Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Psalm 24

Today's scripture is Psalm 24. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

This is a psalm for the King of glory! This may have been written as the Ark of the Covenant was being brought to its resting place. 

Everything is God's. The earth, the world, and all of us on this earth. Even the fullness of the earth - fruits from trees, newborn animals, flowers on the branches... everything that springs up on this earth is His. This really should be comforting to us. If we're all under God, there is nowhere we can go from Him. We are not our own either - our souls are His.

1 Corinthians 10:26 - "For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."

God founded and established this earth (verse 2). He made it, formed it, and made it perfect for our use. He has even established it upon the floods. Do you know anyone else who could build a world on a foundation of water? Only the One who controls all of those waters.

Psalm 89:11 - "The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them."

So who will ascend with God? What are the characteristics of the righteous?

1) Someone with clean hands - not that you have to be totally guiltless because that's impossible. But are you willing to admit you're wrong? Confess? Repent? Actually make some changes? These are ways we can have clean hands.

2) A pure heart. Matthew 5:8 - "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."  It's not enough for our hands to look clean on the outside. We have to work to make our heart match.

3) They're not lifting up their soul to vanity. Not setting their eyes upon things of the world. A righteous person knows the things of the world are unstable and ultimately unsatisfying.

4) Doesn't swear deceitfully. They deal honestly. You must take the obligations of truth very seriously.

So this is the type of person who is blessed from God, the God who has given him this salvation. We have no righteousness of our own, only from God.

So in every generation there are some who are seeking God, seeking His face. I believe it is fewer with each passing generation. These people will work to climb that holy hill. They will take action. They will fellowship with other believers. One thing will I seek after:

Psalm 27:4 - "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple." 

Verses 7-10 - When a king enters, the doors and gates should be flung wide open to greet him. With all of our reverence we must remember He is the King of glory. He is strong and mighty and will save His people.

Psalm 29:2 - "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."

If you want to see how God is mighty in battle just read Revelation 19:13-16.

And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.

Comments? Questions? 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Life Without Limits Review

I just finished a book by Nick Vujicic called "Life Without Limits". If you have never heard of Nick before, I urge you to Google him. Read his story. Watch his speaking engagements on YouTube. And then pick up at least one of his books to read.

If you happen to pick up Life Without Limits, you will NOT regret it. For those who don't know who Nick Vujicic is, he is a man who was born without any limbs. Yet he has never let it hold him back. Throughout the book he encourages us all - disabled or not - to take risks and try to achieve goals we set. And do not put limits on yourself no matter what! He describes his incredible journey from a weak faith to a strong faith, from being bullied to becoming a prominent speaker, from even being suicidal to being an encourager to other folks with disabilities. He has what he calls a ridiculously good life, but it's all about the attitude.

Nick doesn't act like he's the perfect Christian. He flat out tells his mistakes, fumbles and bumbles throughout his life. But he always picks up the pieces and hands them over to God to put back together. That is obvious through the success in his life and the pure joy he has.

He is a joy to read. This book is not only easy to read, it is fun to read! He has a great sense of humor and sporadically throws in humor in the book where you aren't expecting it. I was definitely grinning at his one-liners and stories - particularly the gag he pulled when he had his assistant put him into an overhead luggage bin on an airplane to prank some other passengers!!

I highly recommend this book and ALL Nick Vujicic books. What a great inspiration and role model for God, especially because he is willing to own up to any mistakes he makes and improve from them. Awesome guy, awesome book.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnonah for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Psalm 12

Today's scripture is Psalm 12. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.
They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:
Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?
For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.
The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

Matthew Henry has said, ask a nonbeliever what makes the times bad and they will say finances, or war, or things of that nature. But a Christian knows we need to call on God for help when there are no more godly men, or the faithful are failing (verse 1). Sin is reigning. There is a general decay in the world. Perhaps godly men are just dying off ("ceasing") without their faith being passed on to the next generation. Maybe they are deserting their faith, as so many do. It is interesting how David wrote this to God thousands of years ago, yet we are still in this same predicament. The faithful are still dying and failing, and perhaps even at a higher rate than ever, because there is even so much more now to take the place of God in one's life.

