Life Lessons from Psalms: A Praise Book for God's People

Life Lessons from Psalms: A Praise Book for God's People

by Max Lucado

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Overview

Worship is a daunting task.

For that reason, God gave us the Psalms. This collection of hymns and petitions was written over a span of centuries, in many different settings, by kings such as David and Solomon and commoners like Asaph, Heman, and the sons of Korah. Some of the psalms are defiant; others are reverent. Some are meant to be sung; others are to be prayed. Some are intensely personal; others are written as if the whole world is to use them. But all have one purpose – to help us express our hears to God. So don’t just read these psalms but actually pray them along with the saints who composed them. As you do, you will experience their energy, appreciate their honesty, and enjoy their creativity.

The Life Lessons with Max Lucado series brings the Bible to life in twelve lessons filled with intriguing questions, inspirational stories, and poignant reflections to take you deeper into God’s Word. Each lesson includes an opening reflection, background information, an excerpt of the text (from the New International and New King James versions), exploration questions, inspirational thoughts from Max, and a closing takeaway for further reflection. The Life Lessons series is ideal for use in both a small-group setting and for individual study.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310086680
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 04/02/2019
Series: Life Lessons Series
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 244,391
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Since entering the ministry in 1978, Max Lucado has served churches in Miami, Florida; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and San Antonio, Texas. He currently serves as teaching minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. He is America’s bestselling inspirational author with more than 130 million books in print.

Follow his website at MaxLucado.com

Facebook.com/MaxLucado

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Twitter.com/MaxLucado

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

LESSON ONE

THE PATH OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Psalm 1:6 NKJV

REFLECTION

The phrase "a fork in the road" refers to a crucial time in life where you must make a major decision that you know will impact your future. What are some of these decisions that you have made in your life? How did you ultimately decide what was the correct course to take?

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SITUATION

Psalms 1 and 2, composed by an unknown author, serve as a type of prologue or introduction to the entire book of Psalms. The author invites his readers to take delight in the Lord, follow his ways, and continually strive to have a pure heart before him. Leading such a life leads to fruitfulness, joy, and blessings from God. But the way of the wicked leads to another end: futility, sorrow, and judgment. The author's message is clear: seek the path of righteousness!

OBSERVATION

Read Psalm 1:1–6 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither —
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

New King James Version

1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

EXPLORATION

1. What is the difference between a good person and a wicked person?

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2. What does it mean to "delight" in the law of the Lord?

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3. How can righteous people remain pure?

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4. What are the kinds of fruit that God's people produce?

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5. What future awaits unrighteous people?

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6. What are the end results of righteous living and selfish living?

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INSPIRATION

Jesus once said, "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Luke 6:45)....

The heart is the center of the spiritual life. If the fruit of a tree is bad, you don't try to fix the fruit; you treat the roots. And if a person's actions are evil, it's not enough to change habits; you have to go deeper. You have to go to the heart of the problem, which is the problem of the heart. That is why the state of the heart is so critical. What is the state of yours?

When someone barks at you, do you bark back or bite your tongue? That depends on the state of your heart.

When your schedule is too tight or your to-do list too long, do you lose your cool or keep it? That depends on the state of your heart.

When you are offered a morsel of gossip marinated in slander, do you turn it down or pass it on? That depends on the state of your heart.

Do you see the bag lady on the street as a burden on society or as an opportunity for God? That, too, depends on the state of your heart.

The state of your heart dictates whether you harbor a grudge or give grace, seek self-pity or seek Christ, drink human misery or taste God's mercy. No wonder, then, the wise man begs, "Above all else, guard your heart" (Proverbs 4:23).

David's prayer should be ours: "Create in me a pure heart, O God" (Psalm 51:10).

And Jesus' statement rings true: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" (Matthew 5:8).

Note the order of this beatitude: first purify the heart, then you will see God. Clean the refinery, and the result will be a pure product. (From The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado.)

