“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. Praise the Lord with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy. For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You.” Psalm 33:1-22 NKJV
I stand in awe of somebody bigger than you and me!
I had the great privilege of teaching Bible classes in a few of the public schools while I was a missionary teacher in Scotland and England. It was an amazing experience. Through it, I met some of the most precious kids. Each so different and yet, they all shared something in common; they wanted to know more about God. We talked about God’s great love for us every time we met together. As we talked, the questions would come. And week by week, we would learn as much as we could about what the Bible told us of God’s love for each one of us.
I still remember one little girl in particular. She captured my attention as a teacher in so many different ways. It was her cuteness; every day, dressed in her school uniform along with pigtails and ribbons. It was her accent and the way she said certain words. It was her laughter. It was her kindness shown to other children. But, most of all, it was her dimple-highlighted smile that absolutely melted my heart. She was always full of questions. About everything. I can still see the frown that would come across her face every time I had to say, “I don’t know!” Well, for her, that wasn’t good enough. She wanted to know. If I didn’t know, and I admitted that I didn’t know, well, she would insist on my “learning until I found the answer for her.” It was through her, that I learned the art of creative and investigative learning for kids. I enlisted the kids to help me learn so that we could learn something new together.
One particular question that she insisted knowing was, “What does God look like?” She was not one bit happy with my answer. “Sorry, but I don’t really know what God looks like. No one has ever seen God.”
Oh no, here it comes! With a furrowed brow, widened eyes and a flat-line smile, she delivered that infamous frown to her teacher. “Teacher,” she would say, “you have to know the answer to that. You know a lot about God. You just have to know what He looks like. I want to know what God looks like.” She crossed her arms over her chest and just frowned at me. Stumped for words, I floundered a little, trying to decide just what to say. Then, she cracked a little smile and said, “Can we discover the answer to my question together?”
Okay! We started by doing a search of Scripture to find Bible verses that talked about God, His character and His doings. Every one of those students were hoping they, personally, could find a description of what God looked like. Each one, wanted to be the one to find that precious little gem. For days, they searched the Scriptures. We wrote these special Bible verses out on colorful paper and hung them on the wall all around the room. What was the outcome of this type of investigation?
The room became very colorful. There are lots of Bible verses telling us about God’s love, God’s character and God’s work. And the children learned a lot about God in this search through the Scriptures. But, no one found a physical description of what God looked like. But then, I kind of knew that no one would. You see, I remember looking for the same thing when I was just a kid.
Even when I shared with them Bible verses like: John 1:18, “No one has seen God at any time…” and John 6:46, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.” These children still did not believe that no one really knew what God looked like.
As this truth began it hit the understanding of the kids, there was a little bit of disgust that filled that classroom. And then, there, – – there it is! The frown came out again. Glancing at this little pig-tailed, cute girl, I almost burst out laughing at the expression on her face. It was now combined with the folding of the arms across the chest. Several others students around, began to do the same. Before this teacher could say a word and gain control of her classroom, one of the students stood up on a chair and made a loud proclamation.
“Well, I think we should all draw pictures of God. God is bigger than all of us and the world deserves to know what God really looks like. We should draw his picture.” stated one student. Many others about the room, nodded their heads in agreement. The classroom had made up their mind.
Well, okay then! Let’s get some paper and lets get to drawing.
Crayons, markers, and pencils, in the hands of kids, can create some of the most interesting, most intriguing and most priceless creations. Their imaginations run wild. Their creativity shines forth in each stroke of the pencil as it draws. Their brightness pops as color is added in new dimensions. And the final picture, to each child, is truly a masterpiece.
As they worked, I walked around the room, just looking at their busyness. I couldn’t contain the smile that wanted to etch forth on my facial tablet. Each child was determined, in their own way, to show Ms. Kathy and the world what God really looks like. I was intrigued by their imaginations. I was impressed with their drawings. It was incredible to see such creativity.
I just wished that I had kept those pictures. So many times, in the years following, I would have loved to look once more at the handiwork of some talented kids. Some of those images, though, have remained etched in my memory. One day, I will go to Heaven and see God. Then, I will truly know what God looks like. But for now….!
The Psalmist has drawn for us a picture of what God looks like – of His love, His character, and His deeds of wonder. Instead of using crayons and markers to create his drawing, the Psalmist uses words. Psalm 33 gives a verbal shout out, with an abundant amount of joy, to the greatness of our amazing, wonderful God. As we read this psalm, we realize that we are reading about Somebody bigger than you and me. Somebody whose picture cannot be drawn, but whose image shines forth in brilliant colors. Somebody who is worthy of a ton of praise from the inhabitants of the earth. Somebody whose “word is right and all His work is done in truth” for this God loves righteousness and truth. Somebody “who spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” Somebody whose “counsel stands forever and the plans of His heart are known to all generations.” Somebody who looks down from the heavens to see all that He has created; He knows each inhabitant of the earth by name. Somebody who “fashions their hearts individually and considers all their works.” Somebody bigger than you and me.
Just as I stood, years ago, and admired the drawings of young children who tried to portray what God looked like in their minds eye, so now the Psalmist has drawn an image of God that we can stand back and admire. While, no one has ever seen God and no one can portray vividly enough what He looks like, we can, in same small manner, understand who God is and what He has done, in our minds eye. Who is God to you? What does He look like to you? More importantly, what has God done for you? What’s the picture being drawn, right now, in your mind’s eye of your God?
With that picture in mind, might I suggest that we join the Psalmist. “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”
As for me, I know that whenever I think of God, whenever I consider His greatness, His workings in my life, His amazing love for me, I am moved to stand. Stand in respect, yes! But more so, I stand in awe! Simple awe! There are no words, no drawings, no imaginations that can develop that kind of picture of God.
