Releasing My Measurements – Psalm 39

“What is the Measure of My Days?”

David begins Psalm 39 with this question.

Sooner or later, every human reaches a point of bewildering uncertainty.

  • Sleepless nights with a newborn –will I ever sleep all night again?
  • A Difficult diagnosis – how can I go on like this?
  • Betrayal – can I ever trust anyone again?
  • Will my wayward family member ever return to God?

The pressure builds inside the heart and mind, and we sit in the darkness of uncertainty, trying to find a sliver of hope.

1 I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.
3 My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:
(Psalm 39:1-3 ESV)

David tries keeping his thoughts and words to himself, but his season of silence does nothing to help him regain peace. He comes to a breaking point. Uncertainty overwhelms him.

We are created to live and grow in community. Yes, even as an introvert –I profoundly know this. Many of us are hardwired for verbal processing. Living in silence amid fearful oppression causes my mind to become overwhelmed and my thinking distorted. A trusted listener can be a balm to a troubled soul. Even when I am not ready to talk it out, I need someone who holds space for me and companionship on my journey.


4 “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
(Psalm 39:4-6 ESV)

I desperately need God’s perspective on my life. Sometimes uncertainty brings me to a surrendered place. Letting go of what I always thought it would be like is very hard.

“Sincere hope that the death of ‘how it was supposed to go’ leads to the resurrection of how things are meant to be.”

Lizzie Hoffman

What if the death of my expectations leads to an entirely new life I could never have imagined?

God knew all along with His 360-degree view.

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool!
I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. My words cannot defend me. Only you can make a way forward for me.
10 Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand.
11 When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah

(Psalm 39:7-11 ESV)

I feel frustrated if I wait too long for an indecisive coffee customer in line just ahead of me to place her order. I need to get back on the road. My time was wasted.

I know my time is always well-spent when I wait on the Lord. I find myself right where He wants me to be, with an opportunity to feel the anchor of hope keeping me from drifting off course. In my time of stillness, please help me to take an inventory of anything that needs to be cleared out and released.



12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.

13 Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!

(Psalm 39:12-13 ESV)

Lord, thank you that I am your guest. Therefore, I don’t have to provide for myself. I can relax with your generous hospitality. I am grateful to see how my spiritual mothers and fathers have gone ahead of me and set a path for me to follow. Please help me to remember to travel lightly and not settle into this earthly home because I am not a permanent resident. My citizenship is destined for eternity. The measure of my days on this earth will be exactly as you have ordained for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Making Room for Repentance

Psalm 38 offers a liturgy of lament for when it all goes wrong, and the sin is mine.

Those times when I realize I am the one who said or did something causing damage or disappointment to someone else. While I can pull out some handy well-worn excuses, the reality of my sin blares like a stuck car horn on a quiet Saturday morning parked right by the house. The sound of that horn and the implication of what I have done sincerely disturb me.

I would much prefer to skip suffering and leapfrog over lament, but stuffing away guilt and remorse will only lead to more and more damage. Like the psalmist, I require God’s mercy. I need to make room for repentance.

1O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.
3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
(Psalm 38:1-2 ESV)

Unrepentant Sin leads to Structural Damage

The longer it remains buried under the surface, the more damage it will do to my entire being. I was not designed to carry sin. The weight of carrying it around is too much.

4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness,
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
(Psalm 38:4-7 ESV)

Unrepentant Sin’s Damage Quietly Grows under the Surface

When a wound is not cleaned and cleared out, it may fester and cause a noxious odor.

A few months ago, after clearing out a storage unit for a family member, a tiny scratch or abrasion allowed an infection to enter my wrist. Slowly but surely, a hot red patch of skin expanded. I was busy and tried to ignore it. It was painful, but an injury to my hand caused me to miss the signs of a growing infection. I attributed the throbbing pain to a previous sprain. I tried pain patches, hydrocortisone cream, and ice packs, but things only worsened.

Finally, a friend expressed concern and encouraged me to have my doctor take a look. She examined my arm and immediately left the room to fetch an associate to review her findings. Moments later, I was sent to the pharmacy to fill a prescription for a potent antibiotic.

8 I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off.
(Psalm 38:8-11 ESV)

Unrepentant Sin Leads to Isolation

God designed me to live in a community with others in mutually beneficial relationships. Unrepentant sin causes me to pull away and hide at a time when I am in the greatest need of support. Sooner or later, I need others to pray for me, encourage me, and offer advice or perspective. Life is hard. Traveling solo leaves me in a spiritual echo chamber.

