Thirsty? Psalm 63

Psalm 63
 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

This is such a powerful realization. I believe that this awareness is a key reason why David was God’s choice for king. Above all, he recognized his thirst for God. We all have this thirst. Eternity is written on our hearts. But we try to quench that thirst with the things of the world. And they sustain. For a moment. But it doesn’t last, and not only is the initial thirst magnified, but now we add in the frustration that comes from failing to fill that need. If we go to God first, what refreshment we will feel. Over and over David acknowledges His thirst is for God.We would save so much disappointment if we went to God first to fill our needs. Not to a spouse, a family member, a friend, a social network, and shopping trip, a refrigerator, a drink. God. Early we should seek Him because it is HIM for which our souls thirst.

2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Approach God with expectations of seeing His power and His glory because we have already, so many times.

3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

Do we believe this? His lovingkindness, better than life? The only response will be praise.
Praise.
 Lifting our hands in His name.

5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
The last devo blog was on the power of the name of Jesus. And as is the norm, that devo was mostly for me. But I had no idea how much. I have been so anxious these last few weeks. Anxiety is real. You can tell yourself that your problem does not compare to “real” problems. You can remind yourself that it will be over soon. But in those moments, trying to sleep, trying to function, trying to focus, what helped me? What word kept escaping my lips in a cry for help?
Jesus. One word. Meditating. He was my help, and I will rejoice!

8 My soul followeth hard after thee: 
 
So that’s where that song came from!

Thy right hand upholdeth me.

Today I am thankful for God’s mighty hand that upholds me. I am thankful that His well of living water does not run dry. I am thankful that while I may be surrounded by noise and distraction, His voice breaks through, and He responds with power when I call out His name. Fill yourself with the Living word of God. Quench your thirst in His presence with a position of prayer. And you will see His glory and His power! Amen!!

His name saves- all day long! Psalms 54

54 Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your strength.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For strangers have risen up against me,
And oppressors have sought after my life;
They have not set God before them. Selah
4 Behold, God is my helper;
The Lord is with those who uphold my life.
5 He will repay my enemies for their evil.
Cut them off in Your truth.
6 I will freely sacrifice to You;
I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7 For He has delivered me out of all trouble;
And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.

The power in a name.
There is power in my name. “Mommy said!”
There is even more power in my husband’s name. “Daddy said!”
Power.
In the spirit of full disclosure,however, in most circles, my name does not hold any power. Zero. But in my house, in my family, in my own little world, my name holds a lot of power.

But there is One whose name does hold the ultimate power.
 This is His world. His creation. His name.

Save me O God, by Your name.

He saves my soul. He saves my sanity. He saves my heart, my mind. All of it. I need to be saved. All day long. From myself. From my flesh. From temptation. And that is ok. Because His Name.
It saves! But why?

Because:
It is good.
An earthly name has power, but it is not always good, and a bad name holds destructive power. Yes there are certain names that you do not want to be associated with. Names can even  go from good to bad 
in.an.instant.
 Names can even hinder you, not help you.
But not God’s name.
Jesus’ name. It is good. Always. His name is sweet. Say it out loud.
His name is the quickest prayer. The quickest call for help. And the most powerful.
Jesus.
But:
His name also divides.
You can say God. Just don’t say Jesus.

Here is a strange truth.  People will say all day long. “Why can’t Christians be more like Jesus? Jesus was kind. Loving. Forgiving. Accepting.”

Ok, Can I pray in Jesus name?
Um no. Definitely not.
Can I mention Jesus name?
Um no. Please don’t.
His name divides.

Is he ok with this? Well, He seemed to expect it.

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” Luke 12:51.
Peace on earth? Not yet.
Peace in your heart? Absolutely. Peace that passes all understanding.
By His name.

Save me by Your name!

And what is the proper response?
I will freely sacrifice to You.

I will praise Your Name, for it is Good!
Call on His name today. All day. Every day. Praise His name. Praise it to all that you meet. Tell of His Good Name! And because we are saved, we will sacrifice, freely.

