Category Archives: Devotional

Choosing to Praise

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“My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Psalm 108:1-4 (ESV)

God called King David a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22). There are many reasons God said this about David but Psalm 108 shows us one clear reason. David was fixed on praising God. He was fixed on praising God not because things always went his way. Not because he never suffered. Not because he was perfect. It was a choice he made. He told God, “My heart is steadfast!” To be steadfast is to be firm, stable, established, fixed. He was set on praising God and nothing would sway him from that. He said,

I WILL sing and make melody with all my being!

I WILL awake the dawn!

I WILL give thanks to you, O LORD!

I WILL sing praises to you among the nations.

David determined to sing for God with all his being. He chose to start his day praising God. He made the choice to give thanks to Him. He was set on praising God in his heart and also chose to praise Him among the nations.

Why? Why would he praise him in spite of trouble and oppression? Why would he praise Him in spite of his own weaknesses? Why would he praise Him in the midst of daily struggles?

“For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” Psalm 108:4-5

Why would he praise Him? Because God’s love is great above the heavens! His love never fails. His love is everlasting! Because His faithfulness goes on forever!

He deserves all praise and all glory! His love and faithfulness will never fail us.

Like David, I can choose to praise Him. I can say with David:

I will sing and make melody with all my heart!

I will wake up in the morning praising Him!

I will give thanks to you, O LORD!

I will sing your praises to those around me.

It’s a choice I can make. I can praise Him in spite of circumstances because He never changes. His character is firm in spite of my problems and struggles. I can praise Him because His love for me never fails. He will never love me any less. I can make the choice to sing and make music in my heart. I can thank Him everyday for all He does for me. I can also choose to praise His name to those around me. I can tell them how great He is.

God’s love for me is steadfast. It will never change. His faithfulness goes on forever. He is worthy of all my praise.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD! I will sing your praises to others. Praise your Holy Name!

This is a choice we can make every day! It’s a gift we give to our Lord.

I originally published this devotion at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

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Singing in the Storm

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S – “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me…My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!” Psalm 57:2,7 (ESV)

O – David wrote these words while hiding in a cave as King Saul with 3,000 men looked for him to kill him. A powerful king hated him and wanted him to die. In this Psalm he trusts himself to God. He knew His Father would fulfill His purpose for him. In spite of the danger, the fear, and seemingly overwhelming odds, his heart was steadfast and immovable in trusting God. He was singing and making melody to God even as he ran for his life.

A – Can I have such faith that trusts God no matter what is happening? Is my heart steadfast, immovable in trusting God?

Shouts and name-calling zing from our government leaders like bullets. Earthquakes shake our world. Hunger threatens. Gloom fills the news. Friends report cancer. Young people turn from faith. Life moves at lightening speed. I can surrender to fear and live in anxiety or I can make the choices David made:

My soul takes refuge in the shadow of your wings. (v.1)

I cry out to God Most High. (v.2)

My heart is steadfast. (v.7)

I will sing and make melody! (v.7)

I will awake the dawn! (With music-v.8))

I will give thanks to you, O Lord. (v.9)

I will sing praises to you. (v.9)

All choices David made. Choices I can make.

We can choose during times of destruction and turmoil to take refuge in God until the storm passes. We can trust Him or we can surrender to fear.

P – Father, I will praise your holy name. I will give thanks to you. You and you alone keep me safe and guide my path. I will sing praises to you. You are my hiding place. My Rock. My Fortress. Praise your holy name!

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When My Ugly is Showing

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My selfish attitude slapped me in the face.

I was in a situation where I realized my attitude was ugly, stingy and self-focused. And this was concerning my eighty-six year old mother! Wow, way to go self.

As I thought back over the choices I’d made throughout the day I realized how self-focused I’d been. I felt helpless in the face of my own weak nature. My inability to be a good person. I’m not a good person by nature. When I operate in my own strength, I always default to selfishness.

It’s only as I yield to Jesus and trust Him by faith to work through me that I can live and love as He wants me to. Words aren’t enough to express what His grace means. Amazing, astounding, glorious. How can words express thanks for such a gift?

