your promises, O my God. I will sing praises to you with lyre, O holy One of Israel. I will shout for joy and sing you praises, for you have ransomed me. I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long, for everyone who tried to hurt me has been shamed and humiliated. Psalm 71: 22-24 NLT

I will praise you because everyone who has hurt me has been shamed and humiliated.

Well, I really don't believe that is a good thing! I believe the first statements are more sincere: I will praise you because you are faithful to your promises, you have ransomed me and you are righteous in all your deeds.

Interesting that the psalm ends on praise because God has revenged the psalmist, not just saved him.

Despite being betrayed by his own people, Jesus never called down fire from heaven to destroy the Jewish religious leaders. Instead, the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire came and settled on everyone so that all who heard could be moved by the story of Jesus. This was for all the Jews in Jerusalem, not just the laity.

Despite being executed by the Gentiles, Jesus did not strike them down from heaven. Instead, Jesus appeared in a bright light to Saul so that he would be the instrument of taking the message to the Gentiles. This included those Romans in the military.

God has saved us rather than become our instrument of revenge. Let us praise God together!

God, I will praise you for all the wonderful things you have done for me. I especially praise you for saving me through Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Who Can Compare?

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the hightest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare to you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me ocne again. Psalm 71: 19-21 NLT

We do not worship a God of prosperity. We worship a God who loves us and redeems us and provides us with what we need. God will allow hardships to come in our lives. But God also is capable of restoring our honor and our comfort (not our power or riches). It is not that God minds when we prosper but that is not what God is about. In fact, if we are given more we are expected to do more!

Is there any human on this earth today that can compare to God?

Why, then, do we spend so much time on our own prosperity and less time to give God glory and thanksgiving?

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the hightest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare to you, O God? In Jesus' holy name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, February 17, 2012

Proclaim to the New Generation

O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. Psalm 71: 17-18 NLT

So, how is the older generation in your church or family doing in proclaiming God's mighty miracles? How often do they witness to either teens or children?

Or are the generations being shuffled off to their age appropriate activities? Did the children's table morph into the teen table? Are the college agers even at home or at church during the holidays? And if the two groups come together, who is doing the witnessing and who is being silent?

Where can you help different generations to come together and learn from one another? How can you create an atmosphere where younger generations can respect and listen to the older generations proclaim God's mighty miracles?

O God, let your power be proclaimed to this new generation, so that they know of the mighty miracles you have done. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How Often do I Praise God?

But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more. I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words. I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just. Psalm 71: 14-16 NLT

Okay, I cannot say that I am not skilled with words. Writing comes fairly easily to me. I can speak well in public. But how often am I praising God and giving God the glory?

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed for a local news cast. Instead of praising God for allowing me to witness on television, I have focused on being seen on the news. “Did you see me on the news?” sadly became the first words out of my mouth for about a week. When not many people had seen me, I eventually shut up. I would have been better off spending my time telling God thanks for allowing me to witness and be seen. I would have been better praising God for the opportunity to share what God has put on my heart.

How about you? Where have you needed to give God the glory but didn't?

God, I will praise you more and more. I will praise your mighty deeds. I will tell everyone that you alone are just. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An example to many

My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long. And now, in my old age, don't set me aside. Don't abandon me when my strength is failing. For my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me. They say, “God has abandoned him. Let's go and get him, for no one will help him now.” O God, don't stay away. My God, please hurry to help me. Bring disgrace and destruction on my accusers. Humiliate and shame those who want to harm me. Psalm 71: 7-13 NLT

This is the prayer from a nursing or retirement home. Can you imagine what it is like to live in one? Don't you think those folks sometimes feel abandoned?

I can hear their cries in this psalm. Don't set me aside in my old age, God! Don't abandon me just because I am not as young as I used to be! Don't let people think I have been abandoned. God, don't abandon me, don't stay away. Please hurry to help me because you have always been my strength and my protection.

Of course, the psalmist didn't know about nursing homes. He just knew about growing old and feeling useless. He understood what it meant to be helpless when he used to be able to do for himself. God gave assistance to him when he was young and virile. Surely God wouldn't abandon him and leave him for his enemies now!

God, no matter how old I become or where I end up living, please don't abandon me. Help me to always know you are with me. I will declare your glory all day long. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

With me even before I was born

O Lord, you alone are my hope. I've trusted you, O Lord, from childhoold. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother's womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you! Psalm 71: 5-6 NLT

No wonder I am always praising you – you have been a part of my life even from before I was born!

