“Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked; For they bring down trouble upon me, And in wrath they hate me. My heart is severely pained within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me, Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me. So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.”
Ever have “one of those days” when everything seems to go wrong, when nothing is going the right way , or when you find yourself wondering why you even got out of bed? You’re troubled and distraught over circumstances beyond your control. You’re overwhelmed and fearful of news that you just received from the doctor. You’re not certain if you will have a job tomorrow. You wonder where your children’s next meal is going to come from. You hope you will be able to meet this month’s rent in time. You simply want to run; far, far, far away from the stresses and struggles of your life. Ever have one of those days?
Take heart, my friend, the Psalmist David knows exactly how you feel! He was no stranger to the tough, discouraging, frustrating, overwhelming moments of life. He faced many a crisis! Psalm 55 records one of those days.
We don’t know the specific details of the circumstances in this Psalm, and we really don’t need to know. But we do know that the problem involved one of David’s closest companions, as he gives us that clue later on in the chapter (verse 13) “But it is you, a man my equal, my companion, my close friend.” Obviously David was betrayed by his close friend. Reading through these first seven verses of the Psalm, we realize that David was deeply hurt. And that hurt, led to the desire to run away. Ever have one of those days?
I am almost certain, that every person reading this blog can relate to David’s emotional heart-cry when he says,
“Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”
David also said he would “wander far off . . . I would hasten my escape.”
Have you ever had one of those days?
My friend, if you could run away from your life hardships and struggles right now, where would you go? Would you – –
David ran to the place that I’d like to go to. That place I should go to every time I want to run away from life and its struggles, but it’s the one place I don’t run to as often as I should. David ran to God! Listen to this – – “As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me.” (verses 16-18).
Running to God, is the safest place to go! He loves! He listens! He cares! He will comfort! He will give advice! He will renew your strength! He will eat ice cream with you!
Oh, that we would hasten our escape to Him! He is waiting patiently for us. He is listening to our cry for help. We really don’t have to be overwhelmed with life. We really don’t have to struggle with the circumstances of our life. Don’t run away! We’ve just got to learn to fly! Fly, my friend, to the God of David. He’s got this! Spread your wings and fly to HIM!
David gives us one final word of encouragement in this chapter, found in verse 22: “Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” He’ll take that burden, no matter how big it is, away from you!
Oh, that we all could learn a life-changing lesson from the Psalmist David. When you are having “one of those days” and you simply want to run away from it all, consider following David’s example instead. Mount your dove’s wings and fly! Fly straight to the God who eagerly awaits you. Find your rest in the God who cares for you!
“But my heart stands in awe of Your Word. I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure.”
God’s Word is like a giant treasure trove! It is just bursting forth with the best ever treasure that one could ask for or hope to find. All that treasure is right there for the taking. But you won’t really know what is there until you start digging. Dig hard. Dig long. Dig deep. And you will surely find something precious and valuable.
For years now, I have had been teaching kids about the treasures found in God’s Word, the Bible. I tell them that it is kind of like a game of “hide and seek.” God has hidden within the pages of His Word, special treasures that He wants to share with His children. They are hidden in secret places and we won’t know what they are until we begin to seek after them. The Father invites His children to come “seek out those treasures I have left for you.” And with a keen excitement and joyful anticipation we should go and seek out those special treasures left by the Father. “Seek and you will find,” He promises. With a loving heart and a watchful eye, the Father awaits that gleeful shout from one of His children, “I found it!”
So, what kinds of treasures do we find within the pages of His Word? Oh, there are so many, many treasures! But, here is a brief look at four of them:
God’s Love! This is an enormous treasure. It shines so brightly within the pages of God’s Word. It’s height and depth, its length and width no one can imagine nor strive to reach around it. It never goes away, it never fades from view and its guaranteed to never tarnish. God’s love is constant, faithful and totally unconditional. There is enough to go around for all of God’s children! Once you find this treasure you will never be the same. You will want more and more of this great love. And in the process of being loved by the Father, you will learn how to love others in the same way. It’s a treasure you can claim as your own, and at the same time, it is a treasure that you can pass on, sharing that love with others. “How precious is Your unfailing love, O God” Psalm 36:7
Sins Forgiven! This starts out as a dark treasure when it is first found. Dark for the sin that it contains. Your sin, my sin, and the sin of the whole world. The Bible talks about our sin and how that we are all sinners, in need of a Savior. The Father God, sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to this earth to bear the punishment of all our sins upon His body; He bled and died upon the cross to save us from our sins. When we believe in Him, and ask for forgiveness of our sins, He will faithfully forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all our iniquity (sin). The treasure that we find of sins forgiven may start out dark from the very sin it holds. But when we seek for and find that precious treasure, then something amazing happens. If we believe, if we confess our sins to Him, then He will change that dark sinful treasure into something that is whiter than snow. His forgiveness washes us clean. All that sin will be gone. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgression (sin) from us.” Psalm 103:12.
