Psalm 51

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      7       Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

      wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

            8       Let me hear joy and gladness;

      let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

            9       Hide your face from my sins,

      and blot out all my iniquities.

            10       Create in me a clean heart, O God,

      and renew a right spirit within me.

            11       Cast me not away from your presence,

      and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

            12       Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

      and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:7-12 ESV

This is David’s well-known psalm of repentance after Nathan confronted him with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12).

In verse 10 the word create (bara) is the same word used in Genesis 1 where God created (bara) the heavens and the earth. “Strictly used, this word describes what only God can do; to create ex nihilo, out of nothing” (Boice, Psalms 42–106: An Expositional Commentary, 2005, p. 432). David is commanding God to create a new heart in him. “Derek Kidner writes, ‘With the word create he asks for nothing less than a miracle.’ He desires what only God can provide” (Boice, p. 432).

Robert Altar translates the first half of verse 11 as “Do not fling me from Your presence” stating “this Hebrew verb has a connotation of violent action for which the conventional translation of it as “cast” is too tame” (Altar The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary vol 3, 2019, p. 134). Fling/cast is a hiphil in Hebrew which is a verb of causation. David is asking God not to cause him to be violently or forcefully flung/cast away from His presence.

I cannot help but to think that David had King Saul in mind when he says in the next half of verse 11, “and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” I want to be clear, David is not worried about losing his salvation; however, he is worried about losing God’s Presence, anointing and fellowship like King Saul did in 1 Samuel 16. James Boice states, “Today most commentators recognize that David is not talking about eternal security or the fear of losing his salvation at all. He is only acknowledging that he is unable to live a holy life without God. Therefore, he needs the help and power of the Holy Spirit every single moment if he is to be able to overcome temptation and follow after godliness” (p. 434).

In verse 12 David commands God to restore (hiphil, imperative) to him the joy of His salvation. David knew that his fellowship with God had been broken and needed God to cleanse and restore him. David, again, did not lose his eternal salvation, but he did lose the joy of it. What’s true of David is the same with us, there is NO joy when we are living in sin. There is no peace when our relationship with God is broken.

“Many think that the way to joy or a good time is by sinning. They think that godliness is dull. Actually the opposite is the case. Sin brings sorrow. Righteousness brings rejoicing. Allowed to continue, sin will remove every good thing from our lives—joy, health, wealth, and at last even life itself. Only righteousness will restore them” (Boice, p. 434).

“The fact that the psalmist prays for so many things [in vv. 7–12] indicates how many things he knew he had lost when he plunged into sin” (Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 1969, pp. 405-406).

Father God, thank You that Your saved and redeemed people never need to fear losing their salvation. Thank You for the gift of salvation by grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Holy Trinity, for those who have lost the joy of their salvation due to sin or looking at current events, I ask that You will lift their minds, hearts and hands to You. Lord God, thank You that when we confess our sins to You that You will forgive us. Lord God, forgive us for the times when we put the things of this world before You. Lord God, restore to Your Body the joy of Your salvation, whether we are gathering together in person or online. Lord God, in these ever changing, challenging and tumultuous times, I ask that we will desire to dwell in Your Presence, growing in Your character and serving You with passion, authenticity and boldness until You call us home. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Prayer for Paula

Paula and I at Hershey Park, 2018

No matter how many times I type and delete this post asking God to give me something better or more eloquent to say, about how amazing and wonderful Paula is, nothing better is flowing out of me. I do not want this post to be about me but about Paula. With that said, here it goes!

Paula and I first crossed paths in January 2008 in a fundamentals of Physical Therapist Assistant course at Central Pennsylvania College. To say Paula was NOT a very big fan of me would be an understatement! As Paula told me yesterday she thought I was “loud and annoying.”

The next class Paula and I together was an oral communications class with like six other people. Paula had NO choice but to hear my “loud and annoying” voice (yea God!). Through this class, Paula and I became friends.

As our classes advanced Paula and I became study partners. Now you have to understand, I am NOT science nor math minded at all! So, to help me learn the origin of muscles, their insertions and primary functions, I made color coated poster board charts of each region of the body and then tacked them all over the walls of my townhouse. The first time Paula saw my work of art all she said was “overachiever!”

What I appreciate the most about Paula and her husband Mike is their heart for Jesus. Paula, Mike and I over the years have had many beautiful, hard and at times heated talks on what it means to live for Christ.

Paula and Mike’s daughter was born on September 17, 2011. It still excites me that Katie and I have the same birthday! (I was 30 when she was born. Less than two years later Paula gave birth to Chris). In November 2011, I found out my dad had stage IV lung cancer. Paula and Mike rallied around my family praying for us. Paula was constantly checking in to see how we were doing. I cannot express in words how much this meant to me!

