Saturday, January 22, 2022

Beauty of the Psalms in the Bible

 


We are already nearing the end of January in the year 2022.  If you have not yet made reading the book of Psalms part of your devotions for year 2022, I would suggest you do that very thing.  I have read the book of Psalms several times the last years-usually following a schedule of taking a whole year to read through them.

The book of Psalms begins with a exhortation to meditate on and love God's Word.  It tells us that happy and blessed is the person who does this.  The last few Psalms and many of the Psalms in between are filled with praise for the Lord.  In between Psalm one and the last Psalm, Psalm 150, is every imaginable circumstance and situation we might experience in our walk through life.  These could include trials, difficult losses, sickness, betrayals, and confusion, but also hope, joys, purpose, peace, and God's precious promises.  The Psalms depict a whole spectrum of life experiences both difficult and joyful.  They also depict God's faithfulness through every step we take in this world.

The Psalms are meant to be prayed, recited, and even sung.  Although it is an Old Testament book of the Bible, no other book of the Bible can compare to it as a basis for daily prayer.  The New Testament explains and expands on the knowledge we have of our wonderful redemption in Jesus.  Yet the book of Psalms has a unique way of processing every possible situation we may face by the truth of God.  Having said this, some of the situations the Psalmists talk about, lament, or pray about have a historical setting.  Hence, it may be best to have a study Bible explaining the historical context, or use a good devotional on the Psalms alongside your personal reading of the Psalms.  

When we walk by faith, depend on God through difficult and joyful experiences, and use His Word as our guide; we end up praising Him.  Psalm 150:6 says, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."  This is because we see how God has blessed us in good times and has helped us grow in our character and in becoming the people He wants us to be in difficult times.  So in good times or difficult times, God deserves to be praised.  He knows what He is doing in allowing the things He allows,  and He is always faithful in what He does.

The Psalms and all of God's Word helps us to see this.  It reminds us of God's love, faithfulness, and wisdom.  Meditating on God's Word is our Anchor in time of need, and is the secret to a sweet relationship with Him.  It is like spiritual living water that nourishes and never dries up.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Fill My Cup Lord


I recently finished reading a book by Gary Smalley that is entitled Joy That Lasts.  The very first sentence of the books says, "EVERY CRISIS, no matter the magnitude, is a step toward an enriched life."  This is something that I have experienced as a family caregiver for my first husband and as a widow for over eight years.  I have also experienced that since that time as well in trials I have faced.  God can use our trials in amazing ways often to help other people and to grow our love for the Lord.   Yet it is sometimes a difficult concept to hang on to when facing yet another crisis in life.  The reality is, however, that we will all face trials in this life sometimes over and over.  

In the process of facing trials, we may feel cheated and discouraged.  These challenges can often be devastating and heartbreaking, but they according to Smalley can bring us "a step closer to the richest life possible."  The reason for that is because they draw us closer to the Lord when we run to Him for comfort and strength.  Smalley says, "Trials can be our greatest experience, for they can lead to the the source of greatest joy."  They lead us to the only One who can fill our lives with joy.

Having it all will not fill our longings.  Neither will people, places, possessions, or position.  They are all temporary at best in satisfying longings.  Though we may know this in our heads, I think our problems and disillusionment with people at times are partly because we are selfishly thinking that we can control their actions and/or that they will meet all our expectations and satisfy all our longings.  If they are insensitive at times or unfairly demand things from us; we may feel disillusioned, sad, and yes, angry and drained.  Yet, people, things, or perfect circumstances can not fill our expectations and longings.   

We need to fill our life's cup from "the well that never runs dry."  This is the Lord Jesus Himself.  We can't find joy and freedom from negative feelings in people, or in places, possessions, or position.  We can find it only in the Lord.  Only God will never fail us. 


Fill my cup, Lord.  I lift it up, Lord.  Come and fill this quench this thirsting of my soul.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPyz7fR-e6A



Monday, January 3, 2022

Things You Should Never Say to a Caregiver

  


Sometimes people can say some rather insensitive things to family caregivers.  They may be trying to be helpful to the caregiver.  Because they have never experienced the heartache of caring for a loved one who is deteriorating in health, however, these comments may not only be not helpful but also hurtful to the caregiver.  

