Why Am I A Missionary?

My Call To Be A Missionary

When I was in 4th Grade we did a unit on countries. My teacher gave us a booklet with the most basic information about a country in Africa where they speak Swahili. We learned maybe five words in Swahili, saw where the country was on the map, and learned about food and the safari type land in the area. I obviously didn’t master the material because I don’t remember the country, words, or food.

When it came time to pick our own countries I ended up doing Peru.

Why do I remember the day we learned about that country at all? Because sitting in my seat, holding that grey cardstock booklet, God called me. It was a clear call, and I was so sure of it that I didn’t get excited at all. It was as normal as my teacher saying, “You’re going to need a pencil, so please get one out now.”

Except God didn’t say now.

The call sat like a stone in my stomache for years. I remained as sure of it as in that initial moment, and have never wavered from believing God would accomplish His Call. Along the way I have been annoyed at the timing, confused by the places I have ended up, but I still know that God called me to be a missionary in Africa.

I am not in Africa.

When people come to Lebanon we want to know their expectations, what they hope to get out of the trip, why they feel the need to come. My answer is that God called me. Beyond that I usually can’t think of a reason. I don’t have the attachment to a people group or socioeconomic status or refugees, I only have God’s call sitting firmly inside of me.

Perhaps you are called to women, youth, artists, peers, large groups, small groups, unreached, ill, or battered people. Maybe you aren’t in a position to do what you have been called to do yet. Is there a way to equip yourself for that call where you are right now?

In my years here in Lebanon I have learned so much about loss. How could I have gone to Africa, a continent torn apart by wars, racial divides, and illness without empathy? I did not come to Lebanon with empathy. But now, this past month, I finally celebrated victory in that area. As we have been doing trauma counseling, I am finally learning the precious gift of empathy.

I needed these years of learning empathy and a vast number of other lessons. In addition, God has given me the gift of having the time to raise my children and to learn how to do that in a similar environment to America so that I would have a little less adjustment. I am blessed to be in Lebanon for this season. I am storing up lessons for the calling.

If you want to hear more stories about how Louis and Annie became missionaries, ended up in Lebanon, and what we are doing to help the refugees and Lebanese, please sign up to meet with Annie while she is in the States. This is the perfect time to connect with our ministry and be a part of our story.

How can you dig in where you are right now and get the most out of life?

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Serving as Senders Introduction


Over the next 8 weeks we will be walking through the book Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo. We have found that many people on our sending team have been amazing at sending us to the mission field but were left asking, “What do we do now? How can we support the Lisses now that they are in Lebanon?” Each week we will be sharing stories and how we are personally in need of help from our local churches. If you have already purchased a book they are available in the church offices at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church and Streams in the Desert Lutheran Church. If you want a book they are available at these locations as well as available to be purchased at Amazon.com and for Kindle download. You can also follow this blog each week for practical applications.


Early in our marriage Annie would come home from teaching and I would usually be studying for class. She would politely ask me a question about my day and how seminary classes were going and I would answer congenially. She then went into the bedroom to shower and change for the evening. When she returned she would ask me a follow up question from before she left, and I would strain to remember what she was talking about. She then would ask, “Do remember what we were talking about?”

I had moved on in my mind and panicked to try and recall the simple exchange we had just had. Seeing the blank look I was giving her she continued to ask, “When I leave the room do you still think about me?” I was too young to understand that this quickly went from a harmless interchange to an emotionally charged snare that I was about to barrel into. I innocently shared that, “I am intently focused on you when we are together, and once you leave I give the same laser focus to whatever is in front of me then.”

My young bride obviously did not receive this with the same calm composure that I was trying to encourage. Instead she felt hurt. She shared that when she left in the morning she thought about what I would be doing that day. During the day she was thinking about what we would be doing when we reunited. When she came home she checked in with me and then began to reevaluate how my check in affected the plans for the evening.

I had to confess that I thought about her much the way that I think about most people: When they’re in front of me. Our challenge for this study is to be more like Annie and less like me. We are so blessed by everyone in the states when we are there but feel the void when we are overseas. Most missionaries update their supporters 2-4 times a year, but we have made a commitment to stay in contact every month so that we can build up community. We have tried to make this study as practical as possible with clear applications. If you have any thoughts or questions in the coming weeks please share them with us so this can be as interactive as possible.


