His Loving Patience

What a great Top 10 Lynden shared with us yesterday on things we take for granted.  His examples were definitely aligned with mine as a reminder about many of the things we have in this life. After Psalm 105’s reminder about the hidden things we take for granted comes a reminder in Psalm 106 of God’s grace and patience despite our forgetful and self-willed lives.

Todays Reading: Psalm 106

I read and listened to a recent Podcast that recommended going back and reading different Bible versions.  Today I landed on the Good news Translation.

1 Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal.
2 Who can tell all the great things he has done?
Who can praise him enough?

Who can praise him enough? I know that I can’t.  Even if I started a list right now, I’d still be making a list for days to come. Take a moment to pause and reflect. Write it down in your journal, on the side of your bible, say them out loud.

  • Praise for His transformation in my life.
  • Praise for His love and grace He shows and gives me.
  • Praise for my family.
  • Praise for small groups.
  • Praise for 1777 posts Bible Journal has posted since 1/1/2016.

These were just some I thought about today.  As you continue to read through this chapter, you will be reminded of the importance of our obedience in verse 3.

3 Happy are those who obey his commands,
who always do what is right.

Verses 6-43 humble me and remind me of the blind, rebellious, and forgetful we can be in our sinful nature how stories from the Israelites shortcomings can connect back to our stories today.  To my story.  To yours.

Thankfully, we have a Father who has given and shows grace to those who deserved judgment. Verse 44-47.  God’s faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to him.  Just a few weeks ago, we remembered that God sent His son to die for you and me.  He showed us grace when we were still sinners.  Imagine the grace He shows as his children.

44 Yet the Lord heard them when they cried out,
and he took notice of their distress.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and because of his great love he relented.
46 He made all their oppressors
feel sorry for them.

47 Save us, O Lord our God,
and bring us back from among the nations,
so that we may be thankful
and praise your holy name.

48 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel;
praise him now and forever!
Let everyone say, “Amen!”

Praise the Lord!

Praise = Peace

Gratitude, meditation, spiritual practice… trending ideas and buzz words that are all rooted in the Word, and not at all new concepts in the early church or with Christ followers today. So what exactly does the Bible say about gratitude, and how do we apply it today?

A frequently quoted scripture can be found in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, where he encourages them to be anxious for nothing, but in everything give thanks. Paul tells them this is because God is at hand (Philippians 4:5). Meaning, because the Lord is working on our behalf, because He is near to us, we do not have to worry. Instead, through prayer and thanksgiving we approach God with our needs, and His peace will fill our minds.

What a powerful encouragement! Because God is working, our act of thanksgiving not only glorifies the Father, but it covers us in peace! The act of gratitude comes back and blesses US!

As we’ve spent the past few months journeying through the Psalms, have you noticed the theme of David’s heart of gratitude? So much praise and worship for who God is, what He has done, and what He will do in the future. Our Psalm today (Chapter 86) carries this same message, and I’m drawn specifically to verse 12.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

With my whole heart. What would that look like in my life? Do I surrender my whole heart, my entire being, when I practice gratitude? Am I able to fully devote my praise to the Lord? Or is my thanksgiving a half-hearted routine muttering of niceties? Have my thank you’s become mannerly and procedural, lacking zeal and true joy? Are they genuine or are the obligatory at times? Does the splendor of His creation or the undeserved grace I experience ever get old? 

Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts, details her experience and learning of gratitude in the small and everyday, and the joy it brings. She shares that through the expression of gratitude for the life we already have, we come to know how wildly loved we are by God. This is part of the joy process that brings overwhelming peace.

I believe the Bible gives us formulas like this to unlock the fullness that God has for us. David shows us all through the Psalms how he was afraid, he was pleading for shelter, seeking forgiveness, and at the same time, he would break out in song and prayers of gratitude. David knew that when he wanted peace, he gave God praise.

Here’s something we can be grateful for – a God that instructs us! Not only is He the source of overwhelming peace and joy – He tells us how to get it! A heart wholly grateful for who He is and what He has done.