For now, only my heart holds that true image of God. It’s an image to behold in my heart and in my minds eye. That image becomes clearly drawn with every heart beat, with every breath of life that God gives to me. That image is being etched upon my heart in the mirrored image of the God who created me. That image becomes more colorful with every act of love, grace, mercy and kindness that God places upon my life. That image becomes deeper in dimension with every heartache I experience in this earthly life, and every time I cry out to my God for His help and wisdom. And, some day soon, when I stand in His presence, in heaven, I will see my God for who He really is. I will know for sure what He looks like. I will know Him. He will know me. No pictures will be needed. My eyes will clearly see Him as I stand before Him! Forever in the presence of my God!
And, in that heavenly moment, I will stand in awe of Somebody bigger than you and me!
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. . . ” Psalms 37:7 (NKJV)
Just mention the word “Walk” and the ears on our little dog, Max, spring right up. Excitement is more than he can contain! You don’t usually have to say the word a second time. In his eagerness to get started, he races through the house. If he could talk, I’m almost certain that I would hear him say, “Hurry up and get my harness and leash on!” He is ready to go for a W – A – L – K!
This morning, Max and I went out for a walk. This dog LOVES his walks! Each and every one holds a new adventure; for him and for the person who is hanging onto the leash. He stops often just to take in the sights and sounds around him. He is busy poking his little nose into just about every nook and cranny along the way. He has a friendly greeting for each and every person he meets along the path. That tail-wagging greeting is the best thing ever to brighten up your day! And then, there are all the stops at the houses where his “friends” live. A quick little bark to say “hello!” and we are off walking again. Today, he was especially interested in chasing the birds. It seems he is listening for their special song and when he hears it, he stops and assesses where it is coming from. Should he have the pleasure of seeing that bird – well, that is when the real fun begins. Catch me if you can! Thankfully, he has never actually caught one, yet, he certainly gives his very best try. The birds are always quick to fly away. Today, I almost lost my grip on his leash, when unexpectedly, he lunged after a rabbit. I sure didn’t see that one coming. I’m not sure who was more surprised, the rabbit or me. Perhaps Max thought that cute little rabbit was “lunch” but, happily, the rabbit wasn’t interested in Max and he quickly disappeared out of sight. Max let out a little growl of disappointment. Poor Max! Nonetheless, it was fun to watch the little guy. A little while later, a big gust of wind caught him totally off guard and he began nipping at it. I chuckled at the thought of trying to catch the wind. As if you really could Max. I tell you, walking with this dog is a new experience every day. And yet, I must admit, when I think about it, there are plenty of life lessons to learn from walking my dog.
First time ever, today on our walk, Max got tired out! I mean, totally exhausted kind of tired! Not really surprising though. Worn out by the adventure, he plopped himself down. Right there in the middle of the sidewalk, Max sits down. He refused to move. “Really, Max? You have to stop right here? Right now?” At least, he had picked a shady spot to sit down in. I am afraid, he is down for the count. He lets out the cutest, most exhausted sigh that I have ever heard from my dog. No amount of tugs to the leash, no amount of petting, no amount of “That’s a good boy!”, no amount of promised treats, nothing, I repeat, NOTHING was going to entice him to move forward and finish our walk. Nothing!
At first, he just sat there, looking all around him. I’m trying to figure out what he is watching. What might he be preparing to go after next. But, there is nothing; nothing that I could see! All of the sudden, instead of sitting, Max lays down on the cool, shady sidewalk and spreads out all four legs. One, Two, Three, and Four! Then he drops his head, allowing another sigh to escape. He closes his eyes. Nope, he’s definitely not moving. He is totally exhausted! It was time to rest!
What’s his favorite dog walker to do?
In that moment, I simply chose to sit down with my favorite dog, on the sidewalk, and take a rest. I know. I could have picked him up and carried him back home. But why? It was a lovely day. And while I’m out walking my dog, Max, unknowingly, he teaches me a very simple, yet valuable life lesson.
Sometimes, we just need to stop and rest!
Life can be extremely hectic. Very often we find life to be fast paced and super busy. We tend to always be on the run. Places to go, people to see, things to do, deadlines to meet, dreams to fulfill. Life can be filled with many challenges, many problems, many things we seem to chase after, many different scenarios of drama, and occasionally comedy, play out day by day. All too often, there is something, someone “tugging at our leash” to keep us moving forward. Let’s get this thing called life done. Let’s finish our walk.
But, sometimes, we just need to stop where we are, stop what we are doing, lay down and rest!
REST is a gift that we can give to ourselves in the midst of our very hectic lives. My dog, Max, reminded me of that little lesson today, out on our walk together. Rest is good. Rest is necessary. Rest is restoring to our body, soul and mind. Rest is not idle. It is not wasteful time. Sometimes rest is the most productive thing that we can do in a day. We all need rest.
Here’s four things that I have learned about REST. (I built an acronym so that I remember it better!)
R – Rest gives me the opportunity to RETREAT. I love that word retreat. It means to pull away from something or someone for a designated period of time. To separate from something and rest or relax. It’s that idea of stopping one or more actions in life for a time to concentrate on something else. I have learned to schedule times of retreat into my life. If I don’t intentionally schedule it, then it usually doesn’t happen at all. I actually look forward to my times of retreat. I intentionally put my work aside. Yeah, no housework, no laundry, no fixing of meals (they get done ahead of time). At my personal retreat, there are no people, no problems, and thus no potential disturbances. During many of my times of retreat, I intentionally retreat from technology, and so, no phones, no computers, no television will be allowed at my retreat. Just me and quiet! It’s best for me to retreat somewhere away from home and thus, away from temptations to rush back into life’s complicated chaos. When I’m away from home, I cannot pick up my baggage or my work and bring it into my retreat space. My retreats can be for a few hours, a full day, or even for several days – whatever I deem my retreat to be. Sometimes that retreat will include a good, well-deserved nap. Retreat for me is all about rest. Resting from the normal pace of life, resting from my work, resting from technology that zaps so much of my time and energy, resting from my worries and concerns, resting my body, soul and mind.
