Is God your strength? Sing for Joy!

Calla Lilies
Sing for joy to God our strength;
Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song, strike the timbrel,
The sweet sounding lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
At the full moon, on our feast day. Psalm 81:1-3
Father, the God of our ancestors, the God of the Israelites, I praise You. I lift my voice towards heaven, and sing You a new melody. I clap my hands and lift my hands. You alone created the marvelous light. You hung the moon and the stars in the heavens to light our darkness. We set aside a feast day to celebrate what You have done for us.
Indeed, when we waited upon You, You said:
You called in trouble and I rescued you;
I answered you in the hiding place of thunder Psalm 81:7
You led the Israelites by the hand into the Promised Land, and You lead Your children, Your followers today into the promises You have for us.
Thank You for Your steadfast faithfulness, lovingkindness and Your own dear Son, Jesus, the Messiah.
Sing for joy to God our strength!
Share the joy … tell the readers how God is leading you.

Thanksgiving … Remembering God at work

GethsemaneAn olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane old enough to have given shade to Jesus

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name;
    make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
    tell of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
    seek His presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that He has done,
    His miracles and the judgments He uttered, 1 Chronicles 16:8-12

This Thanksgiving, as I give thanks for my beautiful family, the abundant food on the table, and the past year, I’ll also be thanking God for His great works in my life, in the lives of my family and friends, and America the Beautiful.

David and the nation of Israel praised the Lord after they brought the ark of the covenant to the City of David. They remembered how God brought them out of Egypt, the promise that He had given them, and how He had fulfilled it.

Harps, lyres, cymbals, and trumpets led Asaph and his brothers as they called upon all creation to praise the Lord.

God’s presence in the City of David.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
for His steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:34

Jesus rehearsed His love in action in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night Judas betrayed Him. He cried to God:

Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. Mark 14:36

Jesus knew the cost of the promise of salvation: my sins and the sins of the world seared onto His body as He hung on the cursed cross. He felt the spittle, the punches, the lashing, the pieces of flesh tearing away from His back, and the nails piercing His hands and feet on the cross.

As He rehearsed the future, Jesus heard the cry of His greatest sacrifice:

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34

The ultimate sacrifice to fulfill a promise to you and me … a way to the throne room of God … a way into the presence of God.

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD. 1 Chronicles 16:36

I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

What are you thankful for?

My prayer

Father, thank You for the abundant blessings You have poured out upon Your people. Let all creation sing its praise to You. Let Your people from every nation rise up and sing Your praises at the top of their lungs, for You are greatly to be praised. Blessed be Your name from everlasting to everlasting! You are our Thanksgiving! Amen

 

Hiding in the cave of despair? Do what David did

 Deir-Dubban Entrance SM
The entrance to a cave in Deir-Dubban, six miles southwest of Bethlehem on the border of the Philistine plains and at the foot of the Judean mountains. There are a number of vaults about 15 to 20 feet deep, and perhaps David and his family lived for a time in one of the vaults.

I cry out to God Most High,
    to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
    rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
    God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

 

 

I am in the midst of lions;
    I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
    whose tongues are sharp swords.Psalm 57:2-4

This Psalm may represent David’s anguish when he found a cave in Abdullam to hide from the king of Achish in Gath.  1 Samuel 22

Desperate to get away from Saul, David fled to Gath, a key Philistine city, enemy territory. The Philistines recognized him; he pretended to be insane, and he fled to the cave. In all likelihood, Saul’s rage against David extended to his family, and they joined him in the cave.

Huddled in the cave, David talks with God and states the facts in the first verses of the Psalm.

  1. God vindicates him.
  2. God saves him.
  3. God rebukes those who pursue him.
  4. He lives among his enemies.
  5. His enemies speak fierce words against him.

David turns his thoughts from his enemies to God.

Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth. Psalm 57:5
Back to his problems. He’s in the pit, the cave. Selah may mean a pause, a crescendo, or a musical interlude. In this Psalm, it is a turning point.
They have prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down;
They dug a pit before me;
They themselves have fallen into the midst of it.          Selah.  Psalm 57:6
David turns his thoughts from his problems to God and determines what he will do.
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
 Awake, my glory!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
 I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
 For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.
 Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
David has will-power. In the middle of problems it’s not easy to do what he chose to do.
  1. He will keep his heart steadfast.
  2. He will sing praises.
  3. He will awake the dawn.
  4. He will give thanks.
  5. He will sing praises again.

Why will David take these actions?

  1. God’s lovingkindness is great to the heavens.
  2. God’s truth is great to the clouds.

Whether it’s finances, work issues, sickness, marriage problems, a prodigal, this is a psalm to turn to. David found the formula.