REACTION

7. Why is it important for you to guard your heart?

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8. How can you evaluate the condition of your heart?

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9. How can you protect yourself from evil influences?

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10. What habits or actions do you want to work on eliminating from your life?

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11. What fruit would you like God to produce in your life?

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12. When is it difficult for you to guard your heart?

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LIFE LESSONS

Psalm 1 presents us with two paths that we can take in life. We can take the way of the righteous, or we can go the way of the wicked. Righteous people are blessed, God-centered, Word-saturated, grounded, and prosperous. The wicked are empty, wind-blown, and vulnerable to judgment. The way of the righteous is lived under God's watchful care. The other way is self-centered and self-directed. Jesus also spoke of only two ways to go through life. We can either go through the "narrow gate," which leads to life, or through the "broad gate," which leads to destruction (see Matthew 7:13–14). The simplicity of the two ways compels each of us to make the crucial choice: which way will we choose? Will we follow our own agenda, or will we completely and wholeheartedly submit to Christ? Two paths ... but only one choice.

DEVOTION

Father, we know that selfishness doesn't belong in our hearts. May your Word enlighten us and lead us to the path of righteousness. Open our eyes to our weaknesses and give us the courage to change what needs to be changed. Help us to bear lasting fruit for your kingdom.

JOURNALING

In what area of your life do you need to more completely pursue God's path of righteousness?

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FOR FURTHER READING

To complete the book of Psalms during this twelve-part study, read Psalms 1–14. For more Bible passages about righteousness, read Proverbs 11:18; Hosea 10:12; Matthew 5:6; Romans 1:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 1:9–11; 1 Timothy 6:11; and James 3:17–18.

CHAPTER 2

LESSON TWO

COMFORT AND REST

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

REFLECTION

Think of a time when you felt lonely or discouraged — when you were walking through an especially "dark valley" in life. Where did you turn for help? What was the outcome?

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SITUATION

Psalm 23, believed to have been written by King David, is one of the best-known and most-loved of all the psalms in the Bible. Part of its appeal can be attributed to the way in which David depicts God — as a loving shepherd who guides his f lock through dangerous valleys and leads them to quiet and peaceful streams. Jesus would later draw on this same imagery to describe himself as the "good shepherd [who] lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). David also pictures God as a host of a banquet who sets out a feast in "the presence of [his] enemies" (Psalm 23:5). In the presence of God, we can always find comfort, peace, and rest, even when we are surrounding by the greatest toils and stresses of life.

OBSERVATION

Read Psalm 23:1–6 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

New King James Version

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

EXPLORATION

1. In what ways is God like a shepherd?

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2. In what ways are we — his followers — all like sheep?

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3. How does God care for the needs of his people?

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4. What promise are you given for enduring times of hardship and pain?

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5. What comes to mind when you think about God preparing a table in the presence of your enemies?

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6. What kind of future can God's people expect?

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INSPIRATION

It is our weariness that makes the words of the carpenter so compelling. Listen to them: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Come to me. The invitation is to come to him. Why him? He offers the invitation as a penniless rabbi in an oppressed nation. He has no political office, no connections with the authorities in Rome. He hasn't written a best-seller or earned a diploma.

Yet, he dares to look into the leathery faces of farmers and tired faces of housewives and offer rest. He looks into the disillusioned eyes of a preacher or two from Jerusalem. He gazes into the cynical stare of a banker and the hungry eyes of a bartender and makes this paradoxical promise: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (verse 29).

The people came. They came out of the cul-de-sacs and office complexes of their day. They brought him the burdens of their existence and he gave them, not religion, not doctrine, not systems, but rest.

As a result, they called him Lord.

As a result, they called him Savior.

Not so much because of what he said, but because of what he did. ... They all came to Jesus weary with the futility of life. A rejected woman. A confused patriarch. Disoriented disciples. A discouraged missionary.

