Day 6, Psalm 6

The picture I found for today’s psalm, makes me pause.  To me it says, “through my pain, I reach to you, in hopes you will hear me.”  I have felt just this way a few times in my life.  For some reason, it’s hardest for me to reach out when I am experiencing deep pain.  For me, it feels like I have so much on the line, I don’t want to risk being let down.  Often one of my close friends will encourage me and pray with me, like this picture so gently shows. 

Over time, just as this psalmist experienced, we learn that God will hear our prayers, and He will accept our prayers, just as they are. He will be faithful to take great care with your request. If you don’t experience an immediate answer, you will be able to look back one day and see how He helped you through this time in your life’s journey. He is known for his lovingkindness and faithfulness.

See you tomorrow for Psalm 7

Day 5, Psalm 5

Yesterday, in psalm 4, we closed our day by resting in the assurance that our Lord would protect us.  Today, in psalm 5 we begin our day with thoughts of our Lord and send him our requests.  Then, we wait in anticipation for His reply.  I think it’s much easier to talk to the Lord than to wait for, and hear His reply.   

Hearing the Lord takes practice and patience. He isn’t limited to the English language and can talk to us in so many creative and surprising ways.  Tuning in to His frequency and staying aware of His presence in our lives is a life-long adventure. He may talk to us through the circumstances in our lives, through music, through a friend’s counsel, through scripture, through nature, His communication methods are unlimited and deeply personal. 

We want to hear from you Lord, we are listening.

See you tomorrow for Psalm 6

Day 4, Psalm 4

This psalm was written with confidence in God’s character.  David knew God would help him because God had helped him so many times in the past.  This confidence gave David the kind of assurance in God that allowed him to fall fast asleep even though his enemies continued to pursue him.

I have had seasons in my life where I battled with restful sleep.  When I was a single mom I had a hard time shutting my mind down at the end of the day.  There was always something that was left undone, kids to care for, schedules to remember, strange noises to wonder about and an aching loneliness to contend with.  Reading the bible at night always helped me, and sometimes, it would put me right to sleep.  I would be so grateful in the morning, when I woke rested and saw my bible laying beside me.  I could lie down and sleep soundly, knowing the Lord would keep me safe.

See you tomorrow for Psalm 5

Day 3, Psalm 3

This psalm is both a reflection and projection of God’s faithfulness, strength and availability.  David looks back with gratitude and forward with confidence as he is again faced with an enemy that pursues him. 

My current struggle is not with a person, but, with my visual ability.  Having lost my central vision five years ago, I’ve had to learn to see by using my full visual field.  With Jesus at my side, encouraging me, I have slowly expanded my ability and capacity to do the things I enjoy the most.  When I stand in an unfamiliar and intimidating place, like an outdoor event full of people, or have to navigate a grocery store that was just redesigned, I know that somehow, Jesus is going to help me succeed.  He truly has restored my courage by being present (and helpful) in my daily life.  How has he helped you?

See you tomorrow for Psalm 4

Day 2, Psalm 2

I felt an echo when I read through Psalm 2.  It speaks of the ever-present conflict between the world and The Kingdom of God.  Our present-day strife fits snuggly into the first verses and the victory that Christ has and will have is confidently proclaimed. The tone of this verse makes me think of Jesus’s words in John 16:33; “Hear on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world”.   

Things are not worse than they’ve ever been, it’s more like, “here we go again”.

The last verse, as translated in The Message gives me great hope and assurance.  “If you make a run for God, you won’t regret it”.  This kind of run is the kind you do on your knees.  In a humble and surrendered way.   We say, “Jesus, please help”….and He helps.

See you tomorrow for Psalm 3.

Day 1, Psalm 1

150 Days Walking Through the Psalms

There are 150 days left before the end of the year and 150 Psalms in the bible.  I felt a nudge, challenging me to read through the Psalms, one per day, looking for God’s wisdom that I can apply to my life.

Day 1, Psalm 1

This psalm is timeless in its description of living in a world where we are surrounded by people who think differently and have different values than our own.  Sounds like my entire life experience.  Who’s advice should I follow?  A friend, a classmate, a teacher, a co-worker, a neighbor, an author, a podcaster, a blogger – (for that matter)?  Taking someone else’s advice has worked out for me at times but more often the advice I followed was like wearing a shoe that didn’t quite fit.  It did not solve my problem and caused more problems.

The hope in this psalm is that for those who love the Word of God and meditate on His Word day and night – they will be like a tree planted by a stream of water.  Producing fruit and succeeding in all that they do.  What a great psalm to kick off my 150-day blog journey.  See you tomorrow for Psalm 2.

