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Archive for the ‘Praise’ Category

Imagine tagging along with the disciples during Christ’s ministry, listening to his teaching, watching his encounters, witnessing his miracles. 

One day your group encounters two blind men along the roadside in Capernaum.  The sightless men cry out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Jesus touches their eyes, and instantly the two men can see (Matthew 9:27-31). After a collective gasp, everyone bursts into cheers and joyful laughter.

On a second occasion outside the town of Bethsaida, some people bring another sightless man to Jesus.  Perhaps he’s heard what happened to the two blind men of Capernaum, because he too begs Jesus to touch him and heal his blindness.  But that’s not what Jesus does.  Instead, he spits on the man’s eyes and then puts his hands on him. 

Even a second touch is added to restore this man to full sight (Mark 8:22-26). Amidst the celebrating for this miracle you wonder, Why did Jesus spit on this man’s eyes when one touch healed the blind man in Capernaum?

On a third occasion as Jesus and your entourage leave Jericho, you encounter yet another blind man, Bartimaeus.  Will Jesus touch him and/or spit on the man’s eyes to heal him?  Neither. Jesus simply speaks to the beggar and his sight is restored (Mark 10:46-52). Your bewilderment grows deeper still.

And then while in Jerusalem, Jesus heals a fifth blind man.  By now you’ve given up trying to predict what the Master might do.  Even so you blink in surprise as Jesus spits on the ground, makes a bit of mud, spreads it on the blind man’s eyes, and instructs him to go wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:1-9). You catch yourself before throwing your hands up in disbelief as Jesus demonstrates one more way to heal sightless eyes.

You’ve now witnessed five men healed of blindness by four different methods.  The evidence speaks for itself:   

The Son of God is unpredictable.

The Old Testament provides proof that God the Father also acts in unexpected ways.  You may remember when he:

  • Raised up two humble shepherds to positions of leadership[1]
  • Spoke to one of his prophets through a donkey[2]
  • Made the sun stand still[3]
  • Used a blind slave to kill thousands of Israel’s archenemies[4]
  • Allowed another prophet to be swallowed by a big fish[5]

Numerous other examples from scripture could be cited to prove:

Our God is unconventional.

Even today he proves his penchant for the unexpected.

A few weeks ago our daughter H., a school psychologist, relayed to us a story about a student she worked with last year. We’ll call her Emma.  After frequent interactions, H. and Emma developed an easy rapport, the girl was making good progress, and H. grew to care deeply for her.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is images-2.jpeg

But this fall as school resumed, she learned Emma had moved to Florida.  Not wanting the girl to lose momentum, H. called the new school and asked to speak to the psychologist there.  She hoped to offer some helpful background about Emma and set the tone for continued progress.

Imagine her surprise when the gentleman who answered the phone turned out to be Andrew __________, a colleague who’d been part of the same master’s program as H. at Florida State University.  Out of just twelve students in that program, Andrew just happened to be the one to oversee this little girl who’d won our daughter’s heart.  And Andrew assured H. he’d take good care of Emma.

Time and again our God has proven . . .

. . . He is full of surprises.

I for one take great delight in a Heavenly Father who mystifies me by his unpredictability, wows me with his unconventionality, and takes my breath away with his surprises. 

How about you?

Please share in the comment section below an example from your own experience of “a wonder that cannot be fathomed.” Let’s . . .


[1] Moses, Exodus 3; David, 1 Samuel 16

[2] Balaam, Numbers 22

[3] Joshua 10

[4] Samson, Judges 16

[5] Jonah, Jonah 1

Photo credits: http://www.freebibleimages (3); http://www.pxfuel.com; http://www.canva.com; http://www.pxfuel.com; http://www.uihere.com.

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You’re going to be so glad you stopped by today.  I’ve prepared a pop quiz for you—a little trivia challenge!  But don’t worry–it’s multiple-choice and short.

 

How many stars do astronomers estimate occupy the universe?

A. 500 trillion

B. 750 quadrillion

C. 1 septillion

What are the objects in the above photograph?

A. Virus microbes

B. Husks

C. Starfish babies

What is the average weight of a cumulous cloud?