  1. He cried out to God and acknowledged God’s faithfulness.
  2. He stated the problem.
  3. He turned his thoughts on God’s works.
  4. He exalted God.
  5. He stated his problem again.
  6. He decided to sing praises and give thanks to God.

He exalted God.

Deir-Dubban Inside
Fleeing the king of Gath.
Running from Saul.
Huddling in a cave with his family.
Singing praise to God.
David … a man after God’s own heart.
Whether it’s finances, marriage, sickness, family, work, or relationships, cry out to God. He is faithful. He is our great Provider and Healer. Turn your eyes to Him.

My prayer for you

Father in heaven, You are faithful, Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens. Thank You that You listen to our heart’s cry and that You provide all we need; You heal our marriages, our families, our relationships and our diseases. That’s why in the midst of our troubles we can sing praises to You. You are in control and have already worked out things in our best interests.  Be exalted above the heavens, O God. Let Your glory be above all the earth.

Full Disclosure

Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:54. I’ve been chewing on that for the past two weeks. John 16 is another way of saying it. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, possessing His promises, partaking in the divine nature. What a privilege and blessing we have! Thank you, Jesus!

Pluck the pleasures from God’s right hand!

Calamansi

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

Keith and I lived in the Philippines for three years in the late 1980s. We enjoyed calamansi, small citrus fruit that is also known as the Philippine lime. The taste is a cross from a tangerine and a lime … sweet but tart.

We’ve not seen them in the grocery stores, nor in restaurants. I mentioned to a coworker who was traveling to the Philippines how much we squeezed calamansi juice on our papayas, fruit, mahi mahi and just about everything when we were there.

We wished that we could buy these little balls of delight here in Southern California.

She said her tree was loaded with them and that she would bring me some.

You can grow them here?

Of course!

This weekend, I purchased a calamondin tree … different name but same fruit. The tree was just 1/2 mile down the road.

I wonder how many blessings we long for, sometimes for years, and they are just around the corner if we look for them and take them.

My prayer for you

Father, thank You that You show us our path. Your presence brings us fullness of joy. Your right hand holds out pleasures beyond measure … all for our taking. May we dwell in Your presence and pluck the pleasures from Your right hand that only You hold out to us. We love You, Lord.

From pounding cabbage to healing focus

Cabbage2Today, I crushed juniper berries, shredded three huge cabbages, tossed the shreds with salt and juniper berries, squeezed the water out of the cabbage, dumped bowls of mixture into the fermenting crock and pounded until more water appeared. Then, I covered the mixture with a cabbage leaf and pressed weights onto the leaf. Lid on, I poured boiled water around the lid to create a seal. Three to six weeks after the crushing, squeezing, pounding, and darkness, savory sauerkraut will reward my tastebuds.

As I prepared the cabbage to become Vitamin C-rich sauerkraut, I was reminded of how fibromyalgia crushed my spirit and twisted my nerves and muscles into knots of pain. I was reminded of Job.

“And now my soul is poured out within me;
Days of affliction have seized me.
17 “At night it pierces my bones within me,
And my gnawing pains take no rest.
18 “By a great force my garment is distorted;
It binds me about as the collar of my coat.
19 “He has cast me into the mire,
And I have become like dust and ashes.
20 “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me;
I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.
21 “You have become cruel to me;
With the might of Your hand You persecute me.
22 “You lift me up to the wind and cause me to ride;
And You dissolve me in a storm.
23 “For I know that You will bring me to death
And to the house of meeting for all living. Job 30-16-23

26 “When I expected good, then evil came;
When I waited for light, then darkness came.
27 “I am seething within and cannot relax;
Days of affliction confront me.
28 “I go about mourning without comfort;
I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help. Job 30:26-28

Intense nights crawled.

“Lord, where are You?”

Weary mornings shouted.

“Lord, help me get up.”

Demanding days disheartened.

“Lord, I can’t do this.”

Crushing  commutes castdown.

“Lord, I’m so tired.”

Piercing pain pervaded.

“Lord, I want to quit.”

Praising Psalms prevailed.

“Lord, Your lovingkindness endures.”

Eager eyes examined.

“Lord, Your Word is life.”

Listening heart refocused.

“Lord, You are my desire.”

Then Job answered the Lord and said,

“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6

12 The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; …17 And Job died, an old man and full of days. Job 42:12-17

God healed Job when he turned his eyes off his sickness and loss and onto the greatness of God.

God healed me when I gave up and told the Lord that all I wanted was more of Him. At that point, the Holy Spirit empowered me to present my body to the Lord as a living sacrifice.

My prayer for you

Father in heaven, You are all we need. Heal our lives, our bodies, and our spirits. Father, pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us. Enable us to see You as You are. Enable us to present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices to You. We love You, Lord and bask in the light of Your glory.

What will be the fruit of your crushing and pounding?