Finding Delight in God

The Sun Breaking through the Clouds over Sydney, Australia.

The Sun Breaking through the Clouds over Sydney, Australia.

“DELIGHT THYSELF IN THE LORD” (Psalm 37:4) Why can we Delight in Him??
When we go astray, He is the seeking Shepherd.
When we are lonely, He will never leave us, nor forsake us.
When we are confused, He is our wisdom.
When we are weak, He is our strength.
When we are full of guilt, He is the merciful God who forgives.
When we need direction, He is our Light.
When we are sorrowful, He is our Comforter.
When we are without Hope, He is our hope.
When we need love, He loves us with an everlasting love.
When we are misunderstood, He knows our heart.
When we are anxious, He is our Peace
When we face death, He is the Resurrection and the Life.

“Dear Lord, we thank you for all that you are in our lives. Because we focus on our problems, pains, and the people in our lives, we often lose our delight in you. Please rekindle our delight in you! Help us to remember that you delight in us. How can we not delight in you! Amen”

Sweet Meditations upon Christ

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“My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:34)

Many thoughts pass through our minds every day. Some thoughts are innocent. Some thoughts are good. Some thoughts are sinful. Other thoughts are destructive, such as worry, fear, discouragement and discontentment. However, the most pleasurable thoughts  are upon Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

How often have we spent a day with very few thoughts upon Jesus? Yes, we pray, but are we meditating upon Jesus? Yes, we read our Bibles, but are we meditating upon Jesus?

The Psalmist shares his experience of meditating upon Our Lord. He describes this experience as “sweet” Why would the Psalmist use this word? Why doesn’t he use the word “uplifting” or “blessing”? The Psalmist uses the word “sweet” to describe the pleasure He derives from His meditation upon the Lord. He shares that there is no greater pleasure in this life than to meditate upon the Lord. He wants us to join him in this sweet time of meditating upon the Lord.

The word meditate has the idea of contemplating or focusing upon with all of our mind. Our mind is often going in several directions at the same time. We live in a society of multitasking; however, when we multitask in our meditation of God, the sweetness disappears. Our awareness of God’s presence diminishes. The pleasure is gone.

What makes meditating upon God a sweet experience?

1. Meditation upon God develops an intimate relationship with Him. Can you imagine if we were to walk in the sandals of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David? These men knew the God they served. They enjoyed His presence. They enjoyed His love. They enjoyed hearing His voice. They enjoyed seeing Him work in their lives. They confidently talked with God because of this intimate relationship with Him.

2. Meditation upon God increases our faith. One of the greatest struggles in our life is the struggle of faith. We walk by sight and our own wisdom instead of walking by faith. Our struggle with faith occurs because of our ignorance of God. The more we meditate upon God, the more we will know His attributes and His promises. This knowledge will help us to put our confidence in Him.

3. Meditation upon God changes our focus from ourselves unto God. We have the habit of viewing life through our own eyes. Our focus often becomes self-centered. We become filled with the “selfs” of life, such as self-pity, self-centeredness, self-glorification, and self-gratification. When self becomes the focus, joy leaves our lives. However, when we develop the habit of meditating upon the Lord soon our focus will change from self to God.

4. Meditation upon God gives perspective to our trials, heartaches and suffering. Life is filled with tribulations. We feel hopeless in the midst of a deep trial. What can we do in the midst of this great difficulty? When we meditate upon God and His promises, we see His strength, power and love. We understand that no matter how great the difficulty, God is greater than any trial that comes our way. The disciples had to learn this lesson often. However, David when he faced Goliath, he had great confidence because He had the habit of meditating upon God and His Word.

Meditating upon God means that we take the time focus upon His person.  Here are a few ways that we can enjoy the sweetness of meditating upon God.

  1. Meditate upon the attributes of God. Perhaps, every day focus upon one attribute of God. This will enable us to find sweetness in every one of God’s attributes instead of focusing on only two or three of His attributes. When was the last time we meditated upon the immutability of God, or the jealousy of God? The more we know who God is, the sweeter He will be to us.
  2. Meditate upon the works of God. The Bible is full of God’s work in the lives of people as well as nations. We see God’s wisdom, power, justice, power and love flow through the deeds that God performs throughout the Word of God.
  3. Meditate upon the promises of God. We become discouraged and worried because we have forgotten God’s promises. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian finally escapes the Castle of the Giant Despair when he remembered the key in his bosom that opened every look in Doubting Castle. This key was called “Promise”. Meditating upon God’s promise helps remove doubts that haunt us quite often in this life.
  4. Meditate upon the names of God. The Bible is full of various names of God. They are like beautiful jewels waiting to be discovered.