Lord, thank you for the steps to experience your peace. You are an amazing provider! I ask you to help me surrender any parts of my heart that aren’t fully praising you. Show me the little corners I might be holding back or allowing to be distracted, or want to control. You alone can bring full joy and peace! Amen

 

 

Adoration and Worship

Today’s reading is Psalm 66.

Shout for joy to God, all the

earth,

sing the glory of His name;

give to Him glorious praise!

Psalm 66:1-2

What great things has the Lord done for you throughout your life?

He’s given most of us the blessings of friends, family, spouse, children, providing for our physical needs and then some and most importantly…He’s given all of us his one and only Son on the cross (John 3:16).

Life is busy. Life is crazy. Life is tough. There are hard times. So, what do you do to remind yourself of all the blessings God has given you? We all need reminders. The disciples were with Jesus and saw him do miracles firsthand and yet within a day or two later were filled with worry and anxiety about not having enough to eat or a bad storm. If they had trouble remembering what Jesus had done when they saw miracles done in front of their very eyes, then I would say it’s natural and normal that we need reminders, too.  So, what do you do? What helps remind you of what God’s done so that you give him the praise and worship He deserves?

For me, the two things that remind me are by beginning my prayers acknowledging who He is and what he’s done in adoration (remember A.C.T.S I’ve written on in the past for prayer…adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication) and worship music. Starting my morning prayer stating that He is and always has been in control gives me so much peace, and I may sometimes be moved to tears by a worship song in church or on a car ride by myself. I can’t tell you how great it feels to be back in church worshipping Him with others to live music again in church! Do some of you feel the same?

I’ve heard of other great ideas like writing down your prayers in a prayer book and then going back and looking at the ones which have been answered. It’s easy to forget within days or even hours like the disciples what He’s done in our lives.

I encourage you to take some time today to give God the adoration and worship He deserves..even if you’re going through tough times right now. He’s still given you all you ever really need in His only Son. We can all say and give Him praise for that. What can you do today that might help you also do this more consistently in the future? Think of the peace and hope this will give you as you go through the hard days and seasons of life.

Here’s a worship song which might help get you started today!

Your Christmas Star

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:1-2

This Monday night many of us saw the bright star of Saturn and Jupiter aligning for the first time in over 800 years. How cool is it that this star, possibly similar to the star of Bethlehem that shown over Jesus’ birth, would be seen near Christmas in 2020 on what most would consider a year of darkness just like when Jesus was born?! I would assume some reading this may have grown up like me thinking the wise men were there the night of Jesus’ birth. They are in most nativity scenes, right? Today, on Christmas Eve, I can remember sitting through many candlelight church services imagining shortly after midnight about 2,000 years ago Jesus was born and all the angels, shepherds, and wise men were there in the stable under the Christmas star. However, it’s clear from these verses that it was “after” He was born when the wise men arrived, and in coming from the far east of Iraq/Bablyon (without a car or plane in those days), they would not have arrived until days and most think years later. Yet, they remembered and still came to worship Him some time in the future after seeing His star.

It may seem strange reading this on Christmas Eve to be thinking about what we do after Christmas, but that’s where my mind went in reading these verses. We worship and praise him in the days leading up to Christmas and especially today on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day….but do we continue to worship and praise Him the same after? The wise men remembered His star and came sometime later still to worship Him and bring Him gifts. What has occurred in your life that is your Christmas Star that should remind you He’s always with you and to worship Him on all the other days of the year? Perhaps something has happened where you were aware of His presence and hand on your life which is your reminder. However, we can often easily forget in the years, days, and sometimes even hours that follow..and especially during the tough times. However, this Christmas Star in your life should remind you He is with you always.