Eternal life! There is a story in the Bible of a rich, young man who came to Jesus and he asked this question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Great question! It’s one that we all should ask. The truth is that eternal life is not something that we will inherit from our parents. It is not something that we can buy, no matter the costly price tag. We cannot even work for it. But God’s Word tells us that eternal life is a gift – a free gift from God. It comes straight from the Heavenly Father, God, and is freely given to all who will believe on His Son, Jesus. God offers the gift of eternal life to you; have you accepted that gift? “He asked life from You, and You gave it to him – length of days forever and ever.” Psalm 21:4
Precious Promises! Within the pages of God’s Word, are recorded promise after promise from God to His children. Each one so very precious and extremely valuable. One could spend their entire lifetime, gathering each promise and claiming it as their own. And at the end of your life, there would still be promises waiting to be claimed. Here’s what I have learned of God’s promises: They are real and lasting! They are written just for me! They are mine to claim as my own! There are promises for every season of my life! They are something that I can cherish deeply within my heart! They are eternal! And they are never broken! “My covenant (promise) I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.” Psalm 89:34
If we were to start with just these four treasures found in God’s Word, then my friend, we are well on our way to building a wonderful trove of treasure from a great God! And yet, here is the good news; that’s not all the treasure! The rest is waiting for you to “come, seek and find” within the pages of God’s Word, the Bible. May I encourage you to pick up a copy today, and start digging! The treasure are waiting!
“Be merciful to me, O God, for man (or dogs!) would swallow me up. . . Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, I will praise His word: In God, I have put my trust; I will not be afraid.” Psalms 56:1, 3-4
FEAR! Just the word can cause one to break out into a sweat, or send shivers up your spine, or make the adrenaline start to pump. Where’s the nearest place I can go hide? No one likes fear! So, what brings out the fear in you, my friend?
I’m afraid of the fear that comes out of nowhere! It’s totally unexpected and you are not one bit prepared for it. Do you know that kind of fear? Max and I encountered that level of fear and it was frightful for sure!
Max is my little, two year old, Maltese-mix dog. He loves walking and its not unusual for us to go walking through our neighborhood or at the park at least once a day. It’s his opportunity to meet all kinds of fun! He loves chasing after birds, crickets, lizards and rabbits; dodging cactus, sticker weeds, and certain plants that make him sneeze; stopping to smell the air, sniff at the local fire hydrant, or simply savor someone’s barbecue (that always includes the look that says, “and why wasn’t I invited?”) or on rare occasions, his idea of fun is sitting down in the middle of the street and flat right out refuses to move (and that would be accompanied with the look that says, “Nope, I’m not moving! You can’t make me Mom!) Together Max and I have met many of our neighbors and struck up some new friendships. He is quite partial to the four-legged variety of friends and he can lead you straight to each of their houses, usually pausing to bark out a little “hello friend!” We’ve watched many a sunrise or sunset while walking and admired all the different colors painted in the sky. Occasionally we get to finish our walk in the rain and splash through some puddles on our way home. But only once have we encountered FEAR. And dear Lord Jesus, may it never happen again!
It was 5:30 a.m. Max got so excited when Mom slipped out that little word “walk” in a conversation with Dad before he took off to work. Oops, there it was. No turning back now. How can you possibly ignore that whimpering look? Okay, okay Max! Let’s go for a walk! “Yes, yes mom, but first I gotta race through the house. Do you see my great excitement mom?” Whatever! Let’s see, there’s walking shoes for mom – check! Sunglasses, phone, house keys in Mom’s hands – check! Harness on for Max – check! Hold still Max, let me put your leash on – check! Oh, and don’t forget the poop bag, I’m gonna need that for sure – double check! Okay, now can we go? Please don’t forget the dog; he’s still doing laps around the kitchen floor, hoping you will notice just how excited he really is. “Come on, Max!”
The walk this one particular morning was rather uneventful. Until! Max and I met FEAR! We were just walking along, minding our own business, enjoying the fresh morning air. When out of nowhere – literally – two big German shepherd dogs charged at us! There was no warning! We weren’t sure where they had even come from. Just all the sudden there was this fierce barking, snarling, and jumping. Startled fear is an understatement, let me tell you! In that moment, I was so thankful that my husband insisted we buy a harness for Max when we walk him. I grabbed that harness and lifted my precious dog up off the ground and away from the slobbering dogs that obviously wanted their breakfast. I quickly hid Max under my baggy shirt (oh, so glad I wore that too!) and turned my back to the dogs. “Who on earth is that screaming?” – oh, wow! That was me! I honestly didn’t know I could scream so loud (good thing to know!) Instantly, I felt the dogs’ hot breath, mixed with warm saliva dripping down my arm. the heavy paws thudding against my back as they jumped up, scratching at me with all their energy, trying desperately and hoping to get at Max. “Oh, dear God, help! Please don’t let them bite me.” For what seemed endless moments, the dogs kept jumping, barking, scratching, snarling, hoping to get to Max. Over my dead body, you brutes! I’ve never known that kind of fear. It was intense. But, I gotta tell you, not only did the neighbors hear my screams – God did! He also heard my quick, panic-stricken prayer! And He answered me! He shut the mouths of those dogs and they began to back away. Finally, the owners emerge from the house with a “What did you do to our dogs?” Really? Are you people serious? What did I do to YOUR DOGS?
