May His Face Shine Upon You

“Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine on us [in favor and approval], and we shall be saved.”
Pslam 80:19 (AMP)

Psalm 80 is a cry to the Lord for His restoration. It was a time of tribulation and distress. God’s chosen people, Israel had turned away from Him. This chapter in the book of Psalms is a cry out to the Lord God Almighty for restoration and revival.

There are 3 instances in this chapter where the people call on God for restoration:
Verse 3 – Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine on us [with favor and approval], and we will be saved.
Verse 7 – Restore us, O God of hosts; And cause Your face to shine on us [with favor and approval], and we will be saved.
Verse 19 – Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine on us [in favor and approval], and we shall be saved.

Do you see the pattern here? The people were desperately looking for restoration. When you seek the Lord, if your cry is from your heart, the light of Jesus will shine upon you. Jesus is the true light that gives light to everyone.

In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men.
John 1:4

In this season, we also may be looking for restoration, freedom, and/or forgiveness. We may be looking for healing. And behold, tomorrow is Easter. We are reminded of how God raised His Son from the dead so that we may have life. If we turn from our sinful ways and seek Him, He will forgive us and give us a new life. Jesus assures us in His Word.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].
John 10:10

May His Face Shine Upon You this Easter Weekend.  Bless You.

 

 

 

 

He Carries Our Burdens

 

What a glorious God! He gives us salvation over and over, then daily he carries our burdens! Pause in his presence
Psalm 68:19 (TPT)

Each Monday of the week that I am assigned to write my Bible Journal Post, I read the Bible verse(s) assigned to me. I try to reflect, pray and research the verse before I begin writing later in the week for my Saturday post.  To be honest, some weeks it is a mad dash to read and post all in the same evening before the Sat am deadline!
This week in my preparation to write on Psalm 68, the same story kept popping up. This is a story of a very religious man that has been passed down with no author that I have found.

This is how the story goes…

Once there was a man who was caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted god to rescue him. A neighbor came by in a canoe and said, “Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.” “No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to god and I’m sure he will save me”
A short time later a police boat came by. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.” “No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”
A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.” “No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”
All this time the floodwaters continued to rise until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived in Heaven he demanded and audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.” “Yes” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat, and a helicopter. But you never got in.”

We face so much stress and trials in our daily life. God is ready and waiting every moment for us to reach out to him in our daily situations.

Psalm 68 is a Psalm of praise, celebration, and unleashed joy in the lives of God’s people because of the victory he gives us. God daily is there to bear or carry our burdens. But, do we allow Him to carry them? Or do we, as the man in the story above, keep waiting for what we think will be a better or different rescue from our situation?

God is waiting on us to cast our anxieties and burdens on Him. We have to be willing to give them to Him (over and over).

“Cast all your anxiety on him (God) because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

Don’t miss the gift He is waiting to give you. Don’t pass up what is right in front of you.  God is waiting to be our rescue!

Bottle of Tears

If you think of all the tears you have ever cried, would they amount to much?  All the tears as a baby, crying to let your mother know you were hungry, dirty, lonely or scared.  Next, to tears you cried as a teen-ager because friends were mean or a first love didn’t go as expected.  And then as an adult, tears from grief, death, sickness, divorce, or any wrong-doing in your life.  Life is hard.  We face difficulties of all kinds and tears come and fill our eyes.  

In Psalm 56, David writes of a time he had been captured by an enemy.  He was fearful, not knowing what the Philistines might do to him.  Instead of focusing on the horrible situation he was in, he changed his focus.  He was reminded of how carefully God watched over him.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 56:3&4

David tells us that God is concerned enough about us and what we face and that He keeps every tear that falls from our eyes in a bottle.

You have kept count of my tossing;  put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book?

Psalm 56:8

Can you actually picture this for yourself?  God, right at this moment, sitting in Heaven with a bottle that has every single tear you have ever cried?  That is a little over-whelming to me.  To think that He cares that much about me means that each tear really matters to Him.

Today, you can actually find delicate, ancient vials called lachrymatory bottles (examples pictured above) for sale.  There was a custom as far back as David’s day that when a person was ill or in great distress, his friends would take him a tear bottle.  As the tears rolled down the cheeks of the person suffering, they were caught in these bottles, sealed up and preserved as a memorial of the person’s pain.  