Paula is one of the most authentic, real and optimistic people I have ever met in my life. Paula is consistent, loyal, funny, a real salt of the earth woman. There is no fakery with Paula. She is who she is. Paula never compromises her faith, nor does she shy away from calling sin, sin. I am SO thankful for my friend Paula!

In the beginning of 2018 Paula was diagnosed with cancer. Paula has been a warrior and fighter for her husband and her children, enduring chemo and radiation. Paula has never waivered in her faith and her love for Jesus. On Monday September 21, 2020 Paula was in the hospital with liver failure. As of yesterday, September 23, 2020 Paula was sent home from the hospital on hospice.

Only Jesus knows what the future looks like for Paula, Mike, Katie and Chris. With tears in my eyes, I humbly ask that you would keep the Weimer family in your prayers.

Father God, thank You for Paula. Lord God, I ask that You surround Paula, Mike, Katie and Chris with Your Presence. Lord God, give the Weimer family peace. Holy Spirit, thank You that when we do not know how or what to pray, that You make our prayers known to the Father. Thank You Jesus for interceding on our behalf. Lord God, I ask that You comfort Paula, Mike, Katie and Chris. Remind each one of them that You know them and that You see them and that You will not abandon them. Lord God, give Paula and Mike courage. Lord God, I ask for Your grace and mercy to be upon each one of them. Lord God, keep the Weimer family in perfect peace. May we never take our time with our loved ones for granted. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

September 2020 Prayer

30 August 2020 Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve, Conestoga, PA; photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Lord God, I pray for the kids all over the world who are starting school; whether in person, online or hybrid. Lord God, give the parents of the students grace and mercy when it comes to the teachers learning how to teach at this time. Lord God, may teachers give themselves grace and mercy as well. Lord may parents and teachers NOT take their frustrations out on their children/students. Lord God, thank You for the advancements in technology that make distance learning possible, even when things do not work the way we would like. Lord God, I ask that You help the students focus and concentrate whether learning online or in person wearing a mask. Lord God, my heart breaks for the world that these young people are entering today.

Father God, I ask that You comfort Your people all over the world who are hurting. Lord God, I ask that You will come near the brokenhearted and fill them with the peace of Your Presence. Lord God, this life is NOT easy. The world that we knew last year at this time seems so far away. Lord, may we long for You more than we long for the past. May we fix our eyes on You and not look too far back, forward or sideways. Thank You Jesus that You are the Author and Perfecter of our faith!

Lord God, it does not take a genius to see that the United States is falling. Lord God, I ask that You will strengthen Your people all over the world. As the United States goes, so do many other countries. Lord God, when it comes to identity may we come to depend on You more and more and not depend on the world and its political systems. Lord God, may we live as good citizens in this world until You call us home.

Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit transform Your people into Your image and remind Your people that ALL people are created in Your image. Lord God, help us to live holy and blameless lives. Thank You for this reader. May You stir in them a desire to grow closer to You in this new month. Thank You for the gift of time You have given this reader and myself. May we make the most of the time You have given us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

We’re Here and It’s Getting There

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Praise the Lord progress has been made since I wrote “Under Construction”. After working on cars all day, covered in grease and sweat, Nathan would drive out to the house and spend hours beating tile for very little reward. Beating/ripping up/removing tile is the most difficult work I have ever done in my life and an experience I will NOT repeat!!!!

While the house was out of commission, Nathan and I stayed with my dad. I have to give my dad a public, “thank you!” for allowing us to stay with him for six weeks! When I gave the leasing office notice that we would be moving out, I never dreamed that we would end up staying with my dad! While I LOVE my dad, I have not lived with my dad for over 30 years (my folks separated when I was six, divorced when I was twelve and I will be thirty nine next month just to give y’all some context!).

As many of you know, my mom lives in Florida. On June 29, 2020 my mom arrived in Pennsylvania. So now my mom, Nathan and I are staying at my dad’s house, talk about strange!! (This is where I have to thank God that my parents are able to get along. I did not appreciate this when I was younger.) At this point Nathan and I have been with my dad for a month and all of us are ready for our departure.

On July 11, 2020 Nathan, mom and I were finally able to move in! While many projects have been completed, there are still more projects and deliveries scheduled for the Fall. There is one project that needs to be scheduled for next Spring. In all honesty, authenticity and transparency, this is the project that eats at me because I want it done now or at least in this calendar year.  How sad/selfish/entitled on my part! No wonder the Lord said to Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ‘I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds'” (Jer 17:9-10 ESV).

God has made a way for me with this house in ways that I cannot even begin to describe. The fact that I have any agitation about waiting for a patio is horrific! My attitude reminds me of a quote by John Hartley, “Greed prevents a person from enjoying what he has, for it drives one to spend all one’s energy on getting more” (Leviticus, 1992, p. 445). Greed causes discontentment and dissatisfaction. Left uncheck greed can cause one’s heart and mind to become desperately sick.