A. Over 10,000 pounds

B. Over 100,000 pounds

C. Over 1,000,000 pounds

Number one is a freebie, because an accurate count is impossible.  But there are those astronomers who would agree with Answer C—1 septillion. That’s a one with 24 zeroes after it![1]

For the second question the answer is B—husks.  In a few select areas of the Western Pacific Ocean, live tiny organisms called Foraminifera.  When they die, the tide carries their husks—millions of them–to beaches on the coasts of Japan and Okinawa.[2]  Visit those places and you can walk on the stars.

Look close! Can you see a few stars that are still intact?

The answer for #3 is C. Holding up even the largest of cumulous clouds is the air beneath them, which weighs even more.[3]

I’m guessing you know a few amazing trivia facts too.  Isn’t it astounding that the body of information about the universe continues to grow, even after centuries of study?

See Endnote #4.

The short sampling of creation’s wonders mentioned above gives us a glimpse of God’s glorious capacities at work:  his inventiveness, engineering skill, power and more.  But we also see evidence of his magnificence in:

  • The Bible.  No other book matches its wisdom.  And when put into practice, it transforms a person’s life.
  • God’s attributes at work in the world—his love, grace, faithfulness, and mercy—to mention a few.
  • Miracles—happening around us every day.  The problem is we’re so used to them we call them ordinary.[5]
  • The gracious actions and glowing faces of his saints–miracles in themselves.

Truly, God reveals his glory TO us every day in countless ways.

But perhaps even more astounding: God—in all his magnificence—chooses to reside IN us when we say yes to his Son, Jesus.

Imagine.  The fullness of God—all his glorious attributes—within us.  And over time, as his Spirit instructs and trains us, we become more and more like Christ—more joyful, hopeful, and contented; less self-centered, dissatisfied, and distressed.  Such a glorious reality![6]

“God is mercifully shaping our lives

into what is useful and beautiful.”

–Eugene Peterson[7]

And then God chooses to make us channels of his glory, working THROUGH us to impact others.

How?

Every time we choose to be generous instead of selfish, patient instead of peevish, mindful instead of thoughtless, or merciful instead of intolerant, we’re demonstrating the attributes of God to others.

And as we make ourselves available for him to work through us, we may very well become the answer to someone else’s prayer.

“To become the answer to someone else’s prayer

is to live a life of rich purpose.”

–Maggie Wallem Rowe[8]

*      *       *      *      *      *

O God, thank you for revealing yourself TO us in numerous ways, producing joy in our spirits as we earnestly seek you.  I praise you for dwelling IN us, providing all we need (and then some!) for the abundant life Jesus promised.  And I thank you for working THROUGH us to positively impact others and give us satisfying  purpose.  There is no one like you!


[1] https://www.space.com/26078-how-many-stars-are-there.html

[2] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2085f_Japon_Hatoma.jpg  

[3]https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/how-much-does-a-cloud-weigh?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

[4] The heavens don’t only include the stars, other planets, and moons.  Our planet occupies a tiny corner of the universe, and everything in it also tells of the wonders of God.

[5] Hans Christian Anderson

[6] Ephesians 3:21; 2 Corinthians 3:18

[7] Run with the Horses, 79.

[8] This Life We Share, 242.

Photo credits: http://www.wikimedia.org (2); http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.canva.com; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.pixnio.com; http://www.piqsels.com; http://www.canva.com.

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This quote became the basis for a post in September 2017 titled Expect Great Things.  At the time Murray’s words were speaking new encouragement into my prayer life.  I copied the quote on a 3 x 5 and have kept it in my prayer box ever since.

Now four years later, I must confess my worship of God in his glory has become a bit stale.  I find myself using the same words to repeat such attributes as:  his wisdom to solve problems, his goodness to provide blessing, and his power to generate miracles. My loving Father deserves so much more than rote repetition.

Then a new idea occurred to me, likely inspired by the Spirit himself.  What if I devoted each day of the week to a different aspect of God’s glory?  And what if I prepared a separate page in my quiet time notebook for each attribute and began collecting appropriate scriptures, quotes, personal thoughts—different praise-starters for each day so my worship might remain fresh?