“Dear Lord, I often read your Word and pray, but yet I don’t take the time to meditate upon you. Help me to develop a habit of meditating upon you each day. My thoughts upon you bring a rich reward of bring great pleasure to my soul. Thank you for bringing sweetness to my life. Amen”

Ten Reasons to Thank God for the Valley

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The valley is a place that we never choose for ourselves, but God chooses it for us. His plan for our life doesn’t just include the blessings and the mountaintop experiences.  His plan includes the valleys. At times, we are so deep in a valley that we forget God and His promises.

The valley challenges our faith in many areas, including our trust in God, our steadfastness in Christ, and our love for God and others. When we enter the valley, we struggle with having a grateful heart before God. We look at our dire circumstances and feel numb. We feel as though we are watching a tragedy unfold and we are one of the main characters. We lose our focus upon God as we travel deeper into the valley.

After the initial shock of entering the valley, we realize that we need to cry out to God. We ask for deliverance. We ask for relief. We ask for strength. We ask for wisdom. However,  worry and fear are still affecting us spiritually. Why is there no relief? Have we neglected to thank God for our valley?  How can we travel through the valley with an ungrateful heart? Giving thanks to God helps to give us perspective concerning the valley. Gratefulness enables us to see the valley as a place of abundant blessings from God.

As the song writer wrote: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed; when you are discouraged thinking all is lost; Count your many blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” What are some of the reasons that we can thank God for the valley.

1. The valley gives us a thirst for God. Nothing can satisfy our soul in the valley but God Himself. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) The valley causes us to run into the arms of our loving Father. The valley creates a thirst that only our Heavenly Father can fulfill.

2. The valley gives us a broken and contrite heart. The valley has a way of bringing us down to our knees. The valley shows us our weakness and need for God’s help. Our heart becomes broken and humble before God. Nothing is more special in God’s eyes than when His children come to Him in complete desperation.  “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

3. The valley gives us an eternal perspective concerning life. Often we are so involved in the things of this life that we forget our glorious future with the Lord. When God takes us into the valley, our perspective on life is changed. The eternal suddenly becomes much more important in our lives. “Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

4. The valley causes us to search our hearts. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (Psalm 139:23) The busyness of our lives often keeps us from reflecting upon our hearts. We go through the motions and neglect to take inventory of our lives. When God takes us into the valley, we find ourselves looking for answers. This helps us to search our hearts as to our past, present and future.

5. The valley can often bring marriages and families closer together. “Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he (Lazarus) whom thou lovest is sick.”
(John 11:3) Tragedy and heartache can bring families closer together or further apart. In the case of Lazarus, his death brought his family closer together. When one member of a family enters into a valley, it is a great opportunity for others in the family to travel with their loved one.

6. The valley tests our friendships. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) The valley exposes the true loyalty of a friend. A true friend doesn’t run away when their friend enters into the valley, but they encourage him. They do whatever they can to help their friend. There are many so-called friends who are exposed in the valley because they watch from the sidelines as their “friend” travels the painful road in the valley.

7. The valley gives us a hunger for the Word of God. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:71) When times are going well, we read our Bibles out of obligation, but when we enter the valley we read our Bibles out of necessity. The Word of God opens up to us with its promises, comfort and even conviction.

8. The valley is a place where Jesus becomes our sweet companion. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) The valley is a place where we may feel lonely, but we are never alone. We have a companion who walks every step of the way in the valley with us. The walk in the valley is difficult, but we can find it pleasant because we experience a closeness to the Lord that we don’t normally.experience.

9. The valley broadens our ministry towards others. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4) God’s ministry of comfort, strength and encouragement in our valley enables us to have compassion upon others who are in the valley. When we respond to the valley in God’s way, we will find many doors of ministry that will become open to us.

10. The valley enables others to minister unto us. “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:” (2 Timothy 1:16) The valley enables others to reach out to us. We become thirsty for encouragement and people see this need and refresh us. They can refresh us with their presence, with their words, and with their prayers.

Yes, the valley doesn’t seem attractive when we first enter; however, as time goes by, we learn the secret of the valley. This is a place of great blessing. This is a place of experiencing God’s love. This is a place of spiritual growth. The key to having the valley become a very positive experience is to thank God for this time in our lives.

“Dear Lord, I didn’t ask for this valley. I didn’t expect this valley. Yes, this valley has been difficult; however I thank you for this valley. It has been an experience that I wouldn’t trade. You have used this valley in my life in so many ways! Please don’t ever stop your work in my life. Thank you for the your wisdom, tenderness, strength and love that I am experiencing in this valley. Amen.”

Jesus: Our Companion in the Valley

Near Fontana Dam, TN.

Near Fontana Dam, TN.

 

The valley is often a place of loneliness. We may feel that nobody understands exactly how we feel. As we experience sleepless nights, the loneliness and darkness of the night seem to settle like a foggy mist upon us. The hopelessness of our situation paralyzes us . Where can we find hope, comfort and companionship during these dark hours in the valley? The answer is Jesus!

Jesus gives us this promise in Hebrews 13:5: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  No matter how dark the night, He will not leave us. No matter how deep the valley, He will not leave us. No matter how painful the path, He will not leave us. As we trod through the valley, Jesus promises to walk every step of the way with us!

The valley no longer is a cold, dark, lonely place when we seek after the Lord and become aware of His presence. David faced many valleys in his life. God used the valleys in David’s life to create a longing for fellowship with Him. In Psalm 42,  David expresses his longing for God. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

The valley may not be our plan for our lives, but it is God’s plan for our lives. He knows how easy it is for us to drift in our relationship with Him. We can even slowly fall into the sin of the church at Laodicea. This church had become lukewarm because they no longer saw their desperate need for Christ. In our Christian life, there are times when we become lukewarm. The Lord sends us into the valley to restore our passion for Him.

Many of us would say that some of the sweetest times in our lives is our valley experience. Yes, the valley seems painful, lonely, dark and confusing, but it is also quite sweet. It brings us once again to the feet of Jesus. We become broken before our Lord. We don’t pray out of obligation, but out of desperation. We cling to Christ and He takes us unto His bosom and brings great comfort to us.

Christ’s presence changes our whole outlook of our valley. No longer is the valley a place filled with sorrow and bitterness, but a place to accept with joy. How does Christ change our valley from a place of bitterness to a place of sweetness?

1. The valley is a place of darkness, but Christ changes it into a place of light. “I am the Light of the World” (John 8:12)

2. The valley is a place of anxiety, but Christ changes it into a place of peace. “My peace I give unto you.” (John 14:27)

3. The valley is a place of confusion. but Christ changes it into a place of understanding. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

4. The valley is a place of heartache, but Christ changes it into a place of comfort. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

5. The valley is a place of rejection, but Christ changes it into a place of enjoying His love. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”

6. The valley is a place of sleeplessness, but Christ changes it into a place of rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

7. The valley is a place of sorrow, but Christ changes it into a place of joy. “And ye now therefore have sorrow:but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. (John 16:22)

8. The valley is a place of uselessness, but Christ changes it into a place of ministry. “and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:2)

9. The valley is a place of weakness, but Christ changes it into a place of strength. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“Dear Lord, thank you for making the bitterness of my valley into something very sweet. Thank you for walking through this valley with me. Thank you for allowing me to draw closer to you during this very difficult time. Though this valley is not my choice, your way is always the best. Thank you for not only taking me into the valley, but also through the valley. Your presence has made all the difference!  Amen”

Verses for the Valley

Cape Verde-Photo by: Mark J Booth

Cape Verde-Photo by: Mark J Booth

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.” (A Tale of Two Cities: By Charles Dickens)

These words by Dickens can typify the valleys that we face in our lives. We can say with Dickens that the valley is the worst of times, but it is also the best of times. It is an anxious time. It is a comforting time. It is a time of sorrow. It is a time of joy. It is a time of discouragement. It is a time of encouragement. It is time of confusion. It is a time of direction. It is a time of silence from God. It is a time of closeness with God.

