Tag Archives: psalms

2 Samuel 18-20; 2 Cor. 6; Psalm 56

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
     In God, whose word I praise
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4, NIV

I’ve read this passage of scripture so many times. When I was younger I struggled in understanding how I could not be afraid … especially of tornadoes. I would sit in the back hallway of the house with the rest of my family and shake and cry in fear of what would happen when the tornado hit…which it never did. I would love to say I outgrew this fear and although I don’t sit and shake and cry when the tornado sirens go off, I’m still very much afraid.

Fear can be all encompassing. It can fill all our thoughts and cause us to singularly focus on the thing that is terrorizing our minds. We can freeze and loose hope for the future. All we know about the life of David demonstrates that he had every right to be afraid. Protecting his sheep from wild animals as a young kid, going up against Goliath as a young man, running from King Saul, running from his own son and as we see in this passage, being captured by the philistines have all been times of potential fear for David.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

And yet…He says “I trust and am not afraid.” (Psalm 56:4,11) Right before each of these statements of trust, however, is the phrase “In God”. Unlike David, I have not learned to trust so completely that my fear is gone. I’m still afraid of many things. I can’t in my own power compel my fear to subside. But… “In God”. In God, I can learn. In God, I can slow down. In God, I can rest. In God, I can see God working. In God, I feel love. In God, I can love. In God, I receive mercy. In God, I am merciful. In God, I find grace. In God, I can be gracious. In God

In God. Am I in God? Am I pursuing God? Is my fear and anger keeping me from being in God? Is yours? In God is everything because it sets the stage for where God wants to lead us and what He wants to do in and through us. Are we In God?

Dear God, I pray my heart will be In You. I pray that when fear overwhelms, I will find my strength and identity In You. I pray that when I’m consumed with myself and my desires and wants I would turn and place myself In You. When I can’t do any more, I pray you take my life and place it In You. Please Father, do a work that I cannot. Do a work that brings me even more into you. I pray for those reading that they would be drawn into you. May our lives point others to you. And may the fear that clouds our vision, be diminished by being IN YOU. Amen.

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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Job 37-39; Psalm 103; Revelation 21

We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty;

but even though he is just and righteous,

he does not destroy us.

No wonder people everywhere fear him.

All who are wise show him reverence.”

Job 37:23-24

Elihu spoke correctly. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I cannot fully imagine the complete power of God. A friend of mine once said that even if God showed every one of us in the world a new facet of who He is every day, He’d still only show us the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

That, in and of itself, is mind blowing. And then on top of His righteousness, the depth of His character, personality, abilities, etc. is His love, grace, mercy, and goodness. He is a good Father, a merciful God. He is the Beginning and the End. He gives me life and calls me His own.

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. Revelation 21:5-7

Though I am undeserving, He loves me with an everlasting love. He gives me everything I need and surprises me with more of my desires. He is full of forgiveness. He heals me, protects me, and gives me His strength. He redeems my life daily, liberating me, and allowing me to walk in truth and freedom.

Let all that I am praise the lord;

with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.

Let all that I am praise the lord;

may I never forget the good things he does for me.

He forgives all my sins

and heals all my diseases.

He redeems me from death

and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

He fills my life with good things.

My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Ps 103: 1-5

In the day to day hustle and bustle, it is easy to forget all of the good things God has done for me. It is easy to get lost in the mundane tasks and the chaos of busyness. It is easy to lose focus on what matters and let God slip into the background.

As David knew, the way to remember, to regain focus is to praise the Lord; to worship His name with my whole heart, with every fiber of my being. And, as I praise Him, I create a memorial to His glory.

Yesappa, Thank You for loving me, showing me mercy, and giving me gifts of grace. Help me to remember the good things you’ve done for me. Help me to make praise more and more a part of my daily life so I focus on Your truth rather than my circumstances. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie,

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Job 4-7; Psalm 99; Revelation 11

“In the past you have encouraged many people;

you have strengthened those who were weak.

Your words have supported those who were falling;

you encouraged those with shaky knees.

But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart.

You are terrified when it touches you.

Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence?

Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope? Job 4:3-6

 

His friend Eliphaz begins questioning Job, reminding him of who he was and wondering why Job is not remembering his own words of encouragement for himself. Eliphaz  goes on to question why so many bad things are happening to Job and blaming it on sins that Job “must” be committing.

