Meditation on Psalm 28

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Psalm 28

1To you, O LORD, I call;

I utter Your holy name with expectation and fear.

my rock, be not deaf to me,

You are the only One on whom I can stand.  PLEASE hear me.

lest, if you be silent to me,

I become like those who go down to the pit.

Our conversations -made possible through Your Son – are what set me apart from this world.

 

2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,

I cry for mercy…I beg for undeserved grace in my time of need.

when I cry to you for help,

When You are all I have…

when I lift up my hands

toward your most holy sanctuary.

When You are all I want…I surrender.

 

3Do not drag me off with the wicked,

with the workers of evil,

Those who get what they deserve,

who speak peace with their neighbors

while evil is in their hearts.

Those who speak counterfeit words to contradict the fullness of their hearts.

 

4 Give to them according to their work

and according to the evil of their deeds;

Let Your justice reign.

give to them according to the work of their hands;

render them their due reward.

Grant what they desire and deserve.

 

5Because they do not regard the works of the LORD

or the work of his hands,

They don’t acknowledge all You’ve done and all You do.  They give You no glory for creation.

They give You no thought as they go about their fleeting days.

he will tear them down and build them up no more.

Destruction is coming.

 

6Blessed be the LORD!

You are content in Your own holiness and pleased to offer grace.  Worthy of Praise!

For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

You promised You would never leave me!  You promised to answer when I call!

 

7The LORD is my strength and my shield;

When I am weak, Your power sustains and protects me.

in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

Some trust in fame and fortune and safety and self.

I trust in You alone.  You alone are my solution and Savior.

my heart exults,

Everything in me leaps for triumphant joy!

and with my song I give thanks to him.

I will sing a new song…a humble heart and grateful lips are my offering.

 

8The LORD is the strength of his people;

Without Almighty God, we can accomplish nothing.

he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

We can run to You because You are our place of safety.

 

9Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!

Continue to rescue Your children and assign to us Your priceless inheritance!

Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Lead us, guide us, protect us, carry us always for eternity.

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Search ‘n’ Sniff

Search n Sniff

Several weeks ago, I perceived a distinct unpleasantness in our garage.

It began as an odd odor, and progressed into a full blown muggy funk. For a few days we left the garage door open, but as the stench lingered, my family simply altered its traffic pattern toward the patio. Avoidance of this unknown source was not a suitable long-term solution.

“We must figure out what stinks so badly!” I implored.

Responses ranged from, “It’s gross,” to “I don’t know what it is; I can’t help.”

One little darling admitted, “It smells like somethin’ dead. I’m scared.”

“Well, it’s not getting any better!” I pleaded with the mass of denial. We had looked in all the usual places: it was not a shoe or a cooler or a ball bag. So what and where was it?

Finally, we decided to draw straws to choose an investigator. Since my oldest son’s olfactory senses have been numbed by years of dirty socks and body functions, he received the honorary short straw. We wished him well as he paused at the laundry room door, then we watched as our courageous, selfless firstborn headed out to solve this repulsive mystery. (It should be noted that his courage and perceived selflessness may have emerged from my “no meals ’til we figure this out” ultimatum. Who can know for sure?)

After quite a while, he came in and walked directly to the kitchen sink where he washed his hands – FAR longer than he typically does. As my blue-eyed teen somberly dried his hands with a towel, the family gathered, hoping to hear of his discoveries.

In his preciously thick, East Texan drawl, he began to speak.

“Umm. You guys remember last week when Mom asked me to bring in milk from the deep freeze? Well … ummm, the milk was behind … So, like a month ago, you guys remember … I don’t know if I told y’all that I caught a monster bass over in Mr. Bobby’s pond. Anyway, I thought about getting it mounted, so I wrapped it in a plastic bag and stuck it in the freezer. So, like … I guess I set it in front of the milk. And when Mom wanted the milk the other day, I had to set the fish on top of the fridge to dig out the milk because … you guys know how ice sorta builds up around things in the freezer? ”

Each member of the family stood still and stared in wide-eyed amazement as he spoke. Some seemed satisfied by the poetic justice of his coincidental short straw and guilty status. Others were distracted by his unorthodox manner of story-telling which exhibited a complete lack of chronological coherence. We raised our eyebrows and collectively leaned in closer – prompting him to finish his narrative quickly and happily.