Over-flowing

When my grandson comes back from a trip to the park with grandpa he is so excited to tell me everything they did and saw. He speaks loud, his sentences are broken, his hands move, his face is smiling. He can’t get the words out of his mouth fast enough. I’m not a;ways sure exactly what happened, but I know it was fun.

The same is true when you witness God’s goodness. You may not be able to find the words to describe what you’ve seen or what you’ve felt. To see and to feel the mighty presence of God is awe-invoking, stunning, humbling, exhilarating.

Last night, I stood outside in the dark and sang the Doxology, sending my words of worship into the night sky. Suddenly a breeze went through my backyard, the leaves dancing above me. Sensing God’s presence I said, “it would be super cool, God, if you hit my cheek with a raindrop.” It hasn’t rained here for over a week, so, I’m not even sure why I asked for this? Moments later a raindrop hit my cheek. I let out a joyful cheer. “How fun are you God!” My heart was filled happiness and it’s hard to describe.

My love for God overflows…..

Sweet asHoney

What is the right thing to do? What guidelines will I use to sort this problem out?

• What would my parents or grandparents do?

• What would my best friend do?

• What would my most-wise friend do?

• What would Jesus do?

• What does the bible say?

All of these guidelines require a relationship. A relationship with time spent. In some of these examples, we can simply make a phone call or think back to the example that these people set for us.

What about Jesus, how do we really know what he would do? Do we spend the kind of time with him that we have spent with our family or with our best friend?

Working on this relationship will give you access to wisdom that will far exceed your own. Reliable, steady and unchanging. Sweet as honey.

Unfailing Love

On any given day, we know people in our circles that are experiencing answers to prayer and those who are hurting and waiting for God to respond.

In each situation we can rest in the knowledge that we are covered in God’s unfailing love. He will not fail us. If you are waiting, trust in this promise. He is with you. #

Catching Rainbows

Catching rainbows this morning and hearing Jesus say to us: “ I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” Matt 8:20

Invitation

“Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” Exodus 19:5

God calls out to the Israelites. He invites them into an intimate relationship. Setting them apart from all others as His special treasure. They will hold this position in His heart if they obey Him and keep his covenant.

They answer back, “Yes! All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

The story that unfolds after their declaration includes every possible human example of making a promise and trying to keep it. Some will remain devoted, many will struggle with their commitment, some will wander, some will stray and some will rebel in great defiance.

If you, like me, have ever intentionally worked on “keeping your word”, you know what this struggle is like. You’ve agreed to do something for a friend. When the day comes for you to do your part, you may not feel up to it. Maybe the weather is unpleasant, maybe you have received another offer that is better. Decision time. Do you break your commitment or do you do that thing you said you would do – and keep your word? These decision point moments in our journeys create our character and build our relationships with others.

My 58 year old track record includes all possible outcomes. Keeping my commitments, struggling with my commitments and breaking my commitments.

Thankfully, in our relationship with God, He is faithful to His word. He continues to call out to us and has also made a provision of grace that covers us when we fail.

“You will be my treasure,” says God, “when you obey me.”

On Eagle’s Wings

Moses left the camp at the foot of Mount Sinai, and climbed up into the mountain to talk to God. This was a familiar landscape for Moses. I imagine he headed towards the location of the burning bush, where he first met God. The holy ground where his life changed forever. The place where God assigned him the mission to go back to Egypt and bring the Israelites out of slavery and back to this mountain.

At some point in Moses’s journey up the mountain, God calls out to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel:

“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.” Exodus 19:4

God begins his message with a strong statement of what he has just done for the Israelites. He describes it as having bore them up on Eagle’s wings to bring them back to Himself. He doesn’t mention the tactics and miracles he performed; the 10 plagues, the Passover, or the parting of the Red Sea. Instead, he gets to the heart of the matter. He describes the intention of his actions. He gathered them up and brought them home to Himself.

You are here with me, says God, because I carried you here.

As I write this, I wonder if Jesus will say something similar to each of us.

I bore you up on eagle’s wings and carried you home to me.

Set the Stage

When my husband asks me how my day was, I get right to the point and give him my update in a bullet-point fashion.  Just the bare facts and the meat of the matter.

Sometimes he stops me mid-bullet and asks me to go back to the beginning and add more context, to set the stage and tell a better story.  What happened before the bullet list?  Who else was there?   What lead up to the moment?  What happened after? How were you feeling?  What did you see?  He wants a more colorful painting of my day.  I sigh and try to get my mind to slow down.  