12 Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long.
13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
(Psalm 38:12-14 ESV)

Unrepentant sin disorientates me and takes my voice

Sound helps orient me on my faith journey. Hearing God’s word daily keeps me on track. Listening to praise and worship music fills me with hope. Sin dulls my appetite for God’s word and leads me to seek escapism in my media choices.  

Unrepentant sin comes between the Holy Spirit and me. I can no longer hear the still, small voice of guidance. Also, I lose my voice when I am not receiving regular replenishment from this promised helper. Doubts crowd my mind. The voice of the accuser is amplified. I get stuck and silent.


Lord, I need Your mercy to cleanse me of the things done and left undone that have wronged others and failed You. Order my life in a way that leaves room for regular repentance. Please help me to acknowledge my sins. Send a fresh wave of your Holy Spirit to examine me. Help me repent of every sin and keep me from denial. I pray all of this in the mighty name of Jesus, and I wait for your reply. Amen

Lent and Lament – Psalm 31b

One essential soul-tending tool might be to practice lament.

In the six weeks or so leading up to Easter, Christians worldwide participate in Lent. It’s a season for believers to take inventory of their spiritual lives. Perhaps a spring cleaning with some lament thrown in for good measure. Some choose to give something up as a way to remember Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice. Others take on specific disciplines like spending more time in prayer, reading through certain portions of scripture, or attending special church services designed to mark the season.

Taking time to lament our personal and corporate sins can be a central part of Lent. Some people even pray about what they have done and what they have left undone.

In the second half of Psalm 31, the psalmist takes an inventory of sorts. Take a few minutes today to participate in personal lament by reading each verse and considering these things.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand: rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!
(Psalm 31:14-16 ESV)

Words said aloud

What we say matters.

What we speak aloud seeps into our bones and shapes our thinking.  

The Psalmist begins with a declaration, “I say, ‘You are my God.’”
He follows this with a cry for the Lord to “Make your face shine on your servant…”. This refers back to the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-26.  

As human beings, we were all made to crave being in our Heavenly Father’s presence and having His approval. It is in our original design. Many of us will spend a lifetime trying to please God in our strength. Sadly, we will fail and fail again without accepting Jesus as the only way to our Father.

What can you say aloud to build you up and encourage your spiritual growth?

  • Sing Christian hymns or songs  
  • Read the Bible aloud for a few minutes every day
  • Pray aloud in the car or on a walk using the promises of scripture
17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame;
    let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.
19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them, from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.
(Psalm 31:17-20 ESV)

Words heard

What we listen to matters.

The Psalmist begs the Lord to mute lying lips. He requests that the wicked go silently to Sheol. What we listen to affects us more than we realize. Other peoples’ words have the power to weigh us down and teach us things that are not true. We live in a noisy world and can become surrounded by deceptive soundtracks.

Taking time to seek out silence each day can counter the inevitable feelings of overwhelm.

What can you listen to build yourself up spiritually?

  • Refrain from listening to the radio or a podcast during your drive time, and enjoy the silence.
  • Reduce the number of news programs you watch or listen to. Practice extreme discernment on your news sources. Do the anchor people seem angry or prideful?
  • Commit to listening to God’s word daily, even for a few minutes. Please read it to yourself aloud or listen to any of the podcasts or services that read scripture daily. In less than 20 minutes daily, I have listened to the entire Bible in one year.
21 Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. 
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
(Psalm 31:21-24 ESV)

Things that were done and left undone

Have you asked for help lately?

Asking for help requires a certain level of humility and vulnerability. Too often, I am more ready to problem-solve than cry out to God for help.

He hears us and is so ready to send us aid.

In verse 23, the psalmist calls out the “one who acts in pride.” She might be someone who relies on her strength, leans on her courage, and requires her own schedule to be kept.

The Lord calls us to be found waiting for Him. Waiting for Him to answer us, aid us, and make provision. Do I sometimes miss His ideal solution because I have tried to run ahead and make my own way?

The Lord calls us to “take courage” as we wait on Him because He is willing to give it to all of us.


Lord, thank you that you hear my cries for help and always answer. Please help me to wait on your way and your timing. Please help me to complete the assignments you have given to me. Please open my eyes to things I may lose sight of that are essential to you.  May I glorify you with the words I say? May I honor you with what I listen to? Please give me wisdom and discernment in all of these areas. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

What are you looking for? Psalm 121

Whatever you look for, you will see.

