pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Rock of Refuge

Reading: Psalm 71: 1-3

Verse 3: “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go”.

The opening three verses of Psalm 71 exude trust in God. The psalmist first turns to God as refuge. A refuge is a safe place that we can go to. It is a place where we can rest and recover a bit. It is a place set apart from the storms of life. God can be our refuge.

We all feel the need for refuge now and then. Life may have brought unexpected change and we need a moment to catch our breath and to figure out our new path forward. Our faith or our beliefs may cause us to feel some persecution and after a good bit of this we need to find refuge to regain strength and maybe focus. There are many other reasons we can seek refuge in God.

Because God is righteous, the psalmist asks God to rescue and deliver him. He begs God to hear his pleas. In the storms of life we can feel under assault. We can feel the need to be rescued. Sometimes we bring the storm upon ourselves. When we allow sin to gain a foothold, we invite the storm. When conviction sets in and leads to repentance, we hope to be delivered by God.

In the last verse for today the psalmist calls out to God, saying, “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go”. In those moments or days or seasons when life is really swirling around us, we need a firm foundation. We need God to be our rock. Because life keeps happening, we will turn to God over and over to be our rock. We join the psalmist in seeking a steadfast God to whom we can always go.

As our section for today closes there is an admission that we too must make. The psalmist knows that God alone can save him. There is a dependence upon God that comes through faith. May we too know this need for God.

Prayer: Lord God, in the trials and sufferings of this life, you are my only hope. Be with me day by day and hour by hour, my rock and my refuge. Amen.


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At the Start

Reading: Psalm 5: 1-8

The psalmist writes, “in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation”.  What a beautiful thought this is!  The psalmist has found value in beginning the day with God.  We are promised that His mercies are new every morning as well.  Each day we can come to God, beginning each day with a clean slate, and can invite God to be a part of our day.

It is important to thank God for His blessings of the day before.  To consciously thank God for each blessing prepares us to expect them again in the day ahead.  It also places us in the proper, humbled place.  We must also spend time confessing our sins before God.  It is so important to re-establish a right relationship with God each morning.  This act also serves to remind us of our dependence on God and of our inability to succeed on our own.

Then we can come to God and lay out requests down before Him.  We can look ahead into our day and week and we can invite God into those events and situations that we need guidance and direction on and into those things that bring us fear and worry.  Again, we are calling on God to enter into our weakness and to be our strength.  We are calling on He who can do all we cannot.

In inviting God into our day and seeking His presence in the day, we begin our day well.  We lay the groundwork to experience God throughout the day.  In admitting our need each day for Him, we elevate God and place ourselves in our proper place of humble servant.  Lord, may all that we are and all that we will be this day depend on You.  May we live this day with You as Lord and Savior, guide and friend.


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Prayer

Reading: Psalm 67

Psalm 67 contains a common prayer pattern.  In the opening verses, the psalmist speaks of God’s grace, blessings, and light coming to mankind.  Through these gifts, mankind is drawn in and comes to know God’s ways so that salvation may come.  For us, each time of extended prayer should begin the same way, by recognizing how God has worked in our lives and by allowing this to draw us close to Him.

Then the Psalm moves on to our role: praising God, being glad, and singing for joy.  When we praise God, we are lifting Him up to His rightful place of majesty and power.  In this is the implication of our smallness and our dependence upon God.  We praise partly because we recognize our absolute need for God and also because He is just and because He guides our lives accordingly.  Our praise and thanksgiving flow out of our recognition of His activity in our life so it is a natural second phase of our extended prayers.

The Psalm wraps up by recognizing that the land yields it’s harvest as God blesses us.  In the psalmist day, the literal land was the source of life for the people.  It was a very agrarian society.  For us today, we rely on the harvest of the land too but most of us are several steps removed from the process.  Today, for most of us the figurative land is our place of employment, our homes, our relationships with each other.  In this sense, God continues to bless us richly with all we need.  Within this also is a recognition that all comes from God; none of our blessings come solely through us.  There is an interdependence between God and our lives.  It is through our relationship with Him that we come to see how much God provides for us.  This third part of our extended prayers is a time to recognize our connection to God.

By daily praying through these three phases or parts, we come to know God more deeply and begin to be daily transformed by His power.  As we recognize His hand in our lives, as we offer our praises for this activity, and as we acknowledge our connection to and need for God’s presence and blessings in our lives, our faith deepens.  This day may we each offer a prayer like Psalm 67 and through it draw closer to our God.


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Closer and Closer

The psalmist’s words exhibit a deep relationship with God.  There is a connection that the psalmist feels has been present since birth.  In this statement it is implied that being in a relationship with God is all the psalmist has ever known.  For their part there is no other desire than this relationship.

Perhaps we each have similar relationships with our spouses or best friend.  While we have not been in the relationship since birth, over time it has grown to feel this way.  We feel as if we were “always” in the special relationship.  It is hard to remember a time when we were not deeply connected.

Both of these relationships share similar traits.  Over the years these relationships have seen good and bad sides as we have shared all of the joys and trials that are part of life.  There is also an intimacy that develops from being in the relationship day after day, year after year.  The level of honesty and openness is such that we can share anything with each other.  We grow to rely and depend on one another.

Many of us have this type of relationship with our spouse or best friend.  But is the same true of our relationship with God?  The psalmist certainly has this type of connection to God.  There is blunt honesty and high expectations in the writer’s relationship with God.  There is reliance and dependence also.  This is the type of relationship that God desires with all of His children.  To get there we must surrender some of self as we elevate the relationship above our own desires and wants.  Each day may we grow closer to God, falling more and more in love each day.

Scripture reference: Psalm 71: 4-6