To that end, I chose the following attributes to focus on first:

  • Sunday—God’s power and greatness
  • Monday—God’s splendorous names
  • Tuesday—God’s wisdom and counsel
  • Wednesday—God’s love
  • Thursday—God’s faithfulness
  • Friday—God’s goodness
  • Saturday—God’s grace and compassion

To keep this post of reasonable length, I’ll just include what I’ve collected so far for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Sunday—God’s power and greatness

  • Scripture:  “Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness (Psalm 150:2).  What acts of God’s power and greatness have I witnessed or heard about recently?
  • Quote:  “When we are facing the impossible, we can count upon the God of the impossible” (Amy Carmichael).  Praise him for several impossibilities miraculously rendered—perhaps a need met, a problem rectified, a healing provided.  
  • Prayer starter: I praise you, O God, for the magnificence of your power—to create everything in the universe out of nothing, to keep it all functioning smoothly, to be present everywhere at the same time, to bring good out of every situation for those who love you, to change lives for the better, . . .  

Monday—God’s splendorous names and titles

Scripture: “Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore” (Psalm 113:2).  Choose one or two to focus on each Monday.

  • Prayer starter for one name:  I praise you Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord My Banner. You are my focal point of hope and encouragement for every situation. How comforting to know that all of your attributes are always at work on behalf of your people.  I praise you for your marvelous promises of strength, provision, wisdom, and peace. . .

Tuesday—God’s wisdom and counsel

  • Scripture: “I will bless the Lord who has counseled me” (Psalm 16:7a NIV).  How has he counseled me recently as well as others?
  • Quote:  Praise God that his “infinite wisdom directs every event, brings order out of confusion, and light out of darkness, and, to those who love God, causes all things, whatever be their present aspect and apparent tendency, to work together for good”—J. L. Dagg.  Such glorious truths to hold close at heart! What else might I add?
  • Prayer Starter:  I also praise you, O God, for the gift of scripture to guide us through life with your truth and wisdom.  I praise you for your Holy Spirit who increases our understanding and enlightens our souls.  You never turn away anyone who seeks your wisdom! . . .

And what will be the result of such worship that enthusiastically affirms God’s transcendence?  Transformation—transformation of our prayers, transformation of our lives.

.

Nothing we do is more powerful

or more life-changing than praising God.

— Stormie Omartian

*from The Power of God’s Names

Image credits: http://www.canva.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pxfuel.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.pxfuel.com.

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O God, numerous concerns vie for my attention: the state of our country, family needs, friends going through difficult circumstances, my own personal struggles.

Redirect my focus, Father, from what I’m yearning for to what you’ve already given, including:

  • your Spirit of wisdom and revelation
  • your enlightenment to experience hope
  • the riches of your glorious inheritance
  • your incomparably great power*

Each of these gifts is a priceless treasure and more than worthy of meditation and praise.  And so . . .

 

 

. . . I praise you for your spirit of wisdom to guide my thoughts, to equip me for perceiving reality accurately and applying truth correctly.

Help me to trust your all-wise ways and not play the fool, ignoring the treasure of your wisdom that’s always just a prayer away.

 

 

I praise you that year by year, you reveal more and more of yourself to me so our relationship can become increasingly intimate. Never will I tire of learning about you and experiencing you more fully.

 

 

I praise you for your gift of enlightenment to experience hope—complete and calm assurance that you will be victorious in the end, and we’ll live with you forever in the paradise of heaven.

That enlightenment also includes perspective for today. As I focus my thoughts on all you’ve done in the past, my confidence and expectation is affirmed for what you will do in the future.

 

 

I praise you for the riches of your glorious inheritance that we enjoy as your children: your mercy and grace, love and goodness, power and strength–all these and more provided to those who choose to do life with you.

And then there’s the staggering truth we are your inheritance. You look upon your children—even me—not as a liability but as part of your glorious wealth.

 

 

I praise you, O God, that with your incomparably great power, you can take every negative and turn it into a positive. In addition, your dynamic, eternal energy is within me and always available.

