Category Archives: Listening to God

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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Walk With God

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S –   “Enoch walked with God, and was not, for God took him.”  Genesis 5:24

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5

“…Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:9b  “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” v. 8

O – Both Noah and Enoch “walked with God” and both found favor in His eyes. God was pleased with them. Why? Because they walked with Him. They fellowshipped with Him. They had a relationship with God. Their faith pleased God.

A – Am I walking with God? Yes, I believe in Him, I believe His word, I know He is real, and my heart belongs to Him. But do I walk with Him or do I go my merry way? Do I do what is convenient, easy or fits my mood or do I follow the leading of His Spirit even if it is inconvenient, painful or requires sacrifice?

Walk with. Follow. He leads. I walk with Him but I turn when He turns. I stop when He stops. He sets the pace.

P – Jesus, I want to follow you this way. I want to turn from setting my own pace and stopping when I want. Dear Spirit, help me yield. Help me listen and follow.

My word for 2017: FOLLOW

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At the Potter’s House |by Tara Wiley

At Discover One Thing, my friend Tara shared some beautiful words describing Jeremiah’s visit to the potter:

At the Potter’s House | Tara Wiley

S~ Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” Jeremiah 18:5-6 (NIV)

O~ “Jeremiah, my old friend!” Adam’s bellowed greeting was warm, and the sound steadied Jeremiah’s inner shaking – until he saw Adam’s eyes slide away from his as they stepped away from a friendly embrace. I am an object of dread to my closest friends.(Psalm 31:11). “What can I do for you today?” The short, sturdy frame of his childhood playmate turned towards his work as he asked the question over his shoulder.

Jeremiah paused, looking around the workshop, taking a deep breath. His nostrils filled with earthy musk of wet clay. The pale rust and gray of Adam’s work covered every surface. Fired and unfired earthenware lined the shelves, piled onto the ground, covered the low tables at the front of the shop. Adam lived, breathed, and moved with earth – his name perfectly suited him.

Jeremiah carefully made his way back towards the far wall where Adam was reaching for a hunk of earth that, from the look of it, had just recently been torn from its home in the ground. He threw the clay onto his worktable and began to slice it into long vertical lines, picking out rocks and roots as he went, tossing them to the ground.  Jeremiah watched thoughtfully as Adam focused his attention on his task. The sleeves of his linen tunic stretched and pulled over thickly muscular arms as Adam slapped the layers of cleaned clay together. He hammered the air pockets out, then folded and slapped the layers again onto the worktable, one on top of the other. Is the lesson, here, Lord?

“There’s nearly not enough sleeve in your tunic for your muscle, brother. You’re going to need some new clothes if you keep working at this pace!” Jeremiah spread his arms to the cluttered evidence of Adam’s efforts. Adam offered a polite laugh and glance before gathering up his newly cleaned and layered earthen lump. He slid it into a vat of water, barely disrupting the shimmering clay slick across its surface. The clay would stay there for nearly six months, soaking up moisture, before it was ready to be formed. Is the lesson here, Lord?

“Either that, or I must stop eating Rachel’s plentiful food!” Adam admitted, patting an equally bulging belly. “Now, you aren’t here to discuss my form, are you? What do you need?” The potter wiped his hands on a rough muslin rag and stepped back, ready for business.

“I- I- Well, show me that pot over there, the squat one in the corner,” Jeremiah stammered. What do I say? Like everyone else, he does not want to hear that I am about the Lord’s work. Yet, I have not heard His word. I must stay.

“Looking for a chamber pot, are you?” Jeremiah flushed. The snide tone in Adam’s remark made it clear what he was thinking of where Jeremiah might belong. They ridicule me…Those I love have turned against me. (Job 19:18-19) Lord, help me.

“I’m not sure yet what I need. May I just look around a bit while you work?” Jeremiah purposefully ignored the implication, remaining congenial, acting ignorant when he was indeed all too aware. Why could I not have been called to this simple existence, working with my hands, raising a family? Ah, no, I would be dissatisfied here too, wouldn’t I? Your word is a fire within me, burning hot as the kiln behind this shop.

Adam shrugged and sat at the wheel. People often came by to watch him work – usually children, but who was this man but a foolish child? The only concern, of course, was others seeing him here. How would that make Adam look? Still, he could not turn him away. He was a customer, after all.