I’m at the beginning of my next blogging topic. I noticed that Icame at it in high gear, rushing to the bullet points. My mind, like a laser, reaching for the heart of the matter.  To challenge myself, I pushed pause and rewound the tape.  Let’s start this journey back a few steps and set the stage.  

Early in February, I began thinking about the TenCommandments and wondered what it would be like to study them for the balance of the year.  Is there enough content?  What do I know about them?  What am I curious about?  I began reading and re-reading the story, slowing down to appreciate the stage that was so beautifully set by God and Moses as God calls Moses into their next adventure.

On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt – on that very day – they came to the desert of Sinai.(Ex 19:1 NIV). They set up a new campsite at the foot of Mount Sinai.

It’s been a while since I’ve been camping and even longer since I was two months and one day into a new journey.  A journey where every day felt awkward, exciting, frightening, steeped in uncertainty.  I do remember the times where my life journey took an unexpected turn and I was faced with uncertainty, I remember exactly how I felt.  I was jumpy, nervous, uneasy and waiting to be surprised.  I longed for control, for my comfort zone, for a day I could manage my surroundings and predicthow the day would unfold.  I’m guessing some of the Israelites felt this same way.

As they looked up at Mount Sinai, I am sure it was a new type of scenery for most of them.  The intimidation of a mountain, majestic and unmovable.  I remember feeling powerless when I stood at the base of the Cheyenne Mountain.  I stared at it for a long time, sensing its weight and unmovable girth.  It felt like a force to be reckoned with. 

On the first day of their third month of freedom, I imagine the Israelites were steeped in uncertainty, a little edgy and also excited.  They were taking in their new scenery with heightened senses.  They were probably hearing every cricket, every howl, every new bird song as they settled in to their tent on that first night. 

The stage is set….

Let me Sow Peace

In this well-known prayer, Saint Francis models for us a posture we can chose when faced with uncertainty. He begins by humbling himself, inviting Jesus to work through him. Submitting his own will to God’s will.

I wonder, how would Jesus use my life today, if I submitted myself to him? How could he reach out, through me, to bring peace. How could he sow love, with my hands, with my words, with my heart, if I simply moved my will out of his way? His will has to be better than all the thoughts I am wrestling with right now.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. In my small territory on this grand planet. In my sphere in these United States of America. Bring your peace through me. Please sow your love. Amen.

There is Joy

My smart phone recently created a slideshow for me using my photos from the last several months. I usually ignore these automated gestures, but this time I watched it. I was surprised at the joy I felt as a collage of smiles from family and friends popped up. Memories of laughter and the beauty of nature, all of these moments captured during this time of great trials in our life’s journey.

It made me stop. Gratitude filled my heart.

I wonder, with great anticipation, what my spiritual photo collage will look like, when I look back to see where Jesus was as He walked with me, and with you, during this time of great trials. I think we’ll see powerful images of his faithfulness and everlasting love for us.

Although we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will not fear, because you, Jesus, are with us. 9Psalm 23)

You were born for such a time as this.

I have a friend who would always pray that we would be made uncomfortable. That God would “mess us up to rebuild us stronger.” One day, I told my friend that I had had enough of that prayer request. Instead, I’d like to pray to be comfortable, settled, easy. He smiled and said something like, “nobody grows their faith when they’re fat and happy”.

Before 2020 it seemed like individual trials came and went. There were some trials that we faced as a larger community, but nothing like today’s trials. We have been bombarded with one event after another. We seek understanding amidst chaos. We try to support one another virtually and at a distance. There are too many odd disturbances to mention, but you all know what I mean.

I am grateful that there is someone we do not have to social distance from. Someone who we can not infect and who can not infect us. Our ever present help in time of need. The one who calls us to trust in Him alone. We are hungry for truth and we are hungry for a shelter we can count on. We trust you Jesus. We wait for your help as we reach out, in creative ways, to help each-other.

Thank you for this day that you have made, we will rejoice an be glad in it.

All that we need.

Many people in my life, including me, are dealing with inner weariness. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard (or said!). “I’m all done”. Tired of navigating the confusion around us. Worried about what “might happened”. Nervous to go out and be around people. Maybe you’ve hit your saturation point as well. You are in good company.

As I have been focussing on exploring our identity in Christ, I have been looking for a remedy to my weariness. John 15:9 caught my attention and caused me to pause and ponder its’ truth.

“I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts.”

LET my love nourish your hearts.

We have all we need, when we can stop and LET Jesus nourish our hearts. He gives us what we really need, and what those around us need as well. Love.

The help we need.