The valley is a place of contradictions. If our lives were without valleys, there would be very little spiritual growth. The valleys expose our need for God. The valleys expose the many things that need to be changed in our lives. The valleys teach us faith.  Though the valley may not pleasant, there are many verses that bring refreshment to us as we go through the valley. These verses have refreshed me as I have traveled through a valley.

1. GOD IS WITH ME  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

In life we often face very dark valleys. How can we keep going as we travel through a valley filled with the unknown, with dangers, and with pain of heart?  The loneliness of the valley can become suffocating. There is no one who understands. There is no one to help us get through this rough patch. However, David understood that the Lord’s presence is with us even in the darkest valley of all, death. God never forsakes His children. Though we don’t see Him, we know that he is with us every step of the way as walk through the dark valley.

A Prayer  “Dear Lord, as I walk through a very dark valley. I don’t know how long I will be here in this valley, but I know that you are with me. You are teaching me. You are guiding me. You are comforting me. You are walking alongside me enabling me to enjoy your presence. Please enable me to honor you while I am walking through this valley. I love you, My Shepherd. Thank you for loving me. Amen”

2. GOD DOESN’T CHANGE.  For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6)

Changes are reality in life. We change. People change. Our surroundings change; Our circumstances change. Our life can often feel like a boat adrift in the ocean; yet amidst the uncertainties of life, God doesn’t change! His Salvation, His Word, His love, His mercy, His comfort, His faithfulness, His holiness never change. These unchangeable truths give us hope as we trod through the valley. Yes, our world may be changing before our eyes, but God never changes.

3. GOD STRENGTHENS ME. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)

We need strength and courage for what lies ahead. The path before us looks impossible to tread. We feel tired. We lack sleep. We are emotionally and spiritually exhausted. We want to quit.  We think we can’t go one step further. Where can we find the strength and courage to continue moving forward?  The same strength and courage that Joshua found from God before crossing the Jordan River and confronting Jericho is available to us.

A Prayer “Dear Lord, the path before me seems filled with difficulties and dangers. I feel tired. I don’t know how much further I can go. I have lost the will to continue in the struggle; however, I thank you for your presence. I thank you for giving me the strength and courage to go forward. Amen

4. GOD IS MY FOCUS.  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:3) “

Have you ever found yourself so engrossed in a situation that all you can do is think about it? There is little sleep.There is little peace. There is little joy. What are we to do?  When we take our eyes off of the situation and place them upon Jesus, our perspective becomes totally different. When we focus upon the people who may have placed us in this valley, we start to become like them. When we place our eyes upon Jesus, we become more like Him.

A Prayer:
There is no wisdom in myself, but in you.
There is no compassion in myself, but in you.
There is no courage in myself, but in you.
There is no peace in myself, but in you.
There is no joy in myself, but in you.
Thank you, Lord, for always being with me, so that when I look to you, you are always there. Amen.

5. GOD IS MY BELOVED (Deuteronomy 33:27) “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

The valley can be a place of opposition. You may feel unloved. You may feel alone. This is a time to remember God’s everlasting arms are waiting to embrace and draw you unto Himself. Like a child runs into the arms of a loving parent, We also can run into the arms of our loving Father. The valley produces great needs in our life.  As a result of our needs our love increases for the Lord.

A Prayer: “Dear Lord, I come to you whose arms are wide open. I need you to embrace me and hold me tight because:
I need your love.
I need your comfort.
I need your understanding.
I need your peace.
I need your wisdom.
I need your forgiveness.
Thank you for always being ready to embrace me when I come to you with a broken and contrite heart. Amen”

6. GOD IS MY DELIGHT. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

In spite of situations that are not delightful, we can still delight in the Lord. When we delight in the Lord, He will change our desires to match HIs desires. Delighting in the Lord will enable us to find peace and joy in the midst of the valley.

God’s Word has always brought comfort to His people. These verses have brought comfort to me in the midst of my valley. May you find comfort in them as you travel through your valley.

 

Does Jesus Care? (1 Peter 5:7)

Guincho Beach in Portugal (Photo by Mark J. Booth)

Guincho Beach in Portugal (Photo by Mark J. Booth)

Does Jesus care about what is happening in my life? Does He care about me personally? Many believers to whom Peter wrote had these same questions, because they were facing a period of great persecution for their faith. Their safety and well-being were in peril.  Peter understood persecution.  He had endured imprisonment, and misunderstanding. Jesus had clearly prophesied that one day Peter would die a violent for His sake.

