Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Psalm 25

Tonight, I feel like I should share my favorite Psalm.  God caused this Psalm to come alive to me during a particularly rough and painful time in my life several years ago.  Once He ignites a word in your heart like that, you are never the same.

Third Day's song "My Hope is You" is taken right out of this Psalm. The timing of the release of this song and the heartbreak in my life was amazing.  Only God could have done that.  We learned the song at church the very same week that God spoke to me through Psalm 25, in my favorite NIV Bible that I bought when I got saved in 1994.  This is why it is my favorite song. 

Interesting fact:  HOPE is the word that God gave me for 2011.

"In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you  will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
For the sake of your name, LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. 
They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land.
The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.
See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD,is in you.
Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!" 

Psalm 25 (New International Version, ©2011)

Be blessed, my friends.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

The River

The river bed winds through the canyon, snaking its way around mountains and through valleys.  It goes along on its way to the sea, making its path wider as the rains come to fill the river to overflowing.  At least, this is the way of rivers typically. There's one difference in this river...it has gone dry. Not even a hint of moisture from days gone by trickles through this valley.  

This is where I find myself.  In the river bed, waiting for rain.  Daily asking God to pour out His Spirit--the water--and fill and refresh me once again.  And yet...nothing.  He has chosen to be silent. He has chosen, in His infinite wisdom, to leave me there, waiting.  

I realized something very basic about rivers as I started writing this.  It's so basic, so simple, it is downright embarrassing to admit that it just dawned on me, but I'm going to anyway.  The thing revealed to me about rivers...they are in the valley. Water, by nature, flows to the lowest point in the valley.  Gravity continues to pull it down, down, down, until it is at the bottom. 

A drought comes, and the water dries up.  And so, here I am, waiting in a dried-up river bed.  I know that God is up to something.  He has not brought me here to hurt me, even though I am hurting.  He promised in Jeremiah 29 "not to harm me but to give me a hope and a future."He has drawn me to Himself, and I believe He is creating a larger capacity within my heart for Him.

This may sound depressing, but there is hope.  God impressed that on me as the word of the year for me.  Hope.  There will be rain.  I believe that when He has refashioned my heart and enlarged my capacity to love, He will bring a flood, and this dry river bed will once again overflow its banks.

And so I sing His praises while I wait.  The more I hurt, the louder I will sing.  He deserves my praise and adoration.  I have embraced my desert, and I know He will once again bring the rain.  

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Take the First Step

"...the LORD said to Joshua, 'Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’” Joshua 3:7-8

This was in my Bible reading this morning.  It's the passage where God has instructed the children of Israel to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land.  I've read it before, of course, but I noticed something today.  He told them to go and stand in the water.  

"Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground." (verses15-17).

He did create a way for them, as He did for their fathers who came out of Eygpt across the Red Sea, but at the very first, He told the priests to take the ark and go stand in the water.  So when the priests took the ark of the covenant and started toward the river, nothing had changed.  They had to act in faith that the water would be stopped.

This spoke to me.  Sometimes I have a rough day, like today. It started out good, but by noon I had a headache and just generally felt unwell.  I could not gather any energy to do anything.  I felt depression start to creep in, like it does sometimes.  I tried to take a nap, thinking I was just tired, because I had awakened at 6:00 and couldn't go back to sleep.  I couldn't sleep.  I kept thinking of all the things I had to do, but had no strength to do.  Then this passage in Joshua came back to me, and I felt I had to make an effort to get up and do what I had to do.  It was hard at first, but I gained strength after I got started.  I was even able to go to Walmart and get what I needed.

No matter what obstacle is in front of us, it's no different than when those priests took the first steps into a raging river at flood stage.  God dried up the river so much that they crossed on dry ground.  He will do no less for us.