Though my trials are not the same as what Job experiences during his testing by the enemy, I have found that my own attitude in the midst of my personal trials mimics Eliphaz’ observations – I have moments when I lose heart, become fearful, forget my confidence in myself and in God, and feel hopeless.

There are days when I think I can’t go on, moments when I want to give up. I cry. I scream out loud. I ask, “why?” I succumb to the feelings of despair that have been building – which usually manifests in lounging on the sofa with a batch of warm brownies and cold milk, bingeing on my latest TV find.

After my pity party, I choose a trusted friend and ask to process, ask for counsel, ask for a hug; my eyes are once again open to the truth…I have been walking in my own weakness and not relying on God’s strength. I pray.

At least I can take comfort in this:

Despite the pain,

I have not denied the words of the Holy One.

But I don’t have the strength to endure.

I have nothing to live for.

Do I have the strength of a stone?

Is my body made of bronze?

No, I am utterly helpless,

without any chance of success. Job 6:10-13

Because I believe that God knit me together in my mother’s womb and knows every hair on my head, I believe that my circumstances aren’t a surprise to God. He knows what I am going to walk through and He knows the solutions to my problems. All I have to do is wait on His timing…patiently…for the answer, trust that God will bring me through, hold onto His Words for strength and encouragement.

I don’t have the strength of a stone nor a body of bronze, and without God I don’t have strength to endure. Without God I am utterly helpless without any chance of success.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your perfect timing. Thank You for helping me walk through the circumstances and keeping me strong. Help me continue to trust You and to fully rely on You. Help me stand firm in the knowledge that You are always with me, You will never leave nor forsake me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie,

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Esther 1-3; Psalm 139; Revelation 1

Hegai was very impressed with Esther and treated her kindly. He quickly ordered a special menu for her and provided her with beauty treatments. He also assigned her seven maids specially chosen from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem…

Before each young woman was taken to the king’s bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments—six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments. When it was time for her to go to the king’s palace, she was given her choice of whatever clothing or jewelry she wanted to take from the harem. Esther 2:9; 12-13

One of my spiritual moms has a ministry of anointing oils, and for many years held a perspective-changing conference called the Esther Experience. It was a chance for me to participate in the preparation of the bride, a chance to experience the twelve months of beautification over the course of a weekend, a chance to open my heart to God and seek greater understanding of what He has for me as His child.

O  lord, you have examined my heart

and know everything about me. Psalm 139:1

It is easy for me to think that I am the one who knows myself best. And, while that may be true in regards to how other people know me, I have learned that no one knows me better than my creator. He even is more intimately acquainted with the innermost workings of my heart, my mind, my soul than I am.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. Psalm 139:13-15

His understanding of me doesn’t just end with the miracles of how the human body works. His knowledge encompasses my personality, my quirks, my thoughts, my hurts, my failings…and when I daily offer myself to Him, lay myself at His feet, and trust His hands to mold me, I am cleansed, I am healed, I am offered life again.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24

Yesappa, Thank You for knowing me. And thank you for walking with me through this life journey, for healing me, comforting me, and encouraging me. Help me draw more and more near to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Revelation

Ezekiel 19-21; Psalm 84; John 7

Confession: usually I read Ezekiel over lightly. It’s not my favorite book in the Bible, but today something caught my attention; I counted over 12 references to eyes, seeing and sight in Ezekiel 20 alone. And throughout this past week, there have been numerous times when the topic of eyes and seeing have come up.

It started last Saturday when I was visiting my Turkish friend’s home. Displayed about her apartment were beautiful blue glass “evil eyes.”  When I asked her what they meant,  she explained that in Turkish culture, how you look at someone as well as how you are seen is taken very seriously. The manner in which something or someone is looked upon holds a certain influence or power for both the one looking and the one seen. The purpose of the “evil eye” is to divert the vision and diminish its power if the intention is evil.

In the West, we tend to minimize the power of what we look at as well as how we are seen, but Ezekiel tells us that God sees this as a life and death matter. He is heartbroken when the Israelites  turn their eyes from Him to gaze longingly at false gods. He holds back his wrath: “for the sake of my name, I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.” Ezekiel 20:22.

Ezekiel asks me to examine the object of my vision, my attention. My focus rests on what or whom I love. I am more likely to become like the object of my affection than that which I disregard. When I focus on the One who knows me, loves me and made me, “my Soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Psalm 84:2.

