“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!
Who Among Us Wants To Be A Servant?
In our society of today, not too many people would quickly volunteer to serve others. Yet Jesus Christ Himself calls all believers to be “the servant of all.” Join Kathy in this interactive Bible study in the Gospel of Mark. She will lead you on an incredible journey through the life of Christ. You will be inspired by the love and compassion shown by Jesus as our “Servant King.” You will learn from His example. You will be in awe at the many miracles He performs and numerous parables that He taught. You will discover the real reason that He came to earth and what He did for all mankind. Jesus served faithfully, and He loved abundantly. This study will both challenge and encourage you. You will come away with a fresh understanding and new appreciation of what it means to be the “Servant of all.”
NOW AVAILABLE online and in bookstores throughout the United States and Internationally!
Paths of Life. We all walk them every day. Every one of us has a different path of life that we are called to walk upon. Sometimes we walk that pathway alone and at some seasons of the journey, others will come and join us for a time upon our pathway. Have you ever considered the path of life that you are now walking?
Paths can be smooth; when everything seems to be going just right. There doesn’t seem to be any problems or stresses, no signs of trouble anywhere in sight, no arguments or disagreements with others on the pathway. Everything is calm, peaceful, happy and even joyful. The walking on such a path is so easy and comfortable; your step is light and carefree. And as others join you on the path, you often find yourself laughing, feeling energized and actually enjoying the journey.
But sometimes the path is rocky and difficult to manuever. Troubles come into life like rocks on the pathway making your footing unsteady and unsure. Troubles like job loses, financial difficulties, marriage issues, challenges with the children, health struggles and oh my, but that list of troubles can (and often does) go on and on and on. When walking on such a pathway, we have to be ever so careful with our steps. If we don’t watch where we are going, it is easy to stumble, to fall or to lurch forward or worse yet, to create an avalanche of falling rocks as we ourselves lose our balance and come crashing to the ground.
Upon every pathway, we are certain to encounter the unforeseen bends in the road, the sudden u-turns, the narrowing twists and turns or worst yet, those cliff-hanging moments where we are so certain we will fall if we go that patricular way. All of these are even harder to manuever simply because we don’t know what lies ahead. During these times on the path of life, its easy to become fearful and discouraged. We are tempted to turn back and go the way that we are more familiar with, where we will feel safe. We give up too easily because it becomes too hard, too dangerous or too impossible to pass that way. With this kind of pathway, and whatever our reaction is to it, we simply have to stop in our tracks and consider carefully what our next step will be. We have to consider that if we yield to the temptation of giving up, turning around, or jumping off that cliff, then we might just miss the waterfall on the other side.
Many times, as I have been walking my own personal path of life, I find myself asking this question: “How do people do this journey on life’s pathways without Jesus?” My path of life certainly hasn’t been smooth walking. No way! So many times I have gotten lost, took a wrong turn, felt exhausted and unable to take another step. My path of life has been filled with many a stream to cross, rocks to climb, quick-sand that catches me off guard. I can’t tell you how many u-turns and bends in the road I’ve encountered along the way. I’ve even found some “beasties” in my way that would have devoured me for sure had I not been a quick thinker. There have been moments when standing on the cliff side of my path that I simply stop dead in my tracks. And I wonder!
But then, I look up and I see an incredibly beautiful sunrise (or sunset)! I see a majestic eagle gliding faultlessly through the sky! I see a colorful double rainbow of promise! I see the cool, refreshing waterfall ahead! And I stand in awe!
Jesus gave me a precious promise when I was just a young girl. He promised that He would show me the path of life that He intends me to walk. And He has kept that promise for me over all my years. Not only has He shown me that path, step by step, but He has been walking it with me! And oh, what a journey together it has been! Even when the path became rough, He was right there with me, guiding, strengthening and helping me over the tough spots. I couldn’t do it without Him. I wouldn’t want to! And my friend, do you know what I have discovered on this path of life with Jesus? In His presence, when we are standing side by side, walking and talking together, there truly is a fulness of Joy! Oh, what Joy! I’m going to keep on walking with Jesus. He’s in the lead on that path of life and I make the daily choice to walk with Him. And I am more than confident that one day, His path of life will lead me straight to Heaven, where I will see my Heavenly Father face to face, where the path will be perfect and paved with gold, and where I will experience wonderful joy and pleasures forevermore!
What about your path of life? Where is it taking you?
Thanks for joining me on a journey of teaching, mentoring and encouraging through God’s Word and the world of blogging! I have been a Bible teacher for over 40 years now and not only have a passion for teaching women and children, but also for writing my own bible studies and encouraging those who journey with me. Throughout my own personal journey as a Christian, I have had the privilege of having many different mentors who have come alongside of me to “cheer me on” throughout various seasons of my Christian life. And now, God is granting me the privilege of doing that same kind of mentoring in the lives of others. What a special privilege that is!
Perhaps God will give you the desire within your own heart to follow my blog, to learn from my teaching, to grow through this style of mentoring and be encouraged to take the next steps of growth in your own personal relationship with God. Let’s take this journey together, one blogging step at a time.