Saturday, August 20, 2011

Psalms of Ascent

Right now I am doing a Bible Study about the Psalms of Ascent and have had the opportunity to write some of the Psalms in my own words. The Lord loves to hear His Word prayed back to Him, and it gives me great hope to pray Scripture over the things that trouble or concern me. Here are a few prayers that I have recorded that are paraphrases of a few of the Psalms.

Psalm 124

You are faithful. You are for me. You are a fountain in the wilderness. You find me in my wandering and draw me to Your side.

When I feel as though I am drowning in the restless, roaring tide you reach out Your hand to part the waters...You whisper "Peace Be Still"..and all is well inside.

Like a bird in flight you rescue me from the prisons of darkness that overwhelm me. You raise me up to new heights and fill my mouth with songs of praise.

My help is in You, Oh Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth. I will praise You all of my days...

Psalm 129

There will always be those who oppose us, attack us and oppress us. I praise You for Your power to triumph over the enemies of my soul. Victory alone is with You. Judgment alone lies with You. Even though my back lies deep with footprints trampled by the enemy, You have strenghtened me and have allowed me to stand firm because of Your mighty power.
You will continue to be the Ancient of Days, The Keeper of evvery wrong done to me and I rejoice that I do not have to engage in mortal combat for every injustice and evil deed. You have it under control. Your righteous right hand will hold back the enemy from my destruction and I can rest in the shadow of Your wings. Blessing and honor await me as I see Your face. Hide me Lord in the shelter of your abundant love.

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry out to You, oh Lord. Incline Your ear to me. You are the righteous judge. If you were to keep a record of sin, none could stand in Your presence. But You are a fountain of forgiveness, overflowing from the depths of Your unfailing love. Your mercy and compassion have no end. Therefore, I will wait for You and watch for the sunrise as it peaks over a dark horizon. Then I will see Your goodness and the display of Your faithful, abiding love and full redemption of every hurt, loss and disappointment that has come my way. Your abundant redemption restores my soul.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Standing the Test of Time

As a consumer in today’s market, I appreciate products that live up to their names. Through the years, we have come to depend on certain brand names and products that consistently demonstrate good quality. They stand the test of time. Brands such as Maytag, Toyota, Honda, Eddie Bauer, GAP Clothing, General Electric, etc., have all been around for quite a while and have proven their effectiveness and reliability over and over again. The research, attention to detail, and the actual materials used in these products have all contributed to their quality and popularity.
As I read Acts 24 this morning, I was reminded of the quality, and power of the Gospel. Not only has it withstood the test of time and persecution, but the author and initiator of the Gospel is eternal and without imperfections. He is full of power and authority. It is no surprise then, that the Gospel would display power and eternal evidences as well. I was struck with this truth when I read about Jesus’ encounter with his followers on the road to Emmaus after He had risen from the dead. As Jesus spent time with his followers, their eyes were opened to the truth about Him. After Jesus had disappeared, they asked each other, “Did our hearts not burn within us as we were with him?” (Acts 24:32) They experienced power in His presence and the fire that once burned within their hearts continues even today in the hearts of those who receive the good news about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Jesus continues to open the eyes of those who do not understand, who do not yet believe and He sheds the light of His truth to all who seek Him.
I am so thankful for a God who is dependable, whose Gospel is trustworthy, as both have proven to stand the test of time with power and effectiveness. I am thankful for a God who is mighty to save, and His truth and authority extends through all generations. I am thankful to serve a risen, glorious Savior.
I serve a risen Savior,
Who’s in the world today,
I know that He is living
Whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives, He lives
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

