Category Archives: The Psalms

psalm 31 – the wrap up

psalm 31 pt3

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand. (v14)

Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! (v16)

O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you (v17)

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you (v19)

Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful and abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! (v23-24)

It has been a long time since I’ve sat down at a keyboard to write a blog. Having been away for so long, it can feel a bit overwhelming to start back up again — the task can seem a little daunting.

And that’s sometimes what it can feel like when I’ve been away from Jesus for too long.

Looking back over my life I see the ebb-and-flows of my relationship with Christ. I can reminisce about my adolescence, college years, and early adulthood and recall times where I intentionally stayed far from Jesus because it just seemed too overwhelming to show up with Him again. The task was unsettling. Mainly because I twisted the whole “saved by grace through faith alone” thing and turned it in to “saved by making sure I’ve got my crap together, and then present myself as clean and whole before this righteous, holy God.”

I made redemption my game rather than receiving it as Christ’s finished work.

As my dad would say, that is so bass akwards.

If I don’t start writing again, then I’ll never write again.
If we don’t just come back to Jesus, then we’ll never come back to Jesus.

The doing of the thing is the thing.

Oh how thankful I am that our God does not turn His back on those He loves. How gracious is the One who preserves the faithful!

What I love about the back half of this psalm is that the writer is not afraid to enter in to the overwhelming, daunting task of presenting himself as…well…himself, to God. He just does. With beauty and honesty and humanity.

And God is faithful.

He is faithful to look beyond our feeble attempts to work our way into salvation and accept us because of what Christ did on the cross.
He is faithful to see how overwhelming this life can be for us, and so He enters in the only way the Savior and Redeemer of the world can — He shows up for us and with us in great, unimaginable ways.
He is faithful to shine His light upon us and save us with His steadfast love.

It might be overwhelming and seem a little unnerving, but the good news is that Jesus doesn’t wait at the end of the road for us. He meets us where we are, takes us by the hand, and walks the road with us — defeating any enemy that gets in our way, presenting us in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that we might be holy and without blemish before God.

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psalm 31 – pt. 2

psalm 31 pt2

I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.

vs. 6-10

Ever heard the phrase, misery loves company?

Well, often, my misery finds great company with people like David.
Yeah, we know, Kayla. You’ve mentioned that about a million times before.

But for real.
To have someone like David – a “hero” of the faith – write words like those above bring me great relief.
To have the, “Wait, you too?” realization is such a comfort – whether in Scripture or with friends.

You know the distress of my soul…

We even find the, “Wait, you too?” with God.

He knows the distress of my soul.

What a weird space it is to be in with the Creator and Sustainer of all that we see and know, knowing the very distresses of my soul.

He knows all of the dirty little corners of who I am, and instead of handing me over to the enemy, He draws me even closer to Himself, convincing my heart that He sees me and still loves me.

In the midst of my heated outpouring of frustration and anger, He’s there.
When I’m acting petty and selfish, He’s there.
When I slander His creation, He is still there.

We’ve been asking a version of this question at my church for quite a while now: Can Jesus love even me?

And the answer, every.dang.time, is an overwhelming: YES.

He sees me, knows me, and loves me – because of His faithfulness. Because of His love.

And so, even in the midst of my affliction, I can – and will – rejoice and be glad in His steadfast love.

 

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psalm 31 – pt. 1

psalm 31

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me; a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

v.1-5

I’ve been staring at these five verses for the last 20 minutes.

Well…staring at them, checking Instagram, staring at them, opening my email, staring at them…just…well…avoiding the work.

You see, writing is sacred space for me. It’s holy ground that God has invited me to stand on with Him, exploring who He is, who I am, and discovering how we’re going to live this life together.

And sometimes I have nothing.
No place to start.
No words to write.
No sentences to form.

And tonight has been one of those nights.

I didn’t think I had anything to offer, so I avoided the sacred arena God has invited me in to.

And underneath that, I think there’s a strange hint of shame – believing the lie that this time will be the time I have nothing to offer. This time will be the time people read and think, “Welp, she’s lost her stuff, so never gonna read that again!”
A tinge of unworthiness creeps in and starts to close the door.