E – Rest gives me the opportunity to ENTER God’s presence. Pulling away from the demands of life, pulling away from responsibilities, pulling away from everything else, gives me the privilege of retreating with my Creator God. It’s an opportunity to come into His sacred presence and just dwell there together. To enter and enjoy His presence fully. I don’t bring anything else with me. It’s just me and my God! It’s quiet in His presence. It is so peaceful and there is no one else to disturb us. His presence brings calm to my tired, troubled heart. In His presence, I can lay down everything – my hurts, my pain, my anxiety, my concerns, and my fears. Everything I have, everything I am is His when I am there, in His presence. He takes everything from me. I willingly surrender everything to Him. I can completely, totally, and fully rest in His presence. I can have that long over-due nap, while He tenderly watches over His child. In His presence, I can find a special place of refuge. I am safe there in His presence. I can be restored, renewed and revitalized in my body, soul and mind.
S – Rest gives me the opportunity to SPEND quality time with my Best Friend, My Lord, My God, and My Savior! Together, we choose how best to spend that time. I can spend time talking to Him. Tell Him anything that I want to. He will listen intently to my every word. I can spend time listening to Him as He speaks softly and gently to me. I want to listen to His every word. I desire His words to wash over my spirit, to cleanse and refresh my heart and soul. My God and I can be silent in the presence of one another. We don’t have to feel awkward in that silence. The silence is blissful and beautiful. As we spend time together, I can read His Word. Out loud, I read His Words back to Him and from the very pages of my Bible, my God speaks to me. I can ask Him questions. He will explain His truths to my open heart and mind. I want to hear only His words in this special time together. I can worship Him. There will be no fear that my worship isn’t good enough, isn’t pure enough, isn’t worthy for Him. I desire my worship to be heart-felt and holy. I want my worship to be glorious to the ears of My Savior. In that worship, I want to sing to Him. No worries about making “a joyful noise” for my worship will be beautiful in His presence. As I spend this special, sacred time with my God, my Savior, I will find that true rest comes flooding over my heart, soul and mind.
T – Rest gives me the opportunity to TRUST my God. As I’m resting in His presence and as I’m spending quality time with Him, I loosen my grip on everything else. There is no baggage. There are no problems. There are no fears or doubts. There is nothing that comes between me and my Savior God. As I rest, everything else fades from view. I have found my place of refuge. I am receiving His refreshment. I am seeing my heart being renewed right before my eyes. I am learning to totally trust the work that my God is doing in these moments of retreat and rest. His work is good. No, it’s better than good, it’s awesome! It is perfect! It is complete! I am learning to trust Him! My trust grows bigger, deeper, more fuller with every moment we spend together. It’s more precious than ever before. I want to trust even more. I want to trust Him with all my heart, soul and mind.
Sometimes, we just need to stop and rest!
Dear Father, This world seems to move faster and faster and I’m trying to keep up. But God, in this whirlwind, instead I get caught up. Like an unbeatable force, it pulls me in but I know eventually, I cannot win. I must learn to rest in Your perfect peace, and though good, let all endeavors cease. Oh, that my feet would mimic Your pace, so Your joy would be set upon my face. Help me Jesus, to slow down when You would; Help me Lord, to rest as I should. Thank you for loving me God, and helping me to find, that rest is so good for my body, soul and mind. Amen.”
“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth; who have set Your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen – even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth.” – Psalms 8:1-9
What’s in a name?
A name is so much more than just a name.
A name reflects a place of origin; it indicates a culture, an inheritance within that origin. Hidden within every name is a special meaning. You might have been named after someone special within your family, for example a grandparent, an aunt or uncle. Perhaps you were given a name that was passed down throughout the family over several generations. It’s possible that your parents gave you a name of someone in the Bible, with the hopes that you would take on the characteristics of that person into your own life. Your parents might have given you a name that would remind them of someone or something special in their own life; a hero, a favorite singer, movie star or athlete. I have a friend who was named after someone who had saved her mother’s life. Another friend of mine was named for a cartoon character. You cannot imagine the teasing that he got all throughout his life. Names are important. They need to be chosen carefully and with some respect to the meaning that that name holds.
In the Book of Psalms, here in the eighth chapter, David writes about the name of the Lord. He says, not once, but twice in these nine verses, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!” David declares that the name of the Lord, His God is an excellent name. The best in all the earth. For that name perfectly describes who the Lord is. There is no doubt when it came to knowing the meaning of that name.
The first “Lord” means “Jehovah”, the covenant-keeping God; the God who keeps His promises. The second “Lord” means “the Sovereign One”, the One who has not only ability but also authority. With an understanding of the meaning behind the name, we might read this verse this way: “O Lord, (our promise making God), our Lord, (the Sovereign One who has the ability and authority to keep His promises), how excellent is Your name in all the earth.”
David goes on to tell us why he thinks the name of the Lord is so excellent and why He is worthy of our worship and praise.
(1) His name reflects His glory! Verse 1 tells us that His glory is set above the heavens. His glory is majestic, full of splendor, and abundant in magnificence. The very glory of our Lord, our Jehovah, our Sovereign One shines from the heavens. Its well worth paying attention to.
(2) His name reflects His strength! David marveled at the fact that God uses strength from babies and nursing infants to silence the enemy and the avenger. The idea here is that the Lord has ordained the weak in our world to shame the strong (I Corinthians 1:27).
(3) His name reflects His creation! In verse 3, David says, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained…” All around us, we see the creation, the great handiwork, of our Lord God. The heavens and earth truly show forth His ability to create something beautiful.
