Posted in Explanations and Introductions

New Study Available!

Join me at lightforadarkseason.com for a Bible study to end the year.  This study is available as a printed book, but I will also be posting it day by day on the blog, as I did with Treasures in Psalms.

Read about it here.

 

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Posted in Daily Readings

Day 60: Psalm 148-150

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Read Psalm 148-150. These are all hymns of praise, calling on all of creation to praise its Creator.

Did you find treasure?

Treasure: Created to Praise

Let every created thing give praise to the Lord… (Psalm 148:15)

You created me to praise you,
so I have hope that you will give me a new song to sing
and many reasons to sing it.

Explore: Praising!

Read Luke 24:36-53.

The risen Jesus gave his disciples many instructions and then returned to heaven. I wonder what emotions filled their minds as they waited for their next chapter. Fear? Excitement? Bewilderment? How did they choose to spend their time?

So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God. (Luke 24:52-53 NLT) 

Responding to Treasures

What have I learned on my journeys through Psalms this year? What have my treasures taught me?
I learned the importance of being reminded of simple truths.
I soaked in the comfort of God’s delight.
I remembered the value of praying God’s word.
I discovered the joy of chewing on bite-size portions of scripture.
I remembered that friendship works both ways: God delights in me, and I praise and worship him reverently.

Photo copyright 2017 Amy Mayfield

Posted in Daily Readings

Day 59: Psalm 146-147

Read Psalm 146-147.

Treasure: Delight

He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might.
No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his unfailing love. (Psalm 147:10-11 NLT)

Again I see that you delight in me.
Again this calls me to want to know you better,
to fear you—trusting you in reverent awe—
and to place my hope in your unfailing love.

Explore:  When All Thy Mercies O My God

When all thy mercies, O my God,
my rising soul surveys,
transported with the view, I’m lost
in wonder, love, and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul
thy tender care bestowed,
before my infant heart conceived
from whom those comforts flowed.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
my daily thanks employ,
and not the least a cheerful heart
which tastes those gifts with joy.

Through every period of my life
thy goodness I’ll pursue,
and after death in distant worlds
the glorious theme renew.

Through all eternity to thee,
a joyful song I’ll raise;
for O, eternity’s too short
to utter all thy praise.

–Joseph Addison, 1712

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. (Psalm 146:1-2)
Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. (Psalm 147:1)

Posted in Daily Readings

Day 58: Psalm 144-145

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Read Psalm 144-145.

Treasure: Examples

All of your works will thank you, Lord,
and your faithful followers will praise you.
They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
they will give examples of your power. (Psalm 145:10-11 NLT)

I find hope and encouragement in the testimonies of friends
who share their life stories and everyday victories,
because I know you will give me a story to share also.

Explore: Hebrews 11

Read Hebrews 11. This is the great faith chapter of the Bible, reminding New Testament believers of the Old Testament heroes. Notice the variety of different people represented here: Abraham the father of a nation, Rahab the prostitute, and unnamed people wearing goatskins. Is there an Old Testament person you wish you could meet? Whose story would you love to hear in person?

photo credit: Katy Wrathall Promise via photopin (license)

Posted in Daily Readings

Day 57: Psalm 141-143.

Read Psalm 141-143.

Treasure: You Know My Way

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! (Psalm 141:2)
When my spirit faints within me,
you know my way!… (Psalm 142:3)
As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
you know how I’m feeling… (Psalm 142:3 Message)
I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah (Psalm 143:6)

You know my way, Lord.
When I am weary or despairing,
when I have  no words, only lifted hands
(or tired eyes staring at the ceiling),
you hear my scattered thoughts
and you care.

Explore: Where Else Would I Go?

As I read the psalmist’s prayers of longing for God, I am reminded of Peter’s statement in John 6. Read John 6:63-69.

Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:69 Message)
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.
Make me to know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. (Psalm 143:8)
Then I pray to you, O Lord.
I say, “You are my place of refuge.
You are all I really want in life.” (Psalm 142:5 NLT)


Posted in Daily Readings

Day 56: Psalm 138-140

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Read Psalm 138-140.

Treasure: Strong One Who Rescues Me

On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased. (Psalm 138:3)
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me. (Psalm 138:7)
O Sovereign Lord, the strong one who rescued me,
you protected me on the day of battle. (Psalm 140:7 NLT)

O strong one who rescues me,
I praise you for your saving power.

Explore: My Psalm

For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance:
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalm 139:13-16)

I call Psalm 139 “my psalm.” Verses 13-16 are my story—or the beginning of my story. While my mom was pregnant with me, she had some health issues, and her doctors took some x-rays (they did that to pregnant women forty years ago), but they found nothing.

When I was six months old, my mom was diagnosed with cancer (multiple myeloma, to be precise). The doctors looked back at the previous x-rays and found things they hadn’t seen before. My mom and dad always felt that God hid the tumors from the doctors while Mom was pregnant, so that she could give birth to me without making any hard choices about having treatments while pregnant or whether the pregnancy was a risk to her life. Though those tumors were hidden from the doctors, I was not hidden from God. He saw me. He planned every day of my life.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
(Psalm 139:16 Message)

Photo copyright Amy Mayfield, 2017

Posted in Daily Readings

Day 55: Psalm 135-137

Read Psalm 135. This psalm praises God for his power.

Read Psalm 136, a psalm of thanksgiving.

Read Psalm 137, a lament by God’s people in captivity in Babylon. They are sad, they are angry, and they long for their captors to be punished in the brutal ways that the captors had treated them. The depth of their anger is startling in the last verses.

