THRU THE PSALMS
Thomas Merton once said there is no aspect of the interior life, no kind of religious experience, no spiritual need of humanity that is not depicted and lived out in the Psalms. This summer we start a spiritual formation series as a church family "Reading Thru The Psalms."
The reading plan will cover two Psalms a day starting June 23 and ending Sept 6. If you fall behind in your reading, use the last week of each month to catch up. Meanwhile, each week you are invited to post your comments below or on the church Facebook page for your reflections and thoughts. These posts will serve as a virtual congregation to share issues of faith. Also be on the lookout for suggested resources to aid in your readings.
Dr. A. Louis Patterson, the recently deceased pastor of Mount Corinth Church in Houston, TX, once said the way to obtain more faith is through hearing more of the word of God. Through our spiritual formation summer series, the entire FBC-W congregation will be reading the same passages of scripture and praying, as well as reflecting upon their meaning individually and as the body of Christ at First Baptist Church-West.
One Psalm says thou word is a light into my path and a lamp unto my way. Let’s follow the light together as we look to grow in grace and knowledge of things concerning the faith.
p.s. Feel free to use a nickname if you prefer to remain anonymous.
Dr. Ricky A. Woods
First Baptist Church-West
This week we concluded our reading through the Psalms as a part of our spiritual practice as a congregation to commit ourselves to reading the Bible. The Bible is the church’s book that serves not only as guide to spiritual practice but as a means of inspiration and encouragement about what it means to be a person of faith.
In the final week’s reading, the psalmist focused upon two things: the need for God’s protection and the praise of God. Earlier in the Psalms we have seen these same concerns but this time they have a different twist. The psalmist asks God for protection from his own choices that could lead to trouble. "Set a guard over my mouth… Never let the oil of the wicked anoint my head."
The psalmist is aware that life is about choices and we need the power of discernment to know when to speak and how to speak. We need the power of discernment to know who to allow to anoint our heads because every anointing is not from above. God protect me from myself is the psalmist plea.
Then the psalms conclude on the high note of praise. This high note of praise speaks to what the psalmist sees as the conclusion of the matters of life. When life is put into prospective, there is never an occasion when praise is not in order. We have been made to enjoy the fellowship of God and for God to enjoy the praise we offer him. Praise is what we are encouraged to do because everything that has breathed is to praise the Lord. After all, it is the reason that we are breathing.
I hope you have been renewed and strengthened through our time together in the Psalms.
Verse of the Week: Psalm 64:9
Then everyone will fear; they will tell what God has brought about and ponder what He has done.
This week's reading in the Psalms makes us aware of our need for protection in a world that can sometimes be hostile. A downed jetliner, fighting in Gaza and scenes at our nation's border are just a few examples of how hostile our world can be. The answers we seek are not always found in the work of policymakers, military might or world leaders. There are occasions when nothing less than Divine intervention will do.
The psalmist is clear in his view of life that we cannot do everthing for ourselves no matter how hard we try. There will be times when we will need help from above and the greatest need for help is for protection from all the possible pitfalls of life. Sometimes the psalmist asks God to lead him, sometimes the psalmist asks God to lift him and sometimes the psalmist asks God to surround him. In each request there is the cry for protection, for the Divine to lend His power to the struggle of life.
The expressions of faith made known in the Psalms speak to a people who would not wring their hands in helplessness but lift their hands upward to the Almighty. Blessed be the Lord who daily bears us up. God is our salvation.
My Soul Waits -- Marva Dawn
A Cry of Absence: Reflections for the Winter of the Heart -- Martin Marty
Answering God The Psalms as Tools for Prayer -- Eugene Peterson
Verse of the Week: Psalm 49:5
Why should I fear in times of trouble when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me....
In this week's reading the dominant theme for the psalmist is the presence of those who do not worship and serve God. The psalmist is made to realize that he/she does not live in a world where everyone shares their views about God.
There are those who are opposed to God that the psalmist encounters. These people trust more in their wealth and their ability than the idea of an unseen hand at work in the affairs of human history. There are others who simply oppose the psalmist as he/she tries to live a life of faithfulness to God. These people seek to make life difficult for the psalmist and would cause him/her to employ the tactics of the world where jealousy, hatred and force rule the day.
In each and every case, the psalmist turns to God. The psalmist does not deny the reality of such persons nor does he/she try to handle them on their own. The psalmist tells God that he/she will continue to trust in God when others are so willing to trust their wealth. The psalmist says he/she will trust God when others are plotting his/her destruction.
What the psalmist is telling us is that trust is always a matter of choice because each and every day persons will trust something or someone. Thus, the psalmist says I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
Remember, trust is always a choice. How will you choose to trust?
The Psalm For Today -- Beth Tanner
Be Worshipful -- Warren Wiersbe
A Sacred Sorrow -- Michael Card
Verse of the Week: Psalm 37:23
Our steps are made firm by the Lord when He delights in our way....
This week's reading of the Psalms speak to us about prayer and praise as forms of deliverance amidst the crises of life. Sometimes the crises take on the form of sickness and the psalmist calls out to God for His help but includes in the cry for help praise for the goodness of God and God's willingness to hear our cry.
Sometimes the crises are enemies who are working against the psalmist and the psalmist affirms God's righteousness and the surety that God will protect the righteous--the righteous shall be kept safe forever.
Sometimes the crises come in the form of personal failure and sin. Then the psalmist praises God for being a God who will allow sinners to come to Him and seek His grace--my hope is in You to deliver me from all of my transgressions.
What the psalmist is telling us is there is no condition in life that excuses us from praising God and praying to God. Even when life is not at its best, God is waiting to hear from us and the way He hears from us is through our prayers and our praise.
It is important to note that the psalmist does not just include prayer but includes praise as a part of his responses in the crises of life. Our request for God's help may come through prayer but praise is what we do while we wait. Praise reveals our complete confidence in the goodness of God and how that goodness cannot deny those who belong to Him.
A constant theme throughout the Psalms is our need to praise God no matter what. Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name, worship the Lord in holy splendor. So no matter what, keep on praising the Lord for praise is what we do.
Psalms A Guide to Prayer and Praise -- Ronald Klug
Psalms Heart To Heart -- Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Inspired By the Psalms -- Elizabeth Nixon
Verse of the Week Psalm 23:1
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Last week's reading in the Psalms brought us upon a new term--Selah. In Hebrew, Selah is not a word but a form of punctuation which indicates to pause. Selah is often used not just as a place to pause at the end of thought or sentence but to call upon depper reflection and meditation of what has just been read.
The Psalms are not meant to be reading as an exercise in speed reading but call upon us to take the time to think and reflect upon what has been read. The readings for this week made us aware of God's goodness to the king as several of the Psalms celebrated the ways God had provided for Israel's king.
The nation should pause to give thanks, understanding their favorite status among the nations was not earned but a gift from God. A gift with responsibility that begins with honoring God. Honoring God for the psalmist is far more than worship alone. Honoring God meant living in relationship with others that gave witness to the faith confessed. God's goodness is to be celebrated within a community that has been the recipient of God's favor.
As our nation celebrates its birth and independence, we should pause long enough to reflect and to meditate on the meaning of God's goodness to our country. There is much to be grateful for and much work to be done as we seek to continue to bear witness to the grace of God that has been and continues to be ours. Selah
A Shepherd's Look at Psalm 23 -- Phillip Keller
The Healing Power of the Psalms -- Henry Dreher and Samuel Chiel
Encountering God in the Psalms -- Michael Travers