(4) His name reflects His authority! David marveled at the fact that the finite (mortal, weak) man that God created was given dominion (authority) over all that He created. God’s creation of man is described by David as one of power and dignity for “You made him a little lower than the angels, You have crowned him with glory and honor, You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands and You have put all things under his feet.” Man was created to be God’s representative on this earth, to take care of the things that God had created. David marveled at that truth and the place of honor that God gave to mankind.
As David considered these things, he realized just how precious the very name of the Lord is. The Lord, our Lord lives up to His name. He is Jehovah. He is the Sovereign One. His name is excellent in all the earth!
My friend, whenever we stop to consider these same things about the Lord, it should greatly move us towards an expression of our own praise to the majestic, excellent name of our Lord. He is worthy of our praise today!
“I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness.” – Psalms 145:1-7.
My day was over! My body, heart, and soul were exhausted! I had done my best to keep a positive attitude throughout the day, but, lately I find it hard most days. The news of the day is filled with the coronavirus pandemic and the “social distancing” we must do from one another. Sports activities, restaurants, churches, libraries and so much more are shutting down. Traffic on the streets is becoming a little less. Appointments and meetings are getting cancelled. Grocery stores have become “zoo’s” as shelves are emptied and people fight to get the last of that day’s supplies. Many people are quarantined in their homes; while others are getting very sick from this virus that is spreading around our world. I never thought I would ever see something like this in my lifetime. It’s crazy!
My husband and I are currently working through a period of surgical recovery, with limited income and uncertain days ahead. Major decisions have to be made that are exhausting to think about let alone imagine what the future might hold for us. There’s all the usual things that still need to be done – beds to be made, people and dog to feed, laundry to get done, rooms to dust, floors to mop, food to cook, weeds in the yard to pull and house repairs to consider. There’s people we would love to see, but can’t due to the “social distancing” and thus the battle of “cabin fever” and isolation is on. There’s new limits and precautions to observe in order to be safe. Our life, as we once knew it, has changed. And some days (most days, if I’m really honest!) it’s all so very exhausting!
But now, my day is done! I slipped out on the back porch, sat down and let out a tired sigh. It was this kind of quiet I had longed for all day. As I sat there, I looked up into the sky. Beautiful! I enjoyed the sights of the stars and the moon shining through a few clouds that still lingered in the night sky. I could hear the owl “hooting” from up in the 40 foot pine tree that graces our backyard. Somehow, all this brought peace to my heart. I welcome peace!
And then, within that peaceful moment, my thoughts turned toward God. I thought about the crazy day, and rejoiced in the thought that God is the One who is in total control of all the chaos right now. His plan for me, for my life, for my marriage, for my home, for my ministry, for my community, for the world I live in – it’s all under His perfect and timely control. The thought of God’s perfect plan brings me great peace.
As I sat there, reflecting on God, and enjoying the beautiful night sky, a Bible verse popped into my mind. “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.” I once learned a little chorus with those words. I sang them softly, as I sat on the back porch, gazing into the night sky.
After a restful while, I went back into the house. I wanted my Bible. Now, where had I put it? The search was on. I had to find where in the Bible that verse was found. I don’t like to admit this, but my mind has a hard time remembering Bible references these days. I was just happy that I knew the verse. Anyway, I searched and soon, I found what I was looking for. Psalms 145:3. But then, something else really stood out to me as I read the entire chapter of Psalm 145. I know I have read this psalm many times before; but, on this particular night, these verses just jumped off the page at me. Like God was telling me something.
I noticed five (5) “I will”‘s written by the Psalmist David. Psalms 145 is a song written by David as a song of praise. It is not a song of praise to himself nor about himself, Nor is it written to someone else in his life. No, this is a song of praise that is directed to His gracious God. And in that psalm, he states five things that he will do. On this particular night, those five things inspired me. Allow me to share those five things with you, and expound a little bit about them.
#1 – “I will extol You” (verse 1) – According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “extol” means “to praise in the highest terms; to magnify.” David’s heart’s desire was to praise and to magnify His God. David says that this praise was for “My God, O King.” With this “I will” David gives praise to his God, the King of his life. David magnifies His God, His King. And as you read the remainder of that Psalm, you realize that David had plenty to say about His God. Hmm, do I do that?
#2 – “I will bless Your name” (verse 2) – According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “bless” means to “glorify”; “to invoke a divine favor upon a person or thing”; “to make happy”; “to endow as with a gift”. David said, “I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You.” Did you catch that? Every day! Forever and ever! David purposed in his heart and expressed it in the song of praise to His gracious God, that “I will” bless You. He didn’t say, I will bless you only when I feel like it or I will bless you on days I remember to. No! David’s heart’s desire was to get into the habit of blessing the Lord, His God, every day. Hmm, do I do that?
#3 – “I will praise Your name” – (verse 3) – According to Webster’s Dictionary the word “praise” means to “to express approval of someone or something as in an applause”; “to express adoration of”; “to commend one’s good work”. Praise was important to David! Again, his heart’s desire was to praise God often. He says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” David recognized the greatness of God; the greatness of His handiwork in the things God created; the greatness of His love that He poured out often upon David; and the greatness of His deeds, in the things that He did for David. David acknowledged and praised His great God, stating that He is greatly to be praised. God deserves the praises of His people. David goes even further to say, “One generation shall praise Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts.” David wanted to teach the next generation how to praise God as well. Thus he wrote so many of the songs that we find in Israel’s songbook of praise. Even in our generations of today, we are still inspired to praise our God through the songs we sing, the words we speak, the thoughts we consider. Hmm, do I do that?
