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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 37:23’

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My first teaching job was in a small community southwest of Lexington, Kentucky. Although the school included first through sixth grades, there were only five teachers. Second grade was divided, some students included in first, the rest with third. I was assigned the first/second split.

The first morning of school went by quickly as we read stories, played a few learning games, and completed a class chart of favorite summer activities. Soon it was time to march to the cafeteria for lunch.

The children lined up to receive their plates of food, and then were instructed to pick up napkins, utensils, cartons of milk, and straws – all without benefit of trays. Little hands struggled to hold so many items–much less carry them all without accident.

 

lunch

 

So began my habit of standing at the end of the counter, wrapping utensils and a straw in a napkin, then perching a milk carton on an empty corner of the plate as the students passed by.

One second grader, Ricky, was much too manly to use a straw. Each day he would proclaim, “I don’t need no straw.”

Each day I would patiently correct him: “I don’t need a straw.” Ricky would repeat it again after me.  It almost became a joke between us, as the exchange occurred day after day, month after month.

One noontime in March, while focused on wrapping the next set of flatware, I heard Ricky’s voice proudly proclaim, “I DON’T NEED A STRAW!”

My eyes popped, Ricky’s twinkled, and his broad smile indicated his pleasure in remembering–all by himself–how to correctly form his request.

A quick hug, a few pats on the back, and an “I-am-so-PROUD-of-you!” let him know how I felt.

It never occurred to me to say, “Well, it’s about time, Bud! You DO realize we’ve repeated this little ceremony over one hundred times, don’t you?”

No. This was a moment to celebrate! Our perseverance had paid off. And perhaps this one little grammatical victory would prompt Ricky to conquer the next. I was thrilled.

Do you suppose that’s how God feels when our “practice makes perfect?”

When:

 

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  • Our quiet time with him finally becomes a near-daily habit?
  • We remember to express gratitude and praise to him throughout the day?
  • We’re able to think before we speak more consistently?
  • We forgo some purchase for pleasure in order to supply someone else with necessities?
  • We put aside our agenda to do a favor for someone else?

Yes, I believe God is thrilled with our steps of progress, just as I was with Ricky’s effort. If God withheld his pleasure until we reached perfection, we’d never experience even one good thing (Psalm 84:11). He’d always be in discipline-mode.

But Isaiah tells us: “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion” (30:18).

David reminds us that out of his grace and compassion he guides our steps and takes delight when we follow his way (Psalm 37:23).

Another psalmist proclaimed that the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (147:11).   No mention of delight reserved only for those who are perfect.

Ah, but what about Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:48:   “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect?”

Yes, that is the standard, but God does not disapprove of us because we haven’t achieved that goal.   He knows perfection this side of heaven is impossible. What he does approve of is effort—to press on like Paul to “receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:12-14).

When we stumble, we keep going. When we fall, we get up and try again.

But listen closely.  You’ll hear God celebrating our progress (Zephaniah 3:17).

 

Zephaniah-317-

 

*    *     *     *     *   *     *     *     *     *

 

We praise you, Heavenly Father, for being a gracious, compassionate God,

who is slow to become angry and always abounding in loving-kindness.

Even as we strive to be more like you,

we can rest in the knowledge that you will not condemn us

when we stumble and fall.

Thank you for your readiness to forgive and your everlasting love.  

Thank you for continually drawing us closer to you and your perfection. 

 

(Psalm 103:1-2, Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:9; Jeremiah 31:3).

 

Photo credits:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.grist.org; http://www.neabscobaptist.org; http://www.untilsheflies.com.)

Reblogged from June 15, 2015.

 

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(“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year.

It is that we should have a new soul.”

G.K. Chesterton)

A new soul. I like the sound of that, don’t you? In my imagination I see a freshening of my attitudes, improved motivations, and increased spiritual strength.

But where do I start in order to achieve a new soul?

No doubt, a new soul begins with repentance—expressing to God my sorrow for wrongdoing and availing myself of his help to change. Just as King David prayed, I can ask God to:

 

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(“Create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

–Psalm 51:10, emphasis added)

 

Notice that David asked God to create in him a pure heart. David didn’t promise to clean up his act on his own. Only God could make David’s heart new and pure. The same goes for me. All I can do is submit myself to his transforming power and follow his lead.

That pure heart David asked for is a clear conscience. And with the release from guilt came a rush of joy and the restoration of sweet peace with God. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

“No one is happier than the one who has repented of wrong” (Max Lucado).

 

A new soul involves renewal of the mind.

 

romans12_2

 

Or, put another way:

 

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,

but let God transform you into a new person

by changing the way you think.

Then you will learn to know God’s will for you,

which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2, NLT (emphasis added)

 

Once the negative influences of sin have been removed, I need to fill my mind with excellent, praiseworthy contemplations.

Why waste my thoughts and allow them to wander on worthless topics or circle around pointless worries? Instead, I want to set my mind on the positive, especially on God himself.

A renewed mind is not problem-focused; it is Person-focused.

 

A new soul requires day-by-day rejuvenation.

 

“We do not lose heart.

Though outwardly we are wasting away,

yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

–2 Corinthians 4:16 (emphasis added)

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God has established certain laws by which our world is governed. Gravity is one example. The law of entropy is another. It states that all elements of the universe tend to disintegrate over time. Plants and animals die and decay, iron rusts, rock erodes.