I also thank God for His Word in the Bible which serves like a Christmas Star to remind us of who He is and His promises made and kept. Since man first sinned, He gave us gave us promises of a Savior (Genesis 3:15), and He has kept that and each and every one of His promises. My prayer for all reading this is that each and every one of us recall our Christmas Star which is our personal reminder of His presence in our life, and we open and read the reminder He gave us in His Word more in 2021 than we did this past year. When we do so we will not only have more peace and comfort through growing closer to Him, but we will continue to give Him all the honor and glory and praise He deserves..just like the wise men did. As notes written from a past sermon or devotional near these verses in my Bible read, “Wise men and women still seek Him today.”

My Deliverer

David spent seven years running from Saul. He was literally hiding in caves and trying to elude his enemies night after night. He had lost his wife and best friend, and yet he continued to have faith in the Lord. Even when he had opportunities to end the discord with Saul and could have stopped all the fighting, he didn’t. He showed grace and restraint, knowing that God would deliver him, in his time and in his way.

Do you have relationships that are adversarial? Maybe you know you need rescued from the chaos, and delivered from the strain? How does David’s example of patience and grace sit with you? It’s pretty humbling and leaves me wondering… if I were in David’s shoes and had the opportunity to “have the last word” and end the back and forth in difficult relationships, would I take it? Or would I follow David’s example and let God work how and when he will?

We can learn so much from David’s long suffering in his relationship with Saul, starting at the very beginning. 1 Samuel 18 outlines the jealousy that grew in Saul: David being praised by the people as a stronger warrior than Saul, and also David’s relationship with Jonathon. Saul got caught in the comparison trap that so many do, and his jealousy spiraled out of control. Jealousy turned to scheming and plotting, trying to get David killed and not able to threaten Saul’s position as king.

I’m sure there were many cold nights on the run where David didn’t know how it would end. He was afraid and wasn’t sure what to do next. Psalm 57 describes on of these nights, where he is equally pleading with the Lord for mercy, and also declaring God’s faithfulness, love and glory. What a testimony to the faith of David!

2 Samuel begins the reign of David after Saul’s death. David worships his Deliverer, and his words are perfect:

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold and my refuge,
my savior; you save me from violence.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.  2 Samuel 22

I love both of these passages, to pray through when I’m in the middle of a storm and need delivering. He IS faithful, He loves us so.  And then praising God for his deliverance. His ways and timing are perfect!

Today’s focus challenged me to make a list of my own rescue stories of deliverance. Long list. And it got me thinking, what’s NOT on my list? What rescue missions did He deliver me from that I’m not even aware of? Maybe something that I consider a closed door, or a failure, He used as a deliverance. Or situations I am oblivious to, He orchestrated a rescue mission. He’s so so good to us.

I AM

What a fitting way to close out the year.  Psalms 150

Let Everything Praise the LORD
Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

So much of our year-end focuses on either what happened last year or what we want to happen next year.  Psalm 150 is about right now, this very moment.  Don’t miss it!  Set aside, for a minute, who he was last year and who he is going to be next year.  Let’s praise him for who He is.  He is, after-all, I AM.  He is present.  Right here, right now!  Praise him with whatever instrument you have available to you.  Clap your hands, shout with your voice, stomp your feet.  When we recognize his mighty deeds and his excellent greatness, it happens.

“He may have given us the power to be, but he is I am.  Worship is our response to all that god is” – Matt Ludwig, Eastview Christian Church

THIS

Today’s reading is Luke 17 and Psalm 65.

Luke 17 contains messages around temptation to sin, increasing faith, unworthy servants, and the coming of the Kingdom of God, but we will focus our time on the story of Jesus helping 10 lepers from Luke 17:11-19.