Annie F. Downs

What are you looking for this Advent Season?

  • Hope
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Love

Those are the four themes of Advent, but all too often, I am looking for:

  • Disappointment
  • Conflict
  • Despair
  • Indifference

I don’t think I ever intended to look for these opposites of the Advent themes, but it is all too easy to allow my perfectionism to fixate on disappointment. I somehow missed the mark in getting something done or meeting someone else’s needs. When conflict arises, and it always will this side of Heaven, I am quick to despair. When I feel that all hope is lost, it is easy to pick up an attitude of indifference as a coping tool.  

Wherever I focus my attention, I will find exactly what I am looking for. If I focus on how things don’t seem to be working out the way I had hoped, I would see that in overflow.

Psalm 121 directs me to look up to the hills. Since I live in the flatlands of East Texas, I must look up to the sky instead and seek the Lord.

Take a few minutes today to meditate on the truths contained in Psalm 121 by reading each verse and declaring the truth revealed there.

1I lift my eyes up to the hills. From where does my help come? 
2My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121:1-2 ESV)

He Sees It All

He sees you at all times and in all situations because He has the ultimate vantage point and a 360-degree perspective.

There is nothing outside of His authority because He made it all.

3He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber or sleep.
(Psalm 121:3-4 ESV)

He Never Sleeps on the Job

He won’t fall asleep on the job and leave you vulnerable. Ever vigilant, your Heavenly Father won’t lose track of your wandering ways.

5The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 
6 The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 
(Psalm 121:5-6 ESV)

He is a Keeper and a Needs Filler

He is keeping up with you and providing what is most needed. He gives shade on a summer day, an umbrella when it rains, or a snack when you are hungry. You are heard and seen by your beloved Father. He may not give you everything you want, but He will provide for your needs.

7 The LORD will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. 
8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in, from this time forth and forevermore. 
(Psalm 121:7-8 ESV)

He Monitors

The LORD of the universe is keeping track of me. He knows when I go out and when I return home. He does not lose track of me, even when I lose track of Him. He is always only a whispered prayer away.


Lord, help me to look to you in these final days of 2022. Guide me to continue focusing on You and not my mistakes or misfortunes. Thank you that as I focus on You, You reveal more of Yourself to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Up and Vanished – Psalm 12

Many of us spend hours gathering clues, watching for evidence, and hearing interviews from our favorite true crime podcasts and documentaries. What draws people to listen to this content that continues to grow in popularity?

Mysteries grab our attention, and we all have a desire to solve puzzles. It is thrilling to dive into a great escape and try to track down a criminal.

Nancy Drew mysteries drew me into sleuthing at an early age. She was fierce and fearless and willing to do almost anything to crack the case. Years later, I graduated to suspense mysteries from Sue Grafton and Di’Ann Mills. Those books can be hard to put down.

Psalm 12 begins with a mystery and a desperate cry for help.

1 Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. (Psalm 12:1 ESV)


The word grabs the reader and catches in the throat. It conjures up the idea of someone being here one minute and gone the next. What is it like to live in a world where all the godly have disappeared?  

They must have been there at one time. Now the landscape is bleak and dark, and the psalmist feels abandoned.

2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. (Psalm 12:2 ESV)

Lies pop up everywhere.  

When God feels far away can we expect anyone to tell the truth?

Do people owe us the truth?

Is there more deception now than before?

In our current age, the rise of fake news and the conflict it has led to has created trauma for so many. Deception puts us all on edge. In reality, false information has been spread since the dawn of time.

Thousands of years ago, when Jesus rose from the dead, their superiors instructed the Roman soldiers to carry out a fake news campaign to discredit this report.

Here the psalmist calls attention to some particularities about the lies surrounding him.

Lies between neighbors, who should watch out for each other.

Lies from lips that seek to deceive and flatter.

Lies from the “double-hearted,” are those who say one thing and do another.

A lie from a stranger is complex, but deception caused by those who share a community feels particularly painful. Someone who seeks to manipulate us with kind words intended to build us up loses all our trust when the truth is revealed. To deal with someone who tells you directly one thing, and then does the opposite, leaves you doubting yourself.

Did I misunderstand?

3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (Psalm 12:3-4 ESV)

The psalmist calls out to God for justice.