Don’t Settle for Substitutes! Psalm 35

Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
3 Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
Say to my soul. “I am your salvation” 
I AM. 
He is. Whatever you need. He is.
“I am your salvation”
This is definitely my new “Print it out in about size 80 font and stick it on the wall verse.”
 I need to see this all.day.long!
When I fail – He is my salvation.
When I am weak- He is my salvation.
When I feel strong- He is my salvation. 
It is just Him.
Can we talk nutrition for a second? Ever hear that when you are craving sweets, it’s because your body is naturally craving fruits? But the thing is, we have perverted the body’s natural desires by feeding it a super sweet substitute….refined sugar. We have conditioned our mind to interpret that natural craving into…maybe…donuts….or a chai latte! Hello.
Did you know that our spirits crave communion with the Father? Did you know that there is no way to the Father, but throught Jesus? (His words, not mine.) 
So my spirit is craving fellowship with the Creator, through His Son, my Savior, and yet when that craving hits, I have too often filled that need with convenient counterfeits. I have conditioned my mind to think…I need fellowship with……my friends! With….my facebook. With……my phone. Instead of with my God. Yes, we do need friends. Yes, facebook is fun. (I know, that’s up for debate) But (confession time) if my first inclination when that pang of loneliness hits (extrovert stay at home moms, I know you hear me) is to reach for my phone, I might have a craving that has become distorted.
7. For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit,
Which they have dug without cause for my life.
The enemy is digging pits. And he knows exactly what bait to use. His goal? To substitute. To get you to fill your God given craving with a second best substitute. How? Ok, for you it may not that need for communion. For you maybe it is love. We all have that need to feel loved. It was implanted by God so that we would draw close to Him. But when we feel that need for love, where do you turn?
 Or what about approval? Validation? Defense? 
When someone wrongs you, do you take it to Jesus? Do you cry out like David, “Stop those who pursue me. Fight those that fight against me.” Or do you pick up that phone as fast as you can so that someone can know how wronged you have been?
9. And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord;
It shall rejoice in His salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“Lord, who is like You,
Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him,
Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”
Where do our souls find joy? In the Lord. In the Lord. In the Lord! JoyFULL. Then we are full. We are free to pour out that joy, that love, on others.
I have not felt that full lately. But I have substituted. I know better. But how good is Our God to remind us? And I will ask Him, with David, “Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” And I will sit. And listen. I will stop and give him the opportunity to say things to my soul. I will quiet my distractions. I will be full of Joy, and my bones will say “Lord! Who is like you!! Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him!” Because nothing is too difficult for thee. Nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.  He is greater. He will deliver. But I must choose!
And truth be told, that is sometimes the hardest part. Because the couch is comfortable. Friends are familiar. Distractions distract from pain…for a season. But we are missing out. Sweets are nice when they complement the meal, but when they become the main thing, we grow so weak.
Yet this we know: His grace is sufficient. And when we call, He answers. I pray that we would call on Him first, in our every moments. Whether you are about to lose it from the traffic, from the kids, from work, from family issues; or whether you are overflowing with blessings. Let us go to Him first and continually. 
Communion with God. It is everything. 
Let us pray without ceasing. All day. Talking and communing with the one that draws us to Himself.
Luke 24-
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him;
After the resurrection, Jesus was with them. He was in their midst, and yet they didn’t know it. But when they broke bread, when they stopped and had communion, then their eyes were opened and they knew Him. I want to know Him. I want my eyes to be opened to see.
I have been so busy, like Martha, I have been worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and now I will chose that good part, which will not be taken away from me.

27 Let them shout for joy and be glad,
Who favor my righteous cause;
And let them say continually,
“Let the Lord be magnified,
Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
28 And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness
And of Your praise all the day long.

When I see you smile..Psalm 17

 
 
I love the Psalms because David feels every emotion and shares every emotion with God and consequently with us. Nothing is sugar coated. But in the end, he encourages himself in the Lord. And that is where I need to be. In that place of encouraging myself in the Lord. At the beginning of chapter 17 we find David in this place of desperation. Running from Saul he took refuge with the Philistines. Why David? How deceived do you have to be to seek refuge with your enemy. He is at the end of his rope. He doesn’t want to fight anymore. So he cries out to God for us to read in Psalms 17
Hear a just cause, O Lord,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
HEAR ME!
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.
HOLD ME UP!

I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;

O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,

Listen to me.
Show your loving kindness.
Keep me
Hide me.
Arise, O Lord,
Confront him, cast him down;
He has run out of ideas. He doesn’t know what to do. All He knows is that He wants God to do it for him.
And I can relate.
Lord, I am out of ideas. I don’t know what to do. I am praying. I am seeking. I am reading. And I am tired. But you. You are good. Hear me. Hold me. Keep me. Hide me.
As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
I want to be changed into his image. And the truth is that I become most like him when I have partaken in the fellowship of His sufferings. Sometimes we are called to act. Sometimes we call out to God to act on our behalf. But always, He goes before us. And He is able! And through it all, in this world filled with pain, I will be satisfied in Him. I will see His face in righteousness. And that is enough.

I Samuel 27- Enough already!

