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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 89:15’

 

Christmas is indeed a season of light.

Candles glow and twinkling lights glimmer from houses, buildings, and trees.

People love all the flickering and shimmering!  Some spend weeks decorating their yards and rooftops in spectacles of illumination.  If you asked them why, they might be hard-pressed to express more than, “They’re beautiful!”

 

 

But perhaps it’s more than just aesthetics.  Perhaps it’s a heart-response.

Light is symbolic for:

  • Beauty.  Light grabs our attention, whether it’s sparkling and dazzling or soft and luminous.

 

 

  • Safety.  Where there is light, we can navigate through our surroundings.
  • Comfort.  A nightlight offers just that for many a child who is afraid of the dark.
  • Hope.  Light gleams triumphantly in the darkness at the end of a tunnel.
  • Guidance.  Light illuminates the way.

 

 

Might it be that people respond to light, especially when associated with Christmas, because the human spirit is made to respond to the Light?

Jesus came from the Father who is Light (1 John 1:5), and proclaimed, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12).

But that statement is more than symbolic.

God the Son is our safety, because he offers eternal life.

 

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;

no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

John 10:28-29

 

 

God the Father is our comfort, because he is loving and compassionate.

  

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our troubles.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4a

 

God the Son is our hope, because of his resurrectionWe will be raised from the dead because he was. 

 

“In his great mercy [God] has given us new birth

into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade—

kept in heaven for you.”

1 Peter 1:3b-4

 

 

God the Father is beauty, because of all his exquisite attributes.  And we have the opportunity to bask in that beauty.

 

“I’m asking God for one thing…

To live with him in his house my whole life long.

I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.”

Psalm 27:4  MSG

 

God the Father is guidance, characterized by wisdom, compassion, and readiness.

 

 

The Light of the world offers us all this and more.

I can’t imagine life without him, can you?

Let’s make time to linger in his Light during this Advent season.

 

 

Let’s be watchful for “Glory-moments, awash in his dazzling Light” (Sarah Young).

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *

 

How else might we expand our heart-response to Jesus?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

Photo credits: http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.tOrangebiz; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.canva.com (3).

 

(Revised and reblogged from December 2, 2013.)

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Jacob half-walked, half-jogged mile after mile toward Paddan Aram, to escape his furious brother, Esau. (You can read about the circumstances of Esau’s anger in Genesis 27-28.)

Finally, at sunset, Jacob had to stop and rest. In a grassy meadow surrounded by trees, he spotted a low, flat rock, perfect for a pillow. He folded his sash into a smooth bundle, to add a bit of softness under his head, then wrapped himself in his outer robe, and promptly fell asleep.

That may be the impression we’ve acquired from such art work as this:

 

jacob

 

The truth is, the area where Jacob rested that first night as a runaway, was far from pleasant. The landscape was scrubby, rocky, and desolate, which surely accentuated how very alone he was.

I doubt that Jacob rested comfortably or fell asleep quickly.   For all he knew, Esau was in hot pursuit. And though Jacob was headed to the ancestral home of his mother, it’s doubtful he’d ever met any of those relatives. What would they be like? How would he be treated? Between the uncomfortable “bed,” and the worrying and wondering, who could rest?

But Jacob had covered many miles that day. Exhaustion finally took over, and he slept—soundly enough to dream.

You know the story.  Jacob was witness to a glorious sight: angels of God, ascending and descending on a stairway that reached all the way to heaven.

At the top of the stairway stood God Almighty himself, proclaiming glorious promises to Jacob:

  • The land on which he lay would one day be his.
  • His descendants would be as numerous as the dust on the earth.
  • All the peoples of the earth would be blessed through Jacob and his offspring.
  • God would be with him to watch over him wherever he went.

Jacob awoke, astonished by his dream. Perhaps he was a bit disoriented by the darkness and desolation, when just a moment before he was surrounded by ethereal light, gazing at angels on a glowing staircase, and listening to the voice of God.

“The Lord is in this place!” he breathed.

