Prayer Map – Interceding with Psalm 107

“Father, she is dwelling in darkness and in the shadow of death – so surrounded by this temporal, dying world and the lies of the enemy that she cannot see. As a result, she’s a prisoner in misery and chains – bound by lies, confusion, hurt, sadness, and a lot of anger. It’s mostly the result of rebelling against Your words and having spurned Your counsel. From there, You have allowed her heart to be humble with labor – struggle, strife, and wearisome effort. And all her best efforts don’t bring her the peace and comfort for which she longs. She stumbled under the load, and there was none to help. Her friends are all pretty much in the same condition. They can “feel your pain,” offer some companionship, but no real help.

So, Lord, grant her the desperation and the grace, the insight and the courage, to cry out to You in her trouble, for You have declared that You are a rewarder of those who seek You – so I know that when she calls out to You and seeks You as her answer, You will be found – You will reward her search.  Abba, she will find that You have saved her out of her distress. Bring her out of darkness and the shadow of death. Break her bands apart.

Give her vision to see Your lovingkindness, and let her give thanks to You for it, and for all Your wonders to the sons of men! Let her see that You have shattered gates of bronze and cut asunder bars of iron, not only freeing her from her prison, but also destroying the defenses of the enemy so that she might run through the territory that the enemy has sought to claim and in victory reclaim it in You, in Your power and strength, and to the praise of the glory of Your grace.” – based on Psalm 107:10-16

Psalm 107 is an incredible road map for intercession. In about 5 paragraphs dealing with a variety of crises, David shows how those situations ensnare us, bring us to the point of seeing our need and spiritual emptiness, and crying out to God for help. He declares the faithfulness of God to deliver those who cry out to Him and urges them to give thanks for God’s faithful deliverance.

Paul understood the concept and the extreme value of giving thanks, pointing out in Romans 1 that it was a lack of thankfulness that contributed to men become foolish in their speculations, harden their hearts and become wise fools embracing their own explanations of the nature of the world and worshiping creation instead of the creator.

I have been through enough in my lifetime to know with certainty that God uses our life situations to help us learn to let go of the temporal and embrace the Eternal. And I have found that giving thanks is perhaps the ultimate expression of trusting that God is faithfully working in my life, using each situation.

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Is there someone for whom you are interceding? Maybe there is someone for whom you want to pray, but are not sure how? Take a look at Psalm 107. Maybe you’ll find the words to pray, right in God’s own written word.

Sheep in the House

I’ve been considering God’s presence and His house, in part because of several songs which have that theme, including 3 or 4 based on Psalm 84. Recently, as I was singing some of these songs on a Sunday morning, Psalm 23 came to mind. At first, I didn’t get the connection:  on the one hand “house of the Lord,” on the other hand “pasture.”  Apparently, David the Shepherd got it.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want [or lack];
He makes me lie down [content, well fed, secure] in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters [safe, peaceful, refreshing],
He restores my soul [which has been damaged and in need of restoring],
He guides me in paths of righteousness [for I won’t find righteousness in my own ways, strengths, or doing]
For His Name’s sake [and since it is for His glory we can be sure He will not fail],
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death [because of this we make this Psalm a funeral psalm, but it’s really a life psalm],
I will fear no evil, for You are with me [all day, everyday, always we are in His presence; He never leaves or forsakes us anywhere, anytime, no matter how the evil of this dead/dying world surrounds us],
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me [our Shepherd has a rod of iron to ward off our enemies]
You prepare a table [living water and living bread; the Living Word] in the presence of my enemies [in the world, not of it; eternal, not temporal; spiritual]
You have anointed my head with oil [oil of healing, oil of power, the indwelling Holy Spirit];
My cup overflows [abundance; grace lavished upon us]
Surely goodness and mercy [lovingkindness] will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

So, I guess that would be considered a mixed metaphor. Sheep dwell in a pasture. People dwell in a house. God has chosen to indwell His people.