#4 – “I will meditate” (verse 5) – According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “meditate” means “to engage in contemplative thought”; “to think about, to consider”. Meditation is good for the soul. Everyone needs time to quietly think about things. David knew he needed that time too. He chose to meditate upon His God. Just what, about God, did he meditate upon? He tells us, “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.” Hmm, do I do that?
#5 – “I will declare Your greatness” (verse 6) – According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “declare” means “to assert positively or emphatically”; “to announce or state formally and solemnly.” David wanted to tell abroad the greatness of His God. He didn’t care what other people thought. He boldly announced to the world what he thought of his God. Hmm, do I do that?
David said, “I will extol; I will bless; I will praise; I will meditate; I will declare.” Those five things jumped out at me as I sat reading this psalm. I know in my head and in my heart that this is a really good thing to do during times of crisis, of uncertainty, and of chaos. But, I had to pause and ask myself this question: do I do that? In the midst of my circumstances, do I extol my God? Do I bless Him for the work He does in my life? Do I praise Him just because He is worthy of my praise? Do I meditate on Him, on His Word, often enough? Do I declare His greatness to those around me?
Do you want to know my answer? I’m guessing that I’m not the only one with this answer.
In all honesty, I have to answer that I do; I do all five of those things. But, I have to admit, that I do not do them nearly as often as I should. I could do a whole lot better. I want to do better at extolling, at blessing, at praising, at meditating, and at declaring my God. Why? Because, I agree with David. His God, my God, our God is “great and greatly to be praised.”
David, boldly and unashamedly, announces to many generations, through his writing of Psalm 145, what he thinks about His great God and King, the Lord of his Life. It’s his song of praise.
“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your saints shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power, to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts and the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. The Lord preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh shall bless His holy name forever and ever.” Psalm 145: 8-21.
I don’t know about you, my blog reader, but, I happen to love the way David praises His God. The sheer honesty of his heart before his God, is inspiring! I could truly learn a lesson or two from him. David has encouraged me to spend more time during these crazy days of life on earth with the God that I love.
“I will” extol, bless, praise, meditate upon, and declare the greatness of my God. “I will” do that a little louder, a little longer, a little more boldly and a little more unashamedly. For, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised!”
“Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me. . . My spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. I spread out my hands to You. My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.” Psalms 143: 1 and 4-6.
In those moments when I feel so overwhelmed with life and the circumstances I find myself in, help me to seek You. Give me a growing desire to spend more time with You.
As I spend those moments of peace and quiet with You, I pray dear God, that I may become overwhelmed by You. Overwhelm me with who You are! Overwhelm me with what You can do! Overwhelm me, my heart and my soul, with more of You!
I want to be overwhelmed by You, O God!
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I will never be shaken. . . Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. . . One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong, and that You, O Lord, are loving. Surely You will reward each person according to what he has done.” Psalms 62:1-2, 5-8, 11-12 (NIV)
Oh, how my soul needed to hear those words today!
I read those words and instantly a precious song and an even more precious memory come flooding back to my mind. And, in that moment of remembrance I am encouraged, I am uplifted, I am blessed! Oh, please allow me the privilege of sharing my memory with you. May it encourage, uplift and bless all who read it.
In You Alone! My soul finds rests in God!
My body, heart and soul was anything but restful back in 2001-2002, when I was going through treatment for toxic mold poisoning. The diagnosis itself brought me no rest. My doctor had informed me that I had 14 different types of mold spores actively growing within my lungs and “gut” – all of which were at toxic levels. I so clearly remember hearing this overwhelming diagnosis just a few days before Christmas and “if we don’t start treatment today, you might not be alive by the new year.” I sat stunned as those words attempted to wrap themselves around my mind. “I have WHAT?”
For weeks, months actually, I was in pain! Constant never ending pain! It was the kind of pain that brings tears to your eyes and unrelenting agony to your body. It never stopped. Every inch of my body was covered with rashes, hives, sores, and blotches. I coughed and sneezed, itched and twitched my way through each and every day. My lungs struggled for every breath I took. Everything I ate tasted toxic and nasty. Every time I tried to sleep, I would burst into tears; I would allow those tears to take everything out of me, so my body would just collapse and sleep would finally come. I didn’t want to wake up again. I remember begging God to let me die. I just wanted a little relief from the pain and agony! I just wanted rest!
In You Alone! He alone is my Rock!
While I endured agonizing treatment to get rid of the toxic mold within the walls of my body. . . and while my husband and I endured countless trips to the doctor’s office and hospital and lab for bloodwork. . . and while I endured quarantine, isolation, loneliness that brought on the worst case of “cabin fever” ever. . . and while I missed life, work, church, parties, lunches and dinners out, birthdays, funerals, weddings, shopping trips and all the other good things life has to offer. . . and while I persevered . . . I learned what a ROCK I had in my God. My husband was my rock in so many ways. He walked with me through it all, the good, bad and the ugly of toxic mold poisoning treatments. Hubby listened to more rants and put up with more mood swings than I think he ever wanted to. He held tightly to my hand and passed on his strength. He held my aching body at times when all I could do was tremble with tears. Hubby put up with a lot and I could NEVER thank him enough for being a solid rock in my crumbling world. But God, He was the ULTIMATE SOLID ROCK. God was the One who held my heart. He bottled my tears and held them close to His own heart. God, the Rock, was who hubby and I rested upon to get us through the crisis.
In You Alone! God is my Fortress!
Yes, I had to bunker down in my house, making it my “safe” place to heal. We had to clear our house from everything chemical, scented, moldy and unkind to me and my body. That was some job, believe me! I have to give a shout out to some very special friends (and you know who you are!) who were kind enough to be “fragrant free” and come lend a hand with all that. Your help was greatly appreciated and, in helping, you ministered to me God’s love in amazing ways. Through you all, God showed me, in a fresh and precious way, what “special friends” really mean. You guys were then and still are amazing people! Thank you, thank you for loving me even when you saw me at my utter worst!!
