Comfort From the Psalms

Comfort From the Psalms

King David is probably the most famous of all of Israel’s ancient kings. The youngest of his family he began life as a shepherd – a lowly occupation. David was a very talented musician, poet, leader and warrior. He was dependable, a loyal friend, kept his promises and was very zealous for God but in his personal life blew it big time.

The Psalms contain a collection of 150 poems and songs of which 75 are attributed to David. They are not compiled in chronological order but put together by themes. Davids’ poems are rich with emotion whether begging for protection and mercy or in praise to God. We can learn a lot from studying the life of David in these hard days and we can take great comfort reading about God’s faithfulness to him. David’s feelings are not sugar coated but sometimes raw and that is why we can identify with this “man after God’s own heart”.

Needing Assurance and Comfort – Psalm 23 – written by a former shepherd, David shares that God is the Good Shepherd who cares for, leads, heals and provides for His people in all circumstances. A favorite psalm in times of trouble or grief.

Dysfunctional Family – Psalm 2 was written when Absalom, one of his sons, amassed an army to kill him and take over the kingdom. David had 8 wives and 7 sons listed in 2 Samuel which was against God’s command and a pure recipe for jealousy and conflict. He showed favoritism, failed to discipline his children and did not show love or justice toward them.

When Life Isn’t Fair – Psalm 37 encourages us to stop looking at “the other guy” and comparing what seems unfair but tells us to keep doing the right thing. God sees our hearts and actions .

Praising God for Protection and Victory – God is our Rock of refuge in the most difficult circumstances – written after Saul dies and David secures the throne (see also Ps 27 – Our Confidence is in God)

Guilty as Charged A Prayer of Repentance – Psalm 51 – David really blew it! He was where he shouldn’t be, lusted after Bathsheba, committed adultery, got her pregnant and then had the faithful warrior husband killed in battle. How low could he go? His sin greatly affected others. He pours out his heart asking forgiveness and restoration – and God granted his request but there were still consequences – the child died. Psalm 103 is praise for Forgiveness.

Feeling Alone – God’s Omnipresence – Psalm 139 – We cannot run from God or hide from Him. God is our Creator Who knew us before we were born. God cares about us and will bring comfort to our hearts.

These are only a few of the many passages that speak to our very own experience. The Bible is not a dead book but is living and powerful. No matter what circumstances you are facing today there is a message from God, a life lesson or a promise for you within the pages of His Book. Take a look for yourselves and see !

Are You Weary?

Are You Weary?

Somedays I am so weary – not necessarily sleepy, although a nap wouldn’t hurt. I am just “sick and tired of feeling sick and tired”. Although I do have underlying health issues, I am sleeping okay and not to achy. I think it is this “Covid fog” we are all experiencing. The new normal is not normal – I feel stuck! I wear my mask, wash my hands and try to be cautious in where I go. We took day trips but missed going on a few real vacations we were looking forward to. I know that I really shouldn’t complain because all of our needs have been met. Life really is good – I think I am just weary.

What is a weary person? 1:exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness. 2: expressing or characteristic of weariness a weary sign. 3: having one’s patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted – used with of soon grew weary of waiting. ( http://www.yourdictionary.com) It is someone who is bushed, burnt out, drained, drowsy and dog tired; Frazzled, fatigued, pooped, sapped, tuckered out and wacked. I am sure many of you can identify with these feelings.

The 2to1 conference explains the difference between tired and weary. “A weary person deserves to rest. Weary implies the subject is tired because they were beaten down by something. Tired implies you didn’t get enough sleep. Weariness is a temporary feeling of low energy and tiredness.” The book of Matthew promises that you are not alone. If we confess our weariness to the Lord He will send comfort. This doesn’t mean our circumstances will change but we may feel a supernatural peace to help us push onward in the face of weariness.

Here are five promises for weariness:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matt 11:28-29

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. Isaiah 40:28

 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Gal 6:9

Why Are We So Angry?

Why Are We So Angry?

Why are we so angry in a country that offers so much? We have much to be thankful for but our news and social media is filled with anger and violence. There seems to be less tolerance, respect and restraint while everyone is quick to blame someone else for their problems.

Anger itself is a normal emotion experienced by all humans from time to time and can serve as functional for survival. It can potentially boost determination to correct wrong behaviors and facilitate social justice and redress grievances. Uncontrolled anger however can negatively affect personal and social well-being and negatively impact those around us. In its strongest form, anger impairs one’s ability to process information and to exert self-control. Anger, if not dealt with, can become very destructive.

When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord.4 Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift,5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected?7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”8 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. Gen 4:3-8

God warned Cain that his anger needed to be controlled and that he had a choice to do what was right. Instead he chose to kill his brother out of jealousy and hurt feelings. We always have a choice in how we respond no matter how great the perceived or real provocation, hurt or threat. Jesus taught about judging others and dealing with anger. We need to look at ourselves first to see if we caused any conflict and be the peacemakers.

Jonah is a well known prophet with an amazing whale of a tale. Jonah did not believe the Ninevites deserved a second chance. He finally dragged his feet to the city proclaiming their eminent destruction. He watched for the fire and brimstone to rain down but when it didn’t- he became angry. Jonah waited some distance from the city while God provided a leafy plant for shade. Jonah was happy for his personal comfort but then God provided a worm to eat the plant.

 “Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly.11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” Jonah 4:9-11

Jonah was self centered and forgot how God forgave and protected him. Jonah had been given a second chance and God reprimanded him for his uncaring attitude for all those lost people. The book of Jonah is the only book in the Bible to end in a question. God cares about people and how we respond to others.

People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.
30 A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones. Prov 14:29-30

26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,. Eph 4:26

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Cor 13:4-7

It is not a sin to feel angry but how we respond to our feelings can be. We need to recognize it, control it, deal with it and do the right thing. We always have a choice!

A Call to Remember

A Call to Remember

I am sitting at my desk writing this blog on September 11th – a day of remembrance. What started out as a very average day, when people went to work, school, shopping or began a trip away from home became a day of horror, fear and survival for millions around our Country. Anyone who is 5 years or older can remember where they were and what they were doing that fateful day. I solemnly watched part of several memorial services across our country – names were read and the bell tolled. We are called to come together as One Nation and remember the day when an unprovoked and undeserved attack struck our land killing thousands of innocent people and causing unprecedented mass destruction. Memorials have been placed in many locations to help us not forget.

God Himself instituted a Memorial Ceremony called Passover to help His people remember their last day as slaves in Egypt and how they were called to be a the Nation of Israel. The blood of a perfect lamb needed to be placed over the doorposts of believers to escape the Angel of death that night. Soon after, they marched out to freedom as God lead the way performing incredible miracles of salvation, provision and protection.

Jesus was celebrating Passover with His disciples on the night He was betrayed and sentenced to a cruel death He didn’t deserve. What started out as a joyous feast became Jesus’ last chance to enjoy time with all of them. Judas left early but the others followed Jesus to the Garden. They left the feast singing, but their eyelids heavy from a big meal and so they fell asleep instead of praying and watching. The following events recorded in the Gospels are a shocking mix of betrayal, unprovoked brutality and unexpected horror. Jesus knew everything that was going to happen yet submitted to The Fathers’ will.

Christians around the world are called to remember Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection power. Whether in a small group or a huge Cathedral, all denominations that call themselves Christian celebrate Communion. Jesus gave His disciples simple directions to follow that hold profound meaning.

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it,28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Matt 26:26-28

I ask all of you to stop and remember September 11th , 2001 . Where were you? What did it cost you? What were your reactions? How has life changed? If you are a Believer of the Gospel – do you remember a particular day when you realized what Christ had done for you and asked His forgiveness? Do you remember asking the Holy Spirit to take control of your life? How has life changed?

Then REMEMBER who you are: I am a son/daughter of the King of Kings – I am forgiven – I am worthy (He paid a great cost) – I am free – I am LOVED – I am never alone – I belong – I am part of the family of God

REMEMBER WHO HE IS: He is The Creator and Sustainer of heaven, earth, seas, sky and galaxies beyond – Giver of Life – Provider, Protector, He sees you and knows your name – He is everywhere – He knows everything and He is All Powerful – Never failing, Never tiring, Never ending. He alone is God.

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm

Once again the eastern coast has been bombarded by a devastating hurricane.  Hurricanes are the most violent storms on earth. The warm tropical air rises, causing an area of lower air pressure below while air from higher air pressure pushes in becoming warm and moist too. The whole system of clouds and wind spins and grows, fed by the ocean’s heat and water evaporating from the surface. As the storm system rotates faster and faster, an eye forms in the center.  When the wind speeds reach 74 mph it is officially a hurricane and winds could then increase up to 157mph or greater.

