Tag Archives: Praise

Ecclesiastes 3-5; Psalm 45; Matthew 15

I think of the scraps that fell from the table: could meager remnants become a feast? I sat on a bench one year and considered the crumbs and thought of this woman in Matthew 15 and her perspective.

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:24-27, NLT)”

She taught me something profound that day about my own heart. About contentment. About gratitude. About the Lord. About enough.

The Pharisees had their expectations of what life would look like, and how purity would be recognized, and a protocol for how things would be done. I think on how my own expectations, perceptions, and protocol have kept me sour, hurt, angry, or disappointed.

Ecclesiastes marks time like seasons for war and peace, tearing and mending, silence and speech. Couldn’t it show on the calendar? On (this day), you will cry. You will grieve. But in a few turns of the calendar pages, you will laugh. You will dance. Would the wait feel long?

Here, I linger:

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13, NLT).

The injustices of life. The advantages of companionship. The futility of power and wealth. The importance of integrity. Read slowly. Everything, beautiful. Even in the becoming, beauty, in the wait. A scope of His work.

17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past (Ecclesiastes 5:17-20, NLT, emphasis added).

I did a quarterly evaluation in areas of my life from 1-10: work, health, friendships, etc. Goal books and podcasts preach a level-10 life. What would it look like, I wondered. And slowly I realized–I was already there. I have all I need. And maybe living out level 10 didn’t mean what I was making it (nebulous as it was). Maybe it didn’t look like anyone else’s vision of ten. Maybe, in some cases, it had to do with letting go of hurts and expectations, with looking forward and sowing into a future than looking back and carrying past burdens. Maybe my disappointment stemmed from exceptions and restrictions and expectations I placed upon things, a schedule I overbooked, a relationship I overestimated. For community that was never going to be what I hoped it could be. For the friend who never agreed to be who I needed her to be. What if I let go of my own restrictions, instead of wrestling with a past I couldn’t change, and people I wished who would? Seems like chasing the wind.

Lord, thank you for meeting me that day on the bench, bringing that woman’s story to mind. Thank you today for reminding me of the scope of your story. Thank you for gifts from you: good things from you, and the health to enjoy them.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 6-7; Matthew 3; Psalms 98-99

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.  For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy-a place where my name will be honored forever.  I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 NLT

I am seeing this verse in a new way.  The extravagant temple that Solomon built is a parallel to my body, His temple.  Am I surrendering it to Him?

He has set me apart.

He has made me holy.

He is watching over me.

He hears my prayers.

I am dear to his heart.

They cried to the Lord for help, and he answered them.  He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud, and they followed the laws and decrees he gave them.  O Lord our God, you answered them.  You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished them when they went wrong.  Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain in Jerusalem, for the Lord our God is holy!” Psalms 99:6-9 NLT

God spoke to Israel in the pillar of a cloud.  There have been times when I have wondered why he isn’t  speaking to me in ways that he is to someone else.  I was recently asked to paint during the worship service at my church.  This was a huge step of faith for me and a fear I had to overcome.  One of my biggest stumbling blocks was that I didn’t know what to paint.  I prayed for God to reveal an image to me.  When he seemed to be silent, the doubt would creep in.  I was frustrated when I would hear other artists tell of images that God gave them. But, he did answer me, it was just in a different way that I was expecting. He showed me that it wasn’t as much about what I was painting, as it was surrendering to him and breaking the bondage of old ways of thinking. He spoke through my pastor and his word.  He provided in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.  I could feel his peace and presence like never before.

“Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power! The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!  He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.  The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” Psalms 98:1-3 NLT

Thank you Father that in you I have the victory.   That you hear me.  And you answer me.  I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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2 Samuel 21-23; 2 Cor. 7; Psalms 55

“There was a famine during David’s reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the Lord about it.  And the Lord said, “The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites.”  So the king summoned the Gibeonites.  They were not part of Israel but were all that was left of the nation of the Amorites.  The people of Israel had sworn not to kill them, but Saul, in his zeal for Israel and Judah, had tried to wipe them out.  David asked them, “What can I do for you? How can I make amends so that you will bless the Lord’s people again?”  2 Samuel 21:1-3 NLT

“So David asked the Lord about it.”  This sentence jumps off the page at me.  It doesn’t say that David questioned God, but instead he asked him a question like a trusted friend.  It doesn’t say that he was worried or upset.  His faith in God was secure. He knew who to turn to during a hard season, that was lasting a long time.  Where has there been a famine in my own life? An unanswered prayer or unfulfilled dream? The waiting is hard, but David knew enough about God’s character, that he didn’t lose heart.  

“David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul.  He sang: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.  He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.  he is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:1-3 NLT

I find myself listening intently to David’s last words.

“These are the last words of David: “David the son of Jesse, speaks- David, the man who was raised up so high, David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, David, the sweet psalmist of Israel.  “The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me; his words are upon my tongue.  The God if Israel spoke.  The Rock of Israel said to me: ‘The one who rules righteously, who rules in the fear of the God, is like the light of morning at sunrise, like a morning without clouds, like the gleaming sun on new grass after rain.’  2 Samuel 23:1-4 

God hears a repentive heart.  Is there anything that I am holding onto that I need to give over to him?

“Because we have these promised, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit.  And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.  Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such readiness to punish wrong.  You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right. ” 2 Corinthians 7:1,-11 NLT

Dear Father, Help me to have a faith like David.  To remember your faithfulness, your promises and your unfailing love for me. Amen.

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalms 55:22 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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1 Corinthians 15; Psalm 68

This quote comes from a Christian-focus book on perseverance and starting over.

“No one is coming to save you.”

I’ve thought on these words since last September. They scare me. There were likely other messages from the book about accountability and movement, but this is the sentence that stuck hard with me. And the heckler in my head speaks it over me in my lowest times.

I read this next in a book about redeeming lost years from childhood neglect:

“The fact is, you can’t totally trust me or anyone else. When push comes to shove, I’ll probably save [myself] first.”

It stole the breath from my lungs as I considered humanity and sin and that even important-to-you people will put impossible burdens upon shoulders, or flee in the crisis. Can one trust his life to anyone? Ever?

It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place (1 Corinthians 15:2, NLT).

I took the riding mower out to cut the grass. There are many mature trees in our yard, and two oaks in the front yard have large, long, dead limbs. It makes me nervous to ride beneath them for fear they’ll fall on me. That day, I wondered to the Lord, oh, that He would show me a sign of His protection over me: let a tree limb fall after I pass by so I won’t worry about it (and “it” is symbolic of more than a tree limb). I moved on to the field and made several laps around the perimeter, moving a tractor deck’s width inward each lap. Coming down the straightaway, a limb I never noticed lie fallen, dead, long and large, right in the area I had passed by just earlier.

He didn’t drop the limbs I was thinking about. I knew I could count on Him for my soul’s salvation, but could I count on Him to protect me? Especially in times of feeling very targeted, emotionally, physically, would He protect me? He told me then that He’s protecting me from threats I’m not even aware of; I can trust him.

In recent readings, David and Eleazar stood together on the battlefield because all the other men deserted them to an enemy army. They were outnumbered. They should have died. But it was God who gave them the victory.

I tell my kids that truth can handle scrutiny. It doesn’t run from questions or doubts. Truth is not afraid. It doesn’t change itself or hide the evidence to make itself look like something it’s not. Truth doesn’t back down or bully back or threaten. It stands.

34 Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all (1 Corinthians 15:34, NLT).

I am thankful for His Word in my hands, so that I can know Him in these pages (so that I can know Him also in my life). I can look at an impossible story in the Bible, and read of His victory in what should be defeat, see His miracles in the unimaginable.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless (1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT).

He fashions me into His image–with encouragement to be strong! Be engaged! It matters!

19 Praise the Lord; praise God our savior!
   For each day he carries us in his arms.
20 Our God is a God who saves!
   The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death (Psalm 68:19-20, NLT).

I matter.

You matter.

Praise be to God!

I get up and begin again.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 23; 1 Corinthians 7; Psalms 31,35

Then David prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here. Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him?  And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.” And the Lord said, “He will come.”  Again David asked,”Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men too Saul?” And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.” “Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.” 1 Samuel 23:10-14 NLT

David’s prayers that I have become so familiar with from Psalms come to life in the book of Samuel.  He has an adversary hunting him down.  I can almost feel his uneasiness when he asked the Lord twice if the men were going to betray him.  Maybe that is why Jonathan knew that David needed the encouragement of a friend.

“Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.  “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father Saul, is well aware.” 1 Samuel 23:16-17 NLT

Sometimes I think I have to do it all myself.  Stay strong on my own.  But, my burden always feels lighter when a friend speaks truth into my life.  Did Jonathan remind David that he has the Lord’s favor? (Psalm 31:16).  Like a friend did for me recently. Could she tell that I was starting to lose hope?  How am I helping to strengthen her faith?