Peter encouraged these beleaguered believers with a letter of a great hope in Jesus Christ. Peter reminded the believers that Jesus does know and care about what is happening in their lives.  The words: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) brought great comfort to the readers of Peter’s letter. Today, these same words bring comfort, encouragement and hope to each one of us.

What does it mean “to cast our care upon Jesus”. First of all the word “care” has the idea of a burden, worry, or an anxious thought. There are many causes of “care” in our lives.

  1. We have the “care” for things that are outside of ourselves.  These include natural catastrophes, rejection by others, and political conflict in our nation.  Our news media has a great knack of creating anxiety upon those who are watching or listening to what they have to say. We feel helpless in the midst of a world that seems to be spinning out of control.
  2. We have the “care” for our loved ones. Many a parent lives a life filled with worry because of their children. We worry about their safety, their future, and their health. Perhaps, we have loved ones who have turned aside from the Lord. This also creates anxiety.
  3. We have the “care” concerning our own lives. We have anxiety over our future, our finances, our failures, our sins, and our health.  As we grow older we become anxious about death and leaving our loved ones behind. If a person doesn’t have the assurance of their salvation, there is the worry about life after death.

Peter admits that we have “cares” but he also tells us what to do with these cares.  Our cares are to be “cast” upon Jesus. The word “cast” has the idea of throwing a weight and placing it upon an object that can bear the weight. Perhaps, the idea can be seen by throwing a bale of hay on a wagon. Why carry the bale of hay when the wagon can do the work?

Why do we carry our “cares” with us when Jesus can carry any load that we place upon Him. He wants us to “cast our all of our cares” upon Him because He cares about what happens in our life. He died for us when we were his enemies. Will He not take care of us, now that we belong to Him?

What keeps us from casting all of our cares upon Jesus?  Could it be pride?  Could it be stubbornness? Could it be a lack of faith? Jesus’ arms are open. He is saying: “Give me that “care” that has you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and discouraged. I can handle anything you give me. Will you not trust me today?”

When No One Cares

Canadian Badlands in Alberta, Canada (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

Canadian Badlands in Alberta, Canada (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

“In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)

“Does anyone care?” “If only I could find someone who will listen to me!”  Have you ever caught yourself thinking these thoughts? Yes, throughout life there are times when we feel alone.  We think no one cares. When these times occur, we must not forget that there is One who is always available. He loves us and is ready listen to us. He understands exactly how we feel. Are we ready to confide in our Lord?

When we confide in the Lord, we are saying to Him: “I trust you, and I know that you care about me. I pour out my heart to you, because I know that you understand. I also know that you will show me what I need to do.”

Why did Moses stay faithful in spite of his trials? He confided in the Lord. How did Joshua lead God’s people? He confided in the Lord. How did David receive forgiveness of his sin? He confided in the Lord. How did Paul rejoice in the midst of his persecution and difficulties? He confided in the Lord. How will we stay faithful through life’s tribulations?  We will need to confide in the Lord.

Why do we need to confide in the Lord?

1. We need to confide in the Lord because we have no wisdom or strength within ourselves. When King Jehoshaphat faced the near certain defeat of his armies, he confided in the Lord. He knew that God alone could handle this situation.  “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) Jehoshaphat demonstrated a spirit of humility before God which enabled him to confide in the Lord. We choose not to confide in God because we don’t want to admit our need of Him.

2. We need to confide in the Lord because we have a deceitful heart that can often lead us astray.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? ” (Jeremiah 17:9) People often say: “I can’t go wrong if I just follow my heart”. However, God makes it clear that we can not trust our own hearts. We often make decisions based upon our own selfishness, bias or lack of knowledge. We need to confide in the Lord because He will direct us in the right path.

3. We need to confide in the Lord because difficulties come into our lives. We can’t travel the road of life without continually confiding in our Lord. Jesus said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) When tribulations come, do we forget that the Lord is greater than any trial that may come into our lives.