Thankfully, everyone was okay. The scratches on my back will heal. Yet, in all honesty, I have to tell you, I would choose to not have that kind of fear in my day ever again. Wow, it was intensely scary. And yet, fear is a part of our lives. It comes along with our human nature. Fear is not a gift from God, I can assure you of that truth. Some people grow up in an environment riddled with fear. Sometimes fear comes in waves at various times in our lives depending upon our circumstances. What one person is fearful of, another is not affected by it at all. But it is a guaranteed thing, fear will come to us all. Fear is something we all will have to face at some time or another.
When fear arrives, we have basically two choices. We can – Forget Everything And Run; run away from our fears, pretending that they don’t really exist and never deal with them. And yes, I will admit that some fears truly make you want to run, far, far, far away! And maybe we should run, given some of the fearful circumstances that we could encounter. But then, what do we do the next time, that same fear comes back upon us? Should we just keep running and never really face that particular fear that we are running from? Or we can – Face Everything And Rise; face our fears head on, bring them out of hiding, acknowledge our fear for what it is and rise to the challenge of eliminating that fear for good.
I personally like the advice and example of the Psalmist David. Now, he had some fears! As a shepherd boy, he feared that wild animals could come and harm his father’s flock of sheep that he lovingly care for. He faced that fear and learned how to kill those animals who came after the sheep. Fearing for his very life, David ran and hid from King Saul who sought to kill him. God intervened, protected David, and helped him solve the problem with King Saul. Or what about the time that Israel’s army were cowering in fear when the giant Goliath sought for one (just one!) to come out and do battle against him. In the midst of Goliath’s taunting cries, David volunteered to face that fearful giant. He chose to rise up in the strong name of the Lord his God and with five smooth stones and a sling he went to work on the giant, who was literally laughing in his face at the manner in which David came to him. God gave David the victory! The fearful giant was defeated!
I just love the words of David in Psalms 56:3-4 that say: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, I will praise His word; In God, I have put my trust; I will not fear. . .” David makes a bold declaration of what he will do in the midst of fear. He said “whenever” and that means no matter what the circumstances are that caused him to fear. “Whenever I am afraid” this is what I am choosing to do – “I will trust in You.” David had learned that God was on his side. God was ever-present with David and He knew each and every fear that would rise up within David. While those fears were not from God, nonetheless God was there for him in the midst of those fearful times. David makes the clear, bold choice to trust in God at those times. He knew who God was and that He could be trusted. David trusted in God’s word; He would never say anything that was not truth. So if God told David that He would be with him in those fearful times, then David knew he could trust the word of his God. “In God I have put my trust.” For David there was no other way. He knew he could trust his God. “I will not fear” – that was David’s choice! With God on his side, there was absolutely no need to fear!
Fear or trust! The choice is yours!
“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalms 32:5
That’s such a great question! One that I have often pondered many times before. Repentance used to be taught alot in the churches that I grew up in. But, I’m afraid to say, that the strangest thing has been happening over the years as I have been maturing in my own faith walk with God. I am noticing that we are actually hearing less and less about sin and repentance being taught from the church’s pulpit’s anymore. That saddens me greatly, for we need to hear teachings about it all the more, now that our society is becoming less Christian (godly) and more focused on self and things of the world. We’ve become complacent to our sin. Dare I say that we’ve even grown to like our sin. We’ve come to accept it as a part of our lives, therefore, its okay to do wrong (sin) in the sight of our God. So, what happened to the idea of repentance? Well, I don’t think it crosses our minds too much any more.
It crossed mine this morning as I listened to a sermon by William Graham, who was the guest speaker at Shadow Mountain Church in San Diego, California. And yes, that IS the grandson of the well-known, well-loved evangelist, Billy Graham. He asked that question – What’s happened to repentance? He too believes that it is missing from our churches of today. Early on, in the sermon, he forwarned those listening that they would be given opportunity to respond in some way. Wow, that kind of makes you sit up and listen harder, huh? It did me. I prayed and asked God to open hearts and lead the people to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit (and God later on answered that prayer as I witnessed quite a few people going forward in church to confess their sins and begin a renewed relationship with their God!) But I wasn’t prepared for the work God wanted to do in MY own heart this morning. Yep, the Holy Spirit was a working on me too! I will admit that I was convicted and yes, even challenged – I was greatly challenged! I had to ask myself this question: Kathy, what’s happened to repentance in your life?