Verse 2 tells of more characteristics of this time. People will kiss your cheek and cut your throat and not even blink. They lie to you with flattering lips but a double heart. This shows dishonesty and a lack of sincerity. There may even come a day when Christians don't even know who to trust at all.

Verse 3 does show us that God will cut off these people though. The proud people who say "our lips are our own" (verse 4) and that we are our own god... how conceited and self-righteous this is. We like to imagine we are independent and self-sufficient but we really aren't. We're truly helpless without God in the grand scheme of things. The poor and needy are oppressed, people are acting self-righteous toward those in need, but God himself will stand up for them. God will set those in safety because He has heard their "sigh" of oppression. We feel like this at times, more so as the years pass, that wicked men are all around and certainly being exalted and being put in high places of power (verse 8). It's a scary thought. BUT. All is not lost! Thank God we can call out to Him for help! (verse 1)  Even just a few faithful Christians can be awesome prayer warriors and stand in the gap for this world. 

We also see that God is just. He will cut off the flattering lips and He will stand up for the oppressed. He is the Deliverer. Even when we cannot trust in people here on earth we can always trust in God. He is always faithful. God's word is pure (verse 6) and sincere. We can trust in that. God's word has been tested and tried over how many years - yet still cannot be disproved! It is easy for men to say they don't believe in God's word and there is no physical proof... no physical witnesses alive today... but nothing in the Bible has been disproved either. If one thing in the Bible is not true, probably none of it is true. But I don't believe there is one iota of untruth in it. I do believe we can twist things and Satan can twist things in our mind and there are things that our mind isn't capable of understanding. This does not mean it isn't fact.

Comments? Questions?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Psalm 15

Today's scripture is Psalm 15. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

Who will be abiding in the Lord's tabernacle? This is the sacred tent of Jehovah. This is a tabernacle that cannot be broken or removed.

Isaiah 33:20 - "Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken."

In asking this question we know that the answer is not "everyone". We ought to ask ourselves this and look at ourselves for the following characteristics.

Verse 2 - You will find there people who walk uprightly, and work righteousness and speak the truth in their heart. A person who walks uprightly has the following characteristics: he is of a sound mind, he is unimpaired by things that would alter his brain, he has integrity, he is one with the truth of God, believing it wholly. This verse also describes someone who is consciously making honest decisions and is fair in all his dealings with people. When he makes a promise to God or another human, he stands by that promise.

Verse 3 gives more characteristics of this person. He doesn't backbite, or do evil, and doesn't take up a reproach with a neighbor. Basically this person tries to do good to his neighbor regardless of who it is. This person won't do anything purposely to hurt someone else or offend them, or cause disruption in his family. Pretty much living by the golden rule. Back biting is probably one of the "easiest" sins we commit, and one that people don't like to talk about because they don't want to give it up! But a righteous person doesn't talk about others or gossip, especially if someone makes a mistake, it's not our business to discuss it. In fact, you just shouldn't talk about anyone unless you're lifting them up. This person will stop gossip when it gets to him, he will discourage the person from telling him the story, but if he does get told a story it stops at him and goes no further!

Verse 4 - We know in our hearts that people who deny Christ are condemned. We don't disrespect them for that, but we do agree with what the Bible says about their salvation. Honoring those who fear the Lord means these are the people you will turn to for friendship and advice. You will have more in common with these people than nonbelievers.

This verse goes back to promises too. Don't make a promise or vow and then change it. Stand by your word no matter what.

Verse 5 - We know that money doesn't bring honor in the eyes of God. We don't accept bribes and we don't gain money at the expense of others. Our money is lent to us from God anyway. So we must use it wisely and use it for others' good when they need it!

Questions? Comments? 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Psalm 150

Today's scripture is Psalm 150. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

The obvious, straightforward message of this psalm is to praise God. This is stated 13 times in 6 verses! Praise Him for being our sanctuary, for being the Creator, for His mighty acts, for His greatness. Praise Him with all types of music and instruments. If someone has breath, they can continue to praise God and find reason to praise God.