4. We need to confide in the Lord because of problems with others. People say: “I could be a good Christian, if it wasn’t for other people.” Yes, other people may hurt us, misunderstand us, ignore us and dislike us, but there is a friend who is always there. His name is Jesus! David confided in God when he faced powerful enemies; so can we. “Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;” (Psalm 55:2)

5. We need to confide in God because of His Greatness. He is worthy of our faith. God is our all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful Lord. He is our High Priest to whom we can go at any time. He is a refuge in the midst of any storm. “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8)

Elbow Lake in Alberta, Canada (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

Elbow Lake in Alberta, Canada (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

How do we confide in the Lord?

1. We share our requests openly with God. “Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God.” (Psalm 59:1)  The Psalmist understood that he could share any request with God, and that God would hear him. He is ready to listen to all of our requests.

2. We are to show gratefulness unto the Lord as we confide in Him. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) God loves to hear and answer our prayer requests, but He also loves to hear us give praise and thanks unto Him.

3. We are to show desperation when we confide in God.  “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.” (Psalm 102:1) Our desperate cry shows our total dependence upon Him. Our cry also shows that He is our only hope. When desperate times come, God is waiting for us to cry out to Him.

4. We are to confide in God thoughtfully. Confiding in God means that we don’t repeat the same words without thought. God wants us to share our mind, will and emotions with Him.  When Jesus taught about prayer, He said: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do:” (Matthew 6:7)  

We have a choice each day. Will we openly confide in our Lord or ignore the opportunity of pouring out our hearts to our dearest Friend? We should not only confide in the Lord when we have sorrow and trials, but also in our times of blessing and joy. God wants us to confide in Him in every decision that we make. Confiding in God increases our love for Him because we find complete satisfaction in Him.

“Dear Lord, I often live my life without sharing it with you. You have blessed me with your presence and yet I ignore you. Why are you so patient with me? Help me to have the desire to confide in you completely. Thank you that you do care and that I can trust you with my whole heart. With my love, from your child. Amen”

The Distress of My Soul (Psalm 31:7)

A Boca do Inferno (The Mouth of Hell) Cascais, Portugal.  Photo by: Mark J Booth

A Boca do Inferno (The Mouth of Hell) Cascais, Portugal. Photo by: Mark J Booth

I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;” (Psalm 31:7)

Physical pain is a warning sign that something is wrong with our body.  The pain is screaming out for attention as though it is saying: “You have a problem, and you need to do something about it!”

Likewise, when we have pain in our soul (our innermost being), it is a warning sign that something is wrong.  The following problems can cause our soul to cry out in pain.

  • Sin in our life.
  • Lukewarmness towards spiritual matters
  • Resistance to God’s will
  • Selfishness
  • Emptiness within our soul
  • Confusion
  • An angry spirit
  • A great and heavy trial
  • Loneliness, etc.

Like our physical pain, we can tell others about the pain, but they don’t really understand.  The Lord God alone can feel the pain of our soul.  He alone can diagnose the pain of our soul.  Psalm 31:7 says: “Thou hast known my soul in adversities.”  God knows our pain. He knows when our soul is crying out in distress.  God wants us to pour out our heart to Him as we share the pain of our soul.

Not only does God know the pain of our soul, but He diagnoses the source of this pain for us.  How is this accomplished?  Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

When we read and study the Word of God, God uses it to penetrate the deepest part of our soul.  An x-ray machine shows what is under our skin.  The Word of God shows what is in our soul.  It shows our sins, fears, doubts, sorrows, pain, hurts, anger, bitterness and many other trials and diseases of our soul.

The Word not only shows us the trials and diseases of our soul, but it also shows us the cure for our soul.  Are we experiencing the following ailments of the soul?  Have we tried God’s remedy for each ailment?

  • Sin? Confess our sin to God. (1 John 1:9)
  • A deep trial? Depend upon His grace (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • An angry spirit? Yield all of our rights to God. (Matthew 5:5)
  • An overwhelming burden? Cast our care upon Him. (1 Peter 5:7)
  • Loneliness? Remember the presence of God. (Hebrews 13:5)
  • Bitterness? Forgive in our heart the offending party as Christ has forgiven us. (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Fear? Lean upon God’s perfect love because love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)
  • Lukewarmness? Take time to enjoy deep communion with the Lord.(Revelation 3:20)
  • Confusion? Allow the Lord to direct our way. (Psalm 32:8)
  • Sorrow? Find joy in Jesus. (Psalm 30:5)

The Lord knows us inside and out.  He knows our heart.  When our soul is in distress, we know that he will hear our cry.  He gives us answers for the distress of our soul.  The pain in our soul is God showing us our need for Him in a certain area of our life.  He is ready to apply His cure to our aching soul.