My house became my safe haven, but my God became my fortress. God was and still is my place of refuge, my place of hiding, my place of security from the storms of life and the difficult crises that come out of nowhere. As I came running to God, day in and day out, hour by hour and moment by moment, I found welcoming arms. I was rapidly strengthened by His power and strength. His love poured out upon me within the walls of His fortress. I was helped. I was comforted. I was renewed in heart, body and soul.
In You Alone! I find my Comfort!
God’s lesson of Him being my comfort was delivered to me by a very special lady. With her permission I would like to share “our” story. Her name is Cathi too, only hers is spelled with a C. Cathi and I first met at a ladies retreat a few years before my diagnosis. We hit it off immediately; like we’d been friends forever. We talked about anything and everything, conversation was never a problem. We spent lunch dates together, prayed together and even worshiped God together. What God gave us in friendship was super special. Truly a gift from Him!
Well, with my going through treatment and being isolated, my friend wanted to do something special for me. I learned later that she had spent many days asking God for ideas, for that something special that she could do to help encourage me. That’s a true friend! God gave her the greatest idea ever, as only God can do!
Cathi called me one day, “Hey friend, can I come over to see you? I have something special I would like to bring to you!” No hesitation on my part, “Come on over!” She respected my “out of necessity” rule at the time to be as fragrant free as possible so that I didn’t react to anything she was wearing. I looked forward to her visit and wondered just what my friend was bringing over to me. I couldn’t wait for that “fragrant free” hug. I missed hugs. I missed people. I missed a lot at that time. “But, yippee yeah, Cathi’s coming.”
Oh, what a hug! What a smile! What a surprise!
My friend, Cathi, well, she loves to sing. God blessed her with a beautiful voice. And she uses that voice of hers to bring honor and glory to our God. The special gift that she brought me that day was a song!
Actually, she sang several songs. My very own mini concert! I tried to sing with her but had to give up, the coughing and tightness in the lungs, overtaking my body in painful agony. I was content to just listen. To each note. To each word. The sound coming out of her mouth was so melodic and beautiful. Each song carried a message straight from the heart of God. But there was one song. . . !
Oh, did that song get to me. The notes, the music, the sounds, the words, the voice – every bit of it hit to the core of my heart. And I cried! No, I bawled as Cathi’s special gift ministered its way to every nook and cranny of my soul. I know that I threw Cathi off a little with my tears and sobs. I’m surprised she could even sing at all. But, God enabled her to press on through her special song.
In You Alone!
That was the name of the song. Written in 1998 and sung by Kim Hill. And, oh wow! The ministry of this song is unbelievable. It has one powerful message. It is just what I needed to hear at that time of crisis in my life. It was the most special gift that a friend could give to me.
“You gotta record that song for me my friend,” I said to Cathi through the tears. “I want to listen to that again and again.” Bless her heart. She made me a cassette tape (that tells you how much life has changed since then!) and brought it by the house a few weeks later. I played that tape until it was totally worn out. And each time, my dear Cathi, you kept on ministering to my heart! I can never thank you enough for that special gift!
In You Alone!
I listened to and loved it then. And thanks to CD’s and YouTube, I can still listen to and love it now. Every time life throws a new crisis, a storm, a difficult circumstance my way, I turn to Psalm 62 and the music and words of “In You Alone!” and in that I am reminded of my special friend and our great God!
Here’s a connection to the song if you’d like to listen.
In You Alone! I survived toxic mold poisoning!
I have to honestly say, that while that year of treatment from toxic mold poisoning was the worst ever year of my life – physically, mentally, emotionally and even financially – it was the best year of my life spiritually. The very best!
God used my hubby, my friends and family, my circumstances to teach me so much about who HE is. I read His Word, the Bible, more than I ever have; I hung onto every word and it ministered to my heart. I listened to good solid Christian music, the words of which refreshed my mind and allowed me to sing in my heart when I couldn’t sing with my lips.
In You Alone! Oh Lord my God. You truly are my Rest, my Rock, my Fortress, my Refuge, my Salvation, my Comfort, my Hope! In You Alone!
Self talk is what we tell ourselves in our thoughts. Self talk is what we tell ourselves about the people in our lives, the experiences we have, the circumstances we are in, the decisions we have made. It is all the words that we say to ourselves all the time.
Sometimes self talk is good. When self talk is wholesome and positive, it can create good mood, heighten our self esteem, and bring about change. With good self talk, we can tell ourselves positive things about ourselves and about others that can strengthen our relationships. Positive self talk can motivate us into action, lead us towards helping others, help us in accomplishing our goals, and enable us to build a positive future. Self talk can be a very positive aspect of our lives.
On the other hand, negative self talk can be very destructive and harmful to us in so many ways. It can cause mood swings and slumps in attitude and outlook on life in general. Our self worth can plummet down into the pit of despair, making it difficult to cope with life and drag ourselves up out of the pit we created for ourselves. Our body will feel sluggish and out of sorts. Our will to accomplish even the smallest of tasks can feel flattened and lifeless. Even our actions can defeat us and turn against us, leading us onto destructive pathways.
All too often, I can find myself, if I’m not careful, falling into that trap of negative self talk. Whether I just keep those thoughts tucked tight inside my head, or I say them out loud, I am doing myself harm every time I circle that trap. Those “words” tug at me, trying to lure me into the trap of saying them over and over again, silently or out loud, to myself or to anyone else I wish to bring into my pity party.
I’m sure you are familiar with the “words” I am talking about. My guess is, that you, my blog reader, might have uttered these same words to yourself at some point of time. “I am so ugly.” “I am so stupid.” “Nobody loves me.” “Nobody wants me.” “I can’t do that.” “I’m such a failure.” Oh, and that mantra of negative self talk goes on and on and on! Sadly, once those words cross my thought pattern and flow out of my mouth, then I am trapped! Trapped in the cycle of believing my own self talk, believing the negative words that others utter about me. And, the more I repeat those words to self, the deeper I go into the pit of “poor me!”
For years, I have struggled with negative self talk, and trying to stay out of the pit that intentionally seeks to trap me in its never ending cycle of destruction. It hasn’t been easy. But I am finally learning that in the midst of that struggle, I need to hit my reset button. By that I mean, I need to reset my thinking. Change what I am saying to myself. Clean up my self talk.
That is where the amazing teaching from the Psalmist of God’s Word comes into play. God’s Word is my reset button. Reading it will change the thoughts and words that come from my mouth and my heart. I find great hope and encouragement in the words of Psalms 19:14. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
You see, when I am in the cycle of negative self talk, not only am I doing harm to myself, but also to those who are listening to me. The Lord my God, my Creator, is with me everywhere I go. He listens to every conversation I have. Whether those conversations are directed to Him, toward others, or in my own head and heart, my God is listening! He hears my self talk, whether it is positive or negative; He is listening!
So, whenever I say, “I am so stupid!” – my head and heart might want to believe that at the time I say it, and other people in my life might be telling me that I am stupid, but is it really true? NO! It’s not true! In all honesty, it’s insulting to the One who created me. Because He didn’t create me to be stupid, and He never sees me that way. So, why am I telling myself that?
And, whenever I say to self, “Nobody loves you, nobody ever could!” Well, that too, is just not true. The Lord my God, my Creator loves me more than anyone ever could. He loves me unconditionally! And He loves me forever, no matter what I do or how I feel or what I have accomplished in my life.
I am learning, whenever I’m circling that negative self talk trap, to say out loud to myself the words of Psalms 19:14. I want the words that come out of my mouth, to be words from my heart that I actually believe. I want the words that come out of my mouth to be pleasing to my God. And when I start saying the words of the precious psalm out loud to my God, then change happens. The negative becomes positive. The mood swings in the opposite direction, my motivation alters, my attitude improves, and my self esteem changes course. My self talk runs away from the pit.
I begin to say words that I actually believe. My self talk becomes words that are true and trustworthy and uplifting and positive. Words that remind me who I am to God. Words that honor the One who created me to be something different than negative. Words that lighten my heart, uplift my soul, and strengthen me as a person. I find myself saying, “You are loved, You are adored, You are redeemed, You are chosen, You are beautiful, You are worthy. Because in God’s eyes, I am all those things and so much more! Those are the words that are acceptable to the ears of the Lord my God! Those are the kind of words that make self talk a valuable thing, because those are the kind of words that changes me as a person.
So, with all that in mind, let me tell you a story – –
A few weeks ago, I went for a walk at a nearby park. I love to go there and walk laps whenever I have a lot on my mind, have decisions to make, have circumstances to sort through, or just need some fresh air when I’m upset about something. This park is one of my favorite places to practice my self talk, be it out loud or quietly in my heart as I walk.
On this particular day, I not only went to the park for some lap walking therapy, but I was also venting over some extremely negative talk that others had given to me. What was given to me were very hurtful words. Words that crushed my spirit, and made me doubt myself and my accomplishments. Words that stung to the very core of my being. Words that could never be taken back. Words that were set to do their destructive work in my thought processes. Words that made my steps heavy and cumbersome. Words that brought an unavoidable ache to my heart.
During the first couple of laps around the park, I rehearsed those words, over and over again, out loud, trying to determine if I wanted to believe them. Maybe the person who said them was right. Maybe I am that way. Maybe I am a total and utter failure, with nothing to offer anyone. Maybe I should just shut up and go away. Maybe… !
All of the sudden, I stopped dead in my tracks on that pathway. I just stood there for the longest time, unable to move forward. The words of Psalms 19:14 came washing over my heart and soul. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I began to say those words out loud, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable….” and I stopped. Wait! Wait just a moment. These words that I have been uttering are far from acceptable. They are hurting me! These words, that I am uttering are hurting me over and over every time I say them. They are hurting the very ears of my God as He listens to His child. I burst forth with a prayer to God, saying, “Oh Lord my God, I am circling that trap once again. I am seeking to believe what other people are telling me, when, what you want me to believe is that their words are not even true. Forgive me God for believing them, for rehearsing them over and over in my mind, for allowing that negative self talk to even roll off my tongue. Forgive me please my God!”
As I stood in the middle of the park’s pathway, I looked up to the heavens and I felt God’s presence. Right there, I experienced His forgiveness. I felt His loving arms, as I gained new strength. I knew in that moment, I could move forward.
With my next step, I became to recall to my mind, the words of the Lord my God that would honor and please Him. Words that would heal my wounded heart and soul. Words that would turn myself away from the pit, toward the Lord my God who is “my strength and my Redeemer.” Words that made God and my self smile once again. The words kept coming as I walked several more laps around the park. I was getting a great workout!
Well, unbeknownst to me, I was being watched this entire time. There, at the park, walking laps in the opposite direction, passing me often during my litany of self talk, was another lady about my same age. She stopped me. At first I was really embarrassed by what she had to say to me. “I’m sorry dear, but I just have to stop you and ask if you are alright?” Did she see my face turn red? Ugh, I was so embarrassed!
Before I could even answer, she continued. “I have passed you multiple times as we’ve walked this morning and I’ve listened to your self talk. At first you were pretty hard on yourself and I wondered what was wrong. Then I would pass you again and you were still going at it. I wondered if I should stop you and offer you some help, but I was afraid to interrupt you. Then I saw you stop. I passed by you then too and I realized that you seemed totally oblivious to anyone else around you. You were talking out loud and I couldn’t figure who you were talking to. Then the last two laps I have realized that you were talking to God. That’s when I began to pray for you, asking God to give you the help and peace that you needed. So, now I will ask, are you alright?”
Thankfully, this dear lady was willing to look past my red face of embarrassment, the tears streaming down my cheeks, the craziness of talking to myself out loud and she was able to see a person with a hurting heart. God bless her! I’m not sure how many laps we did that day, but she walked with me and I didn’t even know it. But, God bless her for caring!
It was then that we sat down on a park bench and began to talk to each other. I learned that she too does the self talk laps around the negative trap of destruction. Thank God I was not alone in that! I was able to share with her Psalm 19:14 and how I turned my negative thoughts and self talk towards words that God would accept. Words that would change my heart and thinking. Words that I could believe in.
She listened intently, shaking her head in agreement often. Then she looked at me and said, “But why, if you don’t mind my asking, why do you say those words out loud?”
I paused and thought for a moment, choosing my next words very carefully. I smiled at her and boldly said, “Because, sometimes my ears need to hear my mouth say what my heart truly believes.”
That, to me, is what self talk is all about!
Go on, say those words out loud to your self. Your ears need to hear your mouth say what your heart truly believes!
Go on, say those acceptable words out loud to the Lord your God. He is listening to you!
“Why do you stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” Psalms 10:1 (NKJV)
Is there any one else, besides me, that feels at times like God went out to lunch and left you standing all alone?
You know, that feeling like God isn’t really there. When you pray, and He seems silent. When you search for Him, but He seems to be hiding. When you go through difficulty, and He seems to have left you alone. When you are overwhelmed with life’s happenings, and He seems to have gone out to lunch.
Or, has He really gone out to lunch?
In your mind’s eye, think back to the last time when you felt that way. Let your mind go back to that moment when you were so overwhelmed by the powerfully traumatic event that life gave to you. I know, all too well, I know that it can be painful. And perhaps you really don’t want to go there. I totally get that, I do.
But, I would like to share with you, a powerful lesson that God taught me, at that very moment when I thought He had checked out on me in the midst of trouble and He seemed to go out to lunch. The lesson came to me as a simple reminder of a biblical truth I had known all my life. Yet this reminder, this lesson really changed my thinking during a recent event in my own life. As I share this, I pray it will help you too.
Think about the last overwhelming, difficult circumstances that was going on in your life. Think about that last time you wondered if God had left you. That time, when you thought He had abandoned you. That time, when you felt all alone, helpless and hopeless. Go ahead and identify your most recent upheaval, the blow you felt, the trauma you endured, the wound you are licking, the diagnosis received. Identify that “thing” that woke you up from that “everything is going smooth in life” dream you were having. Are you in that moment?
Did you call out to God at that time? “Where are you, God?” “Why have you left me here?” “How am I suppose to deal with this, God?” “Are you listening to me God?”
Did your heart sink, thinking that God had left you alone? Were you afraid of going at it by yourself? What if God walked away, and went to lunch?
In that moment, you must have felt all alone, powerless in fear and completely overwhelmed by the circumstances that life just dealt to you. Oh, I must honestly admit, I have felt that way too many times to count them. It truly is a horrible feeling!
BUT, let’s change our mindset for just a moment. This was my lesson learned. A much needed reminder in the form of a simple Bible truth. It was delivered with hopeful encouragement that blessed my heart.
Consider, for just a moment, that God was there in the fullness of that event that devastated your life!
The simple Bible truth is that God WAS there!
He is always there!
In the darkest moments of our life. In the upside down circumstances that frighten us. In the overwhelming events that leave us feeling alone and abandoned. In the times when we feel afraid, helpless and all hope seems to be gone. He was there!
He saw the very shape of your crisis. He felt the weight of it as it settled upon your life, as it crushed your very being. He could hear it as it began to break your heart. He sensed your fears, frustrations and feelings in that very moment. He was there!
He knew the exact size of the wrecking ball that hit your life with a thud. He felt it as you were knocked to the ground. He understood when your world fell apart. He knew in advance that things in your life might never be the same. He was there!
He knew your heart would be broken. He knew that the phone call would come during breakfast with your friends and interrupt the laughter. He knew that the car accident would happen that very afternoon. He knew just how your doctor would phrase his diagnosis that needed to be delivered to your listening ears. He was there!
He knew how your boss was going to explain your job away from you. He knew how your arms would tremble as you stood reading that note left by a loved one. He knew what horrid pictures you would discover on your computer screen. He knew who would be standing on the other side of the door when you opened it. He knew the numbing pain you felt as you stood at the graveside. He knew the pain of your circumstances that just rocked your world. He knew! He was there!
But, in that moment of your crisis, there is something else that He knew.
He knew that you needed for Him to draw near to you. He knew that you wanted Him to hold you tight and just let you cry. He knew to lovingly wipe away your tears. He knew you wanted Him to take away your fear. He knew that you needed His help and comfort. He knew to be gentle in the words He spoke to you. He knew in the midst of your pain, that He would whisper to you, “My child, I am right here with you!” He knew!
He knew that when He reminded you of His presence, when He began to give you His love, His strength, His peace and His hope, then you would collapse into His arms. He knew that He would offer you a safe place of refuge; a place to abide with Him during the course of the storm that raged in your life. He knew that He would carry you through the circumstances. He knew that He would set your feet, once again, upon solid ground. He knew!
He knew that it wasn’t lunchtime. In the midst of your darkest moment, He never left you. He was in those circumstances with you. He was waiting for the right moment to speak, to act, to perform that miracle, to provide that blessing, to bring encouragement. He waited for you to acknowledge His presence with you. He was there with you!
He knew that His child needed Him. He knew! God knew all about your life event. He knew all about His child.
He knew! Because, He was there! He was right there with YOU!