Jesus frequently uses questions to help us understand His teachings. Each week we will have three questions for personal reflection. Use these to help guide and challenge your own personal application for the section.

  1. In what ways do you feel like you are already blessing those who serve cross-culturally?
  1. How has having a global view of God’s work affected your own walk with Christ?
  1. Who are people in your own church & community that would benefit from seeing what God is doing around the world as well as across the street?

Sheep Stealing—Division is Multiplication

Right before we returned to Lebanon the ministry we were returning to split in half.

I have been part of three churches that have closed and two that have split in half, and in every situation it has caused a rippling current akin to a death and divorce all wrapped together. So when I heard that the ministry was splitting in half as I was preparing to return to the Middle East, a cold chill gathered at the base of my neck and I thought, “Not again.”

Instead, upon our return, I found something remarkably different than I ever could have suspected.

From the beginning of our ministry in Lebanon one of our core principles has always been that our outreach center is not a church. Our passion is to light a fire under the local church so that they would, for the first time, embrace evangelism and discipleship to those who are not from a Christian background and who are not Lebanese. We want the local churches to work together as a single organism in order to battle the forces that bare down against them. The challenge is that each church is in competition with one another, even within denominations, to be the best ministry in Lebanon and all are threatened by the competition of other local leaders.

So who is the person that we sent to bring unity to the disconnected body of believers? A singing carpenter.

Our worship leader, named Boutros went from parish to parish asking each pastor to come and preach to the refugees at our center. Everyone was happy to meet with a lowly carpenter, because he couldn’t possibly be a threat to anyone’s ministry. One by one the pastors came and saw what they didn’t think possible. There were hundreds of Christians freshly delivered from Islam praising and worshiping God. There was ministry being run by lay people of over a dozen different cultural backgrounds who shared only a passion to reach the lost.

When these pastors came to our staff and asked them what they could do to help they were all told the same thing: “Steal our sheep.”

Steal our sheep. They’re not ours to begin with; they are God’s sheep. So who are we to lay claim to them, and this ministry is really the job of the local church. Initially God used us to bring them into the kingdom. Then God began using local Lebanese leaders to disciple these believers. The churches went from looking down on Syrians to embracing them and are now able to boast about entire services filled from wall to wall with refugees from around the region.

Finally, something happened that we had been praying about for years.

A local church started its own refugee center in our neighborhood of Naba3. Those of our staff who were members at this church went fully equipped to start a new facility and continue the work of evangelism to the lost that we had begun.

This could have broken our ministry.

Half of our staff just quit and went to work at a center “in competition” with us just next door! It could have brought dissension. It may have even caused some to fall away and never return to worship. That has always been my experience and was my fear as soon as I heard what had happened. Instead when our leadership was approached by the church to let us know of their plans we were exuberant. The plan all along was to help the local church wake up.

Instead of dividing the ministries, now both centers are overflowing.

This has allowed us to enter into a season of discipleship. Those who remain at our location are ready to go deeper. Meetings that began with 50 people are now 10 meetings of 5 people each. Home ministry is increasing, and we are able to dig in and raise up the next wave of believers to bring people to Jesus. God is using this season to heal my heart as well. Instead of being heartbroken at the pain and loss of a church divided I can sit and saturate in the hope of glory shown through smooth transitions like this. God wants His family to work together and when they do the gates of hell cannot withstand it.