This is what God does for us.  He has bottled all of our tears and assures us that He see us and remembers every single tear shed.  God charts our steps and records our tears to show us just how closely He notices and cares for us.  We, like David can take comfort in knowing that we can trust in God and that He sees us.

 

Lows

How many of you have (or had) the routine of expressing your “Highs” and “Lows” at dinner time with your family?  I laugh now when I remember asking my kids at dinner what there highs and lows of the day were.  Some days there were no highs and only lows while other days held only highs!  Life…full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows.  I could ramble on about my ups and downs and I am sure we can all lament over the “downs” of the past year.  The Psalms are easy to relate with because they describe the extremes, the highs and the lows.  

In Psalm 44, we read a Psalm of lament.  A lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow.  It is a wailing, a groaning, a moaning, and a weeping grieving great loss.  Psalm 44 laments the defeat of Israel by its enemies and calls upon the Lord to deliver His people from a great national suffering.  

Sometimes we experience suffering for what seems like no apparent fault of our own.  Suffering doesn’t always mean we are being punished or disciplined by God for something we did wrong.  This Psalm is an example of the people calling out to God to deliver them, just as He promised He would do.  

Even through our “Lows” and disappointments in life, Psalm 44 shows us that we can express ourselves to the Lord and be honest with Him about our feelings.  We can cry out to Him,

“Awake, Lord!  Why do you sleep?  Rouse yourself!  Do not reject us forever.  Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?”

Psalm 44:23-24

This is our petition to God as we experience the lows of our life and lament to Him.   Even in our sorrow, we can express our trust and faith in Him.

In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.

Psalm 44:8

Hiding Place

You are my hiding place;  you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 32:7

I know I have written this in a previous post, but I am so thankful for growing up in a church and home that taught me praise songs!  I was reading through our reading of Psalm 32 and once I got to verse 7 this melody started playing in my head!

You are my hiding place.  You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance whenever I am afraid.  I will trust in You.

I will trust in You.  Let the weak say I am strong in the strength of the Lord.

You are my hiding place.  You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance whenever I am afraid.  I will trust in You.

Iwill trust in You.  Let the weak say I am strong in the strength of  the Lord.  I will trust in You.

Are you singing it now???

Psalm 32:7 identifies God as our hiding place:  ”For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble.  You surround me with songs of victory.”  The Hebrew word seter, translated here as “hiding place,” can refer literally to a secret location in which to conceal oneself.  In 1 Samuel 19, for example, when King Saul saught to kill David, Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s friend, warned him, saying, “You must find a hiding place (seter) out in the fields”(19:2)

In Psalm 32:7, God is a hiding place in that he protects us from trouble.  He surrounds us with “songs of victory” or “songs of deliverance”.     Because of this, when we trust in the Lord, we can be assured that our lives are safe in his hands.

As we know, this does not mean that we will not experience troubles.  I, in fact, have had my fair share recently.  But it does mean that when we do face the hard times we can have confidence that God is on our side.  No matter what happens in this life, no matter how it seems that God has abandoned us, he is there nonetheless.  

I believe that the more we turn to Him, the more we trust Him, the more we live securely.  He is the best hiding place of all.  When we hide all our troubles in Him, we find joy.

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Psalm 32:11

Why I Believe – Psalm 20

Psalms 20 opens as a prayer to the Lord (Yahweh) to answer in the day of trouble.  We must never doubt that God hears our prayers.  I believe that not only does God hear our prayers, but He is more than able to answer our prayers.  The Bible tells us,

Now to him who is able to do far more than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Ephesians 3:20

Why do I believe in God?  Why do I trust he hears and answers my prayers?

Because the Bible tells me so!  That might be a simple answer for many and that is ok, because for me I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.  Does that mean that God makes my life easy and answers all my prayers exactly as I prefer?  Not by a long shot!  In fact circumstances rarely go as I desire.  

For example, this is the 3rd Bible Journal Post I have had to peck on my computer with one hand.  God has not answered my prayer to totally heal my wrist like I have asked.  But He has provided in ways that have blessed me far beyond having use of my right (dominant) hand!