For Such a Time as This

The events of the past few weeks have had my mind swimming in a sea of unanswered questions, especially the question, “why?” The truth of the matter is, we may not have all of the answers this side of heaven. Nothing makes sense and emotions are raw, ranging from sorrow to anger, to disillusionment. However, one truth remains constant: our God reigns and His Word is sure. It’s hard to know how to continue after such events have occurred, but this is a time when our faith must carry us and we lean heavily upon the truths and promises that God has given to us in His Word. A friend shared in our Bible study this week about a very dark season in her life. During that time, she said the only words she could hear from God were “Be still and know that I am God.” There were no answers to her questions, and things became worse before they ever got better, but as she reflected upon the truths that she knew about God, they became her anchor during the tossing and turning of the raging sea around her.
Her story was an inspiration to me and a reminder of how the knowledge of character of God must be burned into our hearts and minds during times of tragedy and uncertainty. So what does it mean to be still and know that He is God? I think it takes a lifetime to answer that question; a lifetime of seeking His face and learning from Him during all of the seasons of our lives. For this particular season, I am focusing on the truth that God is good. What is meant for evil, God will turn it around and be glorified through His goodness and grace. It also gives me great hope to know that He is victorious. By His blood and the word of our testimony, we will overcome and be joined with Him in the eternal, ultimate victory over sin and death. Nothing can separate us from His love and he is close to the broken-hearted.
Singing and playing for Clint Dobson’s funeral was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but I knew that God had ordained me to be in that particular place for such a time as this. As difficult as it was for me to get through the funeral, I was so honored to be a part of celebrating the life that he lived. In my weakness, God empowered me and gave me the strength to continue. I am so thankful that He poured His grace out upon me during that time, as well as to everyone else involved. I was amazed to see how so many people played important roles in taking care of necessary tasks related to this tragedy. It encouraged me to see the support and love of our church as they embraced the people of NorthPointe in their time of need.
So where do we go from here? Our emotions are frazzled by the events at NorthPointe and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. God spoke to my heart this morning in 1 Cor. 15. This chapter is rich with encouragement and we are reminded by Paul to focus on the ultimate victory that is ours through Christ Jesus. Because of that truth, he further admonishes us to let nothing move us and to give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord because our labor is not in vain. I have to believe that when God gives an instruction through His Word, that He will empower us to follow through with action. As our pastor said this past Sunday we are to keep believing, and keep moving forward. We have been chosen, redeemed and equipped for such a time as this. May we all join together to minister to each other in this time of need and uncertainty.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Power of Questions

This morning our neighborhood is blanketed with snow. It is a dazzling sight to see the sparkling crystals join together to make such a beautiful winter scene. What I love about a fresh snowfall is the absolute peace and quiet that follows it. It is as if God made a statement and all of creation is speechless because of His awesome display of beauty.
This morning, our daily Bible reading was in Isaiah 40. In this passage Isaiah asks a series of questions regarding the nature of God: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the LORD or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?” (Isa. 40:12-14) For some reason, the questions actually cause me to think more intently about the nature of God. There is power contained in the questions because we must ponder the answer to those questions.
Isaiah 40 isn’t the only place in Scripture where questions are asked about God’s unwavering character and majesty. Psalm 89 echoes the same thoughts: “The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty O LORD and your faithfulness surrounds you.” (Ps. 89:5-8) The Psalmist answers his own questions with resounding truth about the eternal nature of God.
In the book of Job, God himself asked a series of questions concerning his own might and power as Job was wrestling with the unfortunate events of his life. God’s questions continued for three entire chapters. Job’s response to God’s questioning was: “You said, ‘Listen now and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:4-5) Job fell to his knees in repentance and obedience after God’s elaborate questioning. When Job sought the answer to God’s questions, he had to come face to face with the fact that God was God and there was no other like him. No one else could take the place of God.
As God questions us, may we be like Job who said, “I know you can do all things; and no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…” (Job 42:3)
Our God is the great King over all of the earth; the Majestic Ruler who is unending in knowledge and wisdom. The snow this morning is a reminder to me of this fact.
“How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!” (Psalm 47:2)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

I love the book of Ephesians. It is rich with so many Biblical treasures and affirmations and it is a book I could spend an entire year studying. I have enjoyed reading through this powerful book in our daily Bible readings. What I love most about the book of Ephesians is how the Lord demonstrates His pursuit of His people. He is divinely active and relentless to establish intimate relationships with the people He so dearly loves.
Over and over again in Ephesians we see the active work of God: He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, He has adopted us as his own, He has made known to us the mystery of His will, He has chosen us for the praise of His glory, He has called us into the riches of His glorious inheritance, He has made us alive in Christ and has offered eternal redemption, and He has lavished his grace upon us. Ephesians 2:13 tells us, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Praise God for His unending pursuit of those of us who were once dead in our trespasses and sins. He has made us alive by His love, grace and power. What an amazing mystery and miracle!
Right now I am reading a book called From Jihad to Jesus by Jerry Rassamni. It is about an ex-militant Muslim who fought Christians during the Lebanese Civil War. In his attempt to refute the Bible as a Muslim, the Lord captured his heart and he eventually turned from Islam and became a faithful follower of Christ. While describing his search for the truth, Jerry exposed the pagan roots of the Muslim god and the feet of clay of its founder. Through reading the Bible, Jerry discovered that God Almighty is a God of love, mercy and grace. These are concepts that are not taught in Islam. They are taught to live and die by the sword and to pursue vengeance for all who do not believe as they do. Although the Islam holy book, the Qur’an contains certain stories and passages from the Bible, it leaves out the instrument of redemption that the God of the Bible requires. This is what Jerry Rassamni describes as the Great Divide between the Bible and the Qur’an. Through Jerry’s study of the Bible, he was convicted of sin and was led into a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am so thankful for the power of the gospel. The Word of God is alive and active and it can deliver a prisoner of darkness to into God’s marvelous light and freedom. Reading Jerry’s book has given me much cause for thanksgiving that I serve a risen and active Lord who is full of mercy and grace.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ…” (Eph. 1:8-9)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Songs of Victory

Every time “The Patriot” comes on T.V., my husband watches it. He never gets tired of watching Mel Gibson wave the American flag in victory over the British in those final days of war. He went out in front of all of his men into battle and led them to victory. I love what 1 Chronicles 14:16 says about the Lord: “God has gone out in front of you in battle.” Our Lord Almighty is a chief warrior who goes before us and fights for us in all of our spiritual battles. As we all know, the Bible is a book about war and victory; good versus evil, love versus hate, life versus death and our ultimate destiny in the eternal realm of glory. Our great victory over the enemy comes through the Lord Jesus Christ, but there will be many wars and battles until the great Day of the Lord.
As we turn the pages of our Bibles from 1 Chronicles to Revelation, we find another reference to war in chapter twelve. Revelation 12:7-9 says: “…and there was a war in heaven…the great dragon was hurled down…Now have come salvation and the power and the kingdom of God.” The great dragon was not only defeated, but he was “hurled”! I picture the Lord taking the dragon by his tail, twirling him above his head, and hurling him at great speed until he crashes to the ground. Halleuiah! In Revelation 11, the twenty-four elders who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.’” In Revelation 12:10 a loud voice in heaven proclaimed these words: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God!”
It is these truths that have created the inspiration for so many great songs of victory that we sing. Those of us who worship the Lord God Almighty, who have been bought by the Blood of the Lamb and who have declared our testimony of his salvation, can sing the songs of the redeemed. Here are just a few phrases from our songs of victory that we sing on a regular basis: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits upon the throne…” “We’re singing glory, glory, halleluiah, he reigns!” “Behold he comes riding on the clouds, shining like the sun at the trumpet call, lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee and out of Zion’s hill salvation comes!” “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” “There is a Fountain, who is the King, Victorious Warrior and Lord of everything; my Rock, my Shelter, my very own, Blessed Redeemer who reigns upon the throne!” “Sing to the King who is coming to reign, glory to Jesus the Lamb that was slain; life and salvation his empire shall bring, and joy to the nations when Jesus is King. Come, let us sing a song, a song declaring that we belong to Jesus…lift up a song of praise, come now with voices raised to Jesus, sing to the King!” Let us celebrate our victory in Him, the One who goes before us in battle! Let us sing the songs of the redeemed!


Wisdom is one of the most valuable things we can possess, yet we can’t purchase it with a credit card or a personal check. James 1:5-6 tells us that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God for it and he will generously give it to us, if we truly believe that he will give it to us. Wisdom is obviously something that God wants us to possess because it protects us. I think about my own children and how I long for them to make good decisions so that they will bear the fruit of those good decisions. My children are at crucial ages in which the decisions they make could affect them for the rest of their lives. Our Heavenly Father looks out for us in the same way, but with even more love and compassion than we have for our earthly children.
I love reading the words of Solomon. At one time in his life he could have asked God for anything—riches, wealth, fame, etc. However, he chose to ask God for wisdom. God was so pleased with his request that he granted Solomon undeniable wisdom that we still read about today. As I have read through the book of Proverbs, I have been reminded of all of the benefits of wisdom. Here are just a few of the things that make wisdom so valuable:

• We will gain knowledge and a fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7
• We will gain understanding (Prov. 2:6)
• Discretion will protect us (Prov. 2:11)
• Wisdom will save us from wicked men (Prov. 2:12)
• Our paths will be made straight (Prov. 3:6)
• It will bring health to our bodies and nourishment to our bones (Prov. 3:8)
• We will be blessed (Prov. 3:13)
• We will walk in peace (Prov. 3:17)
• We will go on in safety (Prov. 3:23)
• Our sleep will be sweet (Prov. 3:24)
• We will not fear sudden disaster and ruin
Solomon refers to wisdom in “female” form in Proverbs 4. He restates the value of wisdom in this chapter. In his words to his son, he says: “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor…When you walk your steps will not be hampered; when you run you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction; do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. ..My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, and keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life…” (Prov. 4: 10-23)
Oh Lord, give us wisdom so that we may enjoy the benefits that it brings. Thank you for generously giving wisdom to us when we ask for it. You are infinitely wise and your resources are available to us! We praise you for wisdom and the quality of life that it brings. Help us to trust in you with all of our hearts; to not lean on our own understanding; to acknowledge you in all our ways so that you will make our paths straight!
“For the LORD gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6)