“So … I guess I got the milk, and brought it in. But I guess I totally forgot about the fish. But … uh … I don’t think I can get it mounted now, so I just took it out and buried it by the back fence. It had gotten juice all on top of the freezer too, so I cleaned that up with some paper towels and threw them away. It still kinda stinks out there, though. I should probably get some Lysol or somethin’, but it’s all good. … Are the Rangers winning?”

***

Several months ago, I perceived a distinct unpleasantness in my life. Its lingering funkiness indicated an unknown source beyond the usual challenges of everyday life.

I tried to air it out. I tried to ignore it. But ultimately, I resolved to seek out and eliminate the source of ugliness. The process of sin-search was not fun. I had to be brave. Deep down I knew there would be no nourishment or growth until I dealt with the mess.

Ultimately, I found an unforgiven wound – though once carefully preserved, it was now exposed and rotting – affecting my environment in the most undesirable way. Once God led me to the source of my pain, He walked with me as I dealt with it properly. Not by concealing it in plastic, frozen in time and space, but by burying it deep within the humble, loosened soil of my life. It would die away and become the richness of fertile ground.

And the Father began a new thing in me.

Seeds of grace…

firmly planted,

nestled in the compost of sorrow turned to joy,

watered by the Word,

warmed by the presence of the Son,

strengthened by the wind of the Spirit

… bursting forth into fragrant flowers and fresh fruit.

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” – Lamentations 3:40

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” – James 4:10

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

“Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:13

“There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration … My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess them to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” – Psalm 32:3-5

“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” – Matthew 5:6

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He Knows

He knows

It isn’t just the big answers I hear…sometimes, I hear God’s answers to me in the littlest of things–things that only HE knows I think about.

Like the blue bird–I saw one flit across the road in front of my car the other day.  He knows I look for them.  He knows I find hope for spring in seeing them.  He knows how I love the deep, rich blue color.  He knows I sigh, when I see them.

Or the first, new leaf-buds on our trees–my Heavenly Father knows how I search for them and long for winter’s end.  He knows I am like a kid in a candy store, seeing the new growth, springing fresh and new.  He knows that it never gets old for me.

When a tumbleweed blows across my path, God knows that I grin from ear to ear.  There’s something about a tumbleweed that I dearly love.

Or when the geese fly over, He knows I will turn off all sounds in the car (A/C or heater and radio) and roll down my windows.  He knows I strain to hear them honk.  He knows I watch for them all year-long.

He knows how I listen for the sounds of the first snow-melt in Rocky Mountain National Park, how the sound of an elk bugling makes my heart leap, how the breath of my children sleeping amazes me…He knows.

And sometimes, if we look and listen, we notice that He knows. For a tiny moment, we feel the nearness and fellowship of God, who walks with us daily and woos us to Him. I believe that is why being still and knowing that He is God is life-giving, life-renewing and subtle conversation with the Living LORD.  Nothing like knowing that He knows…us.

“THE HEAVENS declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows and proclaims His handiwork. Day after day pours forth speech, and night after night shows forth knowledge.”

Psalm 19:1-2 AMP

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Whooo?

Whooo?

Who?

Who?

I heard the question tonight as it echoed through the trees, thrown out by the night bird, seeing all, turning every which way.  It was answered by the night songs of nature–the crickets and bullfrogs, the rushing waters, the silent sparkle of the night sky.

Who?

Who?

It asked over and over again.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. (Ps 19:1-2)

Who?

Who?

Is it one of those questions that he already knows the answer to?

Who?

Who?

Who put the stars there?  Who covered the moon so that only a tiny slip would be hanging there tonight?  Who told the waters they could go so far, but no further?

Who?

Even when His people hold their tongues….all nature proclaims…..

It is God!

His song is for you.  Hear it, receive it, acknowledge it, savor it, tell it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seeing Our Own Shadow

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Wouldn’t it be nice if we had our own shadow-prediction, indicating whether the weather in life will be wintry or spring-like?  These are thoughts that wash my brain, as I consider that today is Groundhog day. It is a day, where at precisely “7:20 February 2nd at Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania he (Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog) will observe the weather conditions and look for his shadow he will then make his prediction for the remainder of winter.” You can read more here for the history of Groundhog day.