Did you find a treasure?

Treasure: Compassion

Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song
in this wasteland? (Psalm 137:4 Message)
[Give thanks] to him who led his people through the wilderness… (Psalm 136:16)
For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants. (Psalm 135:14)

Thank you, Lord, for your compassion and your guidance
on the days when I don’t feel like rejoicing.

Explore: a Praise Pattern

Psalm 136 is a template for a simple prayer of thanksgiving: state a blessing, and repeat his faithfulness. You can stick to recent blessings, or look back over your entire life. Use different versions to find the phrase that sounds most natural on your tongue today: The ESV uses the phrase, “His steadfast love endures forever.” NLT says, “His faithful love endures forever.” Amplified expands on the theme, “His faithful love and mercy endure forever.” The Message states simply, “His love never quits.” I used each of them as I contemplated blessings today.

I thank you, Lord for clouds and coolness today,
for your faithful love endures forever.
I praise you, Lord, for your faithfulness in every season,
for your steadfast love endures forever.
Thank you for the spaghetti sauce bubbling in my crockpot,
for your faithful love and mercy endure forever.
Thank you for reminding me to plug in the crockpot before I left today,
for your love never quits.

Responding to Treasures

I gave up caffeine a week ago. I am calmer and less anxious. I am also napping twice a day and I can hardly focus on anything. “I am calmer,” I told my friend, “but what’s the point?”

But today I reviewed the last week’s psalms—decaf in hand—and I saw that the Lord will show me how to live, really live (even without coffee):

To live in the light of his word
To live in his strength
To live surrounded by his love
To live longing for him
and to live conscious of his leading.

Comfort me so I can live, really live… (Psalm 119:77 Message)

(NOte: I was able to add caffeine back into my life in small doses.)

Posted in Daily Readings

Day 54: Psalm 130-134

33329189321_eee2cc9be6_nRead Psalm 130-134.

Treasure:  Longing

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning. (Psalm 130:5-6)
I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn,
yes, more than sentries long for the dawn. (Psalm 130:5-6 NLT)
 
It is you I am longing for, Lord—not a change in situation or location—just you.

Explore: Waiting for the Lord

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord! (Psalm 31:24)
Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:18)
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him. (Lamentations 3:25)

In an article at Relevant magazine, author Larissa Peters defined “waiting on the Lord” as “praying without an agenda.” She said that “waiting on the Lord” didn’t mean inaction, it meant praying with the goal of knowing him better. That made me see another way of looking at this phrase. I think I have sometimes defined “waiting on the Lord” as “waiting for the Lord to do this specific thing I have been asking him to do.” But his plans are better than mine, and he might never do that specific thing. I can trust him with my requests, study his word to know him better, and rest in his love.

photo credit: Calpastor Sunset Over Solvang via photopin (license)

Posted in Daily Readings

Day 53: Psalm 125-129

Read Psalm 125-129.

Treasure: Surround

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people. (Psalm 125:2)

Las Vegas is a long way from Jerusalem, but it too is surrounded by mountains. Our mountains hold sunrises and sunsets, and occasionally a dusting of snow. Today the mountains have vanished behind layers of clouds, yet I am confident that they are still there.

Remind me, Lord, that you still surround me even when I cannot feel you.

Explore: Surrounded

You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance…(Psalm 32:7)
… Steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. (Psalm 32:10)

Sometimes God’s presence and power are obvious to us, but other times we can’t see any indication of them. Enjoy this story of Elisha the prophet and his servant. Read 2 Kings 6:8-10.

Posted in Daily Readings

Day 52: Psalm 120-124

27909933816_e7b75983c5_nRead Psalms 120-124.

Note on Psalm 121: Beth Moore comments on the idea of the moon causing harm: “a commonly held belief in the ancient world was that seizures were caused by long or intense exposures to haunting effects of the moon.”

Regarding the promises of safety in Psalm 121, Beth Moore says that what was true of the Israelites on their pilgrimage is just as true of us in our spiritual journey. “God always protects His children. Yes, often from the physical threats of the world around us, but always in the unseen realm where demons hiss…Our feet do not slip in a world so real, so vivid, that ours is a shadow by comparison. The Lord lets no harm befall us in the world where the truest threats lie.” (Beth Moore, Stepping Up)

Treasure: Source

I look up to the mountains,
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. (Psalm 121:1-2 Message)
To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us. (Psalm 123:1-2)
…Your Word is the source of my hope. (Psalm 119:114)
 

I will not find hope or help by gazing at the horizon; I have hope because I know the source
of strength
of answers
of help
of protection!

Explore: Psalms of Ascent

Psalms 120-134 are called the Psalms of Ascent. They were sung by worshipers who travelled to Jerusalem each year to celebrate various festivals. Worshipers may have sung these as they ascended the steps of the temple.

I was fascinated by the difference in attitude in the first three psalms. In 120, the writer calls out to God about his suffering. In 121, he looks up and remembers the Source of his help. By 122, he is rejoicing to worship. I am not sure that the three psalms were all written by the same person, but I think they were placed in this order for a reason. I read these three psalms in the middle of my season of persevering—except I wasn’t calling it “persevering” yet, I was just aware that I was not feeling joyful! I was encouraged to see the themes of these pilgrim psalms and to imagine a pilgrim on a long journey to Jerusalem and to realize that he did not necessarily begin the journey in a joyful mood. He knew he was called to make the trip, so he went. And the joy came as he journeyed.

photo credit: Aspenbreeze POWER … via photopin (license)