In this story, Jesus heals 10 lepers when they yell and ask for help from a distance, but only 1 comes back to thank and praise him. At first read, it’s easy to be judgmental, and think “how could they not come back and say thanks!?” It’s also easy to condemn members of the crowd yelling “Crucify Him!” when he’s on trial with Pilot.  After reflection, I realize when I take Jesus name in vain it’s just the same as someone yelling these words. When I don’t thank Him for answered prayers or completely forget about it a few days later, am I any different than the 9 lepers who didn’t come back to show their gratitude? It’s so easy to quickly forget about the answered prayer for a negative test for cancer, a successful surgery, a new job, retention of your job amidst downsizing, a new home, or a significant other you’ve been asking God for. How quickly do we forget these things!  I’m guilty of forgetting these things within days, hours, and even minutes! What about the answered prayers we don’t even realize occurred? For example, we pray for safety and then get really upset when spill coffee on the way to work and have to go back home in anger to change clothes causing us to be late to our first meeting. We had no idea this situation kept us from getting into a car accident.

Our leadership team, thanks to my brother in Christ Josh Waite’s idea, starts our weekly meetings by “going B.I.G.” That stands for “Begin In Gratitude.” We reflect and tell everyone one thing we are thankful for. When you focus on what you are thankful to God for, the stress and problems are minimalized. I’ve heard it said you can’t feel stress and anxiety at the same time. When we focus on and thank God for what we have and what He’s given us, we don’t get stressed and mad about what we don’t have.

Some might ask how they are supposed to be thankful when they just lost their job or a loved one? Well…it’s hard. But, maybe this will help you find your true calling or give you an opportunity to move closer to, or spend more time with, family. How about giving praise that you had that loved one in your life for the amount of time you did or even at all for that matter? When you praise God when things are good and when they don’t seem to be good, it changes your whole perspective and happiness. You see the world through an entirely different lens. Psalm 65 highlights offering praises as well.

As we go into next week, let’s go “B.I.G!” Let’s remember, thank, and praise Him for the big answered prayers we asked for, for the ones we don’t realize were answered, and for the things we didn’t even request. He gave it all to us. Most importantly, let’s thank him for sending his Son Jesus to take the punishment that should have been ours on the cross. For that, we should always and forever be thankful to Him for the opportunity He gave us to become one with Him and have eternal life! He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Thank God for all I missed because it lead me here to This…”

Counting Steps

Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 6; 1 Timothy 3; Daniel 10; Psalm 119:1–24

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Psalm 119:1

Good Morning Everyone, let’s put on our Fitbit for God and look at our daily steps.  These devices can count our steps and can also check our heart-rate.  It can tell us where we have gone and guide us to where we want to go.  With the touch of a button this information is shared with you and others if you would like.  As Christians, having God’s word available is like a press of a button allowing you to navigate every step towards an eternity with Him.  This Fitbit helps us stay on track with our faith and training for growth.  So let’s push the button in the start of Psalm 119 and see where we are at as we count our steps.

Step: Psalm 119:1 Blameless and Walking in the Law of the Lord – stay righteous Proverbs 11:20

Step: Psalm 119:2  Keep His testimonies – love and serve Deuteronomy 11:13

Step:  Seek with a Whole Heart – 100% all the time Psalm 139:23

Step: Psalm 119:4 Precepts keep diligently – focus and be intentional about his commandments Deuteronomy 4:13

Step: Psalm 119:6 Eyes fixed on Commandments – Ephesians 1:18

Step: Psalm 119:7 Praise Him – He deserves it all for all he has done and will do Psalm 33:1

So as you take steps today push the button to take a pulse on each step, each interaction, each hour spent, each conversation, each thought, each prayer. Allow God through His word guard you, teach you, focus your heart, and open your eyes to all that he has in store for us. Go ahead take the next step. God is with you always!

Giving Thanks

So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture
Will give thee thanks for ever:
We will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
– Psalm 79:13

I really enjoy how Psalm 79 closes. After a long list of cries to our LORD the Psalmist ends with Praise. It reminded me of the reference to Isaiah 54:1 from our reading in Galatians 4 verse 27 that I had just read.

For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. – Galatians 4:27

This reference to Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, reads an encouragement to Sarah and a reminder to us all that even if things do not seem to be going according to what we think is best, our God is good and His promises are true. All we need to do is remember and believe, trust in Him and praise His name!

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 24; Galatians 4; Ezekiel 31; Psalm 79