No circumstance intimidates you—not the problems of our country, the needs of our family, the difficulties faced by friends, or my own personal struggles. The tougher my day, the stronger your power will flow through me—as long as I stay close by your side.

 

 

I pray for the resolve, holy Father, to avail myself of all this you’ve already given, and may I do so with godly wisdom and constant diligence.

In the name of your Son Jesus who makes such wealth accessible, amen.

 

 

*from Ephesians 1:17-19a.

 

Photo credits:  http://www.piqsels.com (2); http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.piqsels.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.piqsels.com.

 

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(One of Wilson Alwyn Bentley‘s photos)

 

Remember your first glimpse of a snowflake under a magnifying glass and your reaction to its tiny intricacies? I’ll bet your eyes grew wide and you leaned in for a close-up view. You probably uttered Wow! or Look at that!

And perhaps while gazing at such infinitesimal beauty you learned:

 

Only when we examine something closely

can we begin to appreciate its value.

 

Scripture urges us to magnify God.

 

 

To magnify God is to look closely at him and take careful notice of his actions and attributes. Mary, the mother of Jesus, did exactly that. We read an example in the account of her visit to Cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56).

Elizabeth was much older than Mary, well beyond child-bearing age. But like Sarah of the Old Testament, God had intervened for her. Elizabeth would soon be the mother of John the Baptist.

 

 

When Mary first arrived and offered her greeting, Baby John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:41). (Can you imagine how that would feel, to have a baby jump inside you?)

Elizabeth responded with a blessing for Mary and the holy baby her young cousin carried. Then Mary became overcome with joy and incredulity herself, and burst into praise. Her song is called the Magnificat, Latin for magnifies.

For ten verses (Luke 1:46-55), Mary magnifies the Lord, examining the reason for her joy (vs. 46-49) and looking closely at God’s attributes and actions (50-55). Never mind her relative poverty, the misunderstanding and derision of others, or the uncertainty of the future. Mary focused on God who was working a miracle within her.

 

 

If your Bible includes cross-references you’ll notice Mary quoted bits and pieces of seven psalms. In addition, she included fragments from Isaiah, Habakkuk, Exodus, Genesis, 2 Samuel, and Jeremiah.

It would appear Mary wove such far-spread scriptures into this beautiful prayer–on the spot! She must have been an intelligent young woman.

Perhaps she grew up in a godly home where the Law and Prophets were highly esteemed. Her parents may have taught her or, if she had brothers, Mary listened as they recited their lessons, and she too learned the ancient scriptures.

Now as Mary and Elizabeth greet one another, the young woman rejoices in God her Savior. She highlights his mercy, might, faithfulness, holiness, and saving power.

 

 

And yet in spite of his awesome greatness the Mighty One has been mindful of her—a humble, peasant girl. He has done great things on her behalf. Notice she prays in past tense, as if the events Gabriel announced had already taken place (v. 49).

Then Mary itemizes specific ways God benefits his people:

  • He extends mercy to those who reverence him
  • He performs mighty deeds
  • He has scattered the proud
  • He has brought down rulers, but lifted up the humble
  • He has filled the hungry, but sent the rich away empty
  • He has been merciful to Israel

We too are God’s people, if we believe in his Son, Jesus. And he benefits his people in these same ways today just as he has through all the eons of time.

No doubt God has been at work in your life too. He’s been mindful of you and blessed you (v. 48); he’s done great things for you (v. 49) and extended his mercy to you (v. 50).

 

 

View the activity of God in your life through the magnifying glass of meditation. Take note of his actions and attributes on display in the events of your life. And then please share with us an example in the comment section below.

Let us magnify the Lord together for his awesome deeds!

 

(Revised and reblogged from 12-20-2012.)

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.metmuseum.org; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.pixabay.com (2).

 

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‘Recognize that line of lyrics? It comes from verse three of “O Holy Night.”

“His holy Name” is expressed 256 different ways in the Bible, from Branch of the Lord (Isaiah 4:2) to bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16). Why so many?

“I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express,” evangelist Billy Sunday once offered.

Just within the birth accounts of Bible books Matthew and Luke, we’ll find seven names for Christ. And these alone provide plenty of reason to praise him. Granted, these names are well-known, but let’s not allow familiarity to numb us to their splendor. As we unpack several of them below, may you find renewed wonder in his Personhood.