These verses speak to my life. I was put up for adoption as an infant. I now know part of my story and understand the human whys. But as I look back on those events, I can clearly see the hand of God in all that transpired. In fact, I see God at work before I took my first breath. I see God keeping me safe from abortion. I see God directing my blood grandmother and my blood mother. I see God directing the state agency that set up the adoption proceedings. I see God in that hospital when I was born, there in the room when my blood mother held me for the first and last time.

No wonder I am always praising God – God has been a part of my life even from before I was born!

Maybe your story is not like mine. But I know you have a story about God in your life before you were born as well.

God, I praise you for being with me even before I was born. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, February 13, 2012

God, Protect Me

O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don't let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of crue oppressors. Psalm 71: 1-4 NLT

What do you need saving from? A sin or temptation? Someone from a previous relationship? A mean employer? A controlling friend?

The psalmist asks for God's protection because God does what is right. God listens. God sets us free. God is our rock and our safety. God provides a place to hide. God saves us and rescues us even from those who are wicked, powerful and cruel.

Think of one time in your life when you clung to God like a rock and hid in God's shadow. Did you feel protected? Rescued? Do you trust that God can do the same for you today?

O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don't let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of cruel oppressors. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, February 12, 2012

God help me

Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me. May those who try to kill me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace. Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We've got him now!” But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!” But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O Lord, do not delay. Psalm 70 NLT

This psalm is so much like a poem. It begins and ends on the same supplication: God help me.

In the middle there are two parts. The first is what will happen to those who have hurt the psalmist. God will make sure they are humiliated, turned back and horrified by their shameful acts. The second part is about those, like the Psalmist, who love God. Those who are searching for God will be filled with joy and proclaim God's glory.

So the psalm is a prayer for help as well as a judgment and a promise.

This is not my own way of asking for God's help. Instead, I have a really good argument for why God should help me (even if it is just out of God's love for me) and what I plan on doing once I have been saved. I don't usually think of others when I am the one in need of assistance.

God, even when we ask help from you, help us not to be focused on ourselves alone. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Praising God for the Future

Praise him, O heaven and earth, the seas and all that move in them. For God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the towns of Judah. His people will live there and settle in their own land. The descendants of those who obey him will inherit the land, and those who love him will live there in safety. Psalm 69: 34-36 NLT

What future happenings can you praise God for? Or are you still praising God for things that happened last week or even a few moments ago? Is it possible to thank God and give God glory for things that have not yet occurred?

What do you think God will do for you in your immediate future?

I guess I know of things that I want to happen. However, all that I am assured of is that God will provide. God knows what is best and I will follow him, no matter what that means. I am assured because I have seen it happen in the not so distant past. All I can do is trust God. And when I am truly trusting God, I can truly praise him.

God, I praise you and give you the glory for things you have not yet done in my life and in the world. May all the world give you praise and glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, February 10, 2012

Really Pleasing God

Then I will praise God's name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. For this will please the Lord more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves. The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God's help be encouraged. For the Lord hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people. Psalm 69: 30-33 NLT

What do you think you could do that would really please God? I mean really please God.

The psalmist says that God is more pleased with ardent praise than in carrying large offerings to the sanctuary. In other words, God wants our hearts more than our stuff.

Where in your life have you kept your heart distant from God? How have you used your “offerings” as a replacement of your true self and an abiding relationship with your Creator?

What can you do to change that?

God, I will praise your name with singing and honor you with thanksgiving. I will turn my heart to you and sacrifice my praise. I will offer to you all that I am and honor you in the process. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I am suffering and in pain

Let the bountiful table set before them become a snare and their prosperity become a trap. Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and make their bodies shake continually. Pour out your fury on them; consume them with your burning anger.Let their homes become desolate and their tents be deserted. To the one you have punished, they add insult to injury; they add to the pain of those you have hurt. Pile their sins up high, and don't let them go free. Erase their names from the Book of Life; don't let them be counted among the righteous. I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power. Psalm 69: 22-29 NLT

Okay. Seems like the psalmist has had enough. Is this just anger speaking?

The first verse reminds me of the twenty-third psalm – a table is prepared in the presence of our enemies. But here, instead of feasting in front of the enemies, it is the enemies who have the table of food that becomes a trap for them. This is really where the tables are turned!

But why asking for them to go blind, to have tremors, to be consumed with God's anger, to have their homes become desolate? These enemies have added their own contempt to God's judgment. The psalmist wants to God to pile up their own sins and throw them in the dungeon. In fact, he wants their names erased from the book of life.

These petitions are spoken from one who is in a great deal of pain. Pain and suffering can create a great deal of anger, especially toward the ones who increase, or are the cause of, the suffering.