Lord Jesus, this morning, I sing this prayer to you:

Be Thou my vision O Lord of my heart.

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art

Thou my best thought, by day or by night

Waking or sleeping, they presence my light.

Dallon Forgaill

Klueh

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Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45; Psalm 133; James 3

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. James 3:1-12

I’ve been told by a handful of people that I should have been a lawyer because of how well I can present an argument; I’m pretty sure that a couple of those comment were not meant as compliments at the time.

Words are my greatest asset and at the same time lead to downfall. Controlling my tongue has by far been one of the hardest parts on my journey as a believer. When I get excited about something, I won’t stop talking about it, sharing everything with others, often to the point of too much information. When I get angry, I won’t stop talking – sometimes the better word would be yelling – trying to prove my point, the reason I’m angry, in the hopes that it will convince others to side with me.

Worst of all, I know that I am completely out of control when four letter words start popping out of mouth, unfortunately sometimes in front of my kids. In my past, I used to joke that my language would make a sailor blush (apologies to all the sailors who aren’t foul-mouthed).

In various stages in my walk with Christ, I have gained much control over my mouth and the words that waterfall out. I have reigned myself in, with the help of Holy Spirit – learned how to hold my tongue even when desperate to talk, practiced giving others the chance to add their input to the conversation, breaking habits of using bad words as an instant emotion release and as the means to feeling more powerful in the moment.

I’m in a season right now, where I am really struggling with controlling my tongue. As a solo mom of three wonderful, yet very high spirited and strong willed children under the age of five, I am exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed out, stretched too thin, did I mention exhausted…and running on empty makes it much harder to control those outbursts in the midst of repetitive daily frustrations.

It is said that the tongue can bring life or death and I want mine to be a bringer of life.

Yesappa, Thank You for giving me the gift of words, for allowing me to share with the world through writing and speaking, by teaching Your Word to those who will listen and hear. Lord, help me better control my tongue, that it won’t be venom to my loved ones, but that it will build-up and encourage. Help my words bring life to my husband, my children, my family and friends, and even the people who seem to be my enemies. Remove the curses from my mouth and fill me with words of love, peace, patience, kindness…and when all that bubbles up is unedifying, help me hold my tongue, keeping silent, instead of lashing out with my two-edged sword. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Hosea 14, 2 Chronicles 26-27; Psalm 61; Matthew 20

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

“At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

“At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’

“They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

“That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16

I am so intrigued by parables – the unique way of teaching through storytelling and the multifaceted truths that can be found depending on one’s perspective. Whenever I read a parable I want to better understand the layers of meaning. I can stay on the surface, looking at the outside layer that tends to pop out; I can go deeper, looking into the context within society during the time of Christ. And, I can go deeper still, to the heart of the parable, delving into the spiritual layer, asking God for insight into His heart.

As I was praying over the reading selection today, asking God to highlight what He wanted to teach me, I kept hearing the word “Grace”. When I look at myself honestly, I know I am not deserving of everything that God gives me apart from Him. In my humanness, I don’t even come close to meeting the requirements for perfection, and if I was earning a wage, my pay would be docked for all of my failings.

But fortunately, God’s grace changes everything; a gift, undeserved, makes all believers equal in God’s eyes. It doesn’t matter what the past looked like – someone on death row for murder, truly repentant before God is as righteous as someone who has gone to church her whole life, believing in Christ as a child. It doesn’t matter what the present looks like – being a missionary in a foreign country sharing Jesus with people who have never heard His name is as valuable as someone who serves the people in his church and community. It doesn’t matter if I am first in line or last in line or somewhere in the middle of the line, I will still receive the same “wage”.

Living in the Kingdom of Heaven is an equalizer not because of who I am, or what I do, or how hard or long I work; the Kingdom of Heaven is an equalizer because of the “wage”:

The“wage” IS Christ. There is no partial payment, there isn’t overtime, there is only a “full day’s wage” – His life laid down, His blood spilled, dead and buried, then risen in Glory to bring freedom and restoration – a gift of grace for everyone who accepts it, love, mercy, favor, honor, the same gift for all.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your gift of grace, the greatest, most undeserved wage I could receive. Thank You for loving me, for offering me mercy, for bestowing me with favor, and for honoring me as Your daughter. Thank You for giving me worth and making me a valuable part of Your Kingdom. Help me walk in this knowledge daily. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hosea, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms