Psalm 139, 2021

You know me well, LORD.

You know where I am and what I’m thinking about.  You know where I go and when I stay – you know all of my habits.   Before any words come out of my mouth, you know what I’m going to say.  You walk close beside me, with your hand guiding me.

I will never totally understand you – you are too awesome!

I know I am never alone – you are always with me.  Where ever I go – you are already there.  My life is in your hands.  You are constantly guiding me, protecting me and loving me.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I feel alone and everything seems very dark.  But you are there –

you are always there.

Darkness is not dark to you.  Your light shines through.

I know you created me, dear Father.  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you for how unbelievably wonderful you are!

You create masterpieces!  I know – because I am one of them.  You knew me before anyone else.  You saw me.  You formed me.  And you made plans for my life before I was even born.

Your plans are precious to me, God.  Please show me the path you have designed just for me.

I want to spend all my days with you, Abba Father.

(This picture is my grandson- Jackson.  We got to meet him last year on August 1st.)

Psalm 1, 2021

I know the joy of not following the advice of unbelievers,

refusing to spend a lot of time with those who do not honor God,

and avoiding groups of people who have no respect for God.

I delight in God’s Word.  When I am focused on my relationship with God, I am like a tree planted along the riverbank, fed each day, all day by the Living Water.  Jesus grows fruit in my life as he gives me love and wisdom and strength.

This is not true of those who rebel against God.  Their lives are scattered by the wind – they will be judged and condemned by God.  Unfortunately, when nonbelievers leave this earth they will be forever separated from the One they refuse to believe in.

Each day, God watches over all of his children with love and grace, but the path of those who don’t have faith in Jesus leads to destruction.

Amen, Abba Father.

Psalm 121, 2021

When I need help, the only place I need to look is to my God, the Creator of Everything.  He does not let me stumble.   God watches over me all day and all night – he never sleeps.

How great is the LORD who stands by me all day and all night!

I know that God takes care of me – day and night –

as I come and go –

both now and forever!

Thank you, Abba Father!

Psalm 86, 2021

Let’s join with King David in his prayer:

Hear me, LORD, and answer me, I need you.  I am a faithful servant who trusts you – save me.

You are my God, have mercy on me as I call out to you all day long.  I trust you, God.  Please give me joy.

You are so good.  When I walk close with you, your love and forgiveness overwhelm me.  There is no other god like you.  Everything you have created joins together to worship you.  You are great and marvelous.  You alone are God.

I want to learn all about you, LORD, so I can build my life on your truth.  Give me an undivided heart which is focused on loving and honoring you.

I will praise you, God, with all my heart forever.

Each day I feel your great love for me.  Keep me safe.

I am surrounded by arrogant and confused people who don’t believe in you, God.  But I know you are a compassionate and gracious God, overflowing with love and faithfulness.

Open my eyes to what you doing, God.  Have mercy on me just as you have given mercy to those who have gone before me.  Show me your goodness, LORD, so that others around me will see what a great God you are.

Thank you for your help and comfort, LORD.

Amen.

Enough

How much is enough?

I think it’s a matter of perspective.  I know people who don’t own very many ‘things’ and have limited resources who are happy.  I know people with a lot of money and ‘stuff’ who are not happy.

What makes the difference?

The story of the widow who feeds Elijah what she thinks is her last loaf of bread illustrates for me what makes the difference.  Elijah was hungry and asked the widow if she could give him some bread and she answered, I have ‘only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug.”

Only.  A little.

Elijah then teaches her a lesson that changes her life – “the Lord, God of Israel, says:’The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.”

After that, the woman had food every day for herself, Elijah and her family.

God provided for her and he provides for you and me.  If it feels like we don’t have enough, the problem could be that we’re using words like ‘only’ and ‘a little’ when we think about God’s provision for us.

By putting my faith in God, I am plugging into the power of the Creator of the Universe.  Nothing is impossible with God.  When God moves in my life, sometimes he changes my circumstances and sometimes he changes my perspective.