If you have ever been in a time of great pain and suffering, perhaps you can relate.

God, rescue me by your saving power. Keep me from suffering that would cause me to ask for others to be punished or make angry demands upon you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nobody knows the troubles I've seen

You know of my shame, scorn and disgrace. You see all that my enemies are doing. Their insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. If only one person would show some pity; if only one would turn and comfort me. But instead, they give me poison for food; they offer me sour wine for my thirst. Psalm 69: 19 -21 NLT

Sometimes it seems like nobody cares for us at all. Only God knows what we are going through, yet what we really want is some human sympathy. When people have broken our heart, we need other people to help us to heal and live through it.

Think about a time when others seems to have broken your heart. What insults did they throw your way? What poison did they feed you? Did no one show pity or even empathy with your plight? Did you pray to God? What did you pray for, exactly?

As we shall see, this psalm become quite bitter and bloodthirsty. I would imagine that those surrounding the psalmist were causing deep and lasting hurt.

God, sometimes it seems as though no one is for me. Only you are with me. But I don't always feel your presence. I seem to keep praying but my prayers go unanswered. I just want someone to understand what I am going through, to see the situation through my eyes. Help me, Lord, help me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Free me!

Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful. Don't hide from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble! Come and redeem me; free me from my enemies. Psalm 69: 16-18 NLT

There seems to be a theme of freedom in Psalm 69. If you get a chance this week, take some time to read the whole psalm in one sitting. The idea of freedom or loss of freedom come up again and again.

How would you define being free from your enemies? Free from bills or constant credit bureau calls? Free from having to work? Free from worrying about your kids or grandkids? Free from pain in your body?

I would like to be free from fear and worry. Often my worries morph into fears. I try to change them into prayers but they sneak back again in other ways. I really, really try to give them up but they seem to be constant.

But God's unfailing love is wonderful! God's mercy is plentiful! God will take care of me, even when I am in deep trouble. God will come and redeem me and free me from my enemies – even if they are my worries.

God, free us from whatever or whoever our enemies are today. We pray for this freedom in Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, February 6, 2012

Don't let me sink any deeper!

Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I weep and fast, they scoff at me. When I dress in burlap to show sorrows, they make fun of me. I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me. But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mud; don't let me sink any deeper! Save me from those who hate me, and pull me from these deep waters. Don't let the floods overwhelm me, or the deep waters swallow me, or the pit of death devour me. Psalm 69: 9-15 NLT

Asking God for forgiveness and being humbled is one thing.

Asking others for forgiveness and/or asking God through others is much harder.

The psalmist has realized his mistakes and, it order to make amends, he has gone to what seems to be the extreme. He is spending all his time in the temple. He is weeping and fasting. He is wearing sackcloth (we know this as burlap), a very scratchy material used to transport feed and grain. Traditionally, this was worn in Biblical times to indicate mourning. He prays constantly to God for forgiveness.

Meanwhile, he has become a laughing stock in front of his hometown. People are making fun of him and everyone is gossiping about him and what he has done (you can imagine how that goes). Even the town drunks are ridiculing him by singing drinking songs with him as the subject.

So, the psalmist is asking for God's help in getting through this time of humiliation. He is already humbled enough. He asked that God not let all this overwhelm him. The best thing he is doing is not to give up on God and to continue to pray.

Have you ever tried to make things “right” but just made things worse or made yourself a laughing stock instead of a savior? If so, you can relate to the psalmist.

In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mud; don't let me sink any deeper! Save me from those who hate me, and pull me from these deep waters. Don't let the floods overwhelm me, or the deep waters swallow me, or the pit of death devour me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, February 5, 2012

You know how foolish I am

O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you. Don't let those who trust in you be ashamed because of me, O Sovereign Lord of Heaven's Armies. Don't let me cause them to be humiliated, O God of Israel. For I endure insults for your sake; humiliation is written all over my face. Even my own brothers pretend they don't know me; they treat me like a stranger. Psalm 69: 5-8 NLT

God knows our sins and our foolishness.

That doesn't mean we want everyone else to know. That does not indicate that our faults should bring down other faithful people. We don't want others to be ashamed for what we have done.

We should be filled with remorse when our sins come to light but why should what we have done wrong bring others down with us?

I suppose part of that is the nature of sin: it is more corporate than personal.

Jesus told us that the greatest commandment was to love God with all that we have and to love our neighbor has ourself. Neighbor and self are connected. In breaking one, we break the other. Our sin affects us and our neighbor. We don't like to think so, of course. Afterall, what we have done in the privacy of our own homes should not have anythign to do with other people.