Words have power. Threatening words, boastful claims, and media campaigns prove to be a force that brings destruction, risks, and danger.

Tongues may appear to prevail, but God will act.  

5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” (Psalm 12:5 ESV)

God responds to injustice with a promise. He will place his people in the safety that they long for. Is that safety in a physical location? Sometimes God calls us into His protective presence where He will refresh us to endure. Sometimes He chooses to relocate us into a better place.

6 The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
    purified seven times.
7 You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. (Psalm 12:6-7 ESV)

His word, pure and refined, strikes a contrast to the deceptive terms of the world. Spending time in God’s word gives us refuge.

8 On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man. (Psalm 12:8 ESV)

This final verse of Palm 12 reveals the cyclical nature of sin. It does come back around and around. When society as a whole permits evil to grow, it will. It is much like a weed in our garden reappearing even after it has been rooted out.  

Someday God will prevail completely, and Jesus will rule over the Kingdom. We will inhabit a new heaven and new earth. Until then, we must reside in a mystery that won’t be solved. God calls us to trust Him, even when we feel abandoned. Because you promised, and “you will guard us from this generation forever.” Today I choose to stand by that promise.

Do you have time for a conversation? Psalm 9b

During my season of parenting teenagers, there was one thing I could always count on — inconvenient conversations.

Just as I was nodding off or felt beyond exhausted, one of my teens chose to begin a meaningful conversation. Suddenly, words poured forth freely, and the opportunity to truly connect arrived. These conversation opportunities opened up to me late at night, when we were running late, or just as someone else was about to arrive at our house.

Every, single time.

When I paused and took the time to listen, I was always rewarded with new insight and connection. Sometimes, I was too focused on my agenda and failed to do this well.

Ironically, things don’t change much when you are parenting young adults. Chances are good they will call you when you don’t have time to talk. Taking that time anyway will bless you, I promise.

God calls us into conversations that might not always fit into our ideal schedules.

Have you ever noticed how the book of Psalms is formatted as a call and response or a conversation with God? Psalm after psalm draws our hearts into dialogue with Him. He leads, and we can follow. But do I miss some of these fantastic ways to connect? Do I always answer God’s calls?

In the second half of Psalm 9, David reminds me to praise the LORD.

11 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
(Psalm 9:11-12 ESV)

God calls us to a conversation with Him and then with each other in our community.

How might my daily conversations with others look and sound different if I started each day by talking to God first? Beginning each day with praise would likely lift my spirits and fill me with resilient joy.

“Tell among the peoples his deeds” is a repeated phrase in the Bible. As God’s people, we are commanded to share our testimonies about how He has worked in our lives. God requires this activity because testimonies shared in the community nourish and strengthen our souls. We need stories of God’s faithfulness to help us remain faithful in difficult times.

13 Be gracious to me, O LORD! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation. (Psalm 9:13-14 ESV)

God calls us to honest conversation with Him.

Telling God about my suffering and what is troubling me provides a healthy and safe release for my concerns. He is always ready to listen.

Just as He listens to me, I must leave space to hear from Him. All too often, my prayers sound like a monologue. I must intentionally pause and leave room to listen in order to hear from Him.

Recounting the praises of God serves to remind me about who He is in my life. A wonderful recounting praises exercise is to work through the alphabet using each letter as personal praise prompt.

A – I serve an almighty God

B- God’s love is boundless

C- God’s care for my loved ones and I is beyond my understanding.

Can you get to Z? Here’s a link to print out a praise list to begin your day.

15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah
17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
(Psalm 9:15-18 ESV)

God calls us to a conversation with those in need.

Who are the needy? We all are sooner or later.


I was congratulating a friend on completing a particularly rigorous program. We discussed the new job she had been offered. Much to my surprise, I realized I had stepped into her season of significant loss. While she had achieved a big goal, her heart’s desire was denied again. The very thing she had worked toward had slipped just out of reach. The new job offer felt to her very much like a consolation prize.

How could I respond to someone sitting in loss?

When I see a person experiencing a time of suffering due to disappointments stacked high, how can I leave room for her to express her story?

It’s far too easy for me to reframe it or deny it. This creates a comfortable distance for me. I don’t wish to think of or see unfairness or suffering up close.

“Helpful” phrases spring to my lips, “It’s not that bad.” “God will work it out.” While there could be a ring of truth to these responses, they are designed to make me feel better, not her.

Could I make space for this woman to feel what she feels and tell her story as it currently is, not as we all wish it were?