On Dec 14, I had a silly accident and tripped outside on our patio.  My entire body landed on my out-stretched right arm.  I knew immediately that I had broken it.  A trip to urgent care and a follow up to an Orthopedic Dr confirmed that I had fractured my radius bone at my wrist.  I had prayed that I would not need surgery as we would be leaving for our annual Christmas trip to Florida in just 3 days.  At that time my prayers were answered and it looked like a clean break with just a cast for 4 weeks!

Well, long story short, my fracture is healed, but but I still have much pain.  Last week an MRI showed some tendon/ligament damage so now I am now waiting to meet with a hand surgeon.  But, God has heard every prayer and answered with each member of my family stepping up!  For 25 years I have been the sole house cleaner, cooker, grocery shopper, laundry washer/folder, etc…you need something done?  I’ll do it for you!  Yes, my kids had/have “chores” and they do help around the house, but this set back made it obvious that I do 90%of the work.

Over the last almost 6 weeks I have had to sit back and let them take over.  Talk about humbling!  Things may not be done to my satisfaction, but they are done.  Food prep has been the hardest and every evening someone in my household has shown up to help chop and prepare dinner.  My husband has even perfected my pony tail! 

I have prayed to God in my time of trouble and he hears me!  He provides for me as He sees fit!

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!  May the  name of the God of Jacob protect you!  May he send help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!  

Psalm 20:1-2

I believe because through every trial or hardship I have faced, I have tasted and seen God’s help all the way through.  Psalm 20 shows us the importance of three words:  hope, faith, and trust.  Hardships and trials of any kind cause us to question what we hope in, what we believe in, and what we trust in.  Psalm 20 calls us to trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 20:7

We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but if we believe the Bible is Truth, we place our Hope, Faith, and Trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Why I Believe – Psalms 8

While living in Green Valley, Arizona many years ago, I got to experience the wonder of God’s creation in ways not experienced here in the Midwest.  In our town there were “Light Ordinances” so that nothing impacted the view of the stars.  We lived at the base of Madera Canyon and the majesty we saw everyday from sunrise to sunset was incredible.  Our favorite family activity was to sit in the hot tub at night and gaze at the millions of stars overhead.  We couldn’t help but be astounded at the hundreds of thousands of tiny pinpricks lighting up the sky.

Who is God that He created all the majestic creation and yet He still cares about me…and you?!?!  

In Psalm 8, David declares the Heavens and the earth Majestic!

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

Psalms 8:4

David would have been able to sit under the stars nightly and experience the majesty of God as he kept an eye on his sheep.  

My awe and belief in God is renewed when I take time as David did and gaze up at the sky in the early morning or the setting sun in the evening.  I look to see how God’s majestic name shows up in every corner of His creation.

I don’t know why God cares so much about us but, I believe God put the stars in the sky as a visible reminder of His presence and his desire to have a relationship with us.  We feel how small we are and yet God still thinks of us.  He sent His own Son to give His life for us.  What is man that you are mindful?  Next time you wonder about God, go out and gaze up at the stars.  Remember that the God who created the stars also created you!

12 Days of Christmas

Over the past few weeks did you sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” or hear it as many times as I did?  I have always believed that this song leads us up to the 12 days before Christmas.  But, after a little study I found that The 12 days of Christmas originally began on Christmas day and ended on January 5.  This time is known as the Season of Christmas.  

The Christmas season begins with the celebration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day.  The feast of Christmas lasts 12 days, until Epiphany.  Christmas is a season of thankfulness for Christ’s first coming to provide salvation.  The Christmas Season ends with the Magi or the 3 Wise Men coming to bring gifts to Jesus.  This is also called Epiphany.  

On Friday November 27, 2020 we began our Bible Journal Advent writings.  I learned much about the anticipation and arrival of our Messiah.  But, today, the day after Christmas, we wake up and the advent season is over.  The anticipation and preparation is over.  For some there is a let down, a feeling that it is all over.  But, what really happens now?

I have been fascinated learning of Advent and that stirred in me to learn more about the Church Seasons or the Liturgical Calendar.  Because of the New Testament we have freedom in Christ and are not bound or required to observe the different church seasons.  But at the same time, we have the freedom to learn about these Church traditions and follow them if we like.  I found that in following Advent, it drew me closer to God and the anticipation of His son at Christmas.  So what now?  Advent is over and what happens now?