“So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines.  Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape.” 1 Samuel 23:28&29 NLT

I wonder if this was a lesson for David on who his true fortress is. It brings to my mind a dream that I had.  There was an intruder coming to attack my house.  My family and I were hiding.  And like Saul, they fled.

”O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced.  Save me, for you do what is right.  Turn your ear to listen to me; rescue me quickly.  Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe.  You are my rock and my fortress.  For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.  Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone.” Psalms 31:1-4 NLT

Dear Father,  thank you for your constant care and protection.  I don’t have to fear because I am safe in you.  Help me to remember who the real enemy is.  And that you already have the victory.  Amen.

“But give great joy to those who come to my defense.  Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord, who delights in blessing his servant with peace!” Psalms 35:27 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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1 Samuel 1-3; Galatians 3; Psalms 66

 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask.  “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me-isn’t that better than having ten sons?”  “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.  And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you.  He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.  When Elekanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.  I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord.  I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1-2 NLT

It is refreshing to see Hannah’s vulnerability.  In her faithfulness, she was still human.  She struggled and shed tears.  She cried out to the Lord and he answered her prayer.  He rewarded her faithfulness.  He gave back to her in abundance.

“Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.  Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:20&21 NLT

What am I holding onto that God is asking me to give to him? What is my Samuel?  Sometimes it is a daily surrendering to him.  He knows I can’t do it alone, so he gave me his Spirit.

“You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.  How foolish can you be? After starting new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?” In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.” Galatians 3:6&7 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for Father for your presence.  That you promise to always be with me.  Forgive me when I doubt.  Thank you for your faithfulness in my life.  Thank you for your patience and unfailing love towards me.  Help me to live in a posture of surrender to you.

“If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.  But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.  Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalms 66:18-20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Joshua 5-6; Mark 5; Psalm 69

Where do I turn when life begins to overwhelm me? I know where I ought to turn. But when I read of David’s suffering, and of his subsequent desperation to find God in the midst of his pain, and his determination to trust God to deliver him, I am convicted that I do not turn to the Lord nearly as often as I should, and rarely to the degree and with the desperation and determination that David did. And he faced far worse than I do.

David responded to suffering by seeking God. He wore himself out with his prayer and crying out to the Lord. In contrast, I often give up when I get tired. I let myself get distracted. I put off praying for the sake of discussing my problems with others. And as a result, I find myself more distressed than ever.

I need to be more like David:

  • David was honest with God. David laid it out plain for God to know what was happening to Him, why it was happening, and how it made him feel. I should not be afraid to tell God when I’m overwhelmed, discouraged, or afraid. God loves me; He wants to listen to me and to help me.

                  “Save me, O God!

                      For the waters have come up to my neck.

                  I sink in deep mire,

                      where there is no foothold;

                  I have come into deep waters,

                      and the flood sweeps over me.

                  I am weary with my crying out;

                      my throat is parched.

                  My eyes grow dim

                      with waiting for my God.”

                  -Psalm 69:1-4 (ESV)

  • David asked for deliverance. He did more than just vent about his problems; he asked for relief. I need to actually ask God for deliverance, not just vent and “hope for the best.” God is moved to action by our requests. I need to show my trust by asking Him to act on my behalf –
    He loves me and that’s exactly what He wants to do!

                  “But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.

                      At an acceptable time, O God,

                      in the abundance of your steadfast love

                      answer me in your saving faithfulness.

                  Deliver me

                      from sinking in the mire;

                  let me be delivered from my enemies

                      and from the deep waters.

                  Let not the flood sweep over me,

                      or the deep swallow me up,

                      or the pit close its mouth over me.

                   Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;

                      according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.

                  -Psalm 69:13-16 (ESV)

  • David praised God. In praising God, he was reminding himself of why he could trust God. While David began his prayer by talking about his suffering, He ended his prayer by focusing on God’s power. I need to spend more time praising God for who He is and what He’s done. Focusing on God’s power will help me to find peace that God can handle what I’ve just laid at His feet.

                  I will praise the name of God with a song;

                      I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

                  This will please the Lord more than an ox

                      or a bull with horns and hoofs.

                  When the humble see it they will be glad;

                      you who seek God, let your hearts revive.

                  For the Lord hears the needy

                      and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

                  -Psalm 69:30-33 (ESV)

Father, forgive me for fixating on my problems and turning to myself and others instead of you. Help me to trust you, to remember your love for me. Remind me of how you’ve delivered me before, and give me faith to turn to you when I’m overwhelmed. Thank you for your goodness and patience towards me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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