Our souls tend to disintegrate over time, too, when left unattended:

  • Worry and fear wreak havoc.
  • Self-centeredness creates an appetite for entertainment, possessions, and recognition—appetites that are never satiated.
  • Foolishness reigns because wisdom is ignored.
  • Rationalizations replace honest evaluations.
  • Uncontrolled behaviors harm relationships.

But when we avail ourselves of God’s influence day-by-day and step-by-step, the law of entropy has no effect on our souls.

 

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The Amplified Version expands the meaning:

 

“The steps of a [good and righteous] man

are directed and established by the Lord,

And He delights in his way

[and blesses his path].”

–Psalm 37:23, AMP

 

Consider the import of these key words:

 

Steps – Even spiritual achievement rarely happens in an instant. God values slow and steady progress.

 

Directed – He isn’t just interested in the details of our lives; he’s lovingly engineering them.

 

Established – There is always design and strategy in God’s endeavors, even if we only occasionally perceive it.

 

Delights – God is pleased with those who follow the path he has thoughtfully and wisely set.

 

Blesses – God lovingly bestows such gifts as peace, joy, hope, satisfaction, and purposeful living.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Holy Creator of new souls, as I stand on the brink of a new year, I do confess my failings to you. Purify my heart; show me how to refine even the motivations behind my right actions. Thank you for your gentle nudges to turn my mind toward you, and your loving attention upon every step of my life. I praise you that continual contact with you results in a soul–a life–that is continually refreshed and made new!

 

(Art & Photo credits:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.mybible.com; http://www.verseoftheday.com; http://www.dailylifeverse.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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4294b8e0861224468e7e42b56456b714

 

My first teaching job was in a small community southwest of Lexington, Kentucky. Although the school included first through sixth grades, there were only five teachers. Second grade was divided, some students included in first, the rest with third. I was assigned the first/second split.

The first morning of school went by quickly as we read stories, played a few learning games, and completed a class chart of favorite summer activities. Soon it was time to march to the cafeteria for lunch.

The children lined up to receive their plates of food, and then were instructed to pick up napkins, utensils, cartons of milk, and straws – all without benefit of trays. Little hands struggled to hold so many items–much less carry them all without accident. (And why were the first and second graders seated farthest from the serving line? I never had the nerve to ask.)

lunch

So began my habit of standing at the end of the counter, wrapping utensils and a straw in a napkin, then perching a milk carton on an empty corner of the plate as the students passed by.

One second grader, Ricky, was much too manly to use a straw. Each day he would proclaim, “I don’t need no straw.”

Each day I would patiently correct him: “I don’t need a straw.” Ricky would repeat it again after me.  It almost became a joke between us, as the exchange occurred day after day, month after month.

One noontime in March, while focused on wrapping the next set of flatware, I heard Ricky’s voice proudly proclaim, “I DON’T NEED A STRAW!”

My eyes popped, Ricky’s twinkled, and his broad smile indicated his pleasure in remembering–all by himself–how to correctly form his request.

A quick hug, a few pats on the back, and an “I-am-so-PROUD-of-you!” let him know how I felt.

It never occurred to me to say, “Well, it’s about time, Bud! You DO realize we’ve repeated this little ceremony over one hundred times, don’t you?”

No. This was a moment to celebrate! Our perseverance had paid off. And perhaps this one little grammatical victory would prompt Ricky to conquer the next. I was thrilled.

Do you suppose that’s how God feels when our “practice makes perfect?”

When:

1313

  • Our quiet time with him finally becomes a near-daily habit?
  • We remember to express gratitude and praise to him throughout the day?
  • We’re able to think before we speak more consistently?
  • We forgo some purchase for pleasure in order to supply someone else with necessities?
  • We put aside our agenda to do a favor for someone else?

Yes, I believe God is thrilled with our steps of progress, just as I was with Ricky’s effort. If God withheld his pleasure until we reached perfection, we’d never experience even one good thing (Psalm 84:11). He’d always be in discipline-mode.

But Isaiah tells us: “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion” (30:18).

David reminds us that out of his grace and compassion he guides our steps and takes delight when we follow his way (Psalm 37:23).

Another psalmist proclaimed that the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (147:11).   No mention of delight reserved only for those who are perfect.

Ah, but what about Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:48:   “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect?”

Yes, that is the standard, but God does not disapprove of us because we have not achieved that goal.   He knows perfection this side of heaven is impossible. What he does approve of is effort—to press on like Paul to “receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:12-14).

When we stumble, we keep going. When we fall, we get up and try again.

But listen closely.  You’ll hear God celebrating our progress (Zephaniah 3:17).

Zephaniah-317-

*    *     *     *     *   *     *     *     *     *

We praise you, Heavenly Father, for being a gracious, compassionate God,

who is slow to become angry and always abounding in loving-kindness.

Even as we strive to be more like you,

we can rest in the knowledge that you will not condemn us

when we stumble and fall.

Thank you for your readiness to forgive and your everlasting love.  

Thank you for continually drawing us closer to you and your perfection. 

(Psalm 103:1-2, Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:9; Jeremiah 31:3).

Photo credits:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.grist.org; http://www.neabscobaptist.org; http://www.untilsheflies.com.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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