Archive for March, 2011

Bless God!

Blessed be the LORD forever. Amen and amen. Psalm 89:52 NRSV

What an amazing statement! The psalmist praises God after a long list of complaints and tough questions. Nothing was the way he thought it should be.MP900443595[1] The throne of David’s line was overturned. The crown was defiled. The walls of the city were in ruins. The army was defeated. The enemy taunted and insulted the people of God. Worse yet, it looked like God was ready to walk away from those called to be God’s own.

Surprisingly, as the psalmist nears the end of his prayer, he pleads one last time for God’s help. Then he utters these words of praise, “Blessed be the LORD forever.” That tells me praise is possible in every circumstance!

It is always right to give our thanks and praise!

If that’s true, then praising God is not what we do when everything is going our way. It’s something we can do in times of want and need. It’s something we can do when challenges overwhelm us, and even when everything comes crashing down.

MP900430564[1] No matter what the circumstance, we are to do what the psalmist did. We are to fall on our knees, bring our questions, our complaints, our petitions and our pleas to the throne of God.

But that’s only the beginning. Psalm 89 didn’t end with a desperate cry. It ended with a proclamation of praise. The psalmist affirmed his faith in God.

This was not a fair weather follower of God. This was a man who lived by faith, not by sight. This was a man who clung tenaciously to his God. He blessed the Lord, not because everything was going right, but because he believed in God. More importantly, he continued believing in God, even in the depths of despair. So he prayed, he petitioned, and then he gave God praise!

Cling tenaciously to God, and give God praise!

The question is, will we walk by faith or by sight? We would do well to follow the psalmist’s example and praise God, even in the midst of the storm. Jesus taught that too. When his disciples asked him how to pray, he began by hallowing and honoring the name of God. He didn’t even wait until the end of the prayer!MP900442982[1]

Acknowledging who God is, and honoring our Lord in our hearts is key. Let’s never forget to give God the praise and honor God is due in every circumstance!

Blessed be the Lord our God!

Prayer:

Great God, you are great, and greatly to be praised. Yours ways are right, and your love is steadfast. Help me to live by faith, not by sight, and to always give you the praise you are due!

Amen.

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Remembering God’s Blessings

MP900409495[1] Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Johnson Oatman Jr. wrote those words. He was probably hoping that even in the most difficult times and darkest hours we would look to God, and find strength in remembering all that God has done.

I think he is right, at least in theory. The problem is that remembering our blessings and then counting them is easier said than done. One thing psychologists have discovered about memory is that we we not only remember what happened to us, but also how we felt at that moment. So when we want to recall an event, we will be more successful if we are feeling like we did when that event first happened.MP900386362[1]

That tells me I will have the best chance of remembering God’s blessings, if I feel  like I did when I was being blessed. I usually feel happy when blessed. So I will be most likely to remember God’s blessings when I’m happy.

But the songwriter is telling us that it’s when we are most burdened and beaten down that we need to turn our attention to God. But that’s when we will be least likely to recall those blessed times. So what are we supposed to do?

Maybe redirecting our attention would be a good place to start. Instead of feeding our anxiety and focusing only on the problems pressing in on us, we could nurture more positive and hopeful emotions. That might mean turning to Scripture for some inspiration, or just looking around at the wonder of God’s creation.

Even simple things like that can break the cycle of worry, and begin to carve out some room for joy. Once we open the door to a little bit of happiness, then all the memories related to our happiness can come flooding back in! At that point we will be ready to count our blessings, and praise God from whom all blessings flow!

MP900386297[1] Next time you are burdened, don’t forget to count your blessings. But before you do, put yourself in a state where you can begin to remember those blessings, and experience joy. Then you will surely remember them one by one!

Let Your Light Shine!

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15 NRSV

MP900178051[1] One of the songs children first learn in Sunday School is This Little Light of Mine. They often sing it with delight, as they raise their fingers up to let their lights shine!

Letting our lights shine is not for children only. Jesus wants us all to do it. In fact, he said it was the only thing that makes sense for his followers. No one lights a lamp and hides it. Light is there to shine!

Today I encourage you to take a moment and enjoy this new version of This Little Light of Mine. As you listen and watch, imagine yourself lighting your light for Jesus Christ!

Click here for today’s music and video.

God’s Letter to You

MP900449071[1] Some people describe the Bible as a love letter from God. There is so much packed in the pages from Genesis to Exodus, it’s hard to imagine the Bible as a simple letter. I think it might be more accurate to call the Scriptures God’s Love Encyclopedia!

But if we were to take just one small part of this encyclopedia, and put it into letter form, what might it look like?

Today I want to take Psalm 9:9, and share what I think God might say in a letter to those who love and trust him.

Letters Heaven Ps 9 copy

Light Giver

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NRSV

If you want to know who I am, don’t look at what I do or what I have. Look at what’s inside of me. Most of what I do is soon forgotten. Most of what I’ve got deteriorates and falls out of fashion.

It’s only what’s inside of me that lasts. It’s only what’s inside of me that really matters. Jesus lives in me. The light that Jesus gives me pushes the darkness away, and fills me with life.

That light is the same light that Jesus puts in all who follow him! So follow him, and fill your life with light!

Light