The first five words of this chapter tell us all we need to know about where David is headed. These words here:
Then David said to himself,
This is where the trouble begins. This chapter would tell a different story if it had a different beginning. Oh how I wish this chapter started with ….
Then David sought the Lord”
Because I am just a little tired of people seeking their own hearts for counsel. It is a recipe for disaster.
Humans have this amazing and simultaneously ridiculous ability to convince themselves of anything.
And.I.am.just.over.it.
I am tired of the destruction. I am tired of the pain. I am tired of the consequences that so many are left to deal with when one person decides to follow their “heart” instead of following God. Because I have seen it over and over again, and that is just in the last 3 weeks. I am not talking about one instance or one mistake. I am talking about 3 separate situations. 3 circles of devastation. 3 families reeling.
They say that things happen in threes. I hope “they” are right, whoever they are. Because four might just push me over the edge.
But back to David:
Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. Saul then will despair of searching for me anymore in all the territory of Israel, and I will escape from his hand.”
David felt like he had no choice but to follow his feelings. He acted powerless. So for protection he ran to the Philistines. Seriously David? I mean, you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to know that the Philistines are not who he should be running to for protection. Did David forget his famous standoff with one giant of a Philistine? And now he is running to them for protection. How embarrassing.
I came to the Word this morning tired. Tired of people choosing self over sacrifice. Tired of people choosing to be a victim of sin instead of a victor over it. I came to the Word of life seeking the character of God. Seeking encouragement. But the Bible is not a book of inspirational quotes. It is real.
David had forgotten those words of truth spoken over him by his now wife Abigail. I wonder how she felt. Read again what Abigail spoke over him just 2 chapters ago.
The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, 31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”
He had received those words then, but forgotten them now. Now he acted out of fear. What was he doing???
In the last chapter David showed that his fear of God was greater than his fear of man.
Now that has changed.
But David was tired too. He was tired of fighting. Tired of running. Tired of believing.
And I can relate.
However, I have something that he did not. I have the Holy Word. I have the Holy Spirit. I can see example after example of what happens when one follows their own heart versus following God’s heart. And you can too.
Not to mention we have that scene in the garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will but Yours.” This is the gospel: aligning our heart with the will of God, and not the other way around.
So I refuse to seek my own heart for counsel. The heart is deceitful and wicked. Who can know it?
Instead I will:

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55: 6-7

Read what John Piper wrote in his blog about seeking the Lord:

Seeking involves calling and pleading. O Lord, open my eyes. O Lord, pull back the curtain of my own blindness. Lord, have mercy and reveal yourself. I long to see your face.
The great obstacle to seeking the Lord is pride. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him” (Psalm 10:4). Therefore, humility is essential to seeking the Lord.

Through my own exhaustion I pray. I confess my own pride. And I ask that God would have mercy on us, and that He would reveal Himself. And I rejoice in the truth Isaiah proclaims!!

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

I Samuel 26- Excuse me, your fear is showing.

Who or what do you fear? 
I know. You don’t want to tell me. Or maybe you don’t even know. We are all living with some degree of self deception- at different levels. But it is there.

But it’s ok. You don’t have to tell me what you are afraid of. Your life tells everyone that wants to listen. It shows.

Are you horrified when your children have a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store? Why? Is this their first one? Ever? No. In fact that same tantrum elicits a slightly different emotion in the confines of your own home. You might feel frustrated or annoyed, but in the middle of the store? It’s fear. What will people think???
What about right before people come over? Are you running around like a crazy person? Are you more intensely encouraging(read: yelling) your children to clean their rooms  than normal? That’s fear. What will people think?
I looked online for a list of what people fear, and found the following list to be the most relevant. Yes, people are afraid of spiders and public speaking. But when thinking about the fears that drive our lives and affect our decisions, this list is right on.
Losing your freedom
The Unknown
Pain
Disappointment
Misery
Loneliness
Ridicule
Rejection
Death
Failure
That list. It humbles me.
Daily we are making decisions from fear. But here is the kicker. That is actually a good thing. However fear becomes a problem when it is misdirected.
Because the “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10
As Christians, we are always on this mysterious hunt for wisdom. Without a doubt, “wisdom” would have to be the number one answer to the question, “How can I pray for you?”
And right here we have the key to the beginning of wisdom. Fear God. The contra-positive is also true. Making decisions without fear of God, not so wise.
How do we show fear for God?
Example: 
I fell in love with a guy who had made a commitment not to date anyone for a year, two weeks before he met me. Consequently, for an entire year, we made no mention of any feelings for each other. None. No hands held. No kisses exchanged. Nada. Because I knew enough to know, that you do not mess with a vow to God. My decision was based on a healthy fear of a righteous God who says it is better not to make a vow to God at all then to make it in haste and break it. And I liked this guy too much to risk messing it up royally by starting it out breaking his vow to God. (spoiler alert……..it worked out!!)
Chapter 26 displays a prime example of fearing God rather than man. David had another chance to kill Saul. But he passed. Why? Because more than he feared Saul (which was a lot) he feared God.

9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him, for who can lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed and be blameless?” 10 David added, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will certainly strike him down: either his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 However, because of the Lord, I will never lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed. Instead, take the spear and the water jug by his head, and let’s go.”