I had missed my prayer and Bible reading for 5 or 6 days before this instance and had been operating in my own strength. I was “doing” the right things but harboring a selfish attitude.

Then I remembered: run to Jesus!

He was right there loving me. He died so that I could come to Him aware of my own failure and sin. I cried out to Him and confessed my sin. I confessed my weakness and remembered how He loves me. How He has always been there to love and forgive, Running to Jesus is always the answer.

When sin grips my heart, I run to Jesus.

When problems rise like mountains, I run to Jesus.

When that voice in my head says I’m a failure, I run to Jesus.

When I realize I’m weak, incapable of loving my neighbor as myself, I run to Jesus.

When regret threatens to crush me, I run to Jesus.

When I do it right, I run to Jesus.

The LIE is that I’m not worthy and I should just give up.

The TRUTH is Jesus says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 So when I am weak, He is strong.

My flesh rebels at the idea that I have to have connection to Him everyday. That I need time in prayer and scripture every day. That I have no strength apart from Him. But it’s true, I don’t. When I am walking with Jesus and He’s working through me, loving through me, I can make the mistake of thinking “I” am good. “I” am doing something. I can’t take credit for anything. I breath because He lives. If I’m able to love sacrificially, it’s because He first loved me.

It’s all grace.

Praise His holy name!

Thank you Jesus that you can take all my weakness, all my mess, all my brokenness and use it to your glory. Thank you that nothing is wasted. Thank you that every good thing in my life is a gift from you. I thank you that you use even the hard things to draw my heart to you. I love you Lord!

Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions

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When Depression Knocks

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When the darkness comes, reach for the light.

“I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.” Psalm 34:1 (NLT)

I tend toward the melancholy.

Awhile back I was struggling more often than usual with the temptation to depression, a lack of joy, and an oppression of the spirit. I know there are many others who struggle with this and I want to share what helps me most.

(To clarify: I’m NOT talking about chemical imbalance and I’m not discussing clinical depression here).

I’m talking about a feeling of sadness that comes for no obvious reason. Feeling gloomy or unhappy sometimes in spite of having things go well in life. It might be unexplained or it might come because of sin and suffering in the world or because of my own failings and weaknesses.

When I fall into this kind of depression, these choices help me the most:

  • Singing praise to God out loud. Spending time alone with God and singing praise songs to Him is powerful. There’s more power in singing out loud but listening to praise music is also healing.
  • Prayer. Our greatest resource. We can tell God exactly how we feel. It’s important also to confess our sins. We can tell Him what we desire Him to do in our lives. If I feel powerless to pray, I pray the Psalms. Some that have helped me: Psalm 37, 34, 32, 23, 27, 40 and 42 but any of the Psalms are helpful.
  • Reading and meditating on Scripture. Reading God’s Word is essential. Quoting Scripture out loud helps to focus our minds on the truth. “For the word of God is alive and powerful…” Hebrews 4:12a (NLT) His Word is supernatural and meditating on its truth can bring peace and calm to our souls.
  • Resisting isolation. When I feel depression coming in my spirit, often my first temptation is to isolate myself and shut others out. This only makes things worse and amplifies the darkness. Reaching out to someone we trust and can share our hearts with will often drive the dark feeling away. I’ve found that the more I keep my negative thought patterns to myself, the stronger they get. But time and time again when I share those thoughts, just saying them out loud to someone exposes them as lies.
  • Keeping a balance between physical exertion (exercise/work) and rest. If we go for a period of time without doing anything that requires physical exertion, it can lead to a depressed feeling, but if we’re always on the go and never take time to rest, that also can leave us depressed. We need balance.
  • Remembering we are in a war. We’re all in a Spiritual battle but those who seek to get closer to Jesus will meet the enemy head on. Satan will attack anyone who follows Jesus. Peter warns us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT). However, we overcome him through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, our testimony and prayer. (Revelation 12:11) “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NIV)

One particular morning I was feeling the darkness. I read my daily devotions and meditated on His truth. Later, I remembered about praising God. By choice, not by feeling I began to sing praises to Him. I put on praise music and exercised while praising Him. I poured out my heart to Him. He lifted me from the pit (Psalm 40)!