These verses are very simple but we need to be reminded of this often. Because honestly, how much do you praise God throughout the day? I know I read these verses and thought the words were kind of obvious. Yeah, yeah, God is our creator. Yeah, we're supposed to praise Him. I know all that. But if it's so obvious to me and I know I'm supposed to do it... am I doing it? Outside the walls of the church? The truth is, I fail at this quite often. I am very fortunate to be involved in a church where praise and worship is not only encouraged, but the pastor has made us feel comfortable to worship in any way we feel is right. This may mean standing stock still for some people, but it could also mean clapping, snapping, or toe-tapping for others!

Do you have a hard time sometimes finding things "worthy" of praise in your mundane life? I feel like that sometimes. There are days when I wake up at 7am, feed the kids breakfast, spend the morning with them/doing housework, eat lunch, spend the afternoon hanging out again, eat dinner, hang out with my family until bedtime... I mean, there are details there, but are they praise worthy? It turns out they are. And I had to remind myself of this.

I started a "We've Been Blessed!" board. On those days when we never left the house and it seemed like nothing out of the ordinary happened, I had to make a point to find blessings - things I could point out to the kids and remind them and myself that these "normal" things are praise-worthy. This may be something you can use at your house, I don't know.

Anything could go on the list - fresh produce, something special and fun that we don't get to do often, something that brought a smile to my face (i.e. chocolate covered blueberries, for one!!), conversations I had with people, or even accomplishments of my own (kudos to me if I kept calm in a stressful situation!). I've pictured three of my "blessed boards" here just so you see what I'm talking about.

So even on an average day, even I was failing at something, or we got some bad news, I could still find at least a few things to praise God for. And these are just the things He is doing for me.

We should be praising Him...

because He is great (just to name a few) - Jeremiah 10:6 ("Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might."), 1 Chronicles 16:25; Psalm 96:4 ("For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods."), Isaiah 12:6 ("Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.")

because He is a great King - Psalm 47:2 ("For the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth."), 1 Timothy 6:15 ("Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords"), Psalm 47:7 ("For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.")

because He does great things - Psalm 136:4 ("To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever."), Luke 1:49 ("For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name."), Jeremiah 32:17 ("Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:")

because there is no one like Him - 2 Samuel 7:22 ("Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears."), Psalm 71:19 ("Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!"), Psalm 145:3 ("Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.")

and so many OTHER reasons. 

We can find reasons to praise Him all throughout the Bible. I urge you as you're reading to write down reasons why He is worthy of our praise. When you're having a bad day and can't think of even one thing that is praise-worthy, look at your list. I think you will find our minds can so easily be clouded by our earthly reality that we forget our HEAVENLY reality!!

Questions? Comments?   

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Letters Review

I love the author Suzanne Woods Fisher. I've read a handful of her books and they never disappointed. So I jumped at the chance to read her latest, "The Letters", which is the first in a series called The Inn at Eagle Hill.

Fisher writes a lot of Amish fiction, so if you enjoy that type of reading I highly recommend her. This book was extremely different from other Amish fiction I have read, though. I always knew there were different sects of Amish, but it took me quite a while reading the book before I got a grip on this sect. For example, one of the daughters who is nineteen actually works at a bar and grill in town, and changes into English clothes while working there. This is considered to be wrong by her standards (it's a secret from her family) but she doesn't seem to have any personal convictions against it. The author never talks about which family members have been baptized into the church or anything, so I wasn't really sure where they all stood in their regards to the Amish faith. Some of them drove and some had cell phones. I have to admit I was a little confused - I knew they weren't considered Old Order Amish, but were they Amish? Were they Mennonite? I guess it doesn't matter but it distracted me a little bit.

As far as the characters go, I loved them. They all had their little quirks, especially one of the daughters, Mim, who gathered random facts and spouted them off at odd times. I loved that about her! I loved the interactions between the characters which seemed realistic and fun to read. There wasn't any character that irritated me, as sometimes happens in books. Even the grumpy mother-in-law in the book was endearing in her own way.

The story had a few twists and turns but nothing so dramatic that I was rolling my eyes. The characteristics of the characters in the story are characteristics we should all strive to have - patience and love for our enemies being the ones that stood out to me the most. I enjoyed this book and am passing it on to someone else - and I highly recommend for others to read it!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and Baker Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Psalm 3

Today's scripture is Psalm 3. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

Background: It is thought that David writes this as he is running from Absalom, his son. The story can be found in 2 Samuel 15 and is really a gripping story. Absalom wants the throne and David's life, so David is running as fast as he can for his life. We may not have a family member trying to murder us, but we have plenty of other trials in our life. Think of David, not just as an enemy of Absalom, but as his father. I can't imagine how I would feel as a parent in this situation. So as David was scared, sad, and honestly in great danger, he turned to God. So many times we have a pity party and our troubles are really caused by our choices. How about instead of "Woe is me!" we turn to God in this manner?

Verses 1-2 - Sometimes there is just one person causing some sort of distress against us. And then in the blink of an eye, they are "increased". They have turned others against us. David was probably shaking his head - his kingdom who had loved him had now risen up in a conspiracy against him. People were even talking about David's soul... his relationship with God. That's probably the worst thing people could do. It would probably affect a lot of people by causing doubt or confusion. But you can see David still knows the truth.

Verse 3 - God is still our shield - our defense, our glory (actually He is the only thing we can glory in), and He's the one who lifts us up when we can't even pick up our own heads.

The word used in verse 3 for "Lord" is Jehovah "the existing One". David knew no matter what that God was there for him.

Verse 4 - If we will cry out to God, he will hear us. But we need to figure out that WE NEED HIM!

Verse 5 - No matter what is going on in my life I have to remember that God will sustain me. I can just lean on Him so that I don't topple over! We probably all need that at times.

Verse 6 - David had courage, even in the midst of this. I don't believe we can have that kind of courage without God.

Verse 7 - When we cry to God He will help us. I don't believe He goes around smacking people in the face and breaking their teeth literally... I do believe He can silence people; shut their mouths. God can stop those who are talking against us and who are coming after us maliciously.

Verse 8 - After all, in the end, we can have confidence that our salvation is in God and that He will bless those who trust in Him. We can have that assurance!

Comments? Questions?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Psalm 98

Today's scripture is Psalm 98. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
The Lord hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.
He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King.
Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together
Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

Verse 1 - We should sing a new song to God, and actually we should be a new song. When we get saved we should be singing a new song in our hearts. The reason behind that new song is that God has done marvelous things! He has won the victory and included us in the winners circle!

Verse 2 - If only we would pay attention. Open our eyes. Stop looking inward and to the world for answers. We would see that God has made himself plain. Easily seen. He's not hiding anything, choosing only to accept a few good people to heaven. He's openly revealing Himself and the way to salvation to everyone. Not just Jews.

Verse 3 - Yes, God remembers His covenant with Israel. They are His chosen people. And He's made promises of mercy and truth to them that will never be forgotten. But God wants nothing more than all the ends of the earth to come to salvation!

Luke 3:6 - "And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

Verse 4 - Very simply - salvation is ours for the taking. That should cause us to break out in song! To shout joyfully! To sing praise to God!

Verses 5-6 - We should be singing unto God. Let's use our talents with harps, trumpets, voices - any other instrument - and make a joyful noise to God, OUR KING, for what He's done for us!

Verses 7-8 - We know that if we don't cry out to God in worship, the earth will acknowledge Him. The sea will roar. The floods and rivers will clap. The hills will be joyful.

Verse 9 - The earth He created will be joyful before Him because He is coming in order to judge the whole earth... with righteousness and equity.

Questions? Comments?  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Psalm 141

The scripture this morning is Psalm 141. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.
But mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.
Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.

Verse 1 - If I will humble myself and cry out to God, He will rush in to me... He will hurry to listen to me. What an awesome concept! "Lord" in this verse is "Jehovah"... the one true God!

Verse 2 - A true prayer in faith is more meaningful to God than burning incense or sacrificing animals. Note: Incense is worthless unless it's burning. The same could be said for prayer... going through the motions without really believing is a waste of time. 

1 Timothy 2:8 - "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

We should be praying, lifting our hands in supplication to God, without anger or any doubt.

Verse 3 - Guard my mouth, God. You might need to lock my lips at times!

Proverbs 21:23 - "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles."