They all found rest. They found anchor points for their storm-tossed souls. And they found that Jesus was the only man to walk God's earth who claimed to have an answer for man's burdens. "Come to me," he invited them.

My prayer is that you, too, will find rest. And that you will sleep like a baby. (From Six Hours One Friday by Max Lucado.)

REACTION

7. How is Jesus' offer of rest relevant to you today?

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8. In what ways have you already experienced God's rest?

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9. What keeps people from fully enjoying the rest that God provides?

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10. How have you recently experienced God's comfort and rest?

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11. David thought of God as his shepherd. What picture or comparison describes your relationship with God? Why that image?

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12. In what area of your life do you need God's guidance and rest for your soul?

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LIFE LESSONS

David wrote, "The Lord ... makes me lie down in green pastures" (Psalm 23:1–2). Sometimes, we don't know when to stop the pace of our busy lives. And, more seriously, we don't know how to stop. But, as David tells us, our watchful Shepherd knows just how desperately at times we need to just rest. Our Lord wants us to develop a personal rhythm between work and rest. Too many people are "burning the candle at both ends" and "running on empty." There is no honor in working ourselves to death! Jesus himself knew just how important rest was for his own life and for his disciples. He said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (Mark 6:31). Jesus, our Good Shepherd, extends the same offer to us today. We just need to allow him to lead us out of our hectic and stressful times and into his rest.

DEVOTION

Father, you are God and Creator, but we come to you as lost sheep in need of a shepherd. We need you to hold us, comfort us, and give us the rest that only you can provide. Thank you for your offer of peace for our souls. Heal our wounds and give us new strength to follow you.

JOURNALING

What do you need to put aside today so you can enter God's presence and receive his rest?

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FOR FURTHER READING

To complete the book of Psalms during this twelve-part study, read Psalms 15–26. For more Bible passages about finding comfort and rest, read Exodus 33:12–14; Psalm 62:1; Isaiah 49:13; Jeremiah 6:16; 31:13; Matthew 11:28–30; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4; and Hebrews 4:1–11.

CHAPTER 3

LESSON THREE

CONFESSING OUR SINS

I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Psalm 32:5 NKJV

REFLECTION

Think of a time when you received forgiveness from a friend. How did it make you feel?

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SITUATION

It is not known when David penned Psalm 32 or the situation that gave rise to his words. However, the Bible records several instances when David sinned before God ... and suffered the consequences for his actions. On one occasion, he committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for her husband to be killed in battle. As a result, the child born through their illicit union died (see 2 Samuel 11–12). Another time, David con- ducted a census of the people against God's will, with the consequence that 70,000 people died in a plague (see 2 Samuel 24). David well under- stood the damage that sin can cause — and the blessings we receive when we confess those sins to God and receive his grace and forgiveness.

OBSERVATION

Read Psalm 32:1–11 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

1 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord."
And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Life Lessons from Psalms"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Max Lucado.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How to Study the Bible v

Introduction to the Book of Psalms ix

Lesson 1 The Path of Righteousness (Psalm 1:1-6) 1

Lesson 2 Comfort and Rest (Psalm 23:1-6) 9

Lesson 3 Confessing Our Sins (Psalm 32:1-11) 17

Lesson 4 Relying on God's Strength (Psalm 46:1-11) 27

Lesson 5 Confidence in God (Psalm 62:1-12) 37

Lesson 6 Trusting in God's Goodness (Psalm 73:21-28) 47

Lesson 7 Embracing God's Law (Psalm 89:19-37) 55

Lesson 8 The Right Perspective (Psalm 90:1-12) 65

Lesson 9 Getting Our Priorities Straight (Psalm 103:1-14) 73

Lesson 10 God's Protection and Salvation (Psalms 125:1-126:6) 83

Lesson 11 God's Blessings on Families (Psalm 127:1-5) 93

Lesson 12 A Life of Purpose (Psalm 139:7-24) 101

Leader's Guide for Small Groups 111

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