But then I come back to these 5 verses I’ve been staring at, and shame gets a nice slap in the face.

It is the LORD that I take refuge in – not myself or my words or my real good sentences that have perfect structure and never run on and on without purpose.  🙂

It is God who delivers me by His righteousness, for His name’s sake, not allowing shame to take over.

The snares and traps that are hidden by the enemy, well, He plucks me up right out of them – because of His great love for me. He is my rock and my fortress – nothing can overtake me when Yahweh is the guardian of my life.

I love that the beginning of this psalm is all declaration – who God is, what He has done, and what the writer needs Him to continue to be. There is a lot of confidence in this God we believe in, the One whom all of our hope and faith relies on.

So, when I’m afraid of the sacred, holy arena God extends the invite to join Him in, I hope to take a page from this psalmist and demand the He rescue me speedily. Because He is a redemptive, faithful God, and I’d rather commit myself to no-one else.

Whatever your sacred space is, step in to it this week, knowing that the Faithful One is and will forever be your refuge and comfort, and shame has no bearing when He is the rock on which you stand.

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psalm 30

psalm 30

I don’t think I’ll ever stop fist-bumping David for the way he approaches God and sings prayers to the Lord.

As I’ve mentioned at least 29 times before, I just have to give a huge YES & AMEN to all that is said in this book of psalms.

I’m consistently reminded that God doesn’t desire empty words or phrases that seem pious and super-Christian. He just desires our heart. He desire to hear from His children, no matter how choppy, or dramatic, or full of feelings and heartache and joy and weirdness our words may be.

And here I am again, saying YES & AMEN to David and what he writes in the 30th psalm:

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

No matter how many times I read the psalms, I’m always freshly encouraged by the pattern and themes found inside the words – that God’s people cry out (don’t just causally have a conversation with Him), that God hears His people and draws near to them, that He is their Helper and pulls them up from whatever pit they are in, that He brings joy, that weeping & mourning are okay.

Weeping may tarry, the valley may be deep, but the Lord your God hears His people – hears you – and will turn your mourning in to dancing. He will bring joy with the dawn.

I need that today. I need that everyday. I need to be reminded of and encouraged by the truth that my God is a God of goodness & redemption & healing for those that love Him and trust Him.

I need to know that He is merciful to me & will help me all the days of my life.

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psalm 29

psalm 29.png

It’s been 24 days since I’ve written anything.
24 days since internet pen has met internet paper.

I’ve definitely felt a bit of a void by letting this discipline go by the wayside. And I really didn’t have a discernible reason outside of I just didn’t feel like it.

I felt used up.
Inadequate.
Voiceless.
Tired.

I was just kinda done. Why keep reading through the psalms and writing about what they’re saying to me when it seems to be the same thing week after week after week. Won’t people realize that I’m just repeating myself? Won’t they get tired of the stale nature of what I have to say? Am I even relevant, bro?

But tonight, I picked the laptop back up and flipped to psalm 29:

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Siren like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!

I come to God’s precious word and I’m reminded, yet again, that this whole endeavor is not about me. Who CARES if people get tired of hearing the same thing over and over? The more I learn about God and His gospel, the more I’m realizing I’ve just scratched the surface, and that I need this simplistic truth beaten into my head every.single.day.

I need to be reminded of who God is – that He is powerful, full of majesty, that He breaks the cedars, He sits enthroned as king forever.

Not Kayla.
Not Kayla’s blog.
Not anything I have ever done or ever hope to do can receive the glory that is ascribed to the Lord by the heavenly beings and His people.

And that gives me hope and strength to press on. Not just in writing, but in life.
The promise that the One who is due all the glory to His name will bless His people with peace – well…that’s enough to write about for years to come.

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psalm 28

psalm 28.png

Have I ever told you how much I love the psalms? How I adore David’s heart and his unabated laying-down of all of his hardships and delight in the Lord?

Often, in my prayers, I am nervous about telling God that He needs to listen to me – that when I cry for help, I need Him to answer me. Making demands of God seems to be risky business to me – and I’m not talking about the Tom Cruise kind.