And it’s all fine and good–fun even, unless you are caught in a cyclical day like this one. But what I really want to know is a predictor of life, as we live it.  Will is be rainy or sunny, wintry or balmy?

Wouldn’t it be such a delight to see our own shadow and know that for the next six weeks, we should hide under the covers? That isn’t the way it works, but this we can know–Jesus does not change like shifting shadows. Though He doesn’t always give us a sign of the days and moments to come, He promises to be with us in each one.

Jesus changes not–the same yesterday, today and forever.  He walks with us each step of the way.  He shows us the way–this is the way, walk in it!  He shows us what we need to know–See?  I am doing a new thing.  Do you not perceive it? But above all, He promises that even when it seems like we are on a hamster-wheel and cannot get off, He is working in us and through us–to will and to act according to His good purpose. We need only Come to Him. Find rest in Him.  Be filled to the fullness of Him. And know that He is God.

Just like a friend of mine, who just today told me her hope barrel is scraping the bottom. Winter came. Winter has stayed. She needs a glimpse of spring.  And OH, how I pray for spring in her life. The shadow came…and the Faithful and True took hold of her hand. He has not left her–not for a moment.

From the Shadows to the Substance ] My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7 The Message

So if today, you find yourself ready to crawl under the covers for six more weeks, come on and peek out.  Ask Jesus to take hold of your hand.  Ask Him to show you the new thing He is doing.  Ask Him to make your shadows a place of springs. Come Living Water, we want more of You. He shall satisfy your soul and be plentiful all your days, until you see him face to face.

Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.

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Art Abandoned

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Do you ever sense a theme going on in the background of your life? A certain struggle…a similar scene–all pointing to a problem that has not been uprooted.


I have…and it has to do with finishing something I have begun. For instance there is my cross-stitch drawer. It is filled with unfinished work. Things I had hoped to complete for someone–good intentions of mine that never saw the light of attainment.


It is a struggle of mine…for I ENVISION the finished product. I see it in its glory on display. I purchase the materials, sort through them and get started. Many days may pass with my faithful work applied. And then one day, it gets set aside. It gathers dust. It gets moved out-of-the-way before company comes. Finally it is lost.


Until one day, I pick it back up again and begin again. The cycle may ensue once again. It may even be relegated to my “craft drawer.” With the drawer closed, I feel no guilt to my unfinished task. For I do not have to open it again. I do not have to think about it.



Then there are our paintings. Chris and I worked on these together in the time before we had children (7 years worth). Chris did the mountains, and I worked on the house. Again, unfinished.

Then there are our cross-stitched Santa ornaments. And in the same line are the broken, but fixable ornaments. Each year I place them aside in a place to-be fixed. Each year, I repack them and hope next year it gets done. Perhaps I should just throw them away?


Oh and then there is some unfinished unpacking: we moved here SIX years ago and there are several boxes that have not been sorted through in our garage. Do we even need those things?


And how could I leave out the exercise equipment? One piece collects dust and serves as a literal stumbling block each night if I have to get up in the dark. Ouch! Another piece I began again….also dusty. So I pedaled and sneezed my way through! Finally, we just GAVE them both away.


Best Intentions. Goals! Aims, aspirations, objectives, designs and targets. None attained.
Why is it that we set up these goals and miss the mark every time? Where do we begin?



I’ll tell you, we begin by getting the rest of our priorities straight. We begin by asking the Master Organizer how to finish–for the strength and the will to do it. And He will help us. He knows how to go about the finishing of those things–He is indeed a God of ORDER. Ask Him to order your life and the things you begin. Ask Him for a plan.


For these are qualities that our Mighty God possesses…Qualities that He uses THROUGH us, if we are willing. Some of those things may be like winter with its snow-covered ground with the grass below it waiting for the spring–a WORK in progress. But a finished task or project will come…and with it? Some feelings of happiness and the good kind of pride. I think God has instilled in us a need to accomplish. It may be just a quality, where we look an awful lot like our Daddy!


 
Philippians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
 
Genesis 2:2
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
 
John 4:34
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
 
2 Corinthians 8:11
Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
 
James 1:4
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

So persevere, my friends–ask God to inspire you to finish every good work that He has planned for your lives. He most certainly will!

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the kite

The Kite

My 10 year old daughter, Sarah, recently brought this creative writing assignment home from school:

“I am a kite.  The kite dances, flutters, dips and crashes.  I now know what it is like for God to keep me on track.  God is me when I fly a kite and I am the kite.  In my relationship with Him, I am flying all over.  When I crash He pushes me back up.  He fixes me when I need it.  I slack and pull.  He pulls me down and pushes me back up.  I am the kite and He holds the spool.”

Some neat insight, there, right?

Well, since that time we took a trip to the beach where we did a lot of things, including guess what… flying kites.

I got to thinking as I stood there and held that spool:

What if I stopped pulling against the Lord the way this kite is pulling against me holding this spool?

What if I stopped allowing the wind of the world blowing around me to pull me away from the Lord I love?

What if I responded to the Lord’s directions and pulls the way this kite is responding to me

What if…

I can’t even imagine what would happen if those things were true of me.  If I could truly trust the Lord and his full control over my life.  I can’t image the blessings that would come.  But I want it.

What about you?

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Heart Prompt #29: Zephaniah 3:17

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Heart Reflection on Zephaniah 3:17

Oh Holy Three in One, You are everything to me.

 

You are in my midst.

You will save me, have saved me and are saving me.

 

You rejoice over me—with gladness.

 

You are quieting me, as You pour Your love out upon me.

 

You are loudly singing, exclaiming, and exulting over me.

 

You love me.

Nothing can separate me from Your love.

 

Your might is for me.

YOU are for me.

You shall not fail.

You win…in me.

Over those I love

Over my community

Over this great country

Over the whole world

Your way is best; Your thoughts, beyond my understanding.

 

Yet, you bow low to feed me.

You know that I am dust.

 

You call me…

Your child

The apple of Your eye

BELOVED

You lead me…

By still waters

With Your voice saying this is the way, walk in it

With a gentle hand

You love me…

Unconditionally

Completely

FOREVER

I welcome You.

I rest.

And confidently I may walk

With

YOU

Surrounding

Me.

 

FOREVER…AND EVER…and EVERMORE

 

 

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Alt-Ctrl-Delete

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We are beginning a “How-to month” here at A Martha Heart–instructional pieces from all the authors. Here is a post I wrote a while back on quiet times and have updated it to reflect my current quiet time. But before you read it, I want you to know that the words “quiet time” get mixed up in our brains–and become another thing on the long, laundry list we fill and are overwhelmed by each day. Sometimes, like a friend of mine, there is no way on earth she can have what she considers a true quiet time. However, 24/7, she is abiding in Christ. She is praying, leaning on Jesus and learning. So if you find yourself in a time like that, know this–abiding in Christ is a daily and wonderful place to be. It is His best for us–not a list of “to-do’s.”

These are my quiet time materials: Beth Moore’s A Heart Like His devotional journal (about David), My Partner Prayer Notebook by Becky Tirabassi, a three-divider notebook, and my Bible (an ESV study Bible, and I am loving it!). I have been reading Ruth and am about to finish 1 Samuel and will start 2 Samuel this weekend. This is something I try to do every morning before going downstairs. I do it because I need it–not to check off a list…not to say that I did it…not really even to share it with others. I spend this time because I NEED it.

Also, I have some devotionals that I change out every year.  My current ones are Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman and Tozer on the Almighty God (A VERY GOOD ONE!!) a great compilation of AW Tozer’s writings.  I stagger reading various books, too, that challenge my walk with the Lord.  The ones that have blessed me lately are Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts and Lysa Tyrkeurst’s Made to Crave.

Finally, I read fiction–I love to read fiction and often am spurred on in the faith from various writers. I am re-reading Tolkein’s The Hobbit right now and then diving into his Lord of the Rings series, which I have never read (LOVE the movies!).  I will work up a list of recommendations for authors, devotionals and studies before the month’s end, if you are interested. Many of these materials have so marked my life that I am truly different because of taking their words to heart.

I have heard different Bible teachers and pastors say that any trouble you are facing at any given moment, the Bible has something to say about it. It’s timeless and has an answer for these troubles. That is true…BUT not until you begin to read it and find out. A Bible concordance is a great place to find answers to various topics. It really is! However if you do not take time to read what the Bible says, the value of topical words is diminished. Read beyond one scripture…read the whole chapter and book.  If you are wanting to grow in the area of studying the Bible, Beth Moore wrote a blog post here that goes beyond your wildest imagination and will show you tools to begin and get deeper into study of the Word.