Jacob took the stone pillow and stood it up on end as a pillar-reminder of the momentous occasion. And he renamed the location, Bethel, which means house of God (Genesis 28:10-19).

 

Jacob_set_up_stone_C-175

 

We may not be runaways like Jacob, forced to sleep in a wilderness. But we’ve all faced rough, rock-strewn places in life when:

  • Marriage is more disappointment than delight,
  • The growing pains of our children become our pain, too,
  • Friends prove unfriendly,
  • Circumstances turn our lives upside down,
  • The day-to-day routine is unpleasant and boring.

Amidst the desolation and darkness we forget:

God. Is. With.  Us.

And that is huge.

 

51RKiHO4XNL

 

“God’s presence with us is his greatest present to us” (Joanie Yoder).

The problem is, we’re often unaware just as Jacob was.

But we do have numerous assurances of God’s presence with us throughout scripture, and indications of what a sublime treasure that is:

  • Hundreds of promises in the Bible. (Jacob received only five that night at Bethel!)
  • All of God’s incredible attributes at work in and around us: his power, wisdom, loving kindness, and much more
  • His guidance, provision, protection, and empowerment–whether we currently see the evidence or not
  • His blessings, even in the desolate places of life

May we awaken to full awareness and the full meaning of his presence, because:

 

bestofallgodiswithus-wesley1

(The best of all is, God is with us–John Wesley.)

 

(Art credits:  www.keyway.ca; http://www.bibleencyclopedia.com; http://www.amazon.com; http://www.izquotes.com.)

 

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Those of us who believe in Jesus are on a faith journey.

Sometimes we fly.

He carries us on eagles’ wings.

 

 

One example from scripture is God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.  He said, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4).

The Israelites had done nothing to secure their release from Pharaoh.   God caused the plagues, God opened the Red Sea for the Israelites’ escape, and God destroyed the Egyptian army.

Moses and his sister, Miriam, sang a song to the Lord, to celebrate their deliverance.

 

 

“Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?  Who is like you–majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).

Has your heart soared on the euphoria of an awesome and glorious miracle?

We have.  A number of times.  One day D. called to announce she wanted to buy us a car.  Arrangements were made with a dealership; all we had to do was go and pick one out.

“Oh–and get leather seats,” she insisted.  “They’re so much more comfortable.”

Can you imagine?  What an incredible blessing!  Our hearts soared for weeks on that miracle.   Even now, more than thirteen years later, that car is a constant reminder of God’s supernatural provision.  (Yes, it’s still running smoothly!) Through D., God proved unequivocally his love and power.

Sometimes we soar; sometimes we runon supernatural strength.

We feel the supernatural power of the Spirit coursing through our veins, providing strength and passion for the task at hand.  It is a spontaneous sprint, energized by omnipotent God.

New Christians are often empowered for a running start in their burgeoning faith. Eagerly they soak up Bible knowledge in small groups and personal Bible study.

In other cases, God places a special call on someone’s life to fulfill a need.  And with the call comes supernatural strength to meet the challenge.

That’s what happened to J.B.  God infused him with a passion to upgrade the sound system of our church.  Night after night, he worked at rewiring the sanctuary.  Much of that time was spent climbing about in the rafters.  This after working each day at his business.

When I asked J.B. about exhausting himself, he assured me  he was having fun!  He didn’t feel worn out at all.  God was giving him the strength to complete the project.

Yes, it’s exhilarating to fly on eagles’ wings of miracles and run on supernatural strength.  But…

…most of the time on our faith journey, we walk.

Step by step.  Choice by choice.  Slowly approaching the destination—the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).  Sometimes the path is uphill and rocky.  We strain with effort to make progress.  Some days the path is winding, and we cannot see ahead.

Yet in spite of struggle and uncertainty, the walk can still bring much pleasure to the heart.  “Blessed are those…who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord” (Psalm 89:15).  You see, we do not walk alone.  The Company we keep makes all the difference.