Keeping a check on my mouth can keep me out of trouble! I definitely know when I'm about to mouth off, and sadly, more often than not it's going to be to my children. I need God to set a guard on my mouth so only the good will flow out of it, especially to my very favorite loved ones.

Verse 4 - We have to pray that God will help keep us from sin. Sometimes we think that we can mingle with people who don't believe the same things as us. But then we feel this awkwardness... this feeling of being on the outside... sometimes, anyway. For some people that could certainly lead them into sin so they won't be perceived as different. God, don't let any of that stuff tempt me or seem like it would please me. Keep me from it.

Verse 5 - We must desire to be told our faults. I have a handful of friends who would come to me honestly and lovingly if they thought I needed to be reproved. That is a rare person. It's not easy to be rebuked, but would I want to continue down that path if it's wrong? If it's not glorifying to God? If it's presenting as a stumbling block to someone? No. I need a godly friend to come to me... it will be a "kindness". It may break my heart (as all sin should) but I should take this reproof in stride and have thankfulness for it.

Verse 6 - When life is good it's hard to hear God's voice at times. Nonbelievers find no reason to turn to God - after all, life is pretty good without this God character fitting into the picture. But when they are overthrown - even high-ranking judges, officials, powerful politicians - they will hear what we've been saying all along. "When the world is bitter, the word is sweet" - Matthew Henry

Verse 7 - Sometimes we feel like this. Our bones are just scattered at the opening of a grave. We're done. We're dry bones. Just ready to be piled into a little neglected heap of mulch. Oh, give me a break! Doesn't God say, "Can these bones live? Ye shall live!" (See Ezekiel 37:3, 5, 6, 14). 

Verse 8 - My eyes are on you, God. I'm trusting you. Give me relief. Give me comfort. 

Verse 9 - Help me discover traps. Help me to see them for what they are and not be deceived by them or lured by them.

Verse 10 - Whatever traps are laid for me by someone else, God, help me escape.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions?  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Psalm 130

Today's scripture is Psalm 130. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Verse 1 - No matter how low I am feeling, that's the time I need to cry out to God. I know it's hard to admit we need help, but particularly in those low points I have to admit that I need help and take that step.

Verse 2 - When I call, God will hear me. No matter what my situation, no matter how far away I've fallen from Him, no matter how broken my relationship with Him is, He will listen to me.

Verse 3 - We absolutely must own up to our failures before God. But if God took note of all our failings, no one would be able to continue to stand before Him! He's so merciful. The God of second chances for sure! (The God of thousands of chances for someone like me!)

Verse 4 - There is forgiveness for us when we repent. From that we should really fear and revere God for His power, the mercy and love He has for us, and our hope in Him.

Verses 5-6 - I have to be patient with God's timing often, when I want things done right away and that's not in His plan. But people wait for the "morning" - they know morning will come. The way I see this is kind of like an insomniac. If you've ever not been able to sleep, the night lasts SO LONG. It's that way sometimes when we're waiting to hear from God or waiting on a sign from Him. The only comfort in a time of insomnia is that at some point the morning will come. And that's our comfort when we're waiting for an answer from God as well. We watch for the morning - we watch for an answer. Something to complete our request. A sign from God that He hears us. And sometimes it seems to drag on a lot longer than we want to wait, but I guarantee this - if we would always be willing to wait on God, we would always hear an answer from Him for every decision we're needing to make. We can expect that, just like we expect morning to come when night is over. We should have that confidence in God. Sometimes we have to wait a season for an answer to prayer but it will come. We have to trust in His word.

Verses 7-8 - We must hope in God because He IS mercy and there is redemption in His hands for anyone who will accept it. God will redeem us from our sins, we just have to be willing to turn to Him.

Comments? Thoughts?  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Psalm 120

This morning's reading is from Psalm 120. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.
Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?
Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.
Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!
My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.
I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

Verse 1 - When we are overwhelmed and distressed we just need to call on God. He will hear us. 

Jonah 2:2 - "I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice."

Even when we feel like we're in the depths of hell, God will hear us and answer us.

Verse 2 - When we are persecuted by people who are spreading lies and rumors, God will deliver us out of that situation. The truth always comes out. But our soul has to stay strong through that trial!