Lord, help me to do this better.

Sooner or later, we will all experience seasons of need and poverty. In those times, it feels almost impossible to cling to hope. God promises, in verse 18, that disappointment will not be our permanent residence. We will see restoration.

19 Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
(Psalm 9:19-20 ESV)

God calls us to conversations with Him first, then ourselves, and finally with a watching world.

If you have watched the news lately, we might agree that some nations, and more importantly, their leaders, must be reminded of their actual status.

We can pray for bad leaders to fear the LORD and realize they are merely men (flawed humans in need of God’s redemption) and not all-powerful despots able to swallow up other nations. Even when these leaders don’t acknowledge the LORD, He will arise.

Some days I am preaching the truth of God’s word and His promises to my own heart and mind. I struggle with anxiety and can become overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of crises communicated in the 24/7 news cycle.

When someone expresses fear, how do I respond? Do I try to outdo a report of doom with my update? Or do I describe the certainty that God will arise and put things right?  

Now, perhaps more than ever, as believers, we have an opportunity to begin each day with intentional soul tending.

  • We are setting aside time in our schedule to soak in God’s word.
  • Listening for His voice and intentionally leaving space and time to listen.
  • Praising Him.
  • We are speaking to Him before we talk to others.
  • I was listening to others and allowing the margin for them to express sadness.
  • We were peppering our conversations with others with gentle reminders of the character of God.

Do you take time for conversations? I would love to hear how you bring this into practice in your own life.

Can I Cultivate Thanksgiving? Psalm 9a

When I was a little girl, the days spent between Christmas and New Year were filled with the arduous task of writing thank you notes. Looking back now, less than ten notes to write loomed large over those days. For my sister and me, the challenge felt overwhelming.

 I sat for hours at the dark wood desk in my room with the leather inlay carving out words with my blue ballpoint pen. The lightweight air mail paper made my penmanship even more difficult. Ink smeared over the words I crafted. I struggled to complete each note.

Cultivating Gratitude

My mother knew that cultivating an attitude of gratefulness required application. To feel thankful, putting pen to paper reinforces and acknowledges what has been received.

In Psalm 9, David begins his psalm with an order to write thank you notes to the LORD. While these notes do not have to be handwritten on airmail stationery, listing and “recounting” what God has done for us builds up gratefulness in our hearts and minds.

I must confess to a certain degree of pessimism in my own heart. Naturally, I lose sight of all I have received. Sometimes I need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude by making a list.

1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. 
(Psalm 9:1-2 ESV)

Listing off the Lord’s wonderful deeds will lead to wholehearted praise and a much-needed perspective shift for me.

3 When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence.
4 For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. (Psalm 9:3-4 ESV)

Currently, I am traveling through a season of challenges regarding some financial matters—one of those times when my responsibility intersects with someone else’s mistakes. Today, I will choose to claim verse 4 as a promise. “For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.” This lifts the crushing pressure to fight for my rights off my shoulders. The Lord maintains my just cause day and night. He will prevail in His perfect timing and in His ideal manner.  

See the Everlasting Ruins

5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.
(Psalm 9:5-6 ESV)

How many times have we visited ancient and historical ruins and marveled about how a king or a country had so much in the world’s eyes, and then it was all taken away? During a visit to Israel a few years ago, I saw this time and time again.

Does the Lord leave “everlasting ruins” behind to remind us how much power He has? I believe those ruins stand as a testimony to His might and abilities. We are forgetful people who need visual cues.

7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice,
8 and he judges the world with righteousness;   he judges the peoples with uprightness.
(Psalm 9:7-8 ESV)

In whatever situation I find myself in, it is always comforting to be reminded of the Lord’s position in my life and the world. He is on the throne. He has authority in my life and the world around me. While the world appears to be spinning out of control, especially lately, He is still sitting in authority over it all. He will make a final judgment someday when Jesus returns to rule for eternity.

Try Hiding in God’s Stronghold

9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalm 9:9-10 ESV)

In the meantime, when I feel utterly overwhelmed by it all, I can withdraw into His presence, a stronghold. Because I know His name, I can put my trust in Him. Sometimes it becomes a daily challenge and even an hourly challenge. Spending time in God’s stronghold might look different for each of us. For me, it is choosing to sing songs of praise or sitting quietly and listening for His voice of reassurance. Sometimes, getting outside in nature tends to my soul by exposing me to God’s creation. Time spent in God’s presence brings a reset to my soul and renews my mindset.