Those are two larger than life examples of how we show a healthy fear of God. But the really expression of obedience is in the day  to day decisions.
Misplaced fear leads to the need to control. Control your children. Control your friends. Control your spouse. Control your environment.Control your boss. The list goes on and on.
Yet fearing God leads to freedom!
David knew that Saul’s days were limited, because of God’s promise. David knew his victory was going to come directly from the hand of God. He feared God, not man. He was free.
So many things that stress me out during the day are related to fear. I would challenge you to think about  this as you go through the day and find your own stress building.  Don’t let that moment pass you by. Examine yourself before the Lord as we are told to do time and time again. Discover what is causing you to fear. Revisit the above list. Identify the misplaced fear and replace it with freedom. 
Fearing God leads to trusting God.
Just like our actions give away our source of fear, our actions also display our lack of fear. If you do not fear God, it will show.
If a fool says in his heart “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1) than what about a man that knows there is a God, and yet does not fear Him. Too often, that is us.
This is what the Bible says about those that fear the Lord.

Prov 14:26-27 (NIV) He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.
Ps 34:9 (NEB) Fear the Lord, all you his holy people; for those who fear him lack nothing.
Prov 19:23 (NEB) The fear of the Lord is life; he who is full of it will rest untouched by evil.

Ps 118:4 (NIV) Let those who fear the LORD say: “His love endures forever.” 
Take one or any of these verses today. Write it out. Meditate on it. 
Also, check out this video link below on the fear of God by Pastor Chet Lowe. I guarantee  that you will not soon forget the truths expressed. I have never experienced a service like this one. Ever. It was truly powerful and necessary.

Reviewing a Rough Road- Psalms and Samuel

So call me crazy, hormonal, or inconsistent, but I am about to disagree with myself.
Two posts ago, I said how the “Review” posts were my favorite. And they normally are. But not in this case. I am not sure I want to think about what I just learned because it was hard. It still hurts. And my heart has not fully healed yet.
You see, God in His sovereign wisdom and grace, prepared me for these last two weeks through His word. However, to review those lessons, means to go deep into what He is trying to teach me, which I am still trying to learn, through tears.
Before my church was turned upside down, God talked to me about what peace really is, showed me how I need to be rescued from my flesh, and reminded me that when I feel overwhelmed, He knows. Afterwards, he showed me what to do when a leader falls and how easily that could be me. And people, this is just my daily chapter by chapter reading. I did not search these lessons out.
Some may say it is narcissitic to claim God speaks to my need through His word, but I just call it love. And the same love is waiting for you.Through His word He tells us Who He is,who we are, who we are destined to be, and more. Such love.
The following is a recap, but for each full post, click on each title.

Psalm 120- Defining Peace

Psalm 120
In my trouble I cried to the Lord,
And He answered me.
2 Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips,
From a deceitful tongue.

7 I am for peace, but when I speak,
They are for war.

So what did Jesus have to say about peace?
Matthew 10:34-36
Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
Jesus, who is called the “Prince of Peace” claims that he did not come to bring peace, meaning the absence of war or fighting, on the earth. Why? Well, for one, He knew that as long as there is sin in the world, this could never happen. So what kind of peace is He talking about?
Romans 10:15
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
I love how Matthew Henry expounds on this verse:
(Peace) It is the word of reconciliation between God and man….. it is glad tidings of good things. The things of the gospel are good things indeed, the best things; tidings concerning them are the most joyful tidings, the best news that ever came from heaven to earth.
Peace is reconciliation with God.
It is this definition that makes this portion of the Psalms, and even Jesus title as “The Prince of Peace” become so clear.
And here is the verse of the day, one to meditate on and reflect back on, when all seems not so peaceful..
One of my favorites:
Ephesians 2:14a For He Himself is our peace!

Psalm 140- I need to be rescued.

Crying out for protection, Psalm 140 records once again, David’s need to be rescued.
Like me. I need to be rescued.
Unlike David, however, I do not have a world leader hunting me down. The fact remains, however, that there is a roaming, roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And God reminds me,
“For you wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Now it is with David I pray,
Rescue me, keep me, You are my God, the strength of my salvation. You have covered my head in the day of battle,
because this life is a battle.
I can’t be the only one who feels that war raging inside.
I can’t be the only one who doesn’t always want to do the things I know I should do!
I know that this struggle is from the cradle to the grave. I know that greater men and women then me have warred against their flesh, yet I also know that there is victory in Christ Jesus. How do I know this?
Number one, because He has told me. It is all over His Word. Countless examples of the power to change lives from a murderer to a preacher, from a coward to a warrior, from an orphan girl to a queen who saves. Greater is He that is in me, than He that is in the world.
Number two, I have seen it up close and personal. I have seen His hand in my life, in my family’s lives, in my friends’ lives.
If you are still who you were, then we have a problem.
Part of the problem and part of what holds us back is that we don’t know how badly we need rescuing.
That is pride.
I pray that we would approach our days with the same vigilance that David did, that we would see our moment by moment need to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and that we would not turn to sugary substitutes or quick fix fillers to quiet those needs, but that we would surrender and submit to the will of God through worship and prayer and the study of His word. Amen!

Psalm 141- Hungry?

Psalm 141
Lord, I cry out to You;
Make haste to me!
Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.
2 Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

I was so HUNGRY to get into the Word tonight.

Lord, I cry out to You;
Make haste to me!

I felt these words to my core when I read them. Hurry up Lord. Please meet me hear fast as my praises go up, and Your mercies come down.

The lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,
Hello? Can I get a witness?
The power of our words is real. I desperately want this verse to be true in my life.
Let the righteous strike me;It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me;
It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it.
Wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy. Constructive criticism rarely feels good, but is profoundly necessary. I thank God for friends and family that look with love on my life and tell it like it is. It almost always offends at first hearing, but upon reflection, when pride is put down, real growth is possible.
But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord;
In You I take refuge;
At the end of the day, I needed this. My eyes, upon the Lord, my soul taking refuge. Keeping my eyes on Jesus. This song came to mind, and  it is my prayer for us!
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Words & Music:Hel­en H. Lem­mel, 1922

Psalms 142- What To Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed.

Psalms 142:3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path.
He knows. He sees and He knows. Sometimes, all we need is to know that someone knows, someone understands, and someone sees. And it is enough. All day long my children clamor for my attention. They want me to know everything that happens. If they did something right, I need to know. If they have been wronged, I need to know. And just me knowing, quite often is enough.
He has seen my path. He knows where I have been and where I am going. He has been there the whole time. And He defends me.
Every day the enemy’s goal is to overwhelm us. And our Lord’s plan is that we run to Him and His Word. His Word is life. Don’t take that for granted. Read it. See how God’s character is displayed and grab that verse to hold onto throughout the day.

I Samuel 25:1 A Time to Mourn

I Samuel 25:1
As I have been reading through I Samuel chronologically, there have been a few stops in Psalms. Those of you that are on this journey with me, know that I have been achingto get back into I Samuel. I feel like I left David hanging. He is hiding from Saul, and I need to get back there to get him to safety. 🙂 Nevertheless, God had many beautiful lessons and comforts for me in the Psalms, for which my heart is glad.
So finally, FINALLY, today is the day. I am back in I Samuel. And what is the first verse? The first three words I read?
Then Samuel died;
Wait, what? No, no no!! Samuel can’t die. Not now. David needs Samuel. He is the one who has mentored him, anointed him, prayed for him. Samuel. What will David do without Samuel? Oh the feelings that must have surged through David’s heart. Will the calling still be fulfilled? Who will take his place? What will happen to the people? What now?

and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him

What happens now? The answer is simple, but it might surprise you.
What do they need to do first before anything else?
 Mourn.
 It has to be done. Nothing else can happen until it does. And this verse, this one, matter of fact verse, seemingly separate from the rest of the chapter, bears more relevance to me and a million other people in the world right now than most of us would care to think about.
What is mourning?  It is the outward expression of grief.
Who is mourning? Well, it might be easier to answer ……… who isn’t? 
 
Mourning happens as a result of loss. The death of a loved one is the most commonly spoken of reason for grief, but there are countless other losses that evoke this same type of feeling.
The loss of a dream. The loss of a home. The loss of a marriage. The loss of a job. In David’s case? The loss of a leader.
This great loss…..a loss I know too well.
Click on the link for the rest of the post. I didn’t know how to condense this one. It was too personal. It is still.

In I Samuel 25:1,Samuel died and the people mourned. And now, even though David’s calling is yet to be realized, life still goes on. The people have practical needs. David’s army is hungry. David attempts to provide for them, calling in a favor from a man he had helped in the past. This man, Nabal, however, refuses. Now what? Instead of praying for guidance, David relies on what he knows. He prepares for battle. He will get what is due him by force. Providentially, however, Abigail, Nabal’s wise and winsome wife, gets wind of what is going on. Upon hearing of her husbands refusal to help David, she knows his actions will likely bring disaster to her family. So she collects some food and supplies, and sets off on foot to hopefully stave off any potential harm. And it works. David is moved by her kindness. He is thankful. And consequently David is saved from making a big mistake.
There are many lessons to be learned from this passage of scripture. First of all, David did not seek God first about this potential battle. He just barreled on full steam ahead. God, however, had other plans.
A man plans his way, but the Lord directs his path.”
Too many times I have gone ahead and made plans without truly seeking God and been stopped right in my tracks. Sometimes it was not a pleasant stop, but I was stopped nonetheless. How good is God to warn us when we are headed in a way that leads to destruction?
Hebrews 12:6 for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives.
And in this moment, my heart is overwhelmed with His love for me.
God warns us. He woos us. He calls us. He does this because of how much he cares. But sometimes, we chose self. We choose an immediate pleasure over longtime love. We choose instant satisfaction over ongoing sanctification
But oh what amazing growth would happen in our life if the next time we were confronted with a need for change we reacted like David.
Praise the Lordwho ……restrained His servant from doing evil.
How did the Lord keep him from doing evil? He sent someone to remind him of who he is and the high calling on his life. She goes to him in meekness and grace.
28 Please forgive your servant’s offense, for the Lord is certain to make a lasting dynasty for my lord because he fights the Lords battles. Throughout your life, may evil not be found in you.
She takes responsibility for the sins of her husband,Nabal. She reminds David of who he is anointed to be speaks a blessing into his life.
What would happen church, if the conflicts in our home, our work place, and within all of our relationships were handled this way on a daily basis?

Approach with grace and receive with praise.

Wow.
I pray that we would be receptive to correction, taking it to the Lord for true clarification. I pray that when we have an issue to bring before someone we would do so with humility and grace, knowing that our Lord in heaven, came to us, he washed our feet. And while I rejoice in a God that loves me just as I am, I am eternally grateful that he loves me too much to let me stay that way.

What did He say?- Review time

Since I have been blogging this personal study through the Bible, my favorite posts have really been those that review. Repeatedly in the Bible we are exhorted to “remember” because, man, we are forgetful!  So strap on your seat belt or your thinking cap, and get ready to review! Click on the link for the entire post.

Psalm 31- Choosing to Trust

Reading the Bible to me, means looking for the Character of God and allowing it to shape me.
 After reading and meditating on Psalm 31 for a few days, one word continued to jump out at me.

  But I trust in the Lord.

 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”

My times are in Your hand;

God is trustworthy. I trust Him. But in a world with so much noise, so much distraction, sometimes it becomes a choice, more than a reflex. Yet I don’t choose to trust with ignorance. I choose to trust because I have been here before. And I have seen His hand. I have felt His heart. I have heard His voice. And I say with Job:

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Job 42:5

Through David’s tears and pain, he praised. And knowing how often his words have carried me through hardships, I can’t help but wonder how many people since David penned those words, have been helped through the night, through the day, through the years, from his words, those words he expressed while he lived a nightmare.

I have seen such sadness over the last couple days on facebook. Two different families, two different states, both saying goodbye to a newborn. Yet the words flowing from their hearts are not those of anger or bitterness, but insight and faithfulness. Like David, in their darkest moments, of unthinkable pain, they praise. 
:Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the
Lorddelivers him out of them all.
And then,
The righteous cry, and the Lordhears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18.The
Lordis near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

He is near to the brokenhearted. If you are feeling brokenhearted, downtrodden, or crushed, turn your face to heaven, and magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt His name together. 

 Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?
The loving kindness of God endures all day long.
2 Your tongue devises destruction,
Like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit.
3 You love evil more than good,
Falsehood more than speaking what is right. [c]Selah.
4 You love all words that devour,
O deceitful tongue.

Feeling a bit frustrated this morning as I read through the headlines.
Just How? How can lies be passed off as truth, over and over and over? And then even when lies are exposed, no one cares. So I put down my newspaper ( metaphorically speaking of course, who holds a newspaper anymore?? ) Finally, I flip open the Bible, (which I clearly should have opened first) to the assigned reading, as I go through the Bible chronologically and I am reminded that there is nothing new under the sun. Those that love deceitful and destructive words have been around for thousands of years. They are blinded by pride and a lust for power.
Yet, the loving kindness of God endures.
And this was my assigned reading for the day. Seriously? I couldn’t have picked a more appropriate passage if I had googled “passage in the Bible that will encourage me after feeling defeated by the lies perpetrated in our world.”  There is no greater proof for the veracity and power of God’s word, then reading through it for yourself, and realizing the relevance and power God has to meet you exactly where you are!
One of my favorite things about the Psalms is that over and over again, David airs his grievances before the Lord, unashamedly and unfiltered. Yet by the end, he is encouraging himself, and us, thousands of years later, in the Lord. So if you, like me, can feel discouraged by this uphill fight, read on.

Psalm 56- Believe it or not!

I can’t recap this one! You just have to read it 😉 It might be my favorite because of what God did for little ol’ me.

1 Samuel 25b- Pull over!

In I Samuel 25:1, Samuel died and the people mourned. And now, even though David’s calling is yet to be realized, life still goes on. The people have practical needs. David’s army is hungry. David attempts to provide for them, calling in a favor from a man he had helped in the past. This man, Nabal, however, refuses. Now what? Instead of praying for guidance, David relies on what he knows. He prepares for battle. He will get what is due him by force. Providentially, however, Abigail, Nabal’s wise and winsome wife, gets wind of what is going on. Upon hearing of her husbands refusal to help David, she knows his actions will likely bring disaster to her family. So she collects some food and supplies, and sets off on foot to hopefully stave off any potential harm. And it works. David is moved by her kindness. He is thankful. And consequently David is saved from making a big mistake.
There are many lessons to be learned from this passage of scripture. First of all, David did not seek God first about this potential battle. He just barreled on full steam ahead. God, however, had other plans.
A man plans his way, but the Lord directs his path.”
Too many times I have gone ahead and made plans without truly seeking God and been stopped right in my tracks. Sometimes it was not a pleasant stop, but I was stopped nonetheless. How good is God to warn us when we are headed in a way that leads to destruction?
When I was a teenager I couldn’t get away with ANYTHING. Not one thing. That praying mom I mentioned here? The mom that was always fighting for our family? I blame her prayers. Whenever I did anything dishonest, it was sure to backfire. That verse “Be sure your sin will find you out?” That could have been my life’s verse.
Yet there was a girl in my high school who had the opposite life. She was allowed to do anything that she wanted. I was so jealous. One day while we sat waiting for our respective rides home on the bench after school, I let her know how lucky she was that her parents didn’t care what she did. Staring off down the road she answered soberly without skipping a beat, “Yeah, they don’t care.”
And I understood. That short conversation has stayed with me all of these years.
Hebrews 12:6 for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives.
And in this moment, my heart is overwhelmed with His love for me. Seriously. This passage in I Samuel. Today. I am just reading through I Samuel. Who could know the relevance for this my life right now? God. That’s who. A sovereign loving God who has treasures in His word, waiting for us, just to read and receive.
God warns us. He woos us. He calls us. He does this because of how much he cares. But sometimes, we chose self. We choose an immediate pleasure over longtime love. We choose instant satisfaction over ongoing sanctification
How many times has someone come to you with a complaint about your character, only to be dismissed. Was it a coworker, an overseer, a spouse, your child? What happens in our hearts when we are confronted  by someone who thinks our intended path is wrong? In my own heart my first reaction might be defense. “How could you say that about me, don’t you know I……(fill in the blank with excuse or justification.) Or accusation “Who are you to tell me that? ”
But oh what amazing growth would happen in our life if the next time we were confronted with a need for change we reacted like David.
Praise the Lordwho ……restrained His servant from doing evil.
David could have ignored Abigail, he could have hung onto his hurt pride and charged forward to make Nabal pay. He could have chosen vengeance over mercy. But he didn’t. He let go. David’s pride was in check. His response?
Praise.
 Praise to a God that kept him from doing evil.
How did the Lord keep him from doing evil? He sent someone to remind him of who he is and the high calling on his life. She goes to him in meekness and grace.
28 Please forgive your servant’s offense, for the Lordis certain to make a lasting dynasty for my lord because he fights the Lord’s battles. Throughout your life, may evil not be found in you.
She takes responsibility for the sins of her husband,Nabal. She reminds David of who he is anointed to be speaks a blessing into his life.
What would happen church, if the conflicts in our home, our work place, and within all of our relationships were handled this way on a daily basis?

Approach with grace and receive with praise.

Wow.
I pray that we would be receptive to correction, taking it to the Lord for true clarification. I pray that when we have an issue to bring before someone we would do so with humility and grace, knowing that our Lord in heaven, came to us, he washed our feet. And while I rejoice in a God that loves me just as I am, I am eternally grateful that he loves me too much to let me stay that way.

A time to mourn.- I Samuel 25:1

I Samuel 25:1

As I have been reading through I Samuel chronologically, there have been a few stops in Psalms. Those of you that are on this journey with me, know that I have been aching to get back into I Samuel. I feel like I left David hanging. He is hiding from Saul, and I need to get back there to get him to safety. 🙂 Nevertheless, God had many beautiful lessons and comforts for me in the Psalms, for which my heart is glad.
So finally, FINALLY, today is the day. I am back in I Samuel. And what is the first verse? The first three words I read?
Then Samuel died;

Wait, what? No, no no!! Samuel can’t die. Not now. David needs Samuel. He is the one who has mentored him, anointed him, prayed for him. Samuel. What will David do without Samuel? Oh the feelings that must have surged through David’s heart. Will the calling still be fulfilled? Who will take his place? What will happen to the people? What now?
and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him

What happens now? The answer is simple, but it might surprise you.
What do they need to do first before anything else?
 Mourn.
 It has to be done. Nothing else can happen until it does. And this verse, this one, matter of fact verse, seemingly separate from the rest of the chapter, bears more relevance to me and a million other people in the world right now than most of us would care to think about.
What is mourning?  It is the outward expression of grief.
Who is mourning?Well, it might be easier to answer ……… who isn’t? 
 