William Graham used 2 Samuel 12:1-15 as his sermon text. It’s the story of David after his sin of adultery against Bathsheba, after he had killed her husband Uriah to cover up his sin, after he refused to acknowledge his sin before others. After all that, David was confronted by Nathan, the prophet of God, who not only brought David’s sin to light, but shared with him the words of the Lord, which ultimately brought forgiveness and healing. In this sermon, six points were made that helped me look at repentance a little differently.
So, what happened to repentance? It might have been hiding for a while from our lives. But it’s right there. Within you. Within me. I personally believe that we, as Christians, have hidden it long enough. It’s time to bring repentance back. It’s time to say we are sorry to those we have sinned against. It’s time we all got on our knees before our God and pray this prayer of David: “I acknowledge my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden, I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ (Psalms 32:5) This morning, I stayed on my knees until I KNEW God had answered my prayer of repentance.
“And YOU forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Oh, Praise you dear God! When we bring repentance back, we will know true forgiveness and restored relationship once again. In that moment, God showers us with His love, mercy and grace! We will know that we are a forgiven people! And this is good! So good! So freeing! So refreshing!
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalms 32:1) I can tell you honestly, God drew me, once again, to Himself through the sermon I listened to by His servant, William Graham. I brought repentance out of hiding today! And it was a very good thing!
What’s happened to your repentance? Are you hiding it? May I encourage you to consider this; Bring it out. Give it to God. Let Him show you His love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. Allow Him to show you a different picture of you. Receive His restoration today. Be blessed by the God who is seeking after you. He’s knocking right now on your heart’s door. How will you respond?
“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.” Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV)
Have you ever been overwhelmed by circumstances in your life? I mean, REALLY overwhelmed?
I would venture a guess that we’ve all been there, done that before, right? Not a fun place to be. Regardless of what the circumstances are – – lost your job, financial difficulties, serious medical issues, trouble or rebellion from the kids, marriage going through challenges, etc – – we all face tough times at various seasons of our lives. It has often been said that “tough times in life will either make us bitter or they will make us better.” The choice will be ours.
Quite a few years ago I was hit with circumstances way out of my control, that hit me like a ton of bricks! To say that I was overwhelmed by these circumstances, well, that’s just the understatement of the year. After months of pain, agony, rashes, hives, coughs and choking spells, not to mention all the doctor visits and all sorts of tests I had to go through, I was finally given, in 2002, just one week before Christmas, the diagnosis of Toxic Mold Poisoning with Chemical Hypersensitivity Syndrome!
“WHAT? Mold, like in that green stuff that grows on cheese?” I remember saying to the doctor. “Oh, my dear, its so much more serious than that, I’m afraid. You have 14 different types of mold spores actively growing in your lungs. All 14 types (and he named them off) are all at high toxic levels and you are slowly suffocating to death. We have to start treatment right away.” My husband, Andy and I both sat there stunned!
Yep, I was instantly overwhelmed by my circumstances! It was on the drive home from the doctor’s office that the severity of my circumstances started to really hit me. It hit me hard! Trying to figure out where the mold had come from, I realized that I had brought back from my missionary days in Britain two souveniors: (1) my beloved English hubby, Andrew and (2) lungs full of toxic mold spores. Great! This is just great! Now, what do I do?
Well, treatment with large doses of antifungal medications was started right away. I don’t even remember Christmas that year. All my plans had to be cancelled. I was too sick to even care! And just like the doctor had warned, I got worse before I got better! And there were too many days that I really wanted to die rather than fight these “beasties” within me. I was totally, utterly overwhelmed with my circumstances. I remember picking up my Bible, knowing within its pages would be my comfort and hopefully some answers from the God who had allowed these circumstances to enter my life. I immediately went to my “go to” book – the Book of Psalms.
The first Psalm that I read after receiving that diagnosis was Psalm 61. All I could read at that time, was the first four verses. I burst into tears! And I cried like never before. Only this time I didn’t cry to myself, to comfort myself; I cried out to God for help, for understanding, for just a reminder of His presence for I felt ever so alone. In the midst of those overwhelming circumstances, I realized that I truly needed God! I needed Him to be my rock now that I felt like a wimpy lump of helpless clay. I needed to know that He would be my place of shelter when I needed to be alone in my pain and agony. He needed to know that a horrible “beast” had entered my body, wrecking its damage within, and I needed to know that He would be my strong tower that protected me from that “beast.” And I realized that no matter what my circumstances were, I still needed to run to the tabernacle of the Lord to worship, to pray, to read from His Word, to simply rest in His arms. I needed to learn to trust Him in a whole new way, while I rested under the shadow of His Almighty wings. I needed God in my circumstances!