To approach the throne of God requires a brave level of humility. To admit we are powerless over sin. To expose our hearts. To bow our heads. To stand still before our God.

Maybe we avoid approaching God’s throne because of how we have been treated by other people. Maybe we were judged harshly by others. Maybe we have been shamed and ridiculed by those we trusted. Why would we go to God, who is more powerful, would we receive harsher treatment?

But when we do find our way to the throne, we are welcomed by grace. We are accepted for who we are. God is not surprised. We can bravely open our hearts to Him, find forgiveness and the help we need.

I believe that the most important transactions of our lives happen here, at the throne of God. When we come as we are. We will find the help that we need. Sin will lose its power. Our broken hearts will be repaired. Our souls will be restored. He will make all things new.

Free from condemnation.

The verse, Roman 8: 1, had a powerful impact on our lives in 2015. In August of that year, our nephew, Jon, was hanging out with us for the day. He was living with the complications of heart failure, struggling to find the right blend of medication to live outside the hospital.

He attended church with us, on and off for many years and we frequently spoke together of Jesus and our Christian walk. On this day, he was expressing the desire to hear from God and wasn’t sure he was hearing anything. We talked through different ways we believe we hear from God and then we put God on the spot. We gave Jon a list of bible verses that outline our identity in Christ. We asked him to read through it to see if one verse popped out at him – as if God was highlighting it for him. He picked Romans 8:1.

My husband grabbed some bibles and together they read through Romans 8, studying the meaning of this verse. Then we prayed it over Jon. Before he left that day,, I wrote the verse on a slip of paper for him and he tucked it in his wallet.

A few weeks later, Jon was back in the hospital. During his stay, a chaplain came to visit him. During their discussion the chaplain said he felt lead to share a verse with Jon. He read Romans 8: 1. Jon smiled and said, “you’re not going to believe this”. He reached into his wallet to retrieve the verse. God was so faithful to continue to emphasize for Jon, in his final days, that he was free from condemnation, in Christ his sins were forgiven. Jon died in November.

We are comforted, through this verse, to know that Jon is with Jesus in heaven today. ❤️

Stick Together

Before entering a gathering of people, my husband often looks at me and says. “Whatever happens in there, we have a better chance of surviving if we stick together.” He loves to quote his favorite movies and I believe this quote comes from Gladiator. I often told my boys to stick together as they were leaving our house. I knew that together they were both clever enough to solve any problem they may face, but apart, they may not be as strong.

As believers we are all given the gift of the Holy Spirt by Jesus. Jesus’s sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit give us direct access to the Father. We are never again alone, never again without the full resources provided in the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit is ever present, sticking with us through thick and thin.

You are a saint.

I started working when I was 15 because I wanted to earn my own money. I was a car-hop at A&W. A change machine on one hip and a tray of frosted mugs full of root beer on the other. I can still hear the jingle sound of the change machine that rattled as i walked. I learned a lot that summer, root-beer is sticky, there is an art to using an ice cream machine, co-workers are fun people and I loved working and earning. I still do.

In Paul’s letters, he refers to Christ followers as saints. He describes a saint as somebody who is chosen by God and given undeserved grace. As an “earner”, who strives to achieve, it’s hard to fully grasp what it means to be called a saint and to be given undeserved grace. If you’re like me, most of your experiences in receiving something “undeserved” has been mainly negative and painful. Receiving a gift of such magnitude from God is humbling.

You are blessed, dear saint.

You are part of the body of Christ.

My great-grandmother, Florence, sewed several quilts, most of them by hand. All her quilts were made with scraps so there were many colors and patters to enjoy. As she assembled her squares, she would give them names; Snow on the mountain, peas and carrots. sunny skies. As kids. we would try to guess which one was which, and then we’d pick the square we’d want to be and the one we wouldn’t want to be. But, regardless of our opinion, the quilt was a complete work of art, each square adding its own charm.

When I read Paul’s analogy of being part of the body of Christ, I often think of being part of a beautiful quilt. What piece do I want to be? And stepping back to see the beauty and purpose of all the pieces together.

You are part of Christ’s body. What an honor!

You will never walk alone.

The first memory I have of feeling alone was when I was six. I went for a walk in the woods with my brother and two of our friends. As we headed home, we came to a fork in the path. I was confident that the path home was to the left. The other three thought we should go right. My stubborn self set off alone to the left.

As my companions voices began to fade, I was sure I would beat them home and I began to run. Pretty soon the familiar path became surrounded by unfamiliar trees and sounds that I was sure I had never heard before. I was too afraid to turn back and too unsure to go forward. Where am I? I was lost. I felt so alone. I sat down and cried with fear.