A couple years ago I ran across an article which talks about some things one should never say to a family caregiver.  This article also detailed ways that caregivers can respond to insensitive comments of others.  So this article is helpful to both current family caregivers and the other people who love them and are concerned about them.  Click on the link below to read the article.


https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/things-not-to-say-to-a-caregiver-152083.htm?fb_action_ids=216494425185728&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=.UknrvHTgXLM.like&fbclid=IwAR1-eqsJR9

Saturday, January 1, 2022

The New Year and Eternity


Another new year has dawned upon us.  In the new year we think of hope and new things, and it is good to think this way.  God has new blessings for us this year.  Yet in this new year we will also face at least a certain amount of trials and sadness.  That is a given living in this world here on earth.  Yet for the Christian there can be joy even then, because we know the Lord walks beside us.

Eleven years ago on January 2, 2011 it was a Sunday morning.  I had arisen early to take a shower, so I would be ready for church.  I had quietly gone about my activities that morning, because I did not want to awaken my husband whom I thought was asleep.  I also was aware that I needed to keep on task, because my son would soon come and help me get my disabled husband out of bed and ready for the day.  A few minutes later my son and I discovered that my husband had passed into Eternity during the night.  Wayne had been slowly becoming more and more disabled due to his neurological disease, and I had been his caregiver for four and a half years.  Before his disease and even during his disease he was a humble loving servant of God and a wonderful husband, dad, and grandpa.  

Then four years ago and a little later in January my present husband, Bob, experienced the death of his first sweet wife, Gloria.  She too had slipped into Eternity.  Bob also had been a caregiver for her for a few years.  

And yes, elements of grief from this kind of loss always remains, although it greatly softens over time.  This is true even in the midst of welcoming new relationships.  Even a week ago when I was talking with my husband, Bob, about some of the things that I experienced caring for Wayne and when I was talking about some of the things I remembered about the last night Wayne was on the earth, I became weepy.  It is an experience one never forgets.  The secret of doing the grief experience well is to grow through those experiences and not to let them make one bitter. 

Through it all in these heartaches and in the trials which have come since that time, I have grown in my love for my Lord.  I have experienced the Lord's faithfulness in huge measures, and I have seen Him do amazing things in my life.  I have discovered that He is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us."  (Ephesians 3:20)

Yet I have also discovered that life moves so quickly. We have seen two very tragic deaths of comparatively young people in our community in the recent past.  This reminds us that life on this earth is fleeting.  I also know someone from my church who just turned 103 years old!  Yet even for her life is fleeting compared to Eternity.  

Let's remember with sweet fondness those who have gone before us.  Let's find joy in the work and relationships God has given us here on earth.  Yet let us live our lives in light of Eternity!  Our life as Christians on earth takes on significance and purpose, because we are part of something much bigger than the present.  We are part of a glorious future in Eternity where we will experience total victory.  Let's begin to walk that life of joy now on earth, as we are already prince and princesses in God's kingdom!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

God With Us


The Christmas presents are unwrapped for many of us, and the year 2021 is almost over.  Year 2020 and year 2021 certainly has had it's challenges, but there has also been huge blessings.  Now we look ahead to year 2022 with it's challenges and blessings.  

Psalm 62 talks about trusting the Lord at all times.  Psalm 62:8 says, "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."   Psalm 62 tells us that in God alone we find our rest, hope, and salvation.  He alone is our rock, refuge, and fortress which can not be shaken.  He is a strong and loving God.  

Circumstances may be difficult, and people may fail us, but God will always be with us.  We can always trust the Lord. The Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament calls Jesus, Immanuel, which means "God with us."  (Immanuel is also sometimes spelled Emmanuel.)  

God is with us because Jesus came to this earth as a baby.  He was God incarnate revealed to us.  He then lived a perfect life for us that we can't live and finally died to pay the penalty for our sins.  He rose again and is in now in heaven, but He is still present with us through the Holy Spirit.  So the book of Matthew begins with a promise that God is with us.  The Gospel of Matthew also ends with a promise that God will surely be with us "to the very end of the age."  What a precious promise! 

Let's carry that precious promise with us as we seek to live out the last days of 2021, and as God ushers in the new year, 2022.  Click on the link below and enjoy the song, "Emmanuel (Hollowed Manger Ground) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDQoIND3yrQ


Friday, December 17, 2021

Gifts

 


What kind of Christmas do you anticipate this year? Perhaps your Christmas will involve a lot of extra work for you in addition to the challenges and responsibilities of other life activities, or perhaps you are feeling isolated and ignored and all alone this Christmas in your daily burdens. Instead, however, perhaps you will experience Christmas this year as a reminder of your blessings and as a blessed respite from the drama of life's challenges.

Whatever we experience this Christmas and with every gift we receive at Christmas or at any time of year we have to open our hands to receive the gift; or the gift does not benefit us or give us any joy. The gifts we receive which are eternally precious, however, are the gifts which God wants to give us.

The Lord first offers us the gift of salvation which is what Christmas and walking with the Lord is all about. He further offers us the accompanying gifts of joy, peace, and hope. They are ours for the taking; and yes, they can coexist with the pain and heartache which often are present in life. Further, the Lord promises us a happy ending. That happy ending is eternal life. Christian reader, the heartaches that sometimes come in life are but a comma in your life story. They are not the end of your life’s story. They are not the end of your loved ones' life stories either.

We also can all receive other gifts. We can receive the gift of trust in God and letting Him control our lives. We receive this gift by resting in Him and by letting go of anything which we are holding onto too tightly or trying to control.


We further all have to let go of feelings of unforgiveness for people who have not been there for us. We further have to receive the gift of forgiveness for ourselves.  We have to bring to the Lord any true wrongs, and ask for His forgiveness. Further, we often carry around a lot of false guilt about things beyond our control. So whether false guilt or true guilt, we need to let it go. We need to give it to the Lord. Trust and letting go are great gifts to have in our lives.  Receive the gift of releasing it to the Lord.

One great gift we can give ourselves is the gift of acceptance of our situation. We often waste so much energy wishing circumstances were different, but we can rest assured that we are right where we are supposed to be in our lives. Dear Reader, your responsibilities may be emotionally overwhelming at times, but in the measure that you can accept where God has placed you now in your life you will find joy. It is a great gift you can give yourself.

Yet another wonderful gift we can give ourselves is the gift of being still in the presence of God. (Psalm 46:10) Doing this helps us grow in peace, wisdom, and insights. Finally, we can give ourselves the gift of gratitude. When we are grateful in spite of our circumstances our joy and blessings will multiply and resentments will flee.

Would not these be wonderful gifts to have in your life? These are wonderful gifts not just for Christmas but all year long!

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Hope

 




December is the month that we think of Christmas and hope.  Is your life weighed down with care and worry this Christmas season; or is it filled with hope?   Perhaps you have lost a job, or are caring for someone who has a serious illness. Perhaps you are fighting a serious illness yourself.

During the holiday season we are reminded of the birth of Jesus Christ. Over two thousand years ago before Jesus was born most of the people were living without very much hope.  Then in Luke chapter one of the Bible we read that an angel appeared to Mary and told her that she was being blessed by God's grace in becoming the mother of Jesus.  Jesus Christ was coming as the Savior of His people!

Mary's response to this was openhearted acceptance (Luke 1:38).  Not only did Mary show openhearted acceptance, but she praised the Lord.  Mary said, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant---for the Mighty One has done great things for me-holy is His name" (Luke 1:45-49).  

Mary was blessed, because she believed.  She was blessed, because God had a wonderful purpose and plan for her life.  Mary rejoiced in who God was in His character and attributes. Her heart was in love with her faithful God, and she wanted to praise Him with all her heart.  She cherished her focused vision of God and His love and care for her.  She had moved from confusion and agitation to confidence and joy.  The same can be true for us as believers today.  This gives us hope.

Yet Mary would suffer many immediate problems being the mother of Jesus.  She would experience many heartaches in her future. Because Mary now had hope, however, she was willing to accept God's will for her life with joy.  A life secure in the Lord's hope can move with confidence through life in spite of difficulties and challenges.  We can have joy in following His plan for our life in spite of difficult obstacles and trials.

Life can be very heartbreaking and challenging.  There are times when the circumstances of life can be overwhelming.  But like Mary in the Bible we too can have hope no matter what our circumstances. Dear reader, rest your heartaches with the Lord. Know that He is the source of strength and hope.  His hope is not a wishful thinking type of hope, but it is a hope based on His certain promises in the Bible. His hope is secure and will never leave you.