During that time of dire circumstances, feeling isolated from everyone and everything, facing mountains of medical bills, ongoing battles with intensive treatments, and going between life and death – I learned to really cry out to God! REALLY cry out to God! I opened up my heart to Him in a whole new way! I learned what true worship was to be! I learned to cherish His words of hope and comfort as I read them from my Bible. I prayed with an insanely open heart before God! I had never prayed with such words of honesty in all my life, but now, I wanted to pray that way! I even wrote out a prayer to God. My psalm of lament over my circumstances. It’s my psalm to the God who, through my circumstances, quickly became my rock, my shelter, my strong tower, my tabernacle and my trust! I would like to share that prayer with you, my blog readers, in hopes that it might help you through your own dire circumstances.
“God, I am here in the midst of circumstances that I do not like!! This diagnosis is not one bit fair! I find these circumstances very difficult and extremely overwhelming. I know that I am not alone for YOU are here with me, never to leave nor forsake me! I recognize that YOU are the ONLY ONE who can help me right now. I need Your help God, now more than ever before.
In the midst of this overwhelming battle, may I always remember that:
God, please help me to embrace this set of circumstances as a gift from YOU! Use this time to guard me from becoming bitter. Use this time to make me a better person. Help me to know that YOU, God, will meet me at my point of need with all the tender loving care that I need. Grant to me the assurance that YOU will still use me in spite of this horrible disease, that my life will still have some value to it. Grant me the opportunity to see YOU at work not only in my life, but through it as well. Oh God, please embrace me to YOURSELF — never let me go — hold me tight when I can’t hang on — and assure me that together we will be victors in this battle.
I am here God – – and I feel YOUR presence right beside me!”
My dear blog readers, I cannot tell you how many times, throughout many years, I have prayed that prayer in the midst of all kinds of overwhelming circumstances in my life. It’s truths have strengthened me for battle numerous times. And every time, it draws me closer to God. I truly have learned that YES – He is my rock! He is my shelter! He is my strong tower! He is my tabernacle forever! He is my trust! And I have grown to love those overwhelming circumstances that come into life’s journey. Because they afford me the opportunity to, once again, seek shelter under His wings. And that is such a comforting place to be!!
“From the rising of the sun to its going down, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Psalm 113:3
Our dog, Max, and I went out for a walk! It was still pretty hot and muggy from the long monsoon summer day. “I just wish it would rain and bring us a little relief from this heat,” I thought to myself as Max and I walked down the driveway and started out for a good night’s walk. Then it happened.
I looked up into the sky ahead as the sun was setting for the evening and this picture is what I saw. I stood there, with Max at my side, staring breathlessly at the beautiful sight before me. I took in its awesomeness. “Wow God, this is amazing!” And in that instant, God brought the verse Psalm 113:3 to my mind. I said it over a couple of times to myself. I couldn’t help it – but in that very moment I just wanted to burst forth in praise to God. Max and I sat down on the sidewalk. Yep, right there in the middle of the sidewalk. I didn’t care what the neighbors thought. After all, God had just given us front row seats to the sunset of the evening. I wasn’t about to miss this opportunity. For the longest time, we sat in silence, both of us watching God’s handiwork before us. And then, I began to praise!
Bazillion different items of praise to God came to my mind – – who God is, what He had done for me that day, all the different things I enjoy thanks to God’s provision, for all the health and strength given to me from God, for my home and luxuries in it to enjoy, for food on my table along with the cupboards and fridge loaded with more, for family and friends and new people that I meet every day . . . and on and on my list of praise went as Max and I sat there, in silence, on the sidewalk. Each phase of that sunset, gave me another reason to praise God. Not only is God’s handiwork awesome. He is awesome! And as the psalmist reminds me, His name is worthy to be praised!!
When was the last time you paused from your busyness to simply sit down and enjoy a sunset? When was the last time you burst forth in praise because you simply couldn’t help it? God gives us opportunities to do that every day. Do we take the opportunity laid out before us?
But then I thought about what my praise is worth to God? God gives me the opportunity to praise Him. I choose to take that opportunity and begin to praise. Something begins to happen within me. (1) I am silent before my God (that’s such a good place to be!); (2) Words of praise rise up within my heart and begin to come out of my lips; (3) There’s a sense of peace that surrounds me as my own heart and spirit take flight; (4) In that moment, God allows me to see Him as He is and I feel super blessed and peaceful in His presence. God uses that opportunity to change something within me.