One of my friends came looking for me when he heard me crying, and lead me home. My hero, Todd.

When we belong to Jesus, we are made one with his spirit. He is always with us. He continually leads us towards a better life and towards our forever home with him. Never will he leave us, never will he forsake us. Our truest companion.

We will never walk alone.

Justified

Identity in Christ, Day 3. Justified

Have you ever used the phrase, “let’s start with a clean slate?” Forgetting what has previously happened, we begin again with a new outlook. I have had many “re-dos” in my life. Second chances, another try, a chance to make something better.

We can never really achieve a clean slate here on this earth. It seems that as soon as we clean something up, new problems arise, or a new mistake is made. If you’re like me, every time you decide to start a new effort to lose weight, you catch yourself slipping in a cookie, or two, thinking one slip won’t matter – only to find it happening again. Now what? Do you throw in the towel and say, “I can’t do this”? Or, do you begin again, with a clean slate? I’ve done both in my battle with self-control.

I think this is why it is sometimes hard for me to fathom the fact that we are permanently made clean when we accept Jesus as our Savior. We are washed “clean as snow”, made right in our Father’s sight, by our faith. We don’t have to try again, it’s given, it’s eternal.

How will you enjoy your clean slate today? I am enjoying mine with amazement.

A friend of Jesus

I have found friendships in a variety of places. My neighborhood, school, in groups I belonged to, at work, in low and high places, in ministry, through other friends and circumstance. Now and then you just meet someone you “click” with. My best friend in Jr High was a girl i met in my home economics class. Our teacher asked, “are there any birthdays today?” We both stood up and the class sang to us. We thought it was fun to have the same birthday and so our friendship began.

Not all friendships last, some come and go, some are for a season, some are inactive but easily rekindled after years apart, picking up where you left off, as if no time was lost.

Its so amazing to think that Jesus calls us “friend”, and that he feels a “click” with us. To know Jesus as my friend and confidant has been a beautiful journey. Healthy friendships are two way streets, where conversation, affection, respect and trust go both directions. For many years, my friendship with Jesus was a one way street. He was there, trying to talk with me, loving me, reaching out to me, waiting for me. I was busy looking elsewhere for all I needed. When I began to reciprocate and participate in the friendship Jesus offered, i found a friend who understands me, encourages me and teaches me. He knows my history and he knows my future. He will always be with me, guiding me to become the person God created me to be. He offers the same friendship to you.

Thank you Jesus for calling us into friendship with you. Today we say, hello, my friend. ❤️

Children of God

I have had several conversations lately about the kingdom of God and how it compares to the world that we know. Instead of just settling on the phrase “well, it’s completely different”, I want more specifics. My focus for the next five weeks will be a look at what the bible says about who we are in Christ. How is our identity in Christ different than our identity in the world?

We are children of God.

When I think about what it means to be a child in this world, I think about my experience as a child in the family I grew up in, as well as the experience my own children had with me. Both imperfect because we are imperfect. Its hard for most of us to think of being part of a family free of competition, criticisms, feelings of being lover-looked, misunderstood or unloved at times.

As a child of God, we are fully loved, fully accepted, nothing we do surprises our father, he will never leave us and he will never forsake us. We don’t have to compete with our siblings or wonder if we are loved. It’s a paradigm worth exploring. How can I live my life more aware of being a child of God?

Thank you Jesus for what you’ve done – so that we may be a child of God.

Amen

The greatest of these is love.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

I’m ending my love series with the powerful promise packed into verse 13. A reminder that our relationship with God begins with His love – and never ends. Love welcomes us, approves of us, and stays with us, now and forever. The perfect shelter for any storm. The ever-present comfort that never wears out.

Focussing of God’s love over the last 25 days has changed me. I tested every verse against my experience of Jesus. Where have these words been true in my life? Kind of like when you test a company’s mission statement against your experience with them. In this exercise, however, I found way more love than I was looking for. My understanding of God’s love has broadened and I have a new degree of freedom to just be me. I am loved.

Lord, thank you for your love. A love like no other. May we all continue to seek you and grow in our understanding of who you are and who we are in you. You are our good good father. Amen

Love never fails!

God’s love for us is everlasting. His love for us will never fall-apart or disappear. Human love is often imperfect, the love we receive from others, the love we give to others and the love we have for ourselves. But the love Jesus has for us is perfect. We may never fully grasp this truth, but that does not change the fact – God’s love for us will never fail. He loves you because He loves you.

Amen ❤️