Lord, I choose to begin with thanksgiving. I will decide to make a list of all You have done and provided for me.

Lord, I choose to see the everlasting ruins You have provided to remind me of Your power. All the while, I will look up to seeing you enthroned forever.

Lord, today I choose to take a few minutes or even hours to hide in Your presence. Usher me into your soul-tending presence as I commit to sing praises and recall Your marvelous deeds.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have You Felt Depleted Lately? Psalm 79

Even after the warnings, God’s people could hardly believe the great disaster that fell upon Jerusalem during the Babylonian Conquest in 597 BC.

In the aftermath of war, Psalm 79 expresses the people’s grief about what had been done and left undone in the form of a community lament.

How Long, O Lord?

1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy Temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food,
the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.

3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. (Psalm 79:1-3 ESV)

The city was left in ruins. The Temple was ransacked and destroyed. By the end of the siege, bodies lay in the streets with no one to bury them. The people’s inheritance, the promised land, was covered in their blood.

4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us.

5 How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire?

6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! (Psalm 79:4-6 ESV)

Shame filled their hearts as God’s people begged for mercy and began asking Him to turn His wrath onto those who denied God’s existence. They questioned how He could protect His reputation with their neighbors without rescuing and restoring them. Does God need such a reminder? Does He need to carefully guard His reputation with those who don’t even acknowledge Him?

7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation.

8 Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. (Psalm 79:7-8 ESV)

How often have we failed to take a complete inventory of my sins? Do we regularly take time for confession, or do we wish to jump ahead to God’s compassionate response? Do we demand His quickest mercy so we can get to the forgiveness part more efficiently?

 9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake!

10 Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes!

11 Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die! (Psalm 79:9-11 ESV)

God’s people begged for compassion, forgiveness, and help. Desperation drove the urgency of their pleading. Finally, however, they acknowledged their sins needed atonement, and since the Temple was in ruins, they couldn’t go and make sacrifices. Only God can provide for these prisoners. 

They were once again quick to remind God to protect His reputation. Does God need such reminders? How often have we been so quick to point out how unfair we consider something to be? Does the God of the universe grow weary of our limited view and hasty judgments?

12 Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord! (Psalm 79:12 ESV)

God’s people also demanded vengeance (seven-fold) on their neighbors who taunted God. Does God need us to point out when others disrespect Him? Did He miss it by any chance? It seems unlikely. His endless patience with our need to keep score is yet another grace.

13 But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation, we will recount your praise. (Psalm 79:13 ESV)

Finally, in Verse 13, God’s people gain a proper perspective. They acknowledge their need for their one true Shepherd and pledge their thanksgiving for now and forever to the next generation.

As God’s people, we desperately need to spend time with our Good Shepherd. Expressing lament to God draws us closer to Him and brings healing to our souls. Most of us have not had our homeland destroyed, but smaller losses pile upon significant losses and chip away at our souls, leaving us desperate and depleted.

Lament is a necessary step in healing from the inside out. The healing balm of God’s presence brings about an abundant crop of gratitude. After all, we are charged with an essential responsibility to help our children and grandchildren to inherit a thankful and praise-filled attitude from us. Can I afford to take a few minutes to practice lament today?

Five Lessons Learned about God’s Love from a Sinner’s Situation – Psalm 51

(Man praying on a hill.)

When I was in fifth grade, I peered in the mirror smiling and discovered that my teeth were coated with red dye in various shades. Plaque disclosing dye tablets had done their job. My reflection revealed a real lack of dental hygiene in my 10-year-old self. The plaque had been invisible but now the dye made it glaringly obvious.

In 2nd Samuel chapter 12, God sends Nathan to confront King David about his sin. Nathan uses a simple story about a rich man taking advantage of a poor man to help King David to see his own sins. The narrative nail is pounded into David’s heart when Nathan enquires about what consequences a rich man should receive for slaughtering the poor man’s only lamb. David begins to list various severe punishments for the rich perpetrator and then Nathan adds, “You are that rich man.”

A sin-disclosing tablet is dropped into David’s life, and he is utterly overcome with the length and breadth of his sins. The consequences of his moral failings unleash some far-reaching results. Regret and humility spur David to pen Psalm 51 as a piece of lament.

What can I learn about love from a sinner’s lament about love?