October Newsletter: Written by Louis Liss

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A “Normal” Day At The Center
     This is the view from the roof of our ministry center. Many of you been wanting to know about what an average day looks like for me as we do ministry here in Lebanon. Three days a weeks we spend in formal language training, Sunday is church, and every other day is a new and unpredictable experience. I have had trouble answering this question until now because of the extreme variation from one day to the next, but over the course of enough time certain patterns have begun to emerge.
     1st Public Transportation: I leave home and walk to the main street to wait from 10 seconds to 30 minutes for either a bus, mini-bus (van), taxi, or serviice (cheap taxi) to come by and take me to our refugee center for between $1 and $6.66 depending on 10 different variables and situations. I get dropped off on the side of the 5 lane highway and must run across to get into our slum called Nabaa. 2nd Discovering the Plan: When I walk through the gates of our Hope of the Nations Center I discover either 50 things I expected happening simultaneously or 1,000 things I didn’t expect. I had a meeting scheduled last week with someone living in the center and walked in to discover that the shared men’s bedroom had been turned into an OBGYN (Embarrassingly I only discovered this after opening the door) 3rd Riding the Wave of Chaos: After finding out what the day will hold. I get the amazing opportunity to share the gospel with refugees in my limited Arabic, Disciple the men living at the center and the high school boys who spend all day there, and meet with our interns about all the new challenges they are facing. 4th Evening Worship: We have a dozen different meetings during the week, but four days a week we have worship services for Kurds, Armenians, and two big combined services where 200 people and 100 kids come to worship at the same time as the evening call to prayer is pumped through the speakers of the local Mosque. Out of respect we crank our speakers even louder and flood the neighborhood with worship music. Finally, I take public transportation back to our apartment for a late dinner and to begin day 2: e-mails.

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High School Ministry
It turns out I like high schoolers after all. After spending my seminary internship as a youth director and running two-dozen retreats for high school students, I was confident that it was just a stepping stone to a bigger role in ministry. So I moved my entire family across the world only to discover that youth weren’t a stepping stone they were the destination. The adult men are amazing, but the ones who truly have a fiery passion for spending time in the word and a desire to be discipled are the young men. I want to share with you about my friend Rizan. He and his family are Kurdish Syrians who have been living in Lebanon for two years. He has lost so much time in school because of the war that he is three years behind in school, so he decided to instead spend all day every day at the Center. He has been reading through the Bible in a year and I asked him to bring me any question he has. So every time I see him we get to stumble through broken Arabic and broken English to answer his deep theological concerns. The church he attends is now sponsoring him to attend the local seminary since he is too ashamed to go to school. Please be praying for Rizan as he embarks on this exciting new part of his life and I continue discipling him through this process.

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New Job
As some of you know we became the Coordinators for Foreign Teams and Visitors in Lebanon. The plan for foreigners visiting Lebanon to do ministry at our center before we came has been: When they arrive at 1:00 AM from the airport we drop them off in our lovely slum named Nabaa where no one speaks English and let them fend for themselves until they need a ride back to the airport. For some reason people have not enjoyed this experience so far. With interns already coming before we arrived, we felt a clear call from God to care for and disciple these short term staff. So far we have had a young man named Andres from Mexico who came for a month and we still have a young woman here named Annie who will be with us until December.

We quickly threw together curriculum for Pre-Arrival, Orientation, and Continued Teaching. It has been an immediate success and has solved a dozen issues with our foreigners, their ministry, and harmony with national staff. It has been a tremendous blessing to us as well. We thrive and grow by being able to disciple men and women to share the gospel. It has been a very slow process for us to grow as quickly as we would like for ourselves at the center, because of the huge language barrier. This has been an amazing experience to make disciples who can affect change in peoples’ lives at the center in a short term context.

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Davey’s Arabic
     There is a standard 6 month breakthrough that missionaries experience where they start moving from surviving to thriving. The feeling of drowning begins to turn into a felling swimming as we persevere through cultural and language barriers. Davey struggled a lot initially not just because of sickness. When we left America he had an extremely high English comprehension and then being immersed in Arabic caused him extreme frustration because he couldn’t understand anyone.
     We have been working diligently to teach him Arabic greetings and phrases. This not only has brought him a lot of joy but is an amazing testimony to every Arab that we see who understand how committed we are to sharing about Jesus that we would teach our child their language. Because many Lebanese speak conversational English, it is common for English speaking missionaries to not learn Arabic. Davey is an amazing avenue for us to share that just as Jesus came and learned our language we have come to immerse ourselves in their culture in order to share the salvation of Jesus in Lebanon.