 

 

Jesus, Savior   (Luke 1:31, 2:11)

Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries would have called him Yeshua. Ya as an abbreviation for Yahweh, one of the names for God (Exodus 3:14), and yasha, which means rescue, deliver, or save in Hebrew.

A savior rescues or delivers from danger or harm. He preserves or guards from destruction or loss, keeps one from being lost to an opponent, maintains and preserves.

But why would God send his Son as Savior for paltry creatures like us, who require saving from the harm sin causes in our lives?

It’s so simple, some people miss it: God made us, he loves us, and wants to be in relationship with us—forever. So he sent his Son Jesus “to fit us for heaven to live with him there.” (1). All we need to do is say yes to him.

 

 

 

Son of the Most High, Son of God (Luke 1:32, 35)

Such names emphasize his majesty and supremacy over all (Ephesians 1:19-21).

Mary and other devout Jews of her time would have known this name for God because it’s found throughout the Old Testament, from Genesis (14:18) to Daniel (7:18).

When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that her child would be Son of the Most High God, he was declaring Jesus would embody the magnificent essence of God (2).

 

 

Messiah (Luke 2:11)

Messiah means “anointed one” or “chosen one.” Christos (Christ) is the Greek equivalent.

The Jewish people of Jesus’ time knew the ancient prophecies concerning their Messiah. They expected Jesus to deliver them from the Roman occupation, to set up his own kingdom in which they would be rulers, not understanding that the Kingdom of God is spiritual, not political.

Even today people look to Jesus for rescue from problems and pain. They want him to make everything right, not understanding that perfect bliss in this world is an impossibility because of humankind’s sin.

However!  “Our troubles have always brought us blessings and they always will.  They are the black chariots of bright grace” (Charles Spurgeon).

 

 

Immanuel   (Matthew 1:23)

Matthew made clear:  this Hebrew name means “God with us”—not in a general sense, like an out-of-state business owner who asserts unity with his distant employees, but in a one-on-one personal sense. He sits beside us in our homes, accompanies us to work, watches over us as we sleep, and deeply cares about all our concerns (3).

In fact, he not only cares about every disappointment, every pain, and every calamity, he suffers with us (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

And as we avail ourselves of his comforting presence we find the stability we need (Psalm 46:1-2).

 

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

We praise you, O Son of God, for crafting us with the capacity to know you as our Savior, Messiah, and Immanuel, to sense your presence, receive your comfort, and experience your peace. Through this Christmas season and always may we praise you for your magnificence, reflected in every aspect of your holy Name!

You deserve nothing less.

(Colossians 1:16; John 1:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17; John 14:27)

 

Notes:

  1. John 3:16 and the last line of “Away in a Manger,” as originally written
  2. https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B151218/son-of-the-most-high
  3. Matthew 28:20; Psalm 121:2-5; 1 Peter 5:7

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.pixaby.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.pikist.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.heartlight.org.

 

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Just for fun I Googled “strategies that lead to a satisfying life.” Of course numerous articles popped up, offering a multitude of suggestions. One article listed twenty ways for achieving fulfillment.

But researchers have determined it takes sixty-six days on average to develop a new habit (1). That means twenty new habits would require concentrated effort for nearly four years. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it.

However, as you’ve already noted from the title of this post, it is possible to turn a humdrum life into exceptional with just one strategy: gratitude to God.

 

 

But how can one simple act make such a difference?

I’ll explain in a moment. First, let’s identify the key word in that statement above: God. Without someone to thank, gratitude is pointless. And he is responsible for every good gift in our lives. By thanking God for his blessings, we unlock the fullness of life (2).

Here’s how it happens:

 

Gratitude fosters joy and contentment.

When we aim to thank God for the benefits he bestows, the delightful encounters he provides, and the beauty he’s created, we soon realize our days overflow with his gifts. And each one gives reason to smile.

 

 

Gratitude leads to peace.

Remember Isaiah 26:3?  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you” (ESV). Gratitude to God is a delightful way to stay focused on him and thereby calm our hearts into serenity.