Jesus is the Bread of Life.  Ever since I accepted the free gift of grace he offered me, he has been feeding my soul with love and truth and peace.

Every day he feeds me.  And it is enough.

Thank you, Jesus.

How Do I Know?

Timing is everything.  Many of us have heard this said several times.

If you’ve been on this earth as many revolutions as I have, you know just how true this saying is.  A great idea becomes a very bad idea if its not the right time.  Saying something that is true at the wrong time can create a lot of bad feelings and regrets.

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, knew all about the importance of timing.  He wrote about it in Ecclesiastes – “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

How do I know the right time?

Some of the activities he lists are easy to figure out – “a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Others are not as easy – “a time to search and a time to give up”.  How can I be sure it’s time to give up?  With my personality, I have no trouble persevering, the question is when to give up.

“A time to keep and a time to throw away”.  Some people never think it’s time to throw away.  I am a semi-minimalist so I like to give away things I’m not using.

“A time to be silent and a time to speak”.  I wish I got the timing right on this one more often.

As I read King Solomon’s list, I realize how much wisdom I need if I’m going to get the timing right for many of these ‘activities under heaven’.  And I’m thankful that I know where to get that wisdom.  God clearly tells us in the first chapter of James that he generously gives wisdom to everyone who asks for it.

I know where to go to get the answers for some of these very tough questions about timing.  I have learned to ask God to move when it’s the right time.  And then I watch and wait and do what I already know to do until God shows me that now is the time – his time.

Thank you, Abba Father

Too Easy

It’s just too easy to wander away from God.

I know because I wandered away for several years when I was a young adult.    I moved away from home and gradually filled my calendar with activities I knew were not the best for me.  The people I met while doing these activities weren’t interested in a relationship with God so we never talked about him.  My whole lifestyle changed to ‘looking for love (and fun) in all the wrong places.”

It was easy.

Several years later, I woke up (with a lot of nudging from the Holy Spirit) and realized I was not where I wanted to be.  Don’t get me wrong – I had worked hard and gotten everything I thought I wanted – everything I thought would make me happy.

But I wasn’t happy.  I was empty.  I had a huge hole in my life.  I needed a meaningful purpose for getting up every morning beyond feeding the kids, paying the bills and getting my ‘to-do’ lists done.

It took me awhile to figure out that the aching hole in my life was where God was supposed to be.  I’m sure the Holy Spirit had to work very hard on me to get me to see that.  My relationship with God at this point had melted into nonexistence.

I realized I missed God.  I missed my spiritual family.

I’m extremely grateful that the Holy Spirit helped me identify my real need and desire so I could get back on track.  My relationship with God has given me all the purpose and joy and success that I was looking for.

I’ve seen many Christians wander away –

  • their Bible starts gathering dust on a shelf.
  • social activities on Saturday nights make sleeping in on Sunday mornings more important than worshiping God with their spiritual families.
  • their week becomes too busy with other things so they drop out of small group Bible studies, leaving their Christian friends behind.

I am reminded that this can happen to anyone when I read about the end of King Solomon’s life.  He was the wisest man who ever lived and yet his pagan wives influenced him to such a degree that he turned his heart away from the One True God and started worshipping idols.  Unbelievable!

God had even told Solomon when he was younger not to marry foreign wives because this would happen.

Solomon was warned and he still wandered.

I feel like God is warning me today through his Word.   I must be diligent about keeping my priorities straight.  When attitudes and activities start to draw me away from God, I need to adjust my focus.

I wandered away once.  I’m determined not to do it again.

Please keep me close to your side, Abba Father.

 

Soaking in Wisdom

Solomon gave us an enormous amount of wisdom in Proverbs but it’s in such small, short statements that I find it hard to make sure I’m absorbing it – not just reading it and moving on.  I want God’s Word to soak into my life – changing and transforming me.