Christianese -Written by Louis Liss

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

I adore intellectualism. I lavish wading in the waters of hyper-cognitive conversations and am filled with a bolt of adrenaline at the opportunity to debate any given topic that pops up in daily dialogue. So when the Holy Spirit illuminated the Great Commission for me in high school as being imperative for my life, I felt uniquely equipped to stand in the middle of the courtyard and watch as my words brought down tongues of fire onto the campus. You can imagine how stunned I was when my incredible oratory and prowess in verbal sparring bore no fruit and sowed a lot of dissension towards not only myself but God in general. For some bizarre reason my puffed up pride did not convey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Beyond my arrogance, the greatest barrier to Jesus was the language I was using, which to me was clear and deeply significant. To my post-modern classmates the words, “Justification by grace through faith,” not only had no meaningful impact, but had no meaning at all. Though I had a comprehensive command of the theological principles of the road to salvation this did not impress my classmates enough to give their lives over to Jesus nor did they appreciate being dragged brain first across the threshold of salvation. So I stumbled through constant clumsy evangelism into college. It was there at our InterVarsity campus ministry that we played a game where we had to make a list of words that meant nothing or something completely different to our non-Christian neighbors. We made a long list of words including, for example, atonement, sanctification, and blood. Then we were asked to flip over the page and answer the following question without using any of those aforementioned words: What is the significance of the cross in your life? Jesus’ death on the cross was and is the most important manifestation of Christ in my life and so I feverishly began to write with growing fervor. I soon found that I was doing far more erasing than I was writing. I realized that I had become fully dependent on explaining my deep and passionate love for Jesus in a way that only I and those select few fluent in Christianese could understand. I then received a far deeper revelation from the Holy Spirit. I had been clinging to these insider terms during evangelism because I had placed my identity in my intelligence and not in Christ. I thought that it was more important that people were impressed by my knowledge of God than by God, and to bring the illumination to its completion the Holy Spirit finally told me that my amazing oration had drawn many people to myself but very few were then drawn to Him. So I began to take a John 15 set of shears to my language. I started to systematically reevaluate all of my beliefs about God and if it included any of the post-modern taboo words that I had listed then I moved it from the evangelism part of my brain to the discipleship section. I began to realize how deeply difficult this truly was. I found my post-modern friends were in no way interested with whether or not Jesus was true in what He said, but they were intently fascinated by whether or not these truths worked practically in my life. With my high church armor stripped I found myself exposed. These words had protected me from having to engage about my own struggles and failures. I now stood bare before the world with nothing but Jesus and my personal stories of his daily actions in my life. I sat one day in my hockey locker room surrounded by several guys I have known for well over 15 years. They would frequently recount the debaucherous exploits of our youth. After several months of stories a newer player who knew that I had been present for all of the depicted events asked me how it was possible that I could be a character in these stories from the past and now be a pastor and missionary who continued to consort with my former teammates. The characters in these tales were comprised of heroin addicts, a multiple rehab attender, a drug dealer whose family had to flee the state because of death threats, a prisoner for illegal pornography, adulterers, drunkards, three lifetime ban holders, and a rap sheet full of assaults to round out the tales that come to mind. Even as I began to speak I looked at my teammates through a haze of pot smoke. “How did you end up like you did after spending your life with these guys?” he asked. “I was lost, running in darkness and filling my life with anything that could make me not think about the pit I was in. I tried to pull myself out so many times and never could shake the darkness. Then I was invited to come to a youth retreat where Jesus met me and broke in with such amazing light that all of the darkness in me fled and all the venom in me was drained out. I was a new person with Jesus in my heart, and as for these guys. There’s no place that Jesus would rather hang out than in a hockey locker room. We all need that light in our lives.” The locker room that usually sounded like, well, a locker room was silent. One of my old friends leaned over and said, “Thanks Lou we need someone like you in around us.” Everyone agreed and as we were going out to play the game the new guy approached me and asked if we could talk more at the bar after the game. Of course I agreed and we had weeks of amazing conversations about Jesus and His light. While I am amongst someone who hasn’t yet taken that unfathomable leap into the arms of Jesus I now confess to know nothing but Christ and him crucified. It has transformed my life, my ministry, and truly proven to me that God was right when He spoke about all we need in Revelation 12:11, “They overcame [the accuser] by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” Amen and Ahmeen

For Other References To Christianese Click Here

Psalm 5 (Includes Next Week’s Reading Plan)

Reading Plan for June 30—July 5

June 30        Psalm 6

July 1        Psalm 7

July 2        Psalm 8

July 3        Romans 2

July 4        Psalm 9

July 5        Psalm 10

Overview

Yesterday the Psalm was an evening psalm, and today seem to be in the morning. Once again he is asking for God to defend him and be his shield among evil men who speak worthless and damaging things. The Psalm talks about God’s power to handle all those against him. In His love we can seek refuge in Him. A few of the motifs from our previous readings again are seen here: shield, blessed, a God who hears his people and fills them with joy.

