(This is a challenge between student and teacher. Rules of the challenge are found in the posting entitled: “A Challenge Has Been Presented Using the Book of Psalms”)
Today’s Verse: “That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all Your wondrous works.” Psalms 26:7
I Give Thanks For: My beloved husband, Andrew!
Who knew when I went to Britain as a missionary teacher that I would meet my “Mr. Right” – who knew? I wasn’t looking for him, but there he was. Within a very short time, I knew, without a doubt, that Andy was God’s special gift to me!
People ask me all the time: What was the one thing that drew you to Andy? Oh, you mean, besides his love for God, his good looks, his British accent, his big, bright eyes, his quirky smile, and his loving kindness. One doesn’t have to know Andy very long before you learn of his big heart and helpful spirit. This guy sees needs before they are ever spoken and he immediately gets to work in helping to meet that need. I love that characteristic about him. He’s made many a friend through his kind acts of helping others.
October 20, 1990, as we first walked down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs., I said to him, “Come on Mr. O’Brien, together with God, we can do this!” And that became our marriage motto. We have said that to one another so many times – in sickness and in health, in riches and in poverty times, in the good and in the bad, and in the joyful and in the difficult. We’ve been there together! We’ve done life together, with God as our helper, our guide, and our source of wisdom. It’s been a fantastic journey with Andy! I am so thankful for this man! He truly is God’s gift to me! And it is my prayer that God gives us many, many more years to keep on loving each other and grow old together. Thank you God for sharing this special man with me! Thank you Andy for making it so easy to love you!
(This is a challenge between student and teacher. Rules of the challenge are found in the posting entitled: “A Challenge Has Been Presented Using the Book of Psalms”)
Today’s Verse: “Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name.” Psalms 18:49 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: My Relationship with a Holy God!
It makes perfect sense on this first day of our “28 Days of Thanksgiving Through the Book of Psalms” to share that the number one thing that I give thanks for is my relationship with my God. And why not, He is after all my Creator; the One who knows me better than anyone else. He lovingly placed me in a family where I could learn more about Him. Together, we not only learned about God, but we loved God, worshiped God, and served God. So God has been a very key figure in my life and thus it seems like I’ve always known God.
I am thankful that God not only knows me, but He loves me. Just the way I am. Faults and all. God loves me unconditionally and eternally! God is always there for me, through thick and thin, good and bad, ugly and beautiful times of life. He promises to never leave nor forsake me – and I’m mighty glad that over many years, He has never once failed in that promise! I cherish the fact that I can talk with God anytime I want to and anywhere I am. He’s always got His eye upon me. His ear is forever tuned to listen to my cries and hear my prayers. His almighty right hand is always ready to hold onto me or pick me up when I fall. God is my strength, my rock, my shelter, my refuge; God is everything I need! I’m so thankful that I am still learning about Him; thankful that I desire to learn so much more. I am so thankful for the relationship I share with my God. It’s personal, it’s powerful, it’s profound and it’s peaceful. One thing is for certain: I could never, ever do this thing called life without knowing God!
Get ready to think CHALLENGE my blog readers! Because, it is on!!
As a teacher, I am always challenging my students with challenging questions to answer, challenging thoughts to ponder, and challenging activities that help them learn more. I tell them that “Challenges are excellent brain food!” And so they are! It’s good to be challenged no matter what age the student is. Get ready, the challenge is coming!!
I particularly love it, when one of my students challenges me, as a teacher, to think outside the box. Or when they ask me a question that I don’t know and together we research the answer. Or when they ask me to participate in a challenge, whereby we both can learn together and have a little fun while we do that. And right now, I have such a challenge before me. I warned you, a challenge was coming!
An 11 year old student of mine, attends a Christian school here in Tucson, Arizona. He has a project that he has to do in preparation for our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. For those of you who are reading this outside the United States, this might not make sense to you (and that’s okay!) But I think you will still be able to follow this challenging activity and learn by it along with the rest of us. Anyway, this student presented the challenge to me. And me, being me, simply couldn’t resist it. It actually sounds quite fun.