But what does that moment do for God? As I sat there, enjoying the front row seat to God’s handiwork, I believe a smile broke out upon His face. After all, His child was taking a moment to spend with Him. Me and God time! What could be better than that! That’s got to make God happy, right? I’m almost certain that God was smiling down on Max and me as we sat there in His presence, on the sidewalk. And in that very moment, something else was happening. As I begin to lift up my words of praise to God’s ears, He was exalted! Praise words exalt our great God! They lift Him higher and higher! And I begin to realize anew that I have one marvelously great and powerful and awesome God!! Something else happens with God as He listens to the praises of His child. He takes great delight in what is being said. “Let them praise His name… Let them sing praises to Him… For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.” (Psalm 149:3-4). I tell you, God is smiling!
“Come on Max,” I finally said as I stood up, tugging on his leash, “its getting dark out here. We’d better go home.” Our walk back to the house was light. My heart was rejoicing. The praise just kept coming. And I realized, once again, through a beautiful evening sunset, just how blessed I am to personally know this great God. Praise the Lord!
“Have mercy upon me, O God” was the cry of David in Psalm 51. This Psalm is the perfect paradigm of prayers for the forgiveness of sins. David wrote this Psalm after his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) and after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12), to make things right with that sin, with those involved with the sin and with his relationship with God. “So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.'” And thus the words of Psalm 51 were penned by David, leaving you and me a wonderful example of what we should do with our sin that so easily separates us from our God. Within Psalm 51, David walks us through a 7 step pathway that restores our relationship with God once we have sinned.
Step 1 – Acknowledgement – This step begins with that cry, “Have mercy upon me, O God!” And you know what, that first step is very often the hardest one to take. It’s hard for us human beings to admit the fact that we are sinners and that we often do things that displease our God. Yet, Romans 3:23 makes that pretty clear when it says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All of us need to recognize the truth that we are sinners. And then we need to acknowledge our sin (make it known to God). Now, some would say that God already knows our sin, and that would be true. But there is forgiveness and healing in the acknowledgement of sin from our lips to the listening ears of our God. David boldly and bravely said, “For I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against You, and You only, have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight.” I, personally, have learned that once I acknowledge my sin before my God, then a huge weight is taken away from me. I don’t have to carry that sin around with me anymore. I can be free from sin! And that’s a good thing!
Step 2 – Forgiveness – David knew that only God could do something good with his sin. No one else could, but God could take away that sin from David’s life. Thus David asked God to, “Blot out my transgressions,” “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,” “Cleanse me from my sin,” “Purge me with hyssop,” “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” David knew that only God could forgive him from the sin that was weighing him down. In fact, David was confident that God could totally rid him of the sin in his life. And so, he asked God to do just that. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
Step 3 – Cleansing – David desired, more than anything, that his sin be washed away from him for good. I’ve been in that place before, have you? Listen to what David asks of God. “Hide Your face from my sin, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a stedfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” I don’t know about you, but when I read those words, I just want to say. “I want that too, God!” What relief there is from having our sins gone, having a clean heart, a renewed spirit, and a right relationship with our God!
Step 4 – Restoration – Once that sin is gone, do you know what comes back to you? Your joy and His power! David said it best, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous spirit.” Once that sin is gone, the joy comes back to your life. You can once again rejoice in God’s great forgiveness and you can know that He will remember that sin (or sins) that you have done, have just confessed to, and have just been forgiven from, He will remember them NO MORE! Yippee!! Such joy! Not only that – but you will also see His power as He upholds you by His generous spirit! Restoration happens my friend whenever we cry out, “Have mercy on me O God!” And when we have been restored to a renewed and right relationship with God, we will begin to experience His joy and power once again as well.
Step 5 – Service – Whenever we have sin in our life, and we choose to carry it around with us rather than to confess it, then that affects our service for God. We are then trying to do whatever we do to serve Him, in our own strength, and not in His. That, my friend, is never a good thing. Step 5 in our pathway to forgiveness reminds us that when we confess that sin, make things right with God again, then we are restored to fruitful service for Him. David says, “Then I will teach trangressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.” Try to do that in your own strength, under the shroud of sin, and yes, you will fail. But with God’s forgiveness, with His joy and power restored within us, well then, we will be able to do mighty things for Him.
Step 6 – Worship – Once forgiven, even our worship will change. Have you ever tried to sing worship songs, or attentively listen to a good sermon, when you know that you have sin in your heart. It’s pretty hard to do! I know; I’ve tried it before. David says, “My tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. My mouth shall show forth Your praise.” With a clean heart, a renewed spirit, and a life of true joy – – oh my friend, there is NO stopping that worship!! It will flow from you to God effortlessly! Your God will hear your worship and be glad in it.
Step 7 – Fellowship – There is nothing greater than a right relationship with God. You will walk together and He will guide your steps on the journey. You will talk together and He will teach you the things He wants you to know. You will fellowship together and He will show you just how sweet your times together can be. You will desire nothing greater. But what does God desire from you on this journey of life together? David answered that question for us, when he said, “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. These, O God, You will not despise.”