Characters

The Psalmist, Lord, boastful, evildoers, those who speak lies, the bloodthirsty and deceitful man, my enemies, all who take refuge in God, those who love His name, the righteous.

Key Verse

Verse 7 “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.”

Verse 8 “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.”

These two verses both share the importance of God’s role in our righteousness. We are not righteous without God, and we cannot enter His Presence without His forgiveness.

Cross References

Psalm 132:7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”

1 Kings 8:29,30 “that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” P.S. this verse is in the midst of pretty powerful verses. I recommend you read the whole section.

Psalm 11:4 “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.”

Psalm 79:1 “O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.”

Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Psalm 25:4, 5 “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

Ezra 8:21 “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.”

Conclusion

    God is not contained by a building any longer, and if you read the section in 1 Kings you also read about God never truly being contained in the temple. The fascinating observation I had was in verse 4 when he is saying no evil can dwell with God, yet in God’s love he lets the psalmist into His temple. Once again we must rely fully on God’s righteousness. God is the righteousness that we need. God is the only one who can protect us because all there is to fear is His judgment. Man can do nothing to us, and if we are not with God it is still He who we should fear. I am so glad I used both verses as key verses today, because the Ezra verse is really beautiful. As my family is on this journey, we have found it so obvious that we are only here by God’s provision and sustenance, and we must remain humble before him as we continue, seeking His guidance with Davy and all our resources.

Jesus in the Psalm

    David relied on God for his righteousness, as we also must do to receive God’s favor. Jesus is our shield. His death and resurrection gives all of us the opportunity to come near to God with joy, confidence, and assurance of His protection. Romans 8:33-34 says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Once again this is just a sampling of a great section in Scripture. Soon we will get to this chapter in Romans, but go read ahead now and let this section bathe your own heart in confidence.

Today’s Application: Read the surrounding sections of the cross references today and any day to find God’s truth, and Jesus’ presence throughout Scripture and for you.

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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Psalm 4 & A Davy Application

Overview:

God hears the Psalmist’s cry. God has given relief from his distress. People bring him shame and speak vain words, seeking after lies, but God has set apart the godly for himself. The Psalmist is taking his anger and meditating silently, putting his trust in God. Others complain that there is nothing good. God fills the Psalmist’s heart with joy, which is better than the wine and food of the other people. Peace reigns in his life because he knows that God is in control, and he knows that God hears him.

Characters:

The Psalmist, “God of my righteousness”, men, the godly.

Key Verse:

Verse 8 “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Cross References:

Psalm 3:5 “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.”

Psalm 16:9 “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”

Leviticus 25:18, 19 “Therefore you shall do my statutes and keep my rules and perform them, and then you will dwell in the land securely. The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and dwell in it securely.”

Leviticus 26:5 “Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.”

Deuteronomy 33:28 “So Israel lived in safety, Jacob lived alone, in a land of grain and wine, whose heavens drop down dew.”

Conclusion:

    I am blessed to have God. He is the one protecting me and taking care of every day and night. Lately fireworks have been going off in the night because of the World Cup, Davy has not been going to sleep well, and there is always more to do. But, since committing to waking up before Louis and Davy so I could have quiet time, I cannot just stay up with excuses (Pinterest would really help me calm down…If I just read the rest of this book…If I just do the rest of the dishes…). I must do as Christ has called me, Annie, to do. I must go to sleep and rise early to meet with Him. Because of this commitment, I am seeing the fruits of it in my days. My nights, therefore, are less stressful because I know that God will continue to guard, comfort, and protect us all. He fills my heart with joy and peace throughout the day. And I can come to him easily because I know He hears me.