“….Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). “Christ was faithful as a Son over His house – whose house we are….” (Hebrews 3:6). David knew that whether you compare us to sheep in a pasture, worshipers in the temple, or people in a house, we have a God who cares for us, provides for us, watches over us, and invites us into His presence.

“How Lovely Your Dwelling Place” by Tommy Walker – Maranatha Praise Band “Pure Joy” on YouTube.

Thankful for a Voice


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Thankful for a Voice

My good friend, Dennis Jernigan, is a psalmist. He writes praise and worship songs. He prefers to think of himself as a song receiver. And that seems accurate – his songs are from the Lord, and they touch hearts and lives and are meaningful songs of worship not just for Dennis but for others as well. As a worship leader, Dennis mainly seems to just sing from his heart and worship the Lord. He doesn’t direct or control the worship experience, he just worships and invites you to do the same. He embraces the Father and it’s easy to join him in song and do the same.

DJ-1

Trish and I went to a “Night of Praise” led by Dennis this past Friday night in Oklahoma City. This, by the way, is a monthly event. You can see the schedule for these and other events dennisjernigan.com. The next three will be at Emmaus Baptist Church in south Oklahoma City.

My voice is weaker than it was before I had cancer. It is not as resonant as it once was. It tires more easily. I don’t have the same range I used to. It feels strained with prolonged use, especially if I sing loud or shout. There were several times Friday evening I just wanted to shout out praises to God. We have attended churches in the past where that was totally acceptable behavior. And, it is at Dennis’ Nights of Praise. However, since my bout with cancer six years ago, shouting does not work well for me. My voice is weaker than it was before. Mainly as a side affect of seven weeks of radiation, the tissues and muscles in my throat lack the elasticity they used to have. A shout usually comes out okay, a little less volume, and a little less resonance, but then it kind of catches and my throat feels almost shredded and abused and it takes a minute or two to recover.

You know what? I have a voice. I had throat cancer, and I have a voice. I can still sing praises to my Lord. I can still worship. I can talk. I can pray. I can talk to my family, my wife, my friends. I not only survived cancer, I came through throat cancer still able to talk and sing and pray. Satan was not allowed to silence me. I am blessed.

Father God, thank You for healing. It is not about me, or how well I sing, or how pretty my voice is, or even whether or not I can shout (much less how loud). It is about You! I do not have to yield in silence while creation praises God. I can join in and honor You with my praises. Lord, I humbly thank you. I joyfully thank you. I enthusiastically thank you!

The Monster Called Mundane

It’s been a tough couple of weeks in the “for all things” category. Have you ever found things not going your way at work? Have you been mistreated by your employer and/or your customers? Lied to? Overworked?

I could go into the details, but I’m afraid it would come across as just complaining, and would feed back into my own frustrations. On the other hand, it might show anyone reading this that we share some common ground. Suffice it for now to say, it has been a miserable couple of weeks with a lot of challenges. And, frankly, I have not met all those things with “giving thanks for all things.”

This morning, I finally got up and spent a little time with the Lord, singing and worshiping. Then I sat down and opened my Bible, and said, “Lord, I’ve read the book. Where do I need to read today.” I looked down at Psalm 52. David was running from Saul and his hiding place was given away by Doeg the Edomite. David wrote the Psalm to say, “You think you are so cool and that you are getting away with doing evil, but it is going to catch up with you someday.” Then he ends it with:

“I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever,
I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.”

David was still hiding out from Saul. He was still betrayed. He was still in danger. Yet He remembered that God loved Him and cared for Him. God is faithful. God is trustworthy. We can wait on Him, and know He will come through for us, when no one else will. We can give Him thanks forever, because He is a God who “does.”

I realized that all the stuff that was so frustrating to me, that was stealing my joy and making me miserable, was just the mundane, everyday stuff of life. It is all temporal, and only matters as I allow it to interfere with my walk with the Lord, or as I allow the Lord to use it to draw me to Him.