“Dear Lord, my soul often experiences pain.  My words, actions, and attitudes cause much of the pain in my soul.  Other people can also create some pain in my soul.  Regardless of the cause, please show me the source of the pain in my soul and its cure.  I thank you that you are the Great Physician who heals all the diseases and troubles of my soul. Amen”

Jesus is Knocking. Will I Answer? (Enjoying the Presence of God)

Rogue River Trail-Rockford, MI (Photo by: Mark J Booth)

Rogue River Trail-Rockford, MI (Photo by: Mark J Booth)

The Christian life encounters many pitfalls. One unsuspecting pitfall is that we lose the joy of being a Christian.  We become lukewarm in our relationship with Christ.   Prayer is routine.  Bible study is a chore.  Our worship has become cold and formal. What has happened to our lives?

There was a church in the New Testament that had these same problems.  Jesus spoke these words to the church at Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”(Revelation 3:15-16)  This church was religious, but they no longer enjoyed Christ’s presence. They had lost a vibrant relationship with their living Lord.

What was Christ’s answer to their problem? “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) Christ was telling the church that they were leaving Him out of their lives.  He politely was knocking on the door of their hearts; so that they would once again enjoy having fellowship with Him.

Chateau-Abbadia (Southwestern France)Photo by: Mark J Booth

Chateau-Abbadia (Southwestern France)
Photo by: Mark J Booth

 A meal in Bible times was a time-consuming event where people enjoyed talking and listening to one another.  Jesus longs for this kind of communion with us.  Have we opened the door?  Christ has prepared a meal for us with His presence and blessings. Have we sat down and taken the time to enjoy His presence?  He is waiting. 

When we take the time to enjoy Christ’s presence, we will view life and our circumstances from a totally different perspective.  We will see life as God sees life.  We will see our problems as God sees our problems.  God has prepared a banquet for us. Here is what He offers to us as take time to enjoy His presence.

1. We have guidance in our life.  “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me;” (Psalm 43:3a) The question is often asked: “How can I know the will of God?”  To understand the will of God means more than following a formula, but we follow the Lord.  As we commune with the Lord, we will discover what pleases Him and what doesn’t please Him.  God’s greatest priority for our lives is that we know Him.  His light and truth will guide us. 

2. We enjoy true worship of God. “let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.” (Psalm 43:3b) The Psalmist in the midst of all that was happening in his life saw the importance of worshiping God. Worship is not to please ourselves, but to please our Lord.  He desires worship because He is worthy of our worship.  Our worship is bringing glory to God in all that we say and do.  When we worship God, we recognize His presence and majesty.  

3. We have joy in spite of the circumstances in our life.  “Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy:” (Psalm 43:4a) The Psalmist faced many trials in his life which caused him to become to discouraged and depressed.  He understood that in God’s presence there is great joy.  No matter what is happening in our lives, if we remember that God is with us, we can experience a joy that is not based upon circumstances, but based upon a relationship.

4. We have an attitude of praise.  “yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.” (Psalm 43:4b)  We often give praise for the blessings that we receive from God, but what about giving praise to the giver of those blessings.  When we enjoy God’s presence, we will focus upon all that God is.  We will praise HIm for His attributes and titles.  Every day, we should take the time to praise God for all that He is and does.

5. We have a contented spirit.  They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” (Psalm 36:8)  A lack of contentment is a warning sign that we are not enjoying God’s presence.  When we are walking with God, we will be totally content. When we are close to the Lord, everything else will fall in place. 

6. We receive comfort from God. I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) Comfort is not based on circumstances, but upon our relationship with our Living God.  His rod shows his protection against our enemies.  His staff shows His guidance and help in our lives.  When we have His protection and guidance, we are sure of His comfort and love even in the most trying times. 

Enjoying God’s presence begins with salvation, but it continues for all eternity.  We enjoy His presence as we listen to him, communicate with Him, meditate upon Him and pour out our heart unto Him.  Are enjoying His presence today?