Yesterday during my quiet time I was praying for Davy. Louis went to the center for a big chunk of the day and would be going again in the evening. It is the longest Louis has left us alone since we got here, so I knew it would be a tough day with Davy. I prayed that Davy would have peace and not worry about Daddy. During Louis’ and my Bible Study on Romans in the morning, Davy began to stress out and get very upset. We stopped and prayed and he felt better. This happened throughout the day. It was a different day and our little toddler was thrown off by it. While God did not give him complete calmness and peace, I was equipped to handle and know what was happening with my baby. Because of this, I knew God had heard my prayer. Knowing that made it not matter that He didn’t do as I had asked.

Davy consistently lists the people he misses and wants to pray for. “Pray!” he will announce, slapping his hands together. We will ask him what he wants to pray for, and he will say a name or a list of names or he will say “Miss!” meaning he misses someone, something, or somewhere. We will pray together. This week we hung pictures of family and friends, and he sits on his bed looking at the pictures and prays on his own, too. It is important to me that he knows God hears our prayers, so we spend some time every Sunday on Anamnesis, remembering what God has done for us. This Psalm expresses all of that.

Jesus in the Psalm:

    I love the wording “O God of my righteousness” in verse 1, and the commentary says this about it, “David confesses his sole dependence on God’s “righteousness”—his commitment to do what is right and to rescue his covenant people.”* It is true that we are not righteous apart from him, and we must recognize our need for a Savior, for someone who is righteous. When we are seen as righteous, we know it is all God’s work in us. “This principle of God establishing his name through his people assures Christians that God will answer their “call” (v. 3).”*

My commentary also makes an interesting comment, that this is an “evening psalm”, which is a psalm that talks about the events of the day. As we go to bed, we hand over the day to God in this way. An application could be to use this Psalm as a sort of template to pray through in the evening.

Let’s look at the flow of this Psalm:

  1. Verse 1
    1. David remembers what God has done for him
    2. David confesses his sole dependence on God’s righteousness
    3. With confidence in the Redeemer’s righteousness rather than his own, David boldly asks God to be gracious

Hebrews 4:14-16 “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

  1. Verse 2
    1. David recognizes the problems around him
    2. And gives them over to God
  2. Verse 3
    1. David asks God to defend because God has “set apart” the “godly” for himself
    2. We can be assured that God will answer our call, too
  3. Verse 4 and 5
    1. We know we are God’s priority so we can call on him with trust, giving him our anger instead of taking care of it ourselves

Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”

  1. Verses 6-7
    1. The light of God’s face brings joy to his children but fear to our enemies (Exodus 14:24 Deuteronomy 30:6-7)
  2. Verse 8
    1. The remembrance of righteousness in verse 1 provides hope for the future
    2. The shepherd boy turned king rests in the promise that the Good Shepherd makes us “dwell in safety”

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

  1. We have faith in this Savior who loves us with tender care, too.

Here is an example:

My Savior, the One who sees the entire day behind me and before me, as I put Davy down I see the people you have called into your family with us. You do the calling and I ask that you call those who we love, but are still distant from You. So many around us are walking without a Savior, without truly living a life of meaning. I know you hear me, and as I lay down to sleep, I can give over my anger and resentments and hurts from this day to you. Many of them cannot be solved because the world does not know what it is doing. But the light of your face is made apparent every day, and I pray that you shine brightly around us at all times as a family. I have great hope that you will not only give us peace and rest this night, but You will draw near to others this night in dreams, visions, and a longing for you. Bring our loved one into the fold. Amen and goodnight, Sweet and Precious Jesus.

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in. For instance, the outline is my own way of summarizing the information in the commentary to make it applicable today.

It would be wonderful to get a collection of bedtime prayers from you. If you rewrite this Psalm and feel comfortable, please post it in the comments.

I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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Psalm 3

Overview:

When others slander and stir up doubt in your mind, rely on God. He is in charge of salvation. No one else can tell you whether or not you have salvation, but God, He is the only one who can assure you of your salvation. That assurance of salvation is well placed, too, because He is our shield and sustainer. He is the one who can lift us up. And He is a God who answers our cry to Him. We have nothing to fear from people.