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Psalm 51:1 NIV

1 God’s love comes first and foremost, even before I am forgiven. God’s love doesn’t give up but continues relentlessly to bring restoration and transformation.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Psalm 51:2-3 NIV

When David pursued a relationship with a married woman named Bathsheba, his sin was somehow not “before him”.

When David had Bathsheba’s husband murdered on the battlefront, so he could marry her, David refused to see his sin.

While David continued to choose sin over loving and obeying God, his desire to please himself, no matter the cost, grew.

Did the growing pile of sins obscure David’s view of his own guilt?

A lack of ability to see sin does not make it any less damaging. The consequences of David’s sin were significant and even deadly. And yet, God had mercy.

2. God’s mercy is borne out of His love for us.

It was out of mercy that the Lord sent Nathan to rebuke David. God sometimes places prophets in our lives or calls our friends to serve in a prophetic way. Has God ever sent a prophet to speak truth into your life?

David couldn’t see his sin, and then he did see all of it. He was devastated.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Psalm 51:4-6 NIV

  • 3. As my heart is filled with God’s love, my sensitivity to sin is restored. Conviction cuts deep, but God’s grace flows more. 

Reading through Psalm 51 reveals a rinse and repeat theme. Sin is ever-present and must be continually dealt with. In order to remain sensitive to sin, I must commit to regular confession. 

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:7-10 NIV

Repentant sinners are in desperate need of renewal. God is gracious enough to provide a deep soul reset whenever we ask Him.

11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Psalm 51:11-14 NIV
  • 4. God’s love and mercy blot out my transgressions and empower me to obey Him and teach others about His love.  
15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Psalm 51:15-19 NIV

  • 5 God’s love can be reciprocated with praise from a contrite heart and broken spirit.

David penned some of the greatest pieces of praise and lament in the Psalms. Surely his creativity and passion were fueled by his humility and repentance. For me, those plaque disclosing tablets taught me a valuable lesson. I saw my failure in dental hygiene and was able to take corrective action before I lost some of my teeth due to my own negligence. Sometimes I wish there were sin-revealing tablets to reveal my hidden sins. It is far too easy to become blind to my own moral failings. It is far too easy to become hard-hearted towards sin.

The good news is God loves me too much to allow me to remain in ignorance. He has provided the Holy Spirit to help me shine a light into every part of my heart and soul. On a regular basis, God calls me to do an inventory of my soul and root out sin.

Reading back through a repentance psalm like 51 gives me an opportunity to prayerfully consider what I might need to confess. Other penitential psalms to consider reading and praying through are Psalms 6, 31, 37, and 101.

Ultimately God’s love provides a pathway to reveal our sin. God’s generous provision through Jesus makes a way for reconciliation and renewal.

A Remedy for Soul Weary Days Psalm 16:7-11

Are you tired? Are you worn out?

God’s guidance continues to challenge me to dismantle the influence of hustle culture on my life.  For decades I’ve been immersed in the need to do more, work harder, and keep going. My type A personality struggles to avoid the trap that hems me in on all sides with chaos of competing calls to never stop. I will never arrive or complete what is most essential according to the world. Choosing the narrow way, and daily exposure to God’s directive for time management realigns my priorities.

The second half of Psalm 16 gives special direction for finding a place of refuge that refuels me on my journey. The ever forward motion can cease when I pause and rest with God. (See last week’s blog post for the first half of Psalm 16

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

When the dark of the night surrounds me it is easy to become disoriented and discouraged. How often has sleep been stolen by anxiety’s grip in the middle of the night, pulling back the covers and causing fears to loom larger? The worst dilemma is not facing a difficult decision, but it is actually the lack of clarity. In the night God will show up and give guidance. Perhaps it is in the night, when I finally get still, I can hear His voice above the hustle of this world.   

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.

10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

My rest is even found in celebrating in the security of my now and not yet. In a world full of anxiety and threats, I can rest assured in soul security found only in the Lord. I can know my eternal soul is safe forever in the company of God.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

True soul tending rest delivers gladness and thankfulness. I know where I am going with God. He will never leave me or forsake me. He has revealed a way to live in His presence, and I can escape an exhausting cycle of second guessing, criticizing myself, and striving to do more and more. The joy found in the presence of God is soul sustaining for the ongoing journey of life this side of heaven.

Lord, teach me to take time away with you to restore my soul in the rest. I choose to listen to the faithful counsel of your word and sit with you and rejoice. All I need is right here with you. Amen.

How do you find rest?