Walking in faith involves plenty of ordinary tasks and days without miracles. Children to care for.  Laundry to do.  Meals to cook.  Calls to make.   Students to teach.  Sales to close.

But!  Whatever needs to be accomplished, we can walk through it and not collapse under the repetition and frustration.  How?  By inviting God to walk with us.

 

 

Years ago, when our three children were young, my life was a routine of laundry, cleaning, cooking, errands, and child care.  I was not one of those mothers who derived great fulfillment from these tasks.  Instead of walking joyfully through each day,  I often plodded.

Then I came across Colossians 3:23-24.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

In the margin of my Bible, next to those verses, I wrote, “including housework!”  I wanted Who I served to be more important than what I was doing.  Plodding didn’t end once and for all, but I learned to walk at a believer’s pace more frequently, as I invited God to cook, clean, and launder with me!

Those verbs–soar, run, and walk–are found in Isaiah 40:31, in that order:

 

 

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Perhaps soaring is first because  the euphoric wonder of flying on eagle’s wings seizes our attention with intensity.

Running is second.  Adrenalin runs high during spurts of divinely inspired growth and service.

And walking is last.  Did God save the most important until the end?  Because it’s in the persevering that we become strong.  It’s in the trusting  that our faith grows deep.  And it’s in practicing his presence that we learn consistency of character.

So revel in occasional soaring.  Rejoice in periodic  running.  But take deep satisfaction in the day-by-day walk on the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3).

 

“Come…let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5)!

(photo credits:  www.betterphoto.com; http://www.linksterdiversions.blogspot.com; http://www.BlackburnNews.com; http://www.foxnews.com; http://www.photobucket.som/user/jamiesolome/media.com; http://www.faithgateway.com; http://www.pinterest.com)

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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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“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord (Psalm 89:15).

Ever watch a movie scene in slow motion and notice details you missed when the action was normal speed?  That same phenomenon applies when we slow down our reading to meditation-speed.  Especially scripture.  Latent truths begin to surface.

For example, let’s examine closely several phrases from the scripture above, to see what God would have us discover.

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,” the psalmist asserts.  In other words, good things come to those who give enthusiastic approval to God.  What causes you to acclaim God?

My list would include:

  • a supportive, caring husband,
  • three grown children and their spouses, who are delightful company
  • a spunky four-year old granddaughter,
  • rainbows and sunbeams, clouds and surf,

,Waves breaking at Porto Covo, west coast of Po...

  • the way God engineers circumstances,
  • the way he comforts and strengthens.

If I put my mind to it, this list would surely grow very long.

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you.”  Same clause; different emphasis.  Giving enthusiastic approval to God–frequently throughout the day–is a learned behavior.

How do we learn this discipline?  Certain cues would certainly help, much as ringing bells cued a certain reaction in Pavlov’s dogs.  I can develop the habit of acclaiming God at particular times of day:

  • during my quiet time in the morning,
  • when driving,
  • as I gaze out the window at clouds and sky while working at the kitchen sink,
  • while completing other household tasks,
  • as I drift off to sleep each night.

I want such moments to automatically trigger Praise Time.  Practice will make perfect.

Psalm 89:15 also asserts that blessings will come when I walk in the light of God’s presence.

Think of being in the company of a dearly loved person, just sitting in cozy silence, simply enjoying the precious gift of being together.  There’s no awkwardness in the absence of conversation, just a peaceful settledness.

That’s one aspect of walking in the light of God’s presence–to rest in the knowledge he is:

  • Beside me, providing support and encouragement,
  • Watching over me, providing protection,
  • In  me, providing strength and wisdom.

These provisions and more prove his presence.  His invisibility and inaudibility make him no less close.

Heavenly Father, my heart bubbles with gratitude.  I want to rejoice in you all day long, exclaiming over every one of your righteous acts. I want your majesty and splendor to be my focus; because you are the source and power behind everything good in my life (personal paraphrase of Psalm 89:16-17a).

What cues automatically trigger Praise Time in your life?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

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