 

Gratitude contributes to resiliency.

Researchers Tennen and Afflek (2002) found that when people express gratitude even while suffering adversity or trauma, they tend to persevere with greater strength than those who don’t practice thankfulness (3).

John MacArthur beautifully described the phenomenon with this bit of imagery:

 

 

“No matter how choppy the seas become, a believer’s heart is buoyed by constant praise and gratefulness to the Lord.”

 

Gratitude increases our trust in God.

We can begin with grateful remembering of his marvelous deeds in the past, to form a foundation of faith for the present. Also, by expressing thankfulness in difficult circumstances and gratefully acknowledging God’s support and supply, our perspective is transformed.

 

I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

–Psalm 12:5-6

 

And when all of these results-of-gratitude are present in one person—effervescent joy, sublime contentment, luminous peace, buoyant resiliency, and unshakable trust—we see an exceptional life.

 

 

It all begins with gratitude.

 

When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether

you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.

–G. K. Chesterton

 

And how do we learn to take things with gratitude?

Researchers have studied that too, and found gratitude journals to be highly effective (4).

 

 

 

They suggest keeping a record of pleasurable observations and positive experiences such as:

  • Happy squeals of neighbor children as Daddy pushes their swings
  • An overcast day made cozy with glowing candles, simmering soup, and rain thrumming on the roof
  • Being taught by a seven-year old granddaughter how to add two-digit numbers in a new and clever way
  • Those places where God has brushed all of autumn’s colors in one swath

 

 

Gratitude bestows . . .transcendent moments of awe

that change forever how we experience life and the world.

–Sarah Ban Breathnach

 

So instead of wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving Day, blog-friends, I pray for you an exceptional life–of gratitude!

 

____________________________

 

If you keep a gratitude journal, please share your experience in the comment section below. How has it contributed to an exceptional life for you?

 

Notes:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-it-take-to-form-a-habit#takeaway
  2. James 1:17 and https://melodybeattie.com/gratitude-2/
  3. https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-happiness-research/
  4. https://www.pointloma.edu/resources/counseling-psychology/what-good-gratitude-role-thanksgiving-personal-development

 

Photo credits:  http://www.pickpik.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.needpix.com; http://www.pikrepo.com; http://www.canva.com; Nancy Ruegg (3).

 

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(A journal dialogue between God and me)

 

ME:

I love temperate mornings like this, Father, when I can spend moments on the deck with you, reveling in your creation. Thank you for this little island of quiet amidst urban commotion.

Dark clouds of yesterday have given way to those that artists love to paint: cotton puffs of white, some breeze-pulled into wisps.

The black walnut tree already wears many golden leaves. Occasional leaf showers create a dazzling parade of drifting sunflakes. Summer has acquiesced to fall.

 

 

Our squirrel friends have picked up another game of tag. They dash at alarming speed from tree to tree, and sometimes spiral up and down the trunks. Familiarity may contribute to their surefootedness, but such dare-devil antics still amaze.

At least several hummingbirds have visited the feeder since I settled in my chair. No doubt they’re fueling up for migration.

Some hover as they drink, wings and tails a blur of motion. Others rest briefly on the bar, take a quick sip, then fly up and back to warily scan their surroundings. A few partake from one opening and then another. Perhaps they’re hoping for different flavors?

 

 

 

Still others rest on the bar and take long gulps. When this latter group pauses, they remain still. Their glances about appear relaxed, as if they’re simply enjoying the view.

 

 

GOD:

Let the habits of the hummingbirds inform yours.

You are one of my little hummingbirds—small and practically defenseless. But you can fly! In your spirit you can fly at hummer-speed to me, your Provider and Protector.

In me you find all you need, just as the nectar in flowers or feeders provides for the hummingbirds all that they need.

 

 

Let the hummers who rest be a reminder to you. There is no reason to be in constant flight, hovering over this task and then on to the next in a flurry of hurry.

Take note of the birds who rest on the bar and enjoy their surroundings between sips. How can you do the same?

The occasional worship-pause at the kitchen window is a good start.

 

 

And your daily gratitude journal offers more moments of reverent respite.