Yet, I continue to read and read and read David’s pleas and prayers to the Lord. And the more I read them, the more I see that God is 100% okay with me telling Him exactly how I feel. He loves me so greatly – so scandalously – that He actually wants to work through my hurts, hardships, tragedies, and triumphs.

My view of how God sees me continues to become so personal and so delight-filled, yet, at the same time, there is so much more that I don’t know or understand.

I can’t fully understand how the God that created all that we see and know, made man & woman and breathed into them His breath of life – that God wants me to bring my heart to Him and commune in His presence. That God hears my pleas for mercy. That God is my saving refuge.

That God will be my shepherd and carry me forever.

I just can’t wrap my mind around it.
And I’m totally okay with living in that mysterious unknown.

To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.

Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts. Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward.
Because they do not regard the works of the Lord or the works of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more.

Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

 

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psalm 27

psalm 27.png

Sometimes you just need a sentence to start a blog, and I can’t think of one right now so I’m writing this.

Glad I got that out of the way.

Life is weird and hard. I think of all that is going on in my life, in the lives of my friends, in the lives of my family, in the lives of my friend’s families, and it’s just hard. Sure, some things are harder than others, but as a whole, life is not easy.

As a follower of Jesus it’s often difficult for me to sit in the hard things, in the unknown, and trust God. Sure, I trust that He has granted me eternal life through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ; however I don’t always trust that He’s got my day-to-day laid out as neatly as I would like for Him to.

As a friend and I recently discussed – sure God, we’re on board with you being in control and having the reins of our lives, but could you just tell us where we’re going? Maybe drop a line with a heads up on which train station we’re about to pull in to?

meme.png

And then…I open up tonight’s psalm.
I’m just gonna give you a couple verses, but you can read the whole thing here.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (v1)

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple. (v4)

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (v14)

As much as I would love to know where God is taking me in the next 5 months, 5 years, 10 years, etc. – I don’t have to know the details to be confident that He will take care of me. He is my light and salvation. He is my stronghold.

Not marriage.
Not a job.
Not friendships.
Not personal happiness.

He is.

And you know what cures that discontentment? Gazing upon the beauty of the Lord. Oh that my heart’s desire would be Him and Him alone!
I can’t imagine how peaceful my little beating heart would be if the one thing I sought after in this life was to dwell in the house of the Lord. Instead, I waste my time seeking after comfort, approval, momentary satisfaction – all things that can’t sustain.

And then, we get to the end.

The word “strong” here in the original Hebrew means: to fasten upon.

It doesn’t mean physical strength. It’s not telling me to go lift some more at the gym. To get swole for Jesus.

It is telling me to fasten myself to the Lord. To wait for Him while I’m attached to Him.

I don’t know where the next steps of my life will take me. But gosh darn it, I’m going to latch myself like a sloth on a branch to God and just enjoy the ride.

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psalm 26

psalm 26

Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites.
I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.

I was my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.

O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Do not sweep my should away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes.

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.

When I first sat down to this psalm tonight, I felt like I needed to add, “Yyeeaaahh OPPOSITE DAY!” to the ending.

I read this through one time and felt all of my inadequacies bubble up to the surface. I felt the weight of my sin nullifying the words that David writes. The reality of, “Man, I could never say this about myself!” overpowering the beauty of the Gospel and the even more real reality of redemption.

I read through this again and felt an overwhelming sense of praise and peace flood over me – a recognition that, yeah, I can never ever eevvveerrr say this about myself. But, I can say this about Jesus.

I can look to the One who bore my sin on His body and say, “I do not sit with men of falsehood…I sit in the presence of Jesus, the One they call the Christ, and I proclaim thanksgiving and tell of His wondrous deeds.”

And because of Jesus I truly can say, “O Lord, I love the place where Your glory dwells.” O how I long for those moments of glory – of heaven on earth – of the Spirit of God to be so evident in my life that I can’t ignore His movement any longer! I crave the grace He pours out morning by morning! And from that posture of my heart, I get where David is coming from.