He is calling the challenge – “28 days of Thanksgiving in the Book of Psalms” – I’m liking this already. The challenge is to start on November 1st and runs through November 28th, the day we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Here are his rules for the challenge:
And so, my blog readers, I have gladly accepted this challenge! I am excited about it and I am ready to begin! Who’s ready to read my blog for the next 28 days??
Might I suggest that you click on my “follow” button, or sign up to receive notification by email whenever that days posting has been made. And please, feel free to leave comments along the way. It would be nice to know that people are actually reading my blog. I know for certain one student will be checking in every day. Will you join us for our challenge?
“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” Psalm 13:1-2 (NKJV)
There I was again! In the waiting room of delay!
My husband was having a procedure done at our local hospital. I was waiting patiently, in the waiting room for that procedure to be done and then I would be able to take him home to rest for the remainder of the day. Yet, the waiting seemed awful long to me. They said the procedure would be about 35-40 minutes, but as I glanced at the clock I realized that I had already waited for over 2 hours.
“Excuse me,” I said calmly to the volunteer at the desk, wearing my most “I’m trying to wait patiently, but…” expression upon my face. “Could you tell me how much longer my husband will be in his procedure?” She asked for his name, then she glanced at the computer, and said, “Excuse me just a moment.” And she left.
“How long, O Lord?” was the phrase that popped into my mind. Obviously it led me deep into thought (or maybe I was getting an idea for my blog page!) because the volunteer startled me, when she tapped me on the shoulder and said. “Deary, they haven’t even started your husband’s procedure yet. There’s been a few delays. But it won’t be long.” Hmm, don’t you just love the waiting room of delays?
I have been there, done that so many times that I certainly lost count years ago. Nonetheless, in all honesty, the waiting hasn’t gotten any easier. Especially when there appears to be long delays. I sat back down, nestling into the “comfy” chair and my mind just soars as I begin to think of various times of waiting throughout my life. Within just a few moments, so many different times of waiting with delays, like an unrelenting tsunami, came storming through my mind. I felt a little overwhelmed. Yep, been there, done that one!
“How long, O Lord?” have I waited for You to hear and answer my prayers. There’s been several that I’ve been praying for for a mighty long time it seems. How long do we have to struggle financially and live paycheck to paycheck? How long do I have to wait for my prescription to be approved by the insurance company? How long before I get the results of my medical tests? How long before my friend sees her husband come to know Jesus? How long before there’s a cure from cancer that has taken away so many friends lately? How long before our pastor’s wayward son returns home? How long does this family feud have to last? How long before my husband gets a pay raise or better yet, that promotion that he has been working toward? How long, O Lord? How long should I continue in prayer over these things and so much more?
Can anyone else relate? Have YOU been in the waiting room of delays lately? Does it seem that you pray and pray and yet it seems that God is not hearing? Not listening? Not answering? How long, O Lord?
Take heart my friend! You are not alone in that waiting room of delays. The Psalmist David knew it well. Within the first two verses of Psalm 13, David asks the same question four times: “How Long, O Lord?”
David often cried out to the Lord, to share his concerns, to ask for advice, to seek godly wisdom, or to simply talk with His God. He would ask God to “attend to my cry” (17:1). “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry. Do not be silent at my tears.” (39:12). “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.” (54:1-2). “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed.” (61:2). “I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fall while I wait for my God.” (69:3).
Just like David, I have so often lifted my voice up to God in prayer. I know that He hears me. I know He listens to His child as I cry out to Him. I know that in His time He will answer me. Yet sometimes, it seems that I am praying the same prayer over and over again. For days, for weeks, for months and yes, sometimes for years. And it leaves me wondering, “How long O Lord?” How long should I keep praying for the same thing?