One of the many things I like about the Chronological Daily Bible I read through every year is the proverbs are grouped by subject matter.  This helps me slow down and consider the overall message God is giving me.

For example, many proverbs give me wisdom concerning temperament and patience.  As I read them and think about them, I see these comparisons:

The fool – 

*gets annoyed quickly.

*shows their insecurities through their quick temper.

*jumps in on mean and evil schemes.

*stirs up conflict and commits many sins.

*wants to control other people.

*hasn’t learned their lesson so don’t rescue them.  You’ll just have to rescue them again.

The wise –

*respects and honors God, avoiding thoughts and actions that aren’t consistent with God’s Word.

*does not encourage conflict, calms a quarrel.

*has self control.

*does not make friends with hot-tempered people.

*does not associate with those who are easily angered.

Please help me be wise and patient, Abba Father.

Living Right

I’ve reading through Proverbs right now on my journey through the Bible this year.  There is such a wealth of knowledge and great direction in this book, it is impossible to actually take it all in.  I figure I’ll do it one bite at a time each year by thinking about and meditating on one of the main ideas that Solomon talks about in Proverbs.

This year God stopped me on the section in Proverbs about righteousness.

Righteousness is an old-fashioned term that doesn’t seem to relate to my world today……until I realize it’s just ‘living right’.  Doing the right things.  Making the right decisions.  Saying the right things.

How do I know what is right?  God’s Word is right.  It’s the truth.  God himself speaks to me through the Bible, explaining it and helping me apply it to my life.  The Holy Spirit convicts me when my thinking gets off and my actions don’t reflect what I believe.

I’m so glad I have the role-model of Jesus.  I don’t have to try to look around the world and find someone I want to imitate in order to ‘live right’.  I have Jesus.  This truth has often helped me move passed major disappointments with people – especially people in the church.  I used to expect people in the church to be a lot more ‘righteous’ than others until I realized that we’re all just people, struggling with our weaknesses.  As believers, God is gradually redeeming our lives but he still has a lot of work to do.

So watching people- especially people who say they are Christians – I got confused and disillusioned.  Then I looked to Jesus.  Focused on him.  And the issues about imperfect Christians went away.

Jesus gave imperfect Christians grace and love and spoke truth at the right time into their lives.  I’m so glad because I am imperfect and this is how he treats me.

Jesus did it – it’s the right thing to do.

Thank you, Abba Father.

My Greatest Treasure

My greatest treasure is not money,

or fame,

or any of my ‘stuff’.

My  greatest treasure is wisdom.  Wisdom – so I can navigate successfully through all of the valleys and hills and curves and blind curves of my life.  I’ve been memorizing wisdom scripture this last 5 years.  I have a bad memory so it is really God who is etching his Word on my heart – I just faithfully get out my memory cards every day.  I found out why God commands me to memorize his truth 4 years ago when tragedy blew my life apart.  God used the words he carved into my brain to keep my soul from crumbling into a million painful pieces when my son was killed.

James tells us in his first chapter that God gives us generous amounts of wisdom when we ask for it.  I’ve been asking, I need it and I’m not going stop.

We read in 1 King 10 that the historically famous Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon.  She had heard about King Solomon’s extreme wealth but she was not interested in that — she was crazy rich herself.  She was not interested in his palaces or any of his numerous possessions.

The Queen of Sheba came to test Solomon’s wisdom.  That’s what motivated her to take a very dangerous 1200 mile trip on camels through a desert filled with thieves and criminals.

When the Queen of Sheba asked Solomon all of her many questions, he had an answer for everything.  She was surprised.  She didn’t think any man could have that kind of wisdom.

Before she left, she talked about how happy Solomon’s people must have been to be in his presence and hear his wisdom every day.

I can’t help thinking – is anyone who hangs out with you and me happy about all the wisdom they hear from us every day?

All wisdom comes from God and he generously gives it to us when we ask.  It is our greatest treasure.

Thank you,  Abba Father.