Jeremiah watched his old friend closely as Adam reached for a slick knob of clay and carefully placed it in the center of his wheel(in the center of Your will, Lord…). From this point on, Adam’s hands never left the clay. The wheel began to spin as Adam worked the pedal, and his hands pressed against the knob, smoothing it as it began to yield to his touch. A tall cylinder rose, then rolled back as Adam’s thumbs pressed an indentation into the center, opening it out into a vessel. Over and over, he pressed and prodded, shaped and pulled the clay that seemed to breathe and live under his touch. Just when Jeremiah thought he knew what form Adam was after, he would take the shape another direction. Then, suddenly the wheel stopped and the clay collapsed into a lump. Adam muttered a choice word as he slapped the clay back together, adding a bit of water as he reformed it into a shapeless knob once again.

“What happened?” Jeremiah inquired. Adam shrugged.

“The shape was marred. I must begin again.”

“But the clay is still useful?”

“Yes. You have seen what it takes to prepare the clay for this moment. I will not waste it.” Adam’s feet worked the pedal, and the table resumed its spin with the knob carefully placed at its center. Adam cupped water in a hand and poured it over the knob, once again pressing into it with the skillful touch of an artisan.

“A mistake does not render it useless. I’ll begin again, and make a shape most suitable for this clay.” As Jeremiah watched, the clay narrowed, then fluted under Adam’s hands, taking the form not of a common-use bowl or plate, but of a graceful vase. This is my word, Jeremiah, my work, to rebuild, to restore, if only Israel will yield to my touch. Jeremiah rose abruptly and left to attend to his own work, to record the word of the Lord. As he left the workshop, the hem of his robe caught the little clay idol Adam had placed at the entrance, sending it tottering and crashing to the ground.

A/P~ Lord, how grateful I am that You are in the business of rebuilding and restoring. You pulled me from the dirt, picking out the rocks and roots of sin in my life, and placed me in water-deep seasons of preparation. You hold me in your hands and shape me, and just when I think I know what You’re up to, You surprise me again. And, oh Lord, when I resist, and mar Your work, what grace You offer, to begin again. You do not throw me aside! You know how I am formed, that I am dust (Psalm 103:14). When I yield to You, You make something beautiful even out of my brokenness. You put Your Spirit in my weak body, a treasure in an earthen vessel (2 Cor 4:7) so that the surpassing greatness of Your power may be exalted in my life. Thank You for restoring me, for renewing me every morning. Let me be found a useful vessel for You (Romans 9:19-21). I choose to submit to Your will for my life.

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Find the Treasure!

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S – “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry around for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5 (NIV)

O – Solomon teaches us that wisdom is from God and we find it in His word but we must ask for it, cry out for it, search for it and seek to understand. We must apply our hearts to understand His truth.

A – I like to ask God for wisdom, then walk away expecting Him to just zap me and make me wise. I get up from prayer and…Boom! I am wise. His words here tell me I need to store up His commands, turn my ear to wisdom, apply my heart, look for it as I would look for silver, search for it as for hidden treasure. That sounds like work! I don’t get instantaneous wisdom. I need to search the scriptures every day looking for His wisdom, memorize His commands to hide them in my heart, listen to teaching on His word, and APPLY my HEART to understand and live it not just to hear.  I need to give my all to find His wisdom. If I were searching for hidden treasure, I would spend a lot of time meditating on where to look, I would be obsessed with finding the treasure. I would look until I succeeded.

Yes, I ask God for wisdom and wisdom comes from Him:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

But, I need to do my part by giving my all to seek Him and His wisdom, to study His word, meditate on His truth, memorize scripture and APPLY it to my heart and life.

P – Father, thank you that you gave us the gift of your Word and that in it we can find wisdom. Thank you that your Spirit allows us to understand truth and apply it. Please help me to search for wisdom as for hidden treasure. Please help me live it out each day.Thank you for your unfailing love!

Accept, Store, Listen, Apply, Call out, Cry for, Look, and Search – Finding wisdom requires action.

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Someday

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Someday I will paint a picture

with warm and vibrant colors.

Someday I will write beautiful words

that will dance in a person’s soul.

Someday I will write letters

to those I love and

tell them what they mean to me.

Someday I will learn how to play beautiful music

that comes from the depths of my heart.

Someday I will tell people

what God has done for me.

Someday I will teach my child

all the lessons that are in my heart.

Someday I will let my light shine

as God wants me to.

Someday…….

When is someday?

When will that be?

How long have I waited for that day to come?

If someday does not become today,

it will not ever come.

Today I will….

What will you do today?

 

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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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