I want my eyes focused on our Triune God, the Gift Giver and not the gifts He gives. In all honesty, the gifts are meaningless without the Giver! How quickly I can forget this. Praise God for His conviction and for giving us the ability to self-reflect!

Lord God, forgive us for the times that our focus is not where it should be! Lord, forgive me, forgive us for all the times that we do not give You the thanks and praise You deserve. Thank You Lord God for all the things that You have done for us over these past few months. Lord God, now more than ever may we seek to align our hearts with Yours. Father God, thank You for this reader. Thank You for allowing this reader to journey with me and for not giving up on me when I mess up! Lord God, I do not know what greed, discontentment or a disquieted spirit looks like for this reader; however, I ask that they will humbly and sincerely allow You to prune any area that is hindering their walk with You. Lord God, confession is good for the soul! Thank You Lord for all the object lessons that You have given me with this house that correlates to the life of faith. Lord, reveal to us our hidden sins.  May we never take Your forgiveness, mercy and grace for granted. Lead us and teach us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

June 2020 Prayer

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For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.           (Rom 8:26b-27 ESV)

Thank You Holy Spirit for interceding on our behalf both individually and corporately. Lord God, there is so much anger and unrest, both justified and unjustified. Lord God for those of us in the United States, lead us to respond to what is happening in a manner that does not bring shame to Jesus’s Name.

Lord God, fill Your people everywhere with courage, faith, hope and love. Lord God, there is NO room for racism both on this earth and in the Kingdom that is coming. Lord God, Jesus said that He “did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matt 10:34); however, Jesus also called and commanded us to love You and love others (Matt 22:36-40). Father God, help us to reconcile that You have not come to bring peace, and that even when times are chaotic, stressful, hostile and angry we are still called “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep o[urselves] unstained from the world” (Jas 1.27).

Lord God, may we never waiver in our pursuit for justice. May we never tire of seeking and living Your Truth. Lord God, may we grow closer to You this month. Lord God, I do not even know what to say or how to pray other than to say, “thank You that You are in control!” Lord God, help Your saints everywhere to hold on, to persist and to endure. Lord God, may we be aware of what is going on in the world, but may we not become fearful, scared and/or numb.

Lord God, protect and provide for my brothers and sisters who are being afflicted with locusts. Lord God, prepare and protect my brothers and sisters who are in the midst of or entering the rainy, hurricane, monsoon, typhoon season. Lord, for those who are in the midst or entering the dry season, may You be in their midst as well. Lord God, thank You that You are our Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who Provides.

Father God, for those who are believers in Jesus Christ, may we never forget that peace is a Person and His Name is Jesus. Lord for the reader who does not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, may today be the day of salvation. Holy Spirit, continue stirring hearts all over this world to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior while there is still time. Thank You Jesus, for the ability and opportunity to pray in Your Name. Please watch over this precious reader today and in this new month. Lord God, only You know the beginning and end of each day, month and year. We love You, we are trusting You and it is in Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

 

Hi, May!

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Father God, thank You for this new month! Lord God, thank You that You are in control. Lord God, thank You that You know our needs even more than we do. Lord, I ask that You strengthen this reader. Lord God, I ask that You meet the physical, financial, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of this reader. Lord God, thank You that You provide for us even when we do not see or feel it. Lord God, help us to become more like Jesus.

Father God, I ask that You give all nations and governments wisdom when it comes to how they handle COVID-19. Lord God, be with all people who are working day and night to serve and help others in this time. Lord God, may all people everywhere, exercise wisdom and common sense when it comes to being out in public. Lord God, helps us to be agents of peace and patience. Lord God, help us to draw closer to You. Teach us to discern Your Truth from all the lies and fear that are bombarding us.

Lord God, I specifically pray for East Africa. Lord God, be merciful on our East African brothers and sisters as they deal with the coronavirus and locusts. Lord God, impress on Your people, for those who have abundance, to consider the plight of those all over the world, even and perhaps in their own backyard who are suffering.

Lord God, teach us to value the things that You value. Teach us to love how You love. In all things may we seek to bring You glory. Thank You Jesus for the ability to pray in Your Name. Holy Spirit, lead us and guide us this day and in this new month. Triune God, thank You for who You are and for all the ways that You are working. Amen.

Thoughts on Psalm 88

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88 A SONG. A PSALM OF THE SONS OF KORAH. TO THE CHOIRMASTER: ACCORDING TO MAHALATH LEANNOTH. A MASKIL OF HEMAN THE EZRAHITE.

1  O LORD, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
2  Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!

3  For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
4  I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
5  like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
6  You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7  Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

8  You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9  my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
I spread out my hands to you.
10  Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11  Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12  Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13  But I, O LORD, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14  O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15  Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. 
16  Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17  They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
18  You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness (ESV).