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We can give Him thanks even before we see the a way out, because we know He is faithful. Click To Tweet

Two Dreams


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Two Dreams

The “alarm cat” went off a little early this morning. Our cat, Flower, wakes me just about every morning requesting breakfast, usually shortly before the alarm clock goes off. He was about an hour early this morning. I told him so, scratched his head a little, and went back to sleep. Flower left me alone for about an hour before returning for his second effort to get breakfast. During that time, I had a couple of dreams.

In the first, I was preaching about giving thanks. I said, “The first word out of your mouth when you wake up in the morning should be, ‘Thank You.'” I contrasted that with some other options like: “I want to sleep,” “I ache [from yesterday’s yard work],” “Bleah.” Then I reiterated, “‘Thank You, Lord,’ should be the first words out of our mouths each morning.”

DreamShower

In the second dream, we had company. It was early morning and some of the kids were sitting on the day bed in the sewing room, visiting. I was going to take a shower. Still in my robe and pajamas, I reached in and turned on the water, and realized there were some paper bags of fabric on the floor of the shower stall. My wife had apparently put them there to get them out of the way. I tried to grab them quickly and toss them out before they could get too wet. As I did, I realized they were really getting soaked, and there were more there than I first noticed. I shut off the water, and angrily tossed the bundles on the floor. As I did, there just seemed to always be more. There were bags and random craft project pieces all around me. Then I realized I was standing in about an inch of water. I tried to brush it back into the shower stall, but the drain was clogged. I frantically searched the clutter for a plunger, finally finding it in a corner. It didn’t really fit the drain, but it worked and the water began going down. I was sure some had seeped under the door into our bedroom. I opened the door to see about a four foot wide swath of drenched carpet across our bedroom. I closed the door to shut out the scene, and stood there disheartened and frustrated.

About then, Flower returned and woke me up. It was one minute before the alarm was to go off. It is amazing how often he wakes me up within a couple of minutes before the clock does. How does he do that?

Anyway, as I got his breakfast I reflected on the dreams. The first was pretty cool, I thought. I would love more opportunities to preach and share the message of extreme thankfulness. And, it was a good reminder to start my own days with a thankful heart, and not grumbling. Then, I wondered about the second dream. As I thought it through, it struck me. In the dream, the more irritated and frustrated I got with the situation, the worse it got.

Isn’t that the truth? When we let our situations get us agitated and irritated, they usually get worse. The more upset we get, the more complex and messed up the situation gets.

The more I really grasp the value of being thankful for all things, the more often my first response to a frustrating situation is to say, “Thank You, Lord.” Sometimes, that is all it is, just saying it. That’s okay. Just saying it can start the process toward being it. However, the more often I do it, the more I see the power of it. My spirit is encouraged. My faith is strengthened. The more often I see the power of it, the more quickly I can say, “Thank You,” and truly be thankful.

As I see the power of expressing faith thru thankfulness, the more quickly I say 'Thank You, Lord'… Click To Tweet

When we respond with aggravation, situations usually get worse. When we respond with thankfulness, we get better even if the situation does not improve immediately.

What Is Your Battle?


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What Is Your Battle?

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. People from all over the earth have found that God cares. From the east and the west; from the north and the south – from the four “corners,” or hemispheres of the earth – those who have found healing and deliverance are urged to proclaim their redemption with thanksgiving.

Where does it hurt? What is your struggle? What is your battle? Even more:  What is the solution? Does anyone care?

Psalm 107 addresses those questions. It is a great place to go to find out how much God cares for you. It is likely as you read it you will see yourself or someone you love in one or more of the sections of the chapter. What follows is sort of a paraphrase of Psalm 107.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

I’ve always wondered why spell check doesn’t like the compound word “lovingkindness.” Maybe it is because it is archaic; appearing mostly just in the Old Testament. Maybe it is because few people really believe that God is loving and kind. The word it translates is the Hebrew word chesed (חסד). It means mercy or compassion. However, it is not just feeling sorry for. It is love that acts with kindness to relieve the suffering it sees.