 

 

ME:

You just gave me another idea, Father (1).

As you lead me to scriptures or quotes that inspire praise, I can copy them to tuck here and there as reminders.

 

 

GOD:

And when you come across one of those cards, quietly rest a moment in its truth. Look around and within for reasons to thank and praise me, as prompted by that scripture or quote.

And what will be the result? Refreshing restoration.  Renewed energy.  Augmented joy.  Deeper peace (2)—in spite of the troubling political and social climate and concerns surrounding Covid.

 

 

Fly with confidence into the days ahead, little bird—strengthened and refreshed in me.

 

Notes:

  1. James 1:17. All good gifts come from God—even good ideas.
  2. Psalm 23:1-2; Psalm 19:7-8; Psalm 119:111; Psalm 119:165.

 

Photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; Nancy Ruegg (3); http://www.needpix.com.

 

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In a matter of minutes, our next-to-last exam of junior year would begin.  The room of high schoolers included a few serious students with heads in notebooks, but most of us chatted with one another, just anxious to be done.

“Hey!” cried one friend to a group of us girls sitting together.  “Let’s switch one shoe with somebody else for good luck!”  Giggles ensued as we tried different looks and different sizes, until each of us sported mismatched footwear.


After the exam, imagine our surprise when we were summoned to the office.

Someone thought the shoe-exchange was a means of cheating.  Thankfully our principal dismissed us immediately when we explained our silly scheme for good luck. 

Of course, certain shoes—or any other particular piece of clothing–have nothing to do with success.  Even those who’ve experienced a triumph or two while wearing a certain hat, jacket, or tie eventually find Lady Luck has left the building. 

One high school basketball coach in Indiana wore the same patchwork pants for every game, and his team won twenty-seven times in a row.* 

But then came Game #28.

Much more important than a basketball game or even a high school exam, God has prepared us clothing for life.  Granted, the apparel he provides is metaphorical and made for the spiritual realm.  But it creates much greater impact on our lives than mismatched shoes or patchwork pants.

Perhaps you’re thinking of the armor that Paul described in his letter to the Ephesians, including the belt of truth, the shield of faith, and more.


But our Designer God is ready to provide another article of clothing, mentioned in Isaiah 61:3—a garment of praise.

Now some might wonder, Isn’t that self-serving of God—to offer us a garment of praise so we’ll applaud, admire, and honor him?

Not at all.   Just as we enjoy giving pleasure to others through accolades of their character or actions, we find joy in acclaiming God for all he is and does. 

Praise takes our focus off problematic people and circumstances, and draws our attention to the One who has brought us through every dark valley in the past, and will continue to do so until our life-journeys are complete. 

So what might this garment of praise look like—if it were visible?  I’m imagining a velvety-soft, lightweight cloak stretching all the way to our shoe tops and including a hood—for total coverage.


But in order to enjoy the supreme comfort of this robe, we have to get rid of the irritating clothing we sometimes wear:

  • The scratchy scarf of negativity
  • The constrictive shirt of fear
  • The hot collar of anger
  • The heavyweight coat of worry

We can’t savor life to its fullest in such uncomfortable clothes as these.  In contrast—as research on positivity and gratitude has proven–the garment of praise produces feel-good endorphins, uplifts our mood, and offers hope.

Of course, we have to put it on.  Too often we leave home without our praise-cloaks or it slips off our shoulders somewhere along the way.

Perhaps we could tie it on each morning with prayer and check the knot with prayer throughout the day. 

Perhaps something like this:


Lord, I thank you for my garment of praise—to keep me aware of your presence, happily occupied with thoughts of your attributes and blessings. Help me to always keep my praise-cloak in place.

Thank you that when I’m wrapped in my garment of praise I can experience your highest joy May I never leave home without it.

(Isaiah 26:3; Psalm 112:7, 43:4 GWT)


*Kathlyn Gay, They Don’t Wash Their Socks, Walker and Company, 2013.


Photo credits: http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.flicr.com; http://www.pxfuel.com; http://www.pikrepo.com; http://www.pilist.com.