This psalm is an individual lament. This psalm is also an anomaly in that it does not end in praise nor confession of confidence in the Lord. Verse 18 can also be translated darkness has become my only companion or darkness is my closest friend (NIV).

Robert Alter makes the observation that “the psalm deploys an unusual abundance of synonyms for the underworld” (The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, 2019, pp. 210-211) such as: Sheol (v. 3), the pit (vv. 4, 6), the grave (v. 5), the land of forgetfulness (v. 12).  

In Old Testament thought “the Lord does not involve himself with the dead…so the psalmist feels cut off from divine care” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 154). The Psalmist has been suffering pain and affliction, being close to death since his youth (v. 15). Even though the Psalmist is suffering and feels cut off from God, he still trusts the God of “[his] salvation” (v. 1).

It may be significant that the Psalmist states that he takes his prayers to the Lord in the morning, as this is when the Lord most often intervened on His people’s behalf (see Pss 30:5; 46:5; Isa 37:6). “The psalmist suggests that for him prayer is the first item on his daily schedule. Prayer is not his last resort but his first impulse” (Estes, p. 156).

The Psalmist is unapologetically raw, sincere and vulnerable in expressing how he feels about his circumstances and the Lord’s silence. However, the Psalmist “does not accept his pain with stoic apathy because, as VanGemeren notes, ‘True faith is not an apathetic acceptance of whatever comes to pass. True faith lies in wrestling with the Lord in prayer'” (Estes, p. 155). The Psalmist “just casts the problem into the hands of the Lord, in effect challenging him to rectify the situation by his faithfulness and righteousness” (Estes, pp. 157-158).

“Psalm 88 teaches that the life of faith at times includes experiences of raw pain and desperate loneliness, but even in the blackest of nights those who trust in the Lord can and should take their frustrations to the Father (cf. Ps 139:12)” (Estes, p. 159).

That quote is what strikes me the most about this psalm. The Psalmist does not complain to his family, friends or anyone else who is willing or in earshot to listen. The Psalmist takes his laments, rhetorical questions and grief directly to God; crying out to Him. The Psalmist still has faith in the Lord even though He is silent.

When I first started typing this my title was “The Darkest Psalm.” While this psalm is indeed dark and bleak, Psalm 88 reveals that it is all right to ask God why even when he does not choose to answer the questions that we bring before Him. Psalm 13 and Job “As both Psalm 13 and the book of Job manifest, the Lord’s silence does not mean his absence, and his silent presence is enough for those who trust in him” (Estes, p. 159).  

In this time of COVID-19 may we take our laments and personal grief before our Heavenly Father. May we trust Him when it comes to dealing with this new normal. Dear reader, please know that is okay to cry out to God, to ask Him questions. While your questions may be met with silence like this Psalmist, I pray that you will still trust Him. 

Father God, I ask for You to strengthen Your people. Help us process and reconcile things that we have never seen before. Thank You Father for those who have training in how to deal with infectious diseases and outbreaks. Thank You Father for those who are calm. Lord God, help us to discern truth from error in regards to the news that is being presented to us. Lord God, may we be reminded that You are NOT the Author of confusion and chaos. Lord God, make prayer our impulse and default mode rather than our last resort. May we take our grief to You and have You help us with our grief before broadcasting our fears, troubles and anxieties to an already dark and anxious world. Lord God, I ask for Your Hand of mercy to be upon all Your people with small children, new babies and babies in the womb as life has changed from what it once was. Thank You Jesus for allowing us to pray in Your Name. Amen. 

 

 

 

Happy Easter!

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Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”

(John 20:18 ESV)

Father God, thank You for raising Your Son Jesus from the dead! Thank You, Jesus for giving us new life, reconciling us to the Father! Father God, thank You that for those who are believers in Jesus’s Name that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, thank You for pointing us to Jesus, for convicting, teaching and guiding us! Holy Trinity, may we meditate and savor this Easter with more awe, reverence, devotion, love, respect and wonder this year. Thank You Jesus that You are among the living and NOT the dead!

Lord God, thank You for this reader! Lord God, I ask that You manifest Your presence and power in his/her life in a way that they know that it is You! Lord God, may our lips be filled with praise for who You are and what You have done. The more we praise You and meditate on You, the less we think about ourselves and our situations and circumstances. Thank You Jesus for giving us new life!

Lord and Master Jesus, thank You for loving us. Thank You that we are able to see You in Your Word. Thank You for preserving Your Word. Thank You that no matter what this world does to us and future generations, it cannot kill nor destroy the Truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Jesus, I ask that You help us to respond to You and Your Work by loving others in a way that pleases and glorifies the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Holy Trinity, praise You for Easter. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.