I have taught elementary aged children how to pray many times in my career as a missionary teacher. I love to watch as they eagerly want to learn to talk with God. I’ve listened to many a “first time” prayer. Together we learn that He will answer our prayers – usually one of three ways – yes, no or wait. Children love the “Yes!” answers to their prayers. “No!” is a little harder for them to accept, especially when its something they really, really want. But “Wait!” Well, that’s totally different.
I never will forget the day, (its documented in my teaching journal!) when one of my students had to voice his opinion on this waiting for answers to prayer idea. He raised his hand, waited patiently for me to acknowledge him, then with this ever so serious look on his face, he said, “Ms. Kathy, I have to pray to God right now and have a talk with Him about His waiting to answer my prayers. Can I do that now?”
Well, before I could even get a response out, he was praying. I led the rest of the class in bowing our heads and listening to his prayer. I must admit that his boldness stunned me. “God, you and I have to have a talk about this waiting thing You want to do. Please do NOT ever ask me to wait for an answer to my prayer. I do NOT wait well. In fact I do not like waiting at all. So please do not ask me to wait. God, did you hear my prayer to You just now? Were You listening to me God? Let me say it again. No waiting for me God. I do not like to wait. Amen!”
The silence in the classroom was deafening! As the teacher, I wasn’t even sure what I should say after that. But I do know that, after a few moments of silence, the class resumed its learning. But hey, before we judge that little boy for his prayer, perhaps there is something we should all consider. Aren’t we just like him? No one likes to wait for answers to their prayers. No one likes to spend time in the waiting room of delays, wondering if God heard our prayers and will ever answer them. Hey, at least, he put the thought into words and delivered them to His God, who by the way, was no doubt listening. God might have even smiled at the innocent honesty of His precious child.
I never forgot that child. Nor did I forget the lesson I learned from him. None of us like to wait! Especially me. The Psalmist David found it hard to wait as well. But “Wait!” is one of God’s good answers to His children. Sometimes He wants us to patiently wait in the waiting room of delays so that He can teach us the value of waiting patiently.
So while we are there, what do we do during that waiting time. The Psalmist David shares with us, in the remaining verses of chapter 13, four things we can (and should!) do while we wait for our prayers to be answered.
“Consider and hear me, O Lord, my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say ‘I have prevailed against him.’; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (13:3-6)
First of all, we pray! We keep on praying! We pray fervently! We pray boldly! We pray faithfully! And we don’t stop until….GOD! It is in the shadow of those prayers that God is at work. We pray and we may wonder if God heard. He heard you! We pray and sometimes we wonder if God is even listening. He is listening! We pray for days, weeks, months and years and we wonder if we should continue. He wants you to persist faithfully, fervently, and boldly in those prayers. In the waiting room of delays, your God hears, He listens, and He is working on that answer. We pray until…. God…. in His time provides His divine answer! And in that moment we will know, the answer was well worth the wait!
Secondly, David encourages us to trust God while we wait in the waiting room of delays. Trust God’s plans and purposes for you and for the ones you are praying for. Trust His mercy and grace that He will show you in His time. Trust that His answer – whether yes, no or wait – will be perfect, for He is perfect and makes no mistakes in what He gives to His children!
Thirdly, David encourages us to rejoice. Yep, in the midst of that waiting room of delays, learn to rejoice! David says, “My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” That’s a great place to start. While you wait, think of all the things that God has done in the past, think of the various answers to prayers He has given you in the past. Think of what God is currently doing in your life now and in the lives of those you pray for. As you think of those things, surely your heart will see good in the things Your God does. And in response, surely you can lift up your eyes to focus on the God who has put you in the waiting room of delays. And as you wait, surely you can learn to rejoice in what God is doing, even if you can’t see it at this moment! Waiting gives opportunity for rejoicing!
And last, David encourages us to “sing to the Lord.” Sing? Yes, sing! Be it quietly in your head and heart, or out loud with a ton of gusto and sound, sing your praises to God. My favorite song to sing in those times happens to be, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness!” In that waiting room of delays, you know that an answer is coming. You know that answer (whatever it is) is God’s perfect answer for that time. You know that you can trust Him. You know that He gives you reason to rejoice while you wait. You know you can sing forth His praises – even before the answer arrives. Why? “because He has dealt bountifully with me!”
So, my friend, the next time we find ourselves in the waiting room of delays, here’s what we do: We pray! We trust! We rejoice! We sing! Because our God is dealing “bountifully” with us! Hmm, perhaps that’s the reason He sent us to the waiting room of delays in the first place. What a great lesson to learn while we wait!
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2 NKJV)
I have long loved the worship song “As the Deer” that was written with the verses of Psalm 42: 1 as their text.
“As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee.
You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship thee.
You alone are my strength and shield; To you alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship thee.
You’re my friend and you are my brother, even though you are a king.
I love you more than any other, so much more than anything. “
The writer of these infamous words, Marty Nystrom, relates the following account of the birth of this popular worship song:
“In 1984 I was a school teacher in Seattle, and since I had the summer off I decided to go back to Bible College, but only for the summer term. I headed for Dallas, Texas and Christ For the Nations Institute. Little did I know what was about to happen to me, especially with all that I would be exposed to and the worship emphasis of the school. I had a roommate at CFNI who was a very vibrant Christian. He challenged me to go on a fast – a period of time when a person refrains from eating solid food in order to give time to the reading of the Bible and to prayer.
“I took up the challenge, and on the 19th day of the fast I found myself sitting at a piano trying to write a song. I was simply playing chord progressions when I noticed a Bible on the music stand of the piano. It was open to Psalm 42. My eyes fell on the first verse of that chapter. After reading the verse I began to sing its message, right off the page. I wrote the first verse and the chorus of a song, pretty much straight through. The whole of the adventure was completed in a matter of minutes. I then repeated the song I had just written. I wanted to seal it in my mind.”
“I had no intention of showing the song to anyone. It was to be for my own devotional time with the Lord. However, before leaving the school to go back to Seattle, I did share it with one person, Dave Butterbaugh. He introduced it to the students of the school and it became a favorite.”
The words and the melody that Marty composed resonated with so many people. Since the introduction of the song, it has been translated into several languages and is sung in churches worldwide. It has become one of my personal favorites among worship songs. I find myself singing it often.
And when I sing it – I picture this in my mind:
A thirsty deer in search of some water. A deer that longs for a drink of cool, refreshing water. Recently I had a conversation with a “hunter” friend of mine who told me some things about deer that I didn’t know. Not being a hunter myself (sorry, no interest there!) I did find what he told me very interesting. He said that deer are very fussy about where they drink. A deer will never stop and drink water from any source unless it feels perfectly safe at that water hole. The environment around that deer needs to be a quiet and calm place. It needs to be free from any foreign scents that would disturb the deer. There should be no sounds of a predator and not any sounds and scents of eminent danger to that deer causing it to run far away. Only when the deer feels perfectly safe, will that deer drop its head toward the water source and have a drink. It’s the peace and silence, the welcome of refreshment, that draws the deer near to the water. I never knew that about deer, but it makes perfect sense to me and makes me respect this beautiful animal even more.
I also think about how this relates to our approaching our God. For me, just like the deer, it is the peaceful, quiet calm of God’s person and presence that draws me close to Him. Happily I can draw near to Him anytime I want to. I can draw even closer to Him when I am free of distractions from the world around me or free from the predator (Satan) who seeks to devour me. I can choose to “draw near” and drink from His source of refreshing water as often as my heart desires.
Yet, these first two verses of Psalm 42 leave me with a question to ponder: Does my soul really “panteth” for You, O God? Does my soul thirst for the Lord as it should?
The Psalmist David, stated his thoughts with a bold confidence that I wish I had. He says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” His desire is really clear. The Psalmist thirsted after God just as the deer pants after the cool refreshing water.
Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I daily read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. Yes, I attend church and serve God in many different ways. But, do I really thirst after God?
Do I seek after those “environments” where I can find true peace and quiet to meet with my God? Do I make sure that there will be no interruptions, distractions, and predators that could snatch away my attention from my God? Once I have gotten to the source of water, do I take a quick lap or do I linger long, drinking in God’s pure refreshment? All questions worth pondering!
Meanwhile, my heart shall enjoy singing once more Marty Nystrom’s infamous worship song – – “As the deer panteth for the water….”
Are YOU singing along with me??
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You: And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by. . .” (verse 1 – NKJV)
Have you ever uttered those words? “It’s Not Fair!”
It’s not fair that. . .
. . . I didn’t get that promotion that I worked so hard for!
. . . I’m stuck at home with four screaming kids all day!
. . . my family has so many problems and others don’t seem to have any!
. . . we struggle so hard to make ends meet and live paycheck to paycheck!
. . . we couldn’t go on our dream vacation this year! . . .
What’s your “It’s Not Fair!” moment??
I am confident that every human being on the face of this earth has had (or will have) a particular set of circumstances when those three little words will, without hesitation, roll off their tongue. I know I’ve said it. Often when I was a kid and I didn’t get my own way. Even more so, as a teenager, battling with growing up issues within the family. I’ve even been known to say it a few times as an adult. Bottom line: every one of us think that life is not fair at times! And at times, it’s not!!
When I read this first verse of Psalm 57, I can almost hear David saying, “It’s Not Fair!” David wrote this Psalm at the time he was fleeing for his very life. King Saul was out to kill him. David and his men, quickly fled. They were on the run, trying to outsmart the man who sought to take his very life from him. David was hiding away in a cave, and life for him, in that moment, was not one bit fair. Listen to how David describes his circumstances:
“My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and the tongue a sharp sword. . . They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; into the midst of it they themselves have fallen.” (verses 4 and 6)
Yep, “It’s Not Fair!”
And what, my friend, do we do when life isn’t being fair to us? There really is no end to the options. Here’s just a few: we instinctively tend to dig our heels in the ground and kick off some sort of “temper tantrum” because we simply aren’t getting what we think we should have, or what we think we deserve. We begin our own little campaign of protest – not that anyone really wants to hear it, nor participate in it. We have this somewhat crazy idea that “going shopping” is the perfect solution to the chaos we are in. Or we can simply choose to shrug our shoulders, accept the unfairness, and walk away.
I have to tell you this: I have learned a very valuable lesson here in Psalm 57 from David on how to handle those “It’s Not Fair!” moments of life. In fact, David inspires me to look differently at those “calamity” filled times when circumstances are unbearable and hard to understand. Walk with me through the rest of this chapter and let’s have a look at what David does.
Verse 1 – David states, “And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until these calamities have passed by.” I am a very visual learner and pictures help me a lot to process things. So when I read this verse – – this is what I picture:
What a perfect place to be in the midst of the “It’s Not Fair!” moments of life! Safely tucked under the almighty, powerful wings of my loving God, taking shelter, finding rest, renewing strength, and receiving hope UNTIL “these calamities” (these “It’s Not Fair!” moments of life) “have passed by.” I picture that in my mind’s eye and I simply cannot get there fast enough! Forget the temper tantrum. Never mind the protest. Save the money and bypass that shopping trip. I’ll walk away, yes, but straight under those protective wings that are waiting for me.
But that’s not all David did. Let’s read on:
Verses 2-3 tells me that while he was under the shadow of those wings, he cried out to God. David told God all about his current “It’s Not Fair!” moment. God listened. God took action. Here’s what David said, ” I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.” I just love the truths spoken here. David KNEW that God would receive him into His care and tenderly protect him. David KNEW that God would listen to his complaint – – “It’s Not Fair!” God, that King Saul is seeking me out to kill him. What did I ever do to him?” And David KNEW that God would know exactly what to do. David KNEW God had this. David KNEW all that truth. You and I, in the midst of our own “It’s Not Fair!” moments can know that truth as well. So, why are we spouting off about life not being fair to anyone else but God? I tell you, David inspires me to look at things a little differently! But wait, that’s not all.
Verses 5 and 7-11 tells me that David KNEW God had Him completely covered during his “It’s Not Fair!” moment. God was in perfect control. David could take refuge and not worry. David could let go of all his feelings about the circumstances that were beyond his own control. David could rest assured that he was being protected by a God who dearly loved him. David was confident that His great, almighty, powerful God held this “It’s Not Fair!” moment of David’s tightly in his hand (while David rested under the shadow of His wings) and David KNEW everything would be alright. This “It’s Not Fair!” moment would soon pass by. And so, based on the things that David knew, and from his safe place of refuge, David bursts forth with some worship; He began to praise his great God. “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, Let Your glory be above all the earth. . . My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.”
Does that not inspire you, my friend? Whatever “It’s Not Fair!” moment that you are currently going through, may I encourage you to give it to God, for He knows just what to do with it. Life isn’t fair – but your God is! Your soul can trust Him. He will be merciful toward you. Find your place of refuge, set your focus on the One who shadows you under His wings. Rest assured, your God has this! Relax in His presence, under His protection and simply burst forth in praise!
“Let all the earth, fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”
It was a few years ago that I had the privilege of meeting the most precious, never to be forgotten, little six year girl. She was beautiful inside and out. She had big brown eyes, brown hair tied up in pigtails, a smile that was missing its front teeth, and a personality that just made you laugh. She made sure that I noticed her new, pink dress and white shoes that she was wearing. Yet, what I remember most was her conversation. She loved to talk, with anyone who would listen. I loved talking to her because she had some very good things to say. Have you ever had a conversation with a six year old kid about God? Now, that is one priceless conversation, let me tell you!
She did her very best to describe God to me: “God is smart probably the smartest person in all the world. He’s probably old, older than my daddy and of course older than my papa! My papa says that God is older than dirt. Do you believe that? And God smiles like me. I know because he gave me my smile and see, see what it looks like! And I think God might laugh too, but not as good as me. I work hard to keep my laugh funny. My papa likes my laugh so I think God does too. But, you wanna know what I like best about God?”
And with this, she stood up, spread her arms out as wide as they could go. Her eyes got big and glistened in the sunlight. And she, rather loudly and boldly proclaims: “God is wha-some! He really really really really is wha-some! I tell you he is wha-some!”
Bless her little heart, she couldn’t say the word awesome; it just came out as wha – some! I LOVE that word! It is just so priceless! I couldn’t help but smile and join in on her jubilant praise party! “Yes, my dear little friend, our God is wha-some!”
Now, every time that I am outside, hiking, picnicking, gardening or simply taking the time to sit and enjoy God’s beautiful creation around me, I think of that little girl. And I smile. She’s almost all grown up now, but I am pleased to say that she still thinks her God is wha-some!
God is definitely wha-somely awesome! And He is worthy of all our praise!
The Psalmist David loved to sing out the praises of God’s awesomeness as well. Many of his Psalms reflect his own attitude of worship and praise to an awesome God. One such Psalm is chapter 66, where it says, “Make a joyful shout to God all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God. ‘How awesome are Your works! . . . All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.’ . . . Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard . . . ”
So, what about you, my friend? When was the last time you thought about your awesome God? When was the last time you stood in awe of His creation round about you? When was the last time you burst forth in jubilant praise to your awesome God? Ah, go on, try it!
With the joyful enthusiasm of a six year old, not caring what anyone else thinks, start your own praise party for God. Why not shout loudly and boldly proclaim, “God is wha-some! He really really really really is wha-some! I tell you he is wha-some!”
It’s guaranteed to make God smile!
“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!