The calmest part of the storm is the center or “eye”. It has no wind at the center and typically clearer skies. Located just outside the eye is the eye wall, the place within a hurricane that holds the most damaging winds and intense rainfall. A common mistake is for residents to exit their homes to inspect the damage while the eye passes over, only to be caught off guard by the violent winds in the opposite eyewall. 

Meteorologists watch these storms carefully to warn us of the impending danger – if everyday life had such warnings would we really listen? I think not.  Just like the people who insist on “riding out the storm” despite official notice, we think we know better or just don’t care. A lot of folks don’t pay attention to environmental, health and safety warnings. The Ten Commandments give us basic rules for living peacefully but they have been taken off the government and school walls.

Jesus told a parable about wise decision making for the storms of life.

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.26 But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matt 7:24-27

2020 has held severe damaging winds of uncertainty, loss and un-normal change. A tiny virus has upended the whole world. The bad actions of a few have caused political upheaval, protests and riots. There have been fires on the west coast and now hurricanes on the east coast. Whether you are in the middle of a horrible “storm” or if you find yourself waiting in “the eye” – you have to finish the course.

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out.23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm!25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” Luke 8:22-25

Our God is in control despite the biggest storms. He can be trusted because He is our Creator, Sustainer and Friend.  Nothing is new to Him or unknown.  Just like the disciples, we can cry out to Him to help us and He does hear our prayer. He is the source of peace beyond normal comprehension. Won’t you trust Him for today? There is nothing better than feeling His arms around me when I’m in the eye of the storm.

Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson

In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
And in the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm

Are You Dehydrated?

Are You Dehydrated?

Lately my husband has been asking me if I am okay.  I’m not sure if it’s an expression on my face or the seeming lack of energy. I sometimes get a little cranky and I have noticed I do not tolerate the high temperatures we have been experiencing very well. We do have air conditioning for which I am very grateful. Like everyone else it has been difficult but we have all adjusted fairly well to the Corona rules. No, it’s something else.

I love coffee – hot coffee – not iced or ice tea. I can and do drink three to four cups everyday if I am not counting. Although coffee counts as a fluid the problem is it can also be a diuretic. I am getting dehydrated without realizing it. Coffee is substituting for the real thing – plain old H2O.

“How does your body feel when it’s dehydrated? Any deficit in normal body water can make us feel rotten. First we feel thirsty and fatigued, and may develop a mild headache. This eventually gives way to grumpiness, and mental and physical decline.”  (Unknown google quote)  There are lists for signs of dehydration but the bottom line is you can’t put out if you don’t take in.

I have noticed a certain amount of spiritual dehydration when chores and busyness get in the way of quiet time reading my Bible and prayer. I cannot be my best self. I don’t tolerate other peoples’ flaws and fail to extend grace. My point of view becomes cloudy without the illumination of God’s Word.  Without taking in the “Living Water” my soul becomes dry and inflexible and fruitless which also means I cannot pour out.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.2 I thirst for God, the living God. Psalms 42:1-2 (NLT)

In New England, summer seems short and we love to enjoy the outdoors and  many fun activities as long as we can.  Don’t become dehydrated this summer. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, seek shade and rest on these hot days.  The same advice goes for your soul.  In the heat of politics, financial, educational and health uncertainty etc. – we need to drink deeply from His Word. Listen to Christian music, a podcast or read a good book to rest and refresh.

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” John 4:10 (NLT)

 “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ John 7:37-38 (NLT)

The need to come to Him is spelled out so clearly in the song “The Well” by Casting Crowns I want to share it with you. Here are some of the lyrics from the first verse. Stay hydrated friends!

Leave it all behind

I have what you need
But you keep on searchin’
I’ve done all the work
But you keep on workin’
When you’re runnin’ on empty
And you can’t find the remedy
Just come to the well

You can spend your whole life
Chasin’ what’s missing
But that empty inside
It just ain’t gonna listen
When nothing can satisfy
And the world leaves you high and dry
Just come to the well

And all who thirst will thirst no more
And all who search will find what their souls long for
The world will try, but it can never fill
Leave it all behind, and come to the well

Abrahams well in Beersheba Israel still holds water today