Some experience depression that goes beyond what they can deal with by themselves. It may even be caused by a chemical imbalance. At those times, it is important to seek help from a counselor or a doctor. There was a time when my depression became so persistent that I went to a counselor for some months. God used her to help me tremendously! There’s nothing wrong with needing help. God created us as beings that need each other.

May God give grace and peace to anyone reading this who is suffering from depression or persistent sadness. Please use it Lord. Use it to bring them closer to you. Please shine your light into their darkness.

Please comment below if you need prayer to get through a season of depression. He loves you with an everlasting love!

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Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions

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Would I Get In The Wheelbarrow?

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“The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” Psalm 145:8-9 (ESV)

This is LORD God we serve. Gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love! He is awesome and He IS good to all. We accept that by faith. We have to trust His sovereign wisdom. His mercy does cover us.

“Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” v. 2-3

The message of trust keeps coming to me. Yesterday Joshua Huntoon, a local youth pastor, gave a message on faith. He used the illustration of when Charles Blondin pushed a wheelbarrow on a tightrope over Niagara Falls. He pushed the wheelbarrow over, then he pushed it with the wheelbarrow full of cement. The story goes that he then asked the crowd if they believed he could push it with a man inside. They yelled, “Yes!”. When he asked for a volunteer, no one was willing.

I can say “I believe” he can do it but would I get in the wheelbarrow?

With Jesus, getting in the wheelbarrow shows I believe and know God is trustworthy and good and not that I am “pretty sure” He is trustworthy.

It struck me that when I believed in Jesus as a child, I got in the wheelbarrow. That means I let Him take me where He wants me to go. That means I will trust Him no matter what. That means No. Matter. WHAT happens, I trust. The Centurion was praised for great faith because he got it that Jesus was Sovereign God, above all, and had the right and power to command all things. If I am not trusting, if I am fearful or doubting, than I doubt His power, I doubt His goodness. But v. 9 says, He is “good to all.”  He is “kind in all his works” v. 17. “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” v. 18 When I call on Him in faith and belief, He is there.

Thank you Father for being the awesome God you are! Thank you LORD God Almighty that you are awesome in power. You are Holy and Good. You are Kind and Gracious. You are Near and you are Merciful. You are abounding in steadfast love. I worship You. I bow before you. I give to you all my heart and soul. I will praise your name forever!

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He Also Made the Stars

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“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

“…He also made the stars.” Gen 1:16b

The first recorded words of God are, “Let there be light.”

Light is everything. Without light there would be no life. Light gives us warmth, shows us the way, protects us from danger and keeps us alive. Sunlight is essential to physical and mental health. How could light just appear? How can it be explained other than the Creator spoke it into existence?

Then in verse 16 a simple statement, “He also made the stars.”

He made stars beyond what is possible to count. He made stars that stretch into a universe of which there appears to be no end. Stars that inhabit galaxies beyond count. Wonders we can’t imagine.

Oh, by the way, He also made the stars.

That alone should bring us to our knees before Him, to our faces in worship of this powerful God who also made the stars.

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I take so much for granted. Light for example. I take it for granted the sun will come up each day. I take it for granted that when I flip a switch the light comes on. This is a gift from a holy God.

I talk to Him each day but do I remember this is the LORD God who made the stars, who spoke light into existence and who took dust to make the miracle of a human being?

How can I ever come to Him casually?

He is amazing! He is worthy of my praise and worship. He chose to reach down and save my soul. He chose to send Jesus to earth to live and die for those who had already rebelled. Words cannot express what I owe Him.

This God who “also made the stars” loves each one of us with an everlasting love. He thought of us before He ever said “Let there be light.” He thought of us and knowing we would choose to sin and rebel against Him, decided in advance to send Jesus to live and die for us so that we can live with Him forever. He made it possible for us to come to Him even in our sin. We can come boldly to His throne anytime of day or night and talk to Him, give Him our petitions, praise Him, and worship Him.