So many verses here are applicable to anyone who feels attacked. Even by lies from our own inner voices or perhaps Satan, we can feel attacked. I know that doubt stirs up in my mind often. I had to read this Psalm through 4 times because I kept thinking about how this is right where I am, and then I realized I had stopped thinking about what I was reading, my eyes just continued to move. I have a friend who has shared about her own doubt in her salvation before, and I have my own doubts that make it seem like everything is hopeless. Perhaps you also have an inner voice influenced by the world or the Devil that seems to be trapping you.

But to wake up in the morning shows that the Lord has preserved me, and as I go through the day seeking Him, I will find His approval and plan for the day rather than remaining concerned about others’ plans. Then I realize I have nothing to fear from people, because God is in charge. And salvation, both eternal and from all bondage in this world, comes from God. So I lay even my doubts about little choices in His hand so that I am no longer paralyzed by even my inner voice. You take care of her, God, I only want to hear Your voice.

Characters:

Lord, my foes and enemies, myself, people.

Key Verse:

Verse 8 “Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah

Cross References:

Psalm 37:39 “The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.”

Psalm 62:7 “On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”

Isaiah 43:11 “I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.”

Isaiah 45:21 “Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.”

Jeremiah 3:23 “Truly the hills are a delusion, the orgies on the mountains. Truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.”

Hosea 13:4 “But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.”

Jonah 2:9 “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!””

Revelation 7:10 “and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!””

Revelation 19:1 “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,”

Conclusion:

    There are some excellent stories in the verses above. I think you could do a whole study on some of them alone. The fascinating thing about Psalms cross references is the variety of texts to which they send you. I might need to come back through here for more than just my Promise Box.

What is being expressed over and over about the salvation from God, is that He alone can provide it. Whether salvation from the stomach of a huge fish, salvation from a life of slavery or exile, throughout all of time, it is God our Lord alone who can provide salvation. Even from those pleasurable things that we think are awesome and filling that hole in us, but in reality bind us, God is the only salvation from those vices as well. I shared over the first two Psalms that my Christianese was being redefined in the word “Blessing” which was in our Psalm today also! Another word today that is standing out to me is “Salvation”. I tend to think of salvation only in terms of who is “saved” or not, but we have been saved from more than an eternity in hell. I have been “Saved” for many years, but I still need God’s salvation from that inner voice, from addiction and vices, from impatience and anger, and I am sure you can relate.

Jesus in the Psalm:

    Of course, salvation is found in Jesus, so an entire Psalm about salvation lends itself to sharing about Jesus. Jesus is the only way we can be saved for all eternity, and with Him is the only way to be saved from the sins in our life as well.

*The commentary also makes the connection between the “holy hill” in this Psalm and the hill Jesus dies on, both hills being used for sacrifice. But only the sacrifice of Jesus holds the power of salvation for mankind. This prayer/psalm walks through the three steps of saving faith: 1) Acknowledge that salvation can only be found through our Lord (verses 2, 8, and John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the lie. No one comes to the Father except through me.”). 2) Agreement that I need that salvation and shield as seen in verse 3 and Ephesians 6:11-13 in the armor of God. 3) Finally, I must have an authentic commitment, welcoming this salvation from God. 2 Corinthians 4 talks about how the world has blinded the unbelievers to “keep them from seeing the light of the gospel” (verse 4).

Finally, here are two more New Testament verses which relate to this Psalm and our assurance of being on the winning team:

1 Corinthians 15:57-58: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Colossians 2:13-15: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”*

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

Tomorrow: Romans 1

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Psalm 2

Overview:

This Psalm is talking about kings and rulers setting themselves up opposed to God. The Lord laughs at this because He is the King of Kings and has already set His plan in motion. A king, His Son, one who can ask anything of the Lord and He will receive a heritage. This Son is sent to destroy those other rulers. This Psalm serves as a warning to them so that they may turn and take refuge in the Son and be blessed. (In the commentary of Psalm 1 I found that “blessed” is corollary to the “redemptive presence of God.” This is helping me take the Christianese out of “Blessing” and have an application for it. So, those who take refuge in him are blessed means they will be connected to God’s redemptive presence, they could be redeemed. Also, the parts about his wrath and breaking them with iron and dashing them to pieces reminds me of the verse we just read in the lectionary this past week about Jesus not bringing peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34).