As we celebrate the Christmas Season we can reflect on the meaning of the 12 days through the song, The 12 Days of Christmas.  Here are the meanings that accompany each verse:

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a partridge in a pear tree.

The partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on the first day of Christmas.  Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge, the only bird that will die to protect its young.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…two turtle doves.

These two birds represent the Old and New Testaments.  They represent God’s road map that is available to everyone.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…three french hens.

These birds represent faith, hope, and love.  1 Corinthians 13

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…four calling birds.

These four birds are the four Gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…five gold rings.

The gift of the rings represents the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…six geese a laying.

Each egg represents a day in creation from the book of Genesis.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…seven swans a swimming.

The swans represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:  prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion.  As swans are one of the most beautiful and graceful creatures, they seem to be a perfect symbol for the spiritual gifts.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…eight maids a milking.

Being a milkmaid was one of the lowest jobs of its time.    This verse conveys that Jesus cared about his servants as he did those of royal blood.  The eight who were blessed included the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…nine ladies dancing.

These are the gifts of the fruit of the Spirit.  The fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…ten lords a-leaping.

As lords were judges and in charge of the law, this represents the Ten Commandments.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…eleven pipers piping.

Most think of the disciples as twelve, but when Judas betrayed Jesus and committed suicide, there were only eleven men who carried out the gospel message.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…twelve drummers drumming.

The drummers are the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed.  “I believe inJesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.  He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.  On the third day he rose again.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.  I believe int the holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.”

So as we sing or hear this silly song we can now realize that it has reminders of the essential elements of our faith.  As Christmas has become more materialized and lost its real meaning to many, these 12 days originally connected believers to the whole story of Gods plan.  The verses in this song enhance the meaning of Christmas for each one of us.  For the next 12 days we can focus one verse each day and reflect on what God is teaching us.

Waiting

I learned a hard lesson on my 9th birthday.  I dreamed of getting a light blue 3 speed bicycle that I had previously seen a neighbor riding.  My dad took me to the bike shop on my birthday to pick out my new bike.  As we looked at all the options it became evident that a light blue bike was not available to take home that day.  I had a choice, I could either order one and wait 10+ days for it to arrive or I could leave right then and there with a puke green “old lady” model.  In my immaturity, I chose that green bicycle.  I still remember the sinking feeling when I got home and rode around on that new bike, I felt remorse and yearning for what I really wanted… that light blue bike!  To this day I use this story with my kids.  We call it “green bicycle syndrome”.  When you want something so bad, but you settle for something less because you don’t want to wait.  This lesson taught me to wait for the best, not settle.  Waiting that 10 days would have been hard, but I can’t imagine how happy I would have been going to pick up my dream bike and riding it around the neighborhood.  I missed out on that enjoyment because I was not patient in my waiting.  Am I good at waiting now?  Nope, but I always have a reminder in that ugly green bike!

I could ask all kinds of questions about what you are waiting for right now (a new job?, a child?  a spouse? a call from the Dr?).  But for the first time since 1918 (the last pandemic) we all have one thing in common and are all waiting on the same thing!  We can’t wait for this pandemic to be OVER!  Now, will it truly ever be over and we go back to a “normal” life?  Probably not, but at this point we all want any glimpse of normal we can find!  It is easy to get impatient and frantic at times dealing with all the changes, but we see in Luke 1:5-13 a different example of waiting.

In this advent season we are waiting on the miraculous birth of Jesus.  Yet, when we look at the book of Luke, we see he did not start with the story of Jesus.  He started further back in God’s plan of preparation.  Luke begins in chapter 1 verse 5 introducing us to Zechariah and Elizabeth, a couple old enough to have quit expecting children.  

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah;  his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.  Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.  But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive and they were both very old.

Luke 1:5-7

They probably wondered why God had not blessed them with children, why their faithfulness to God was unnoticed and unrewarded.  In their culture, childlessness was regarded as a curse for sin of some kind.  In verse 25, Elizabeth calls it her “disgrace.”  