Father God, You are worthy of all my worship, all my heart and soul. I stand before you in awe of your majesty and power. The invitation to come directly to you and talk to you is an indescribable gift. I love you LORD. I want your will to be done in every part of my life and who I am. I worship you my Creator and my Lord!

May we come to Him in worship every day throughout the day!

Originally published for Takin It to the Streets – Omaha.

 

 

 

 

 

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Calm and Quiet

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I get agitated when life isn’t going like I think it should.

How can I fix this?

What can I do?

I feel this urgency that God has to answer my prayers the way I want. Anxiety starts to drive out peace.

God recently spoke to me through David’s wisdom in Psalm 131:

“My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content…put your hope in the LORD now and forevermore.” Psalm 131

Pride goes before a fall by deceiving us and making us think we can do life on our own but we can’t. We decide we know what the answer is and head out in a rush of pride and fall flat on our faces. A haughty person is filled with self and blinded by pride. I don’t have all the answers. There are mysteries in life and creation I don’t understand and I need to leave them in God’s hands. I trust all the unanswered questions to a loving and holy Father who knows everything. I leave to Him the mysteries of doctrine I don’t understand. I trust Him with the “Why’s?” that come up in life. It takes humility to admit we just don’t know the answers. We can do nothing apart from Jesus.

“I have calmed and quieted myself.” I love this statement. Calmed (composed, leveled out, made smooth). Striving, grasping and fretting are the opposite of being calmed. I can compose myself and accept whatever God allows. (I am speaking of things we have no control over. There are times to take action for example to obey God in a situation or to remove ourselves from an abusive relationship.) I can become like still waters. I am quiet, not questioning, not demanding but resting in peaceful silence. Calm and quiet.

I recently found myself striving and grasping. Asking God:

“Why did it happen that way with my loved one?”

“Why aren’t my efforts producing more fruit?”

“Why can’t I fix this?”

Fretting, thrashing, throwing fits, grumbling, demanding, then He taught me this truth: Calm and quiet your self. Accept, be quiet, trust…be like a weaned child…

Like a weaned child rests against his mother.” – (NASB) I picture a young child who is in mother’s arms. The child knows milk is there. This has been the loved source of nourishment but since being weaned the babe no longer frets when the breast is near. There’s no more demanding. The child trusts her to provide what’s needed and is peaceful. A weaning child frets and searches and doesn’t want to let go of the breast.

“The weaned babe has given up what it loved. By nature, we hang on the breasts of this world, and only sovereign grace can wean us from it.” Charles H. Spurgeon

The weaned child sits calm and peaceful in mother’s arms no longer fretting and anxious. Though still dependent on mom for nourishment the child trusts her to provide and is content with what is given. Spurgeon goes on to say, “When we give up self- righteousness, self-confidence, the love of the world, the desire of self-aggrandizement, when we give up … trusting in anything but God, then has our soul become like a weaned child.”

How do we do this?

“Put your hope in the LORD now and forevermore.”

Only as we look to the LORD God for all our needs and trust Him with whatever He gives can we find that contentment. Our hope is in Him not in all the earthly things we strive for. The deepest longings of our heart will never be fulfilled anywhere but in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Knowing David found this place of resting in God encourages me. It’s possible to let go of striving, fretting and demanding and be calm and quiet in our Father’s arms. Trusting Him to give us what we need. Trusting Him even when we have to let go of something we love. His eternal purposes for us are always best. When my loved one comes to mind and I’m tempted to fret or demand, I’ll remember God has him in His hands and I’ll calm and quiet myself before God.

We can let go of striving and calm and quiet ourselves before our Father who loves us and will take care of us.

 

“When … you are weaned from all fretting, worrying, and self-seeking, then you are free to undertake the Lord’s business.” Spurgeon

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Published on Internet Cafe Devotions on 1-12-16

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