Verses 3-4 - These verses speak of the defense God will exact for us. It speaks of God's arrows. Arrows fly quickly and hit right on target. They can pierce through the strongest armor of the enemy. His wrath is compared to burning coals of juniper. These don't flame, but are extremely hot and keep fire going for a very long time. People who lie about others will receive this kind of punishment.

Psalm 37:6 - "And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday."

God will always bring to light the truth for His children. He will protect us from people who lie about us.

Psalm 64:7 - "But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded."

Job 6:4 - "For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me."  

Verse 5 - This is probably figurative speaking. If David wrote this psalm (I'm not sure, because it doesn't say in the Bible), it was probably written during one of the times he was running for his life. If you've ever been in a situation where it seemed like everyone was against you or talking about you, you feel far from home, or like you are surrounded by strangers rather than people who are supposed to love you.

Verse 6 - Even through the trials we have with other people, we should try to overcome evil with good. Remember, Jesus did nothing but good and he was overcome by evil people. We, who fail so often throughout the day, deserve better than that? No, definitely not. We probably shouldn't even think it's strange or odd when people attack us. We should probably expect that as Christians. But how do we reply to them? Repay evil with good.

Comments? Thoughts? 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

These Are the Days of Elijah Review

I recently reviewed "These Are the Days of Elijah" by R. T. Kendall. I jumped on the chance to read this book because I have read a couple of his other books and I really enjoyed them. This one was definitely no different.

This book is actually compiled of sermons Dr. Kendall presented over the last year and a half (approximately) of his ministry. I love the story of Elijah and so to read through it with such detail was incredibly interesting. Dr. Kendall presented the chapters in a short, easy-to-read format so it was very hard for me to stop reading. If you've never read Elijah's story in the Bible, it is so interesting and inspiring. But Dr. Kendall adds his own element to the story, explaining small details and using personal stories to relate to the scripture.

The whole book was fantastic. It's not written in verbiage that is hard to understand, and his concepts are easy to relate to our lives. I also really enjoyed his personal stories and how humble and down-to-earth he seems, although he is certainly a quite famous pastor.

I highly recommend this book to anyone!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers and Chosen Books for the opportunity to review this book. I was given a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rockingham Discovery Place

Ever since Rockingham opened their own Discovery Place museum back in February we've been trying to go as a family. But we rarely have a Saturday "off" as a family to go. So when we had today totally free, we jumped at the chance to check it out!

Did we enjoy it? Well, we went at 1:30 and had to leave at 5pm when they closed... so what do you think!?

Now, I have never been to a Discovery Place except one time in third grade, so I obviously am inexperienced at this whole thing. This is probably not new to anyone else. But just in case you haven't been to the one in Rockingham, here are approximately 100 pictures to help you decide if it's worth the drive and $8 per person. Obviously if you stay for 3 1/2 hours like we did, it's totally worth it.

There are stations throughout the entire upstairs for pretend play. I mean... a car you can work on, fires you can put out, kitchens to cook in, animals in a vet's office... everything. Downstairs is the hands-on part, with things like science experiments, jungle gyms, an arts and crafts area, and even a water area. About every 30-45 minutes there is a special show on the stage or science experiments downstairs which is a great break from playing.

Here is the station where you can work on the car:

 And then a part where you can build and race cars. I bet Hunter spent an entire hour altogether here!

 The fire engine:

 The veterinarian hospital:

With an X-ray machine too:

 Putting out a house fire:

 Another big hit - the diner:

The first show was about dung beetles; this was a puppet show:

 Back to the car:

This is where Hunter said, "Be right back, Mom!"

 The garden section:

 Experiments downstairs:

 Playing with paper airplanes:

 The water room:

 The arts and crafts section:

 The last show of the day - the dance show!

I have to say it was money well spent for us today. But it was definitely just an educational play place. I heard people say they would come in the morning, leave to eat lunch, and go back all afternoon. I'm not really sure it's supposed to be used like that. But seriously, the only reason our kids left is because the place was closing. They honestly could have spent all day there probably. Now I'm excited to take them somewhere like Marbles or Museum of Life and Science. They are definitely getting to that age!

Video of the water room:

Hunter at the car table:

Hunter working on the car:

Hunter putting out a fire: