August 10 - The Psalms were a source of wisdom for ancient Israel, and they continue to touch our lives in this world of today. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” is how the 23rd Psalm begins. Although we don’t see many shepherds today, what does this image impart to you?
For me, as for perhaps many people, I learned this Psalm in Sunday school. Although I probably had no idea back then of what a shepherd really did, I have grown through the years to appreciate the image more and more. As I have learned about Bedouins, and shepherds in general, and have seen how the sheep truly are dependent upon the shepherds for their day-to-day life, I celebrate that God is with me in the same way, walking beside me, yes, day by day, and with every step on the way.
August 14 - Psalm 9 begins, “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” What thanks will you offer to God today?
For me, I love these opening words, because the first phrase centers us where our first thoughts ought to be, but then the second phrase is addressed directly to God, telling God that we will, in one way or another, share with others how wonderful God is. This is not just a general recitation of thanksgivings, but they are spoken to God in a very personal way. For me, today, I am grateful for the work that is before me, that has been entrusted to me.
August 16 - “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’” These verses come to us from the beginning of the 91st Psalm. In what ways is God a refuge for you? Or do you respond more to other phrases in these verses?
For me, God is indeed a refuge, a “place” where I can go in times of stress or trouble, but also where I can go for quiet and peaceful moments. I do certainly trust God, and know that I am always welcome in God’s heart. And I love that God's heart is so huge that there is room for every soul on this great earth that God created.
August 18 - Psalm 133 begins: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” How does Unity figure in your life?
For me, I love that my Disciples of Christ tradition is to welcome all viewpoints and to be open to all interpretations of things, something that I learned long ago and try to always live today.
August 21 - Psalms 113 to 118 are a collection that are used during Jewish festivals, including Passover. Psalm 113 begins, “Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD; praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time on and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” How, in your daily living, do you praise the Lord?
For me, part of that praise is in giving thanks for the gifts with which I have been blessed by God. I hope I also praise God by slowing down a little, and showing care for the creation, and through showing love and respect to others.
August 29 - Psalm 114 begins: “When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.” This in essence is saying that God took up dwelling within the people of Israel. It parallels other writings that speak of our being a temple wherein God lives and moves. In what ways is God living within you? How do you go about welcoming God?
For me, when I am at my best, I feel God moving within my thoughts and actions. Even when I don’t feel God dwelling within me, I still feel God’s presence accompanying me every day. The more I pray, the more I get attuned to God’s ways, the more of a welcome I offer to God.
September 1 - A portion of the 115th Psalm says: “O Israel, trust in the Lord! God is your help and your shield.” In what ways do you trust God, and how is God a source of protection for you?
For me, I trust God in all things, but sometimes I have my own agenda and don’t listen to God as carefully as I should. Yet, even in those times, God watches over me and cares for me. And maybe God whispers a little louder so that I might just stop and listen a little better.
September 11 - The 116th Psalm begins with these words: “I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because God inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.” How do you relate with God through prayer?
For me, I could argue with the wording of this Psalm, which seems to say that the Psalmist will love God because God responded to his pleas. I think we are to love God even when it doesn't seem like our prayers were heard because things aren't happening just the way we had wanted them to. But, I will take it in a better fashion, reading it to mean that God has assured me that we are in relationship with one another, and thus I will continue to bring both my cares and my praises to God. Oh, and let us remember that we are to do the same with each other, for we are to love one another even when things don't always go perfectly.
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