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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 141:8’

Hagar_Abraham

 

All alone she sat–a runaway–heart pounding with fear.

This was not the way she imagined events would unfold. Just weeks before opportunity had blossomed with possibilities–a life of security, provision, and honor seemed assured . But those dreams dissolved in a moment.

If only I’d kept my mouth shut, she thought. What a fool to think I could get away with those snide remarks. But my mind was consumed with the unfairness of it all, and I was so jealous—jealous that she would hold the place of honor, not me. To her I was nothing more than a vessel.

Fresh anger quieted her fear for a moment, as Hagar replayed the events that led her to sit by a spring in the desert, beside the road to Shur.

When Sarai, her mistress, had first suggested she become a substitute wife to Abram, Hagar foresaw a better life for herself. Surely the mother of the master’s son would hold a secure position in the household. She would be well provided for and respected by everyone.

But then the full meaning of “substitute wife” became clear. Hagar realized the child within her would not be her own but Sarai’s. Hagar began to express her frustration and jealousy toward Sarai in spiteful, unkind ways. She couldn’t seem to help herself.

Finally, Sarai hit her and Hagar ran.

Now what? Returning to Egypt seemed the only option. Her desperate hope was to find a home in need of a servant girl—even if she was pregnant.

Hagar shaded her eyes and peered down the road, willing a caravan to come along. If she attempted to cross the desert alone, it would mean certain death.

Instead of a caravan, however, a man approached. Little small talk ensued; he gave her an instruction (“Return to your mistress and do as she says.”); and he gave her a promise (“You will have a son, and descendants too numerous to count”).

It wasn’t until the stranger left that Hagar realized she had been visited by the angel of the Lord, and she named the place, Beer Lahai Roi, “Well of the Living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:1-14).

ElRoiGod2

Imagine. A servant girl in a foreign country, completely alone and pregnant. She herself had compounded her troubles. Yet God sought her out, to instruct and encourage her.

The Good Shepherd has always sought–and always will seek after–his lost sheep.

And then, with eyes of love, grace, and mercy, the Lord saw Hagar–

  • understanding every facet of her predicament, her motives and reactions
  • caring passionately about what would happen to her
  • mercifully forgiving her missteps and regretful behavior (Notice he didn’t say a word of reproach about her actions!)
  • giving instruction for what to do next
  • graciously providing for her needs
  • offering hope for her future

And still today, our God is the Living One who sees us with the same love, grace, and mercy.

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I praise you, Heavenly Father, that your eyes are upon the righteous—not because of any godly deeds we might accomplish, but because you see us through the righteousness of Jesus. And, oh how I thank you that you don’t just see us, you are watching over us. In these troubling, fear-inducing times, we turn our eyes upon you, our sovereign God, our refuge.

(Psalm 34:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 141:8)

 

(Photo & art credits:  www.christian-resources-today.com; http://www.assets.faithgateway.com; http://www.prayerpins.org.)

 

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I love words. I love the rhythm of syllables, like automaticity or higgledy-piggledy.

I love the precise images words can create: glam-shackle house, iridescent skin, aquamarine waters.

I thought about water

                                                   (Photo credit:  www.flickr.com)

And some words I love for their depth of meaning.

LEARN is just such a word. (Leave it to this former teacher to notice the word LEARN!)

When curious about a word and its nuances of meaning, a good place to begin research is with the dictionary. LEARN means: 1) to gain knowledge, comprehension, or mastery of through study or experience, 2) to fix in the mind, 3) to become informed.

Those definitions certainly describe the LEARNing that is part of the Christian life. God wants us to:

• Gain knowledge of Him and His Word (Psalm 9:10; 119:24)
• Comprehend His ways for us (Psalm 25:4)
• Seek mastery over selfish impulses (Romans 13:14)
• Keep focused on Him (Psalm 141:8)
• Become informed about what pleases Him (Ephesians 5:10).

And God promises blessed dividends as we LEARN, like contentment, joy, and fulfillment in life. But how do we accomplish all this LEARNing?

A bit of research produced the following steps that also form an acronym of L.E.A.R.N.

L = Laws. “I will praise you with an upright heart as I LEARN your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:7). God’s Instruction Manual, the Bible, lays out the way to a rich, satisfying life. A wise person LEARNs all he/she can, because the Author is 100% trustworthy. He will never lead us astray.

Reading the Christmas Story

                                                   (Photo credit:  www.flickr.com)

E = Effort and Experience. “Continue in what you have LEARNed and have become convinced of” (2 Timothy 3:14a). What we learn from God’s Words we put into practice. Yes, it takes effort, but as our experience grows, so will our resolve.

I’m reminded of how I feel before my work-out most days. I hate exercising. But like so many distasteful tasks, getting started is the hardest part. Once I’m into the routine, it’s easier (not easy, just easier!) to keep going. The results of regular exercise are what motivate me: 1) The strength and energy I feel. 2) My back doesn’t give me as much trouble. 3) Moderately-firm flesh trumps flabby!

Exercise

Exercise (Photo credit: sanchom)

You see, I’ve LEARNed that effort (to exercise) leads to experience (the results are worth the effort). The same holds true in the spiritual realm. As I make the effort to apply God’s Word to my life, the experiences prove God’s way is best. And I like the results—the peace, joy, and contentment mentioned earlier.

Am I successful every day to apply God’s truth? No. But I take great encouragement from Philippians 1:6: The God who began this good work in me will keep at it and bring it to completion when Jesus returns.

A = Acclamation. “Blessed are those who have LEARNed to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord” (Psalm 89:15). Practice acclaiming—enthusiastically approving—your God. We can establish several “interludes of gratitude” into our daily routines—even leave notes here and there as reminders. Whatever it takes. According to the verse, great blessing awaits!

R = Righteousness. “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still. Teach a righteous man and he will add to his LEARNing” (Proverbs 9:9). The more we LEARN, the more teachable we become. LEARNing accelerates. It gets easier.

I remember looking at my grandmother with admiration. She seemed perfect to me. How does she do it, I wondered. No doubt it came through years of attention to God’s Word, effort that produced experience, and much acclamation for her God.

Grandmother

Grandmother (Photo credit: Samantha Steele)

N = Notice. “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you…Whatever you have LEARNed or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put into practice” (Philippians 3:17; 4:9).

Paul was not claiming to be a perfect. Back in verse 12 he had made clear, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect.” Paul, too, was LEARNing.

But his life of passionate pursuit after Christ-likeness was a worthy pattern to follow.

Perhaps there is someone in your family, church, or small group that would make a good role model. Look to him/her and LEARN.

And why is all this LEARNing about God’s Word and godly behavior worthwhile?

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20). To flourish in my soul, to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, to rest in trust—these are the ends that more than justify the means of LEARNing.

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