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As I begin drafting this post, it’s Monday afternoon, May 11, and the temperature outside is forty-eight degrees. No, we do not live in the far north where such weather might be normal for mid-May. Our home is in Cincinnati, right across the Ohio River from the South—Kentucky to be exact.

Nonetheless, this spring has been a chilly and wet one for us (including parts of the South, I have to admit). Tomorrow morning meteorologists have issued another freeze warning for parts of our area. And the ten-day forecast includes five days of rain.

 

 

Sooner or later, however, summer will defeat winter. And while anticipating sunshine and short sleeves, I remember the Bible verse, “The Lord God is a sun and shield” (Psalm 84:11).

Perhaps I can keep myself cheerfully occupied, even on a damp and cloudy afternoon, by contemplating God’s sun-like qualities.

For example:

  • The sun is ever-present. No matter how gray the sky, the sun’s rays penetrate, supporting life on our planet. Praise God he is always present, always supporting us–especially on the dark days of pain, sorrow, or hardship (Psalm 46:1).

 

 

  • The sun is perfect in size, brightness, temperature, and even distance from the earth, in order to sustain life on our fragile planet. Praise God he engineered such perfection and breathes life into every creature (Job 12:10).

 

 

  • The sun is big, its mass making up 99.8% of our solar system. Most of the final .2% comes from Jupiter. Earth is a mere speck by comparison. Yet our God is bigger than the entire cosmos, filling heaven and earth with his omnipresence (Jeremiah 23:23-24).

 

 

  • The sun’s gravitational pull keeps all the planets of the solar system orbiting around it. God the Son proclaimed that he would draw all people to himself. And within the orbit of his love and care we can thrive (John 12:32; Hebrews 11:6).

 

 

  • The sun provides remarkable beauty at sunrise and sunset. And to the far north, solar wind creates the mesmerizing light patterns of the Aurora Borealis. Of course, God is responsible for such displays and countless more across the planets, the galaxy, the universe (Psalm 104:24).

 

(Space Nebula)

 

  • As already mentioned, the sun offers life-changing benefits such as: 1) light, symbolic of God’s enlightenment, guidance, and goodness (Daniel 2:22, James 1:17), 2) warmth and comfort, reminding us of our contentment in God (Proverbs 19:23), and 3) good cheer when it breaks through stubborn clouds, a metaphor for the face of God shining on us with blessing (Numbers 6:24-26).

 

 

Of course, the comparison of God to anything else eventually breaks down.

For example, we can never have too much of God, but too much sun is detrimental to plant life and humans. That’s when it’s valuable to remember the second part of Psalm 84:11 (the verse where we began this exploration):  our God is also a shield.

 

 

 

I’m thinking of my brother’s and sister-in-law’s vegetable garden—carefully fenced to keep out critters, and also outfitted with a removable screen roof. They live in south/central Texas where summer temperatures can top one hundred degrees for days at a stretch. That screen does an excellent job of shielding the plants from scorching heat.

And the images of both sunshine and shade depict another aspect of our all-proficient God: He provides exactly what we need when we need it. Sometimes it’s abundant blessing, sometimes its opportunity for challenge and growth, often it’s both at the same time.

 

 

“He suits himself to every varying circumstance in life.

He becomes what the exigency of the moment requires.

And as the psalmist well says,

he withholds no good thing

from those that walk uprightly.”

—F. B. Meyer

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

 

I praise You, O God, for your splendor like a glorious sunrise—when rainbow hues dance among the clouds. I praise you that every attribute contributing to your glorious splendor is also at work in our lives—your creativity, wisdom, power, and faithfulness.

 But when we’re overwhelmed by the heat of difficult times, I thank you for being like a shield. You are our Protector who attentively watches over us with your unfailing love. You are our safety, our eternal hope.

Thank you for your promise that through cold or heat, rain or shine: “Blessed is the one who trusts in you.”  

(Habakkuk 3:4; Philippians 1:6; Psalm 3:3, 8; Psalm 33:20-22; Psalm 84:12)

 

Photo credits:  http://www.needpix.com; http://www.piqsels.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.publicdomainfiles.com; http://www.canva.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.needpix.com; http://www.piqsels.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pxfuel.com.

 

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