Yet, the psalmist understands that his shame really does affect others. Even his own brothers treat him as a stranger.

How are your sins and mistakes affecting others?

Take time now to admit as much as you possibly can to God. Ask for forgiveness.

God, you know how foolish I am. Please forgive me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Save me, O God.

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can't find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn't steal. Psalm 69: 1-5 NLT

Often we can have a couple of bad things happen and we may fuss but then we go on. But sometimes things can really seem to pile up on top of one another and life just begins to get to us. I'm not talking an absolute tragedy. I am talking about when things pile up one after another. You get a late notice, your cell phone falls in the commode, your daughter totals your car, you have to have major dental work, your company is being restructured, and they made a mistake on your credit card bill. That paper cut you get in the next five minutes is not going to be a minor incident. You are going to be screaming things you would not say in church.

Those are what come to my mind when the psalmist says he is up to his neck in flood waters. He is sinking deeper and deeper into the muck. He has been crying, weeping, calling out to God. Enemies seem to be multiplying so much that they are more than the hairs on his head. It has even come to being blamed for a crime he did not commit.

What do you do when you get up to your neck in life? What happens when you cry out to God but things continue to pile up? How do you handle having others act like enemies?

I often lose my temper. But, I should probably spend more time in prayer and perhaps give poetic voice to my complaints, much like the psalmist did.

God, save me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, February 3, 2012

God is awesome in his sanctuary

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth. Sing praises to the Lord. Sing to the one who rides across the ancient heavens, his mighty voice thundering from the sky. Tell everyone about God's power. His majesty shines down on Israel; his strength is mighty in the heavens. God is awesome in his sanctuary. The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God! Psalm 68: 32-35 NLT

The conclusion of Psalm 68 is a song of praise to God in which all the countries in the world are asked to give God praise and glory. Everyone is asked to share what God has done. God is praised for who God is and what God's might is like.

If you were asked to sing a song to God at this moment, what song would you sing? Could you at least hum it right now? Why do you think that song comes to mind?

If you were asked to share just one thing about your relationship with God, what would it be? What story would you tell to describe your relationship?

Can you name one thing you would like to praise God during this time of prayer?

God, I sing to you, I praise you and I share with a glad heart of all you have done for me. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Submit To God

Summon your might, O God. Display your power O God as you have in the past. The kings of the earth are bringing tribute to your Temple in Jerusalem. Rebuke these enemy nations – these wild animals lurking in the reeds, this herd of bulls among the weaker calves. Make them bring bars of silver in humble tribute. Scatter the nations that delight in war. Let Egypt come with gifts of precious metals; let Ethiopia bow in submission to God. Psalm 68: 28- 31 NLT

Having trouble with your neighboring countries? Ask for God's help!

Ask for God to display his power and might. Ask that the leaders of the other countries may come and bring God gifts in worship. Ask God to rebuke the enemies that are like wild animals in the reeds, or a herd of bulls among weak calves or even a bull in a china shop: they are causing wreckage and havoc and need to be stopped. May they bring bigger tithes and give of themselves. Make them no longer to desire war but to bow in submission to God.

But before you get too cocky in your prayers, better make sure you have submitted to God. Are you bringing your best to him? What kind of gifts have you given in worship? Are you causing havoc around you? Are you for peace in your neighborhood or for war?

God, summon your might and display your power. May we submit to you, may all the nations submit to you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

God's Point of View

Your procession has come into view, O God – the procession of my God and King as he goes into the sanctuary. Singers are in front, musicians behind; between them are young women playing tambourines. Praise God, all you people of Israel; praise the Lord, the source of Israel's life. Look, the little tribe of Benjamin leads the way. Then comes a great throng of rulers from Judah and all the rulers of Zebulun and Naphtali. Psalm 68: 24-27 NLT

The procession of my God and King as he goes into the Sanctuary. What an image of God entering with God's people! First there at the singers and musicians. Then comes the young women playing tambourines – certainly people of no consequence. Then, of all the tribes, the smallest one leads the way with the other tribes following. When God enters God's dwelling place, the least and the last will be first.

Funny how God does things backwards. God looks for and honors the least, the lost, the poor, the powerless, the weak, the helpless, the downtrodden, the peacemakers, the grieving, the meek and the forgotten. Yet, we look up to those who are powerful, rich, well-educated, well-spoken, strong, out-going, and memorable. How can we change our point of view? Could you start by allowing your own worship to reflect the procession described in Psalm 68? Instead of the most important people in the church, begin with children or those newly baptized, the single members or those who don't have as much “pull” in church politics.

God, we praise you, the source of our life! May our worship and our life outlook reflect you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims