April 18 – April 24, 2017

WORD

1Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.  2I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”  3As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.  4Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.  5The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.  6The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.  7I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.  8I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  9Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.  10For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.  11You show me the path of life.  In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:1-11

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

As I read this psalm, I am reminded of a line from a psalm that follows not too far after this one: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5).  God’s promise of protection does not mean that we will be free from stressful, dangerous, uncomfortable situations.  God’s promise of protection means that when we find ourselves in those stressful, dangerous, and uncomfortable situations, God will be there with us, pouring the Holy Spirit out upon us until our spiritual cup is filled to overflowing.  When we find ourselves seated at the enemy’s table, God is there waiting upon us and setting out our path to salvation.

When we cry out “Protect me!” to God, it is an admission that we cannot handle the great stresses that come our way (or the small ones!).  What overwhelms us does not overwhelm God.  God desires to be our place of refuge and security.  There is no shame in hiding away in God – there is only peace.

Look at the picture of the tower and walls above.  They were constructed to keep certain people and things in while keeping certain other people and things out.  In the same way, God’s love seeks to keep us within the walls of his goodness, mercy, and compassion while shielding us from evil, shame, and destruction.  All who seek safety in the walls of God’s love and grace are welcome within the walls; no one who desires to come in and live int he refuge of God will be left out.  In the tower, the Spirit of God searches the spiritual landscape to spy out and ward off that which would threaten to undo us.

Do you ever feel like you are overwhelmed or about to be undone?  Does your soul ever cry out, “Protect me!” to God?  Do you ever feel like you have been left out in the cold and you cannot find a way in to the place of God’s peace and sabbath rest?  Hear the invitation to enter the security of God’s presence, love, and grace.  There is only one condition: you must trust the one who is protecting you.  That means you no longer get to do it on your own and you no longer get to decide who is allowed in or out.  Find your hope within the safe embrace of God and find refuge.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, April 18 – Nehemiah 11
  • Wednesday, April 19 – Nehemiah 12
  • Thursday, April 20 – Nehemiah 13
  • Friday, April 21 – Hosea 1
  • Saturday, April 22 – Hosea 2
  • Sunday, April 23 – Hosea 3
  • Monday, April 24 –  Hosea 4

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

What is good in your life?  In what ways has God filled your life with goodness?  In the book of James we read that “every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).  In your prayers, take time this week to thank God for the good, perfect gifts in your life.  Perhaps you can take a gift a day and pray in gratitude specifically for that one gift.  Let God speak divine love to you through what has been given to you.  As you pray, ask God to reveal to you how you might show your gratitude for those gifts, in addition to speaking your gratitude.

Meditation Focus: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.

Imagine your life as a large field.  You stand in the middle of this field fully able to view everything about you that is spread out around you.  You see those persons and situations and things that you find precious as well as those that are a challenge for you.  Now imagine God setting up boundary stones around you.  Using these boundary stones, God is planning to build a strong rock wall around you.  This place will be your refuge and safe haven.  Call out to all those persons and situations and things that you find precious.  Invite them into the gate of the boundary wall, to abide with you in this safe haven.  Call out to all of those persons and situations and things that represent stress, danger, or sorrow for you.  Command them to stay outside of the boundaries of that wall.  Watch as God and all that which you find joy in work together to make this a pleasant place of refuge for you.  Save this scene in your mind and use it as a sanctuary of the mind to which you can come when you need spiritual shelter.

Journaling Focus: You show me the path of life.  In your presence there is fullness of joy.

How do you define joy?  How do you know if you have it or not?  Where does the “fullness of joy” come from?  Think of a time in which you felt pure joy.  Who was with you?  What lead to such a feeling?  How long did it last?  Begin to explore what finding such joy looks like in your life.  How might such joy be a regular experience in your life?  God’s path for you will not necessarily always be smooth or easy, but it will lead to joy.  Search out in your writing how God might be leading you toward joy and away from despair.  Take special care to note what it is that brings joy and what it is that steals your joy.  As you conclude your writing, write out a prayer to God for guidance as you look for the will and ways of God in the specific context of your life.

Holy Action: 

Our homes are sanctuaries in which we can recharge and enjoy the full blessedness of God’s grace.  Go around your home this week, room to room, blessing that place and asking God to anoint it as a peaceful, grace-filled place for you and all who take shelter there.  As you do this, pause and take note of where you feel the Spirit’s presence.  Remember all of the good, pleasant memories that have taken place there and ask God to increase these times.

Breath Prayer: Father, protect us.

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