I don’t think David has illusions of being sinless or in no need of mercy – I think he just has a proper view of who his God is, and because of that, he has a proper view of himself.

We can, along with David, boldly proclaim that our feet stand on level ground because Christ has paved the way for us. He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, and empowers us to walk in that light.

Praise be to God whose steadfast love is ever before our eyes!!

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psalm 25

psalm 25

I recently read somewhere that one of the great gifts of the psalms are that they are not only the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), but that they are also our words to Him. Through the psalms, we can learn how God not only delights in us speaking to Him, but they can guide us in how to do so.

Growing up, talking to God the way some of the psalmist talk to Him would have been SCANDALOUS. Like, Olivia Pope circa season 1 scandy.

But as I’ve grown in my relationship with Jesus, I’ve come to long for the types of conversations David had with God. I’ve come to crave the honesty that he has in his voice when speaking with the One that loves him most.

Who would’ve thought that we could ever ask of God, “Let me not be put to shame.”
“Remember Your mercy, O Lord, and Your steadfast love…” (Like God needs a reminder…)
“Pardon my guilt, for it is great.”
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”

Nope. Those aren’t the words I learned to talk to God with.

I learned, “Lord, be with SoNSo cause she’s a big sinner right now and just miserable. And help me get an A on the test I didn’t study for. Oh, and if you can, make that boy like me. And forgive this one sin I committed yesterday. In Jesus name, Amen.”

I’m so thankful that God has opened my eyes to the freedom He allows His children to have – that we can come to Him in moments of great joy and moments of great despair, humbly and honestly approaching His throne of glory. And we can do this because a baby born in Bethlehem lived the life we couldn’t live, died the death we deserve to die because of our sin and rebellion, and rose again on the 3rd day – walking out of a freaking tomb – so that we can be and are redeemed and made righteous before the Most High God.

Because of Jesus, may we approach our Loving Father with words like David, feeling the freedom to bring all of our junk and all of who we are to the One who loves us most:

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; the shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O Lordteach 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.
Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lordtherefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name’s sake, O Lordpardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lordfor he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

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psalm 24

psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.*

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory!

*que youth group song that I now cannot get out of my head. (if you don’t know, you are so blessed.)

Over the past few years as I’ve sat down on a semi-weekly basis to write, I’ve usually approached the keyboard with a general thought or theme that’s been running through my mind for a few days. For however long it’s been that I’ve been going through the psalms, it’s been fairly easy to read the passage and say, “Yes! That’s the thing for the week!”

But tonight is different.
It’s a little more difficult.

I read this psalm and the only thing I can think about is Jesus. He is the only “theme” that is coming to mind. He is the “thing” for the week.

And, as I started to type, I felt kinda Aunt Linda about it.

aunt linda

 

Like, “ah geez. These people are probably sick of me saying the same thing overandoverandoverandoverandover again.”

I felt oddly inadequate – as though I’m not a good enough writer to pull some hyper-spiritual truth that will change the world ONCE AND FOR ALL from this text.

But then, I’m like, “uuuhhhhh wut?! Isn’t He the point? Isn’t Jesus TRULY the THING?! Like…the only thing that really matters? Isn’t His life, death, and resurrection THE POINT of this whole thing?”

Who can ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place?

JESUS.

It’s Jesus, you guys.
The One they call the Christ.

I feel inadequate because I am inadequate.
I cannot claim to have clean hands and a pure heart and to have never lifted my soul up to that which is false.
I fail consistently at seeking the face of God.

But the thing that brings me to tears is that Jesus still loves me – even though I am inadequate and dirty and impure. And not only that, HE makes me adequate, clean, and pure. He gives me that part of Himself.

I may sound like a broken record, and you make be tired of the same-ol’-same from dear ol’ Kayla, but I need this truth to be told to me constantly.
I need to be reminded that Jesus has completed the work it takes to pay my debt of sin & rebellion against a Holy God.
I need to be reminded that I am loved and valued because He said so.
And that the only One that can stand in His holy place, does stand in His holy place, interceding on my behalf until the day He returns again.

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