Mourning happens as a result of loss. The death of a loved one is the most commonly spoken of reason for grief, but there are countless other losses that evoke this same type of feeling.
The loss of a dream. The loss of a home. The loss of a marriage. The loss of a job. In David’s case? The loss of a leader.
This great loss…..
The Bible specifically mentions those that mourned loss.
In Numbers 14:39,  The Israelites mourn the loss of entering the promise land. Dreams and expectations shattered.
In Psalm 119:136, the Psalmist mourns the sins of God’s people. He says, “Tears stream down from my eyes, because they do not keep Your law.
Hosea 4:3 tells us that the land mourns because of Israel’s sin and because of the consequences that have come upon the land as a result of that.

More often than not, feelings of grief are ignored and left unidentified causing decades of damage.

I have felt deep grief a handful of times. And those early days? When you are going about your day, and  all of a sudden remember that your life is never going to be the same again? Those moments that take your breath away and make you literally shake your head in disbelief? That is grief. Even if no one has died.
Disclaimer: I love my brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, I dare you to find a more ardent defender of the bride of Christ than I. But this needs to be said.  Allowing others to mourn, is not our specialty.  Grief makes us so uncomfortable. 
It usually takes about 3.4 seconds after hearing the news that someone’s loved one has died for them to hear the following exchange:
Was he a Christian?
Oh good.
Well, at least he’s in a better place. 
Or how about a women that cannot bear a child? How many times has she heard a flippant, “Well, you can always adopt right?” This is not compassion.
Look, I am as big a fan of Pollyanna’s glad game as anyone, I am just saying, it would be a good idea to apply scripture in these instances.

Bear each other’s burdens.

Mourn with those that mourn.

 Mourn.
Not without hope. No. We have hope. We have The Hope. But some rush so fast through the “We mourn” part of that verse and only express the “hope” part.
Recently I gave a mom permission to cry her eyes out after the death of her son. Her response?  Relief and surprise. It’s ok, I stressed to her.  I needed her to know that she wasn’t somehow less spiritual because of her deep sadness. The fact that she didn’t know this was a wake up call to me. How did she not know that it is within her absolute right as a mom, nay a Christian mom, to sob uncontrollably for what she has lost? What have we done when a mother feels guilty for appropriately mourning the loss of her son?

Why are we rushing people past their God given imperative to mourn, just to put on a happy face? Don’t do it. If you are mourning, take it to God. Let Him walk you through it. If you know someone who is mourning a loss, any loss, mourn with them.

Don’t rush me.  I won’t do it. I am allowed to mourn.  No matter how often you tell me God has a plan, I will just tell you that I know He has a plan, and mourning is part of it. Mourning doesn’t make you any less of a Christian. It doesn’t mean you don’t have joy. Or strength. Or faith. On the contrary. It takes faith to let yourself sob, heaving uncontrollable sobs, on someone’s shoulder. It takes strength to reach out to someone and let them know you need help, that you need a burden bearer. 

Grief isolates. Mourning brings people together. 
Mourning does not look the same for everyone. I am not an expert. I only know what it looks like for me.

Writing
. I have to write. I have to organize my thoughts. 
Talking. I need someone to know I am sad and be sad with me. I need to be understood and be able to express my thoughts.
Crying. It cleanses me. 
Praising. I have never reached my hands higher to God than I have in those lowest of low moments. Praise songs rise from my lips as tears fall to the floor. And I am healing.
Meditating on scripture. I need a go to verse.
Laughter I don’t want to brag, but I have some of the funniest friends on the planet. And with one word, they can make me laugh out loud, erasing the pain, if only for a moment.
There are a lot of wounded people walking around that have never allowed themselves to mourn, and some actually feel that this is the godly way. 
My dear friend is always saying “We need more burden bearers.” And I couldn’t agree more. You don’t need the perfect words to say. Just be there. Hug. Sit. Pour a glass of water.
Ecclesiastes 7
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
since that is the end of all mankind,
and the living should take it to heart.
Grief is better than laughter,
for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad.
The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure.
In your moment of mourning. Take note. Learn. Oh there is so much to learn. Soak in the presence of God. Feel every feeling. Invite your family and friends to mourn with you. Turn to each other, not on each other. God promises to turn our mourning into laughter, our weeping into dancing. He says there is a time to cry. It will not last forever, but it. must. be.

If we do not mourn properly, grief turns to bitterness and despair.
 

I pray for those that are mourning, by name. I know so many of you. Too many. Join with me. Lift up your brothers and sisters in prayer. Call. Email. Text. Love. Bear burdens. We are the church. We.Are.The.Church. We are family. And they will know we are Christians by our love for one another.