Characters:

The nations, the peoples, the kings of the earth, the rulers, the Lord, his Anointed, King on Zion, Son, a potter, and all who take refuge in him.

Key Verse:

    Sometimes it is so hard to pick a verse. Today I am going to be Annie about it and pick two. I think two that are key to the whole Psalm (and the entire Bible). With such an outright prophecy of Christ, I just can’t limit myself to one verse! Verse 6 & 7 together are key to the entire Psalm I think, with Jesus being the King and also Son.

Verse 6 & 7: “”As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.””

Cross References:

Proverbs 8:23 “Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.”

2 Samuel 5:7 “Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David.”

Psalm 110:2 “The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!”

Psalm 3:4 “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.”

Psalm 15:1 “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?”

Psalm 43:3 “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!”

Psalm 99:9 “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!”

Romans 1:4 “and he was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,”

Acts 13:33 “this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'”

Hebrews 1:5 “For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

Hebrews 5:5 “So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;

Conclusion:

    What exciting verses! Hebrews and Acts quote this Psalm because it is indeed about Jesus! It is so great that all of Scripture testifies about Him. Jesus, who is God’s Son, was appointed as king and high priest, so no ruler here has any power above that. Jesus will win. And if we choose Jesus, and have a relationship with him, we will be redeemed, saved, and on the victorious team. Also, these verses continue to show that while Jesus is a recapitulation of King David, Kind David could never match up to all the words here. Only Jesus is the perfect King, the wholly righteous, Salvation. No one else is, has been, or will be as holy as Jesus, the rightful heir to the nations.

Jesus in the Psalm:* Here is one that is so obviously about Jesus. In verse 2, the word “Anointed” is Messiah in Hebrew and Christ in Greek. The apostles used this Psalm to preach the gospel, and Hebrews explains that Jesus is the Son from this Psalm. Peter preached about the cross being a display of the rage talked about in this Psalm, and Paul that Christ became King due to his resurrection. Our relationship with Jesus is essential to our salvation. We are blessed in obedience to Him, and are saved through Him. Psalm 2 is fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible, so notes on commentary are coming from there.

What are your observations, comments, thoughts?

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Psalm 1

Overview of the chapter: (read it through at least 3 times)

Our righteousness is seen by God. A righteous man does God’s will, and meditates on His law at all times so that he can walk in the right way, and stand before God at the end. The wicked are nothing before a righteous God.

Main Characters:

The man of righteousness as defined in this Psalm, the Lord, trees with fruit and streams, the wicked.

Key Verse: (a verse of scripture that stood out to you)

Verse 6 “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

Cross Reference:

Psalm 31:7 “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul.”

Psalm 37:18 “The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever.”

Psalm 144:3 “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?”

Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”

John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,”

2 Timothy 2:19 “But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Psalm 37:5 “Commit your ways to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

Conclusion:

What encouraging verses! God is not blind to the wicked, but he does turn to those who trust him, he acts in favor of those who know him, and all his actions are those of a good shepherd caring for those sheep who are his own. He does not let them go astray or alone, he knows and hears our cries for him, our pain, and our depths.

Jesus in the Psalms:

Psalm 1 divides humanity into two camps, sinners and righteous. Jesus is at that fork in the road giving us the opportunity to become righteous with Him. The very first word of Psalm 1 brings to mind the redemptive presence of God because that is what “blessing” references in Scripture. Mary was called “blessed” because she was carrying Jesus. This Psalm also talks about delighting and meditating on the law. We now know this law became flesh, the Word of God, and that He himself says these Psalms are about Himself. Another key aspect to this Psalm is that we are not going to be able to just use good works. Here in this Psalm the judgment is talked about and that the Lord knows the way of the righteous. We know we will not be perfect, and before Jesus came and gave us the opportunity, no one could know they were destined for Heaven. They had to have a relationship with the Lord. We have to have a relationship with the Lord through Jesus now. Delighting in the law and meditating on it and submitting to Christ is how we are to live a righteous life.

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Please leave your own thoughts, key verses, and comments.