“Dear Lord, my life often becomes filled with the routine.  I have lost the joy of being Christian. I haven’t taken the time or effort to enjoy your presence.  Thank you for knocking on the door of my heart.  Thank you for your desire to fellowship with me.  I now open up the door of my heart to you.  Please come in!  I know that the greatest joy in life comes from being in your presence.  Amen.”

Preparing My Heart for Thanksgiving (Psalm 95)

Near Cascais, Portugal-Photo by: Mark J Booth

The food has been bought.  The guests have been invited.  The television is ready for NFL football.  Preparations are being made for the Black Friday sales.  However, something is missing in our Thanksgiving preparations.  Have we prepared our hearts to give thanks unto our Lord God?

One person has defined gratefulness as: “Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life.”  We prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving by taking the time to reflect upon God’s blessings and then give thanks unto Him for those blessings.  It is also an opportunity to thank others for the ways they have benefited our lives.

Psalm 95 helps us to prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving.  The focus of this Psalm is upon giving thanks to God.  “Let us come before His presence with Thanksgiving.” (Psalm 95:2)  God desires thankfulness in His people.  Thanksgiving is not a once year reflection upon God’s blessings, but it is a daily giving of thanks to God for his blessings and provision.

We prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving as we reflect upon the reasons we can give thanks to God.  Take a few moments to meditate upon the following verses in Psalm 95. These verses will encourage us to give thanks to God for all that He is and all that He has done.

1. We give thanks to God for His Greatness. “For the Lord is a great God.” (Psalm 95:3a)  God demonstrates His Greatness in all that He is and all that He does.  We find it easy to lose the wonder of God as we grow older.  Our faith becomes routine and ritualistic.  It is time that we meditate upon God’s greatness again, and thank Him for His attributes and all that He has done.

Cabo Da Roca-Portugal; Photo by: Mark J Booth

2. We give thanks God for His Sovereignty. “A great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:3b) God is in control.  Yes, he sometimes refines us as by fire, but we can thank Him  that nothing passes into our lives apart from His loving will and plan. When we understand that He is in control: then we can commit the trial unto Him and see Him work.  We can thank Him not only for the good times, but also for the difficult times because He is working in our lives.

3. We give thanks to God for His Power.  “The strength of the hills is his also.” (Psalm 95:4) Our God brings spiritual, emotional and physical strength to our lives.  We can give thanks in a difficult situation, because God is there to give us his strength.  Paul understood this as he was in prison when he wrote: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) 

4. We give thanks to God because He is Personal.  “For He is our God.” (Psalm 95:7a)  God desires to have a personal relationship with us.  He wants to walk with us, talk with us and listen to us.  He loves His children with an everlasting love.  He will never forsake us, in spite of the situation.  We can give thanks that we have a vital relationship with our Living God.  

5. We give thanks to God because He is our Provider. “We are the people of his pasture.” (Psalm 95:7b) We can be confident that the Lord is our loving Shepherd who will provide for our needs, whether they be spiritual, emotional, social or physical.  The Lord Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount reminds us that God will take care of the smallest matter in our lives.  When we focus on how the Lord meets our every need, we are eager to give thanks unto Him. 

6. We give thanks to God because He is our Guide.  “and the sheep of his hand.” (Psalm 95:7c)  Our Good Shepherd not only provides for us, but also leads us.  We can thank the Lord for the times that He gave us direction through His Word in some important decision.  As we look back upon our lives, God’s hand can be seen in His guidance and through the circumstances that He allowed in our lives.  Likewise, as we look forward to the future, we know that He will continue to guide us. 

Return of the Flock” by Anton Mauve (19th Century) From the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The first step to turning away from the Lord is to develop an ungrateful heart.  As we prepare our hearts for this Thanksgiving, let us look upon our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ and all of His blessings.  Yes, there may food, family, and football for this Thanksgiving, but don’t forget the most important “f” for Thanksgiving, which is focusing upon the Lord and His Blessings.

“Dear Lord, I so often go through my days without thinking about all the blessings that I have as your child.  Thank you for all that you are to me.  Thank you for my great salvation and all the blessings that come with my salvation.  Thank you for your desire to have a personal relationship with me.  Help me not to forget you this Thanksgiving, but to focus upon you and all that you are. Amen.”