As devout Jews, Zechariah and Elizabeth had long prayed and hoped for a child and certainly it seemed that God would never answer their prayers.  And then, one day,  Zechariah who was a priest and was on duty in the temple, heard an angel of the Lord speak to him and share the unexpected.  After such a long period of waiting, Elizabeth was pregnant.  Their hopes, longings and prayers were finally coming to fruition.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.  But the angel said to him:  “Do not be afraid, Zechariah;  your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.

Luke 1:11-13

What do we do in the waiting?  Do we become impatient and try to fulfill our longings on our own, as I did with the green bike?  Or do we, as Zechariah and Elizabeth did, wait on God to respond to our prayers and longings?  Zechariah was an Israelite priest and was on duty in the temple when he learned that Ezlizbeth was pregnant.  He was living out his life in service and in faith.  How do we live while we wait?  

Even though Zechariah and Elizabeth might have thought that God had given up on them and forgotten about their pleas, prayers and hopes.  God was faithful to them just as God would be faithful to the Israelites and their prayer for a Messiah in the coming of Jesus.  It was a beautiful reminder to them and to us that we can be assured that even when we have to wait for our hopes and dreams to come true, we can be sure that this does not mean that God is not active and at work in our lives.  

Do we remain active and faithful to God in the midst of our waiting?  Waiting for life to return to “normal”?  I love how the Bible is so good at reminding us through these stories that God is faithful and steadfast in caring for us, even if it is not on our timetable.  Including today, we have 13 days to wait till Christmas, the day we celebrate the promise of and fulfillment of the Messiah.  May we spend these days reading the promises of God and reflecting on His Word.  

Good News

Today we will look at Isaiah 40 for this first day in our study of Advent.  Ross did an excellent job of describing what Advent means for us in his post yesterday.  As we study each day of this advent season may our hope and longing of knowing Jesus grow deep within us.  

Did you make it through Turkey Day?  All the preparations of food and drink, cleaning of the house, catching up with family?  I always enjoy Thanksgiving evening, when all the prep is done, dinner is over, comfy clothes are on and everyone is relaxed and chatting.  But, as soon as Thanksgiving Day is over we jump right into preparing for Christmas…Get the tree up!  Hang the lights outside!  Put out the nativity and decorations!  Buy the gifts!  Wrap the gifts!  Make the cookies!  If we aren’t intentional we will miss the real meaning of Christmas.

I am excited over these next four weeks to take a deep dive into the scriptures and focus on the meaning of Advent and the days leading to Christmas.  

These words in Isaiah 40 are a guide for this first look into Advent.  The words offer us hope.  Though they were first meant to be God’s word to a people “who walked in darkness,”  they are for us today.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke all quote from Isaiah 40 when they refer to John the Baptist.  (Mark 1:2-3, Matthew 3:3, Luke 3:4-6, and John 1:23).  John is commissioned to be the one to proclaim the arrival of Christ.  He became the voice crying out in the wilderness.  A voice of one calling: 

“In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;  make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Isaiah 40:3

John the Baptist proclaimed that God will indeed be revealed to them.  He was proclaiming that the long wait was over, that what Isaiah had predicted was finally here.  

You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.  You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid;  say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”  See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm.  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.  He tends his flock like a shepherd;  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;  he gently leads those that have young.  

Isaiah 40:9-11

The Lord is returning to Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is to proclaim the exciting news to all the other cities that God once again is for them.  “Do not be afraid” means that Zion need not fear being wrong about this and raising false hopes.  The proclamation should be bold and heard by everyone, because there is no chance that it will not happen.

This is good news.  Good news that will bring light and hope to people suffering in darkness; news that will fill people with peace and joy.  Jesus came into our world as a fulfillment of the hope of Israel.  We now wait with the same hope.  God will fulfill our hope, and he does so  in Christ Jesus.  

We, the church are called now to proclaim the Good News.  We need to tell people, “Here is your God.”  He has come to reclaim what was his.  He gathers the lambs in his arms (40:11).  We see God work in history and in our lives today.  Just as Israel longed for redemption in the midst of darkness we long for the return of Christ.  Advent serves as a time to reflect and long for what God has done and will do.  As our days are filled with Holiday fun and busyness, may we take time to focus on the joy and hope that Christ’s birth provides.