I cannot count the times when I have been reading along in the Bible and found that a certain theme would begin in my mind about a certain something I’m dealing with–be it people, situations or even myself. I know this is because of the Holy Spirit. When I asked Christ in my life to save me and forgive me, He entrusted me with His Spirit. So anytime I am reading the Bible or discussing something with a friend, I will hear a MESSAGE from Him. It may be like this, “stop this conversation now, you are walking down the wrong road.” Or I may read and hear, “go and call this person now, ask about their family.” Now I know I didn’t just come up with these things. They happen! And because I heed His voice in these matters, I find that the messages get louder and clearer each time–kind of a practice makes perfect kind of deal.

So when I have a quiet time, I have found that sometimes I face an inner struggle. My mind will focus on the to-do list that day or I can’t seem to “take-in” what I’m reading. Sometimes, I struggle with sitting still and being quiet. So I buy fresh new, brightly colored materials–I love a blank page! I try to trick myself into thinking that it will make a difference. But it won’t. It doesn’t. That is when I hear His message to me again, “Just Me, Holly. Just take time in my Word. Keep it simple. You are trying to do too much at once and for the wrong reason.”

And He is right! I don’t know if it was being pregnant with our fourth child or having a fourth child, but I have struggled with doing the amount of things I did before. I have taken a couple of Bible studies and for the first time in 10 years, I’m having a hard time getting the homework done. I am a blank “filler-inner.” I cannot stand the feeling of going to class with unfinished work. But I go anyway and feel terrible.

When I have asked the LORD to give me a fresh start. He does and I am then faithful to my time and try not to fit so many Bible studies in and devotionals in that I am not reading His Word. Sometimes reading the bible is all I do–and it is more than enough. At these times, I read the Bible, pray a lot and journal a bit.

When Chris and I married in 1991, 20 years ago, I was faithful in my quiet time every single day. I could spend over 2 hours doing a word study or Bible study each day. I had more time, even with a 16 hour school load. When I began to work, while Chris got his masters, my quiet time was about an hour a day. When Chris began to work and I still didn’t have children (seemed like I couldn’t have children), I had quiet times that lasted about 4 hours. It was amazing! It was life-changing! By the time Noah and 21 months later Kylie were born, I had about a one and a half hour quiet time a day. When Tabor was born, I still had a long quiet time. I remember spending the whole nap time on the roof of our old home, talking with the Lord and singing and journaling, reading my Bible and finishing Bible studies. I have no idea why it worked so well, except by the grace of God.
During these years, sometimes I get in a slump in my quiet time. I have had a hard time being still and not falling asleep! I have been behind in everything that mattered…housework, cooking, grocery shopping and even deadlines for the kids school. But for some reason, I will see the bright light at the end of my quiet time tunnel….which is why, I guess, I spend a part of every day singing “There’s a light at the end of this tunnel…there’s a a light at the end of this tunnel” in my head. No kidding.

In every season, I am ready to see what it will be like. I get excited! I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn each new day!

All in all, I think that God looks at my heart the whole time…and He sees the times I struggled because of things in my life that I couldn’t control and He sees the times when I struggle because I was refusing to be face down before Him. (By the way, I spent the best $4 this week! Here is what I listened to on my mp3 player on Monday–scroll down to “Face Down.” Whoa! It’s is something I will listen to regularly. And it is the crux of my past rebellion–humbling myself in the sight of the Lord. I will keep it on my player, for sure!)

We all need a time when we re-boot our systems. Get rid of the junk that has accumulated and start again with the basic programs to run more smoothly. I think the Lord comes in an enlarges our memory, as we spend time with Him. I think He is quite good at getting rid of those nasty viruses of self: pride, self-importance, greed, jealousy, gossip, and simply getting our priorities mixed up. I need that! Sometimes, I need His gentle reminder to me and sometimes He gets in my face about what attitudes I’m choosing. And I say, Yes, Lord. You’re right, Lord. AGAIN Lord, I come to you with hands upturned and mouth ready to be filled with good things in your Presence.

Exodus 33:14
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Psalm 16:11
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 89:15
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.

REST-JOY-BLESSING: I need these every day, don’t you? Get in His Word and keep it simple. You will be so glad you did!

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