Give thanks to Him. He satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry soul with what is good. When you feel like you are in a wilderness, with no place of comfort, no place to call home; when you feel you are fainting spiritually or emotionally from an inner starvation – cry out to Him, and you will find His deliverance. It is wonderful to see His lovingkindness at work.

Give thanks to Him. He slices through iron bars of bondage and shatters the gates that keep you imprisoned. When all around is the doom and gloom of death row; when sin has you bound in chains because you have rejected Him; when life is a struggle and you feel weighed down and weary – cry out to Him, and you will find His deliverance. He forgives and liberates. It is wonderful to see His lovingkindness at work.

Give thanks to Him. Thank Him as though you are offering your thanks on an altar. Sing for joy because of His mercy. He sends His word and heals, and delivers from the destruction we have made of our lives. When your own foolishness and sin have resulted in turmoil; when even food loses its appeal; when death seems like your only possible release from the mess you have made – cry out to Him, and you will find His deliverance. It is wonderful to see His lovingkindness at work.

Calm

Give thanks to Him. Do not be afraid to do it in public. Lift Him up before others. He calms the storms of life and brings us into a safe harbor. When you are miserable, and tossed around by life to the point of staggering ; when you are at your wits’ end; when the roller coaster waves of life have you sea-sick, nauseous and you feel your soul is melting away – cry out to Him, and you will find His deliverance. It is wonderful to see His lovingkindness at work.

Think about His lovingkindness like this:
Sin can take us from a place of plenty and  turn life into a wilderness. God takes a wilderness and turns it into fertile land, providing food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty and a place to belong – an “inhabited city.” He takes it a huge step further. Not only does He provide for us, but He gives an abundance – fields, vineyards, a fruitful harvest.

He does not say there will not be times when the enemy comes to oppress. I love the passage in Daniel 10, where Daniel had been praying for three weeks. An angel appeared and said he was sent out when Daniel began praying, but was detained by the “prince of Persia.” Has Satan assigned demons to specific countries (perhaps even cities, maybe even businesses) to serve as “princes” in his efforts to rule over men? God pours contempt on princes and makes them wander a pathless waste! He sets the needy securely on high away from affliction.

Thank you, Lord, for taking me out of my wilderness and bringing me to a place of plenty, for satisfying my soul. O the bliss of those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be satisfied. Thank you that when the enemy would come against me and try to send me back to the barren past, he is the one who winds up in the wilderness. It truly is wonderful to see Your lovingkindness at work.

What are you thankful for today?

I Choose Thanks

I guess this could be one of those “Well, duh!” moments.

I have a blog that’s about giving thanks always for all things. What I post here, ultimately, is about giving thanks. Not every post may seem so, but those that do not are building the case for those that do.

Today, really for the last couple of weeks, I have been wrestling with direction. I could just pick up with the next page from my book/manuscript and post what follows my previous post – “Work That Doesn’t Work.” For some reason, I just have not been able to feel at peace with going there. Or maybe I’m not feeling confident with going there.

So, I guess the best thing for me to do is to just give thanks.

Thank You, Lord, that I am unsure what direction to go. Thank You for knowing in my heart the value of what You have taught me in my own life. Thank You for teaching me these lessons through, and using them to see me through, the various experiences of life. Thank You for career changes, a failed marriage, a failed business, financial struggles, cancer. Thank You for a wonderful wife, four amazing children, and eleven grandchildren. Thank You for using all these things, and more, to teach me about Your incredible faithfulness and relentless tenderness. Thank You for my uncertainty as to where to go with this blog, my uncertainty as to whether anyone else really wants to hear or read the truths I have come to hold so dear.

Here’s a little something extra:
A Christian music classic by Ron Salsbury – “I Choose to Follow You”

How about you? Have you ever been stumped for direction? How do you respond when you aren’t sure which way to go? Have you ever felt like you had something that needed to be said, but you were not sure anyone would listen? Feel free to comment.