O God, You put within each one of us a desire to know You as our Creator. You gave to us a heart’s longing for a good relationship with you. And while, each of us may be at different places in that relationship with You, we know that YOU desire a relationship with us as well. O God, today, may we begin, or, if need be, may we renew that relationship with the heartfelt cry, “Have mercy upon me, O God!”
I’m just wondering!
Do you have a favorite book in the Bible? That one book that you always seem to turn to for help, for encouragement, for comfort?
Please feel free to leave me a comment – and share what your favorite book in the Bible is. My blogsite is a safe place to leave your comments. I always read them first and decide if they are then opened for all to read or not. You can leave me a personal comment that only I can see if you prefer. Just let me know that its not to be shared publicly. I would love to hear from you as you read this blog. It would be nice to know that somebody (anybody?) is reading my new blogsite/webpage.
My all-time favorite, “go-to” book in the Bible is the Book of Psalms! I just love it! Perhaps its because I can relate so well to the Psalmist David and its other writers. Every time I am facing discouragement, wanting to run away, needing reassurance of God’s presence, going through a battle or trial, questioning life and what it offers, or seeking hope in the midst of dire circumstances or simply needing to worship and praise God – – – I find myself turning to the Book of Psalms. Within its 150 chapters, I find just what I’m looking for; I find what I need; I find comfort for my soul. As I read I come across people who I can identify with, whose example I can follow. I come across various problems that the writer is sharing that I can clearly relate to. I come face to face with precious promises from a God who loves me. The more I read, the more I want to read. And the more I focus on what I’m reading, then I find a change takes place within my heart. No longer do I want to focus on my own problems and struggles of life. I no longer want to focus on the people and problems as recorded in the book. Instead, I find myself searching for and reaching out to claim the promises of God. There are so many precious promises found in the Book of Psalms! And as my heart is warmed and comforted by those promises, I find myself joining the psalmist and together we burst out into praise! My soul is blessed, and my spirit is lifted up every time I read the Book of Psalms. That’s why I go to it so often!
So I got to thinking. Why not share some of those special Psalms on my “blog?” In fact, we could do a bible study together – online – through my blog pages. Might you be interested?
So for awhile, I plan on writing about some of my favorite Psalms. I’ll share with you some of the fascinating lessons I’ve learned from this special book in the Bible. Together we can learn about the people, the promises and the praises of those Psalms. How about it? Would YOU like to join me on that kind of study together? Visit my blog site as often as you like at http://www.word-of-truth-ministries.com. There’s already quite a few postings to read. Another way you can follow my blog is to go to the “home page”, in the lower right hand corner, it says “Follow Blog via Email” If you click on the “Follow” button, it will notify you by email every time I post a new blog entry (a bible study, devotional or real-life story) and that way you won’t miss anything.
Dear God, you have taught me so many precious lessons, given me so many precious promises to claim, and led me to burst forth with praise every time I read one of Your Psalms. Now I have the desire to share all that with others. But I don’t know God, who would be interested. So, with Your leading on a new adventure through writing and blogging, I am starting this blogpage/website and I am asking YOU, God, to bring the followers to it that YOU want there (protect this site from any predators please!) so that my sharing in this way may bring life, help and encouragement to all who visit here. Amen!
Ah, there it is! A freshly poured batch of cement, all smoothed over, ready to dry and become a sidewalk! But wait! Opportunity is knocking! Quickly look around you and see if anyone is watching. You only have a couple of seconds. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity! Before the cement sets, we could….! Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Just how tempting is it to go over and leave an imprint of your hand, or your foot in the wet cement? Tell me my friend, would YOU yield to such a great temptation?
I remember doing that once when I was a kid. Just once! And oh boy, was it ever fun in that moment. That wet cement feels ever so good as it squishes through your fingers and between your toes. Yep, and there, behold, is my beautiful work of art! Dad should be so proud of me! Or, oops, judging by his face, perhaps not. And then, there is that painful reality of the truth that there will be consequences for my actions! They too left an imprint, a lesson never to be forgotten.
And yet, I do have some good news for you, my friends. Well, besides surviving to tell you my imprint in the cement story! Not all opportunities for leaving an imprint leads to bad consequences. Thank goodness for that! Sometimes those opportunities to leave an imprint leads us to great blessings!
Within the last three months, my husband and I have lost one relative and five friends through death. It’s been a really hard season of life, where so many people that we know and love have been taken from us. We feel like we are on a grieving merry-go-round. Yet, each one of them have shared a special season in our lives; some short, some longer, and yet all left lasting memories that we can cherish in our hearts for months and years to come. Each life was an artful masterpiece designed by the God of all creation. Each life – each imprint will never be forgotten!
Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the imprints we all leave behind when we die. How will our loved ones and friends remember us? Those unforgetable memories, cherished conversations, acts of kindness, lessons of truths learned, or the unforgettable example that was led. We will all leave an imprint of some kind or another. If we are believers in Jesus Christ, then that imprint will be a blessing to those around us AND that imprint will last forever as part of our legacy.
In order to leave a godly imprint, we need to not only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but we should also live like the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 13:15, Jesus said to His disciples, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” Jesus spent time with His disciples – loving them, caring for them, encouraging them, eating with them, fellowshipping with them, guiding them, teaching them, and always living a perfect example before them. Jesus left an imprint on their hearts and lives; an imprint those disciples would never forget. They would be forever changed simply by knowing Jesus, loving Him, learning from Him and serving with Him. Jesus had no intention that it would all stop right there. No way. Jesus challenged them to “go and do likewise.” He wanted them to go and leave a godly imprint on someone else’s life. Jesus wants us to do the same thing. Whenever we share a gentle word of encouragement, whenever we do a kind deed in the name of Jesus, whenever we teach others godly truths, whenever we live a godly example in our daily lives, whenever we are the hands and feet of Jesus in someone else’s life – – then we are leaving an imprint within the hearts of our loved ones, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and fellow Christians. And that imprint leads to cherished memories and lasting blessings for those we love. Now that, my friend, is a work of art that our “Daddy” would be proud of!
(Note: So what about you? What are your thoughts about leaving an imprint? I would love to hear your responses to my writing on the subject. Please, feel free to leave me a comment and share your own imprint story.)
Setting up for Bible class one day, a young early-bird student was helping me to set up some chairs. As we worked together, he started a conversation by saying, “Hey, Ms. Kathy, so I’ve got a question for you!” I stopped what I was doing and turned my attention to the young boy. “I’m listening,” I replied. He goes on to say, “You might have to think about this for a while and that would be okay to give me an answer later. But then, knowing you Ms. Kathy, you just might have an answer already ready.” I smiled and chuckled a little, secretly hoping that I would have a ready answer for his question. “So, here’s my question. Actually, I have two of them. The first one is this, if you could describe Jesus using just one word, what would that one word be?”
Now, before I even tell you what my answer was to this young boy – I would like to ask you, my blog readers, the same question. I am curious what your answer would be! So, here’s the question: if you could describe Jesus using just one word, what would that one word be?”
The young boy and I both stopped setting up chairs and looked at one another. I smiled at him and said, “Oh that’s easy – my word would be compassion! A great big grin came across his face as he said, “Mine would be loving! But both of those words kind of mean the same thing, don’t they?”
Jesus is compassionate! He is loving!
Jesus’ life here upon this earth embodied compassion. Everyone He met, He would meet with a heart full of compassion. Jesus called twelve men (disciples) to “Come follow me” – all of whom came from various places and walks of life, yet Jesus had compassion upon each one of them, desiring to teach them things pertaining to the kingdom of heaven. As Jesus walked about, as He taught in various places, many people would come seeking healing. They would bring loved ones, friends, and sometimes strangers to Jesus so that He could heal them from their various diseases and aliments. Over and over, throughout the Gospels it is written that “Jesus met them with compassion, ” or “Jesus looked upon him with compassion.” And then Jesus would heal, restore, forgive or teach those who were brought to Him. It was His compassion – His love – that drew people to Him then. It still is His compassion – His love – that draws people to Jesus today!
When I think of Jesus’ compassion towards others, I think of the story of the feeding of five thousand people as found in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 6, verses – 32-44. There is a clear contrast portrayed here. We learn that the disciples met the crowd with an attitude of great annoyance, saying, “Send them away.” It was getting late in the day, and they didn’t want to be bothered with having to feed this large crowd of people. But then Jesus came and He met the crowd with a totally different attitude. I just love this. Here’s what Scripture says in verse 34, “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.” Jesus not only met them with compassion, but He goes on to demonstrate what compassion is all about. He takes the little lunch of a boy found in the crowd. Oh, just imagine the delight in that young boy to be able to give his lunch to Jesus! “And when He had taken the five loaves and two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to His disciples to set before them and the two fish He divided among them all. So they all ate and were filled.” That my friend, is compassion in action! What a great example set by Jesus. No doubt in my mind, Jesus was all about compassion! He still is!
My young student and I talked about Jesus and His compassionate love for a few moments. It warmed my heart to see how this young boy was so open to talking about and receiving Jesus’ compassionate love into his own life. But then, he asked his second question. Brace yourselves!
“So, Ms. Kathy, you’ve been teaching us that we should love the Lord Jesus and that we should strive to be like him. That’s kind of hard to do but I’m starting to work on all that. But I just wonder this – if Jesus could use just one word to describe me, I wonder what one word He would choose?”
Now there is a question well worth pondering!