Loud Songs of Joy

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! Psalm 47:1

The pandemic has made it difficult for us to worship at church. In the beginning weeks of the lockdown I listened to the hymn sing led by the Getty family on Facebook. The hymns refreshed my faith and gave me joy.

Our church was meeting on zoom. We are a small church and at first did not have a way to include hymns . . .  but our pastor kept pressing forward and when our tech assistants were able to post the words to hymns with screen sharing, we all sang from our homes. I don’t always stay on tune, but it was good to be singing with other believers. 

More recently we have met outside and/or in a room with social distancing. We have been singing hymns accompanied by keyboard, violin or guitar. I am blessed by the hymns. It is an affirmation of our faith in a stressful time. We need to sing!

This past Sunday we sang Jesus Messiah, written by Chris Tomlin. The words of the third verse have a powerful message about our Savior.

His body the bread, his blood the wine

Broken and poured out, all for love 

The whole earth trembled, and the veil was torn.

Love so amazing  

Hymns turn our eyes back to God and his love, his plan for us.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community.

The Right Life-map

This past week I skipped my morning Bible study a couple of days. Instead I read a few articles in the newspaper at the breakfast table.

The tension of our current time put my nerves on edge. I felt irritable. I drank more coffee and spent too much time on social media. I pondered the effects of the pandemic and the various theories and recommendations. The current state of politics upsets me too. I didn’t sleep well.

Yesterday I pulled out my Bible and spent time in prayer to begin the day. I was reminded that my hope is in the Lord. God is sovereign and He knows what is happening.

With calmness and focus I went outside to work on the yard. I pulled weeds and trimmed bushes. I prayed for our neighbor who lost a sister this week.

The wild rose bush was a challenge but I stayed with it. I chopped the thorny branches until I was tired. Then I came inside for a cold drink of water. It felt good.

The fall season that is coming will be a challenge. There are many uncertainties and we need God’s guidance. He is faithful. I need time reading the Bible every morning.

The revelation of Yahweh is whole and pulls our lives together.

The signposts of Yahweh are clear and point out the right road.

The life-maps of Yahweh are right, showing the way to joy.

The directions of Yahweh are plain and easy on the eyes.

Yahweh’s reputation is twenty-four carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.

The decisions of Yahweh are accurate down to the nth degree.

Psalm 19: 7-11 MSG

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Todays prompt is: RIGHT

How to Have Hope

The Bible does not shrink from telling us the ugly side of human history. God’s word tells us the truth, and clearly states that God’s desire for us is good. We need to seek God and His ways in every aspect of our lives. 

“How you have helped him who has no power!
How you have saved the arm that has no strength!”
Job 26: 2

Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 31:19

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24

During this time of unrest and turmoil we have the opportunity to spread the hope of God’s word.

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Isaiah 52:7

photo courtesy of unsplash

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: HOW

Another Day of Stay At Home

Today I woke up to another day of #StayAtHome and a blanket of snow on the ground. The snow continues to fall. Yesterday a tulip was opening to the sun. Today it is bravely standing tall in the snow.

During this period of lock down it is just my husband and I at home. Our daughters have young children and their homes are brimming with the voices of children, humming with activity. They call us every day to check on us and to remind us to stay home. We have FaceTime with the grandchildren.

We have Bible study and Sunday morning church gatherings over zoom. We are grateful to have the technology to do this.

In all of this dramatic change to daily life, remaining steadfast in faith is most important. God is good. He is allowing this pandemic; He is still at work in ways we can’t see. I have been studying the book of Ezra and just started Nehemiah. I am blessed by Nehemiah’s prayer of faith in chapter one.

It is a blessing to begin the day with Bible study and prayer. We need to share our faith with our family and friends. The children need to see us living out our faith.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and still I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You have done great things, O God, who is like you?

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. Psalm 71: 17-20  

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: ANOTHER And also linking with Heart Encouragement

No Fear of Tomorrow

We are in challenging times . . . like people who came before us. I think of the civil war, the Spanish flu, World War II. The Bible records times when fear hung over the people of Israel. Currently I am studying the book of Ezra.

After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, Zerrubabel led a return to the land of Israel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Ezra 3:3 records: They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. When fear grips us we need to turn to the Lord.

I am reminded of God’s words to Joshua. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

We can trust in God as we make changes in our daily life, as our circumstances change. God’s word is rich with promises and examples of God’s faithfulness.

Your hands have made me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.

Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.

I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Psalm 119:73-76

On St. Patricks day I listened to the press conferences on the growing pandemic. I spent time on the computer gathering information. It made me weary and stressed. I was glad to receive notification of an evening hymn sing that Keith and Kristen Getty provided on their facebook page. Their concerts have been canceled, but they sang hymns from their home, and it warmed my heart. You can find it here.

Spring is coming. God is faithful. We don’t need to fear tomorrow.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: TOMORROW

Living Well, Reflecting on the Psalms

Every morning my husband and I read a Psalm together before we begin the day. Today we are on Psalm 115. We have read psalms of praise, lament and remembrance. Memories of crossing the Red Sea and the years in the Wilderness are recorded. 

God’s power over the Red Sea and the Jordan River is extolled. God’s presence, care and salvation is remembered. 

We have challenges and troubles like the people of Israel. But in the midst of difficulties we can say that it is well with us. We are blessed because God loves us and will help us if we call out to him.

O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord. He is their help and their shield.

The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those that fear the Lord, both the small and the great. Psalm 115: 9-12 ESV

Note: The photo shows the Dan River–one of the tributaries that flows into the Jordan River from the north. The book of Joshua states that the Jordan River overflows its banks at harvest. But God provided a way for Israel to cross the Jordan: the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap. Joshua 3:13

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: WELL

Sunrise of Hope

Many years ago I worked the night shift in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Michigan. We had 12 hour shifts, and I worked from 7 pm to 7 am. Around 5:00 am as daylight crept across the sky, we were weary and needed to get our second wind. 

We would take turns, going to get coffee and a muffin from the hospital cafeteria. But what we most appreciated was walking down a hallway of windows that looked out to the sunrise. Morning had come and we would complete our nursing care and documentation. The light of a new day sustained us and promised rest.

We have challenges and a spiritual battle taking place in our world. The battle requires focus on God’s word and obedience to his commands. We must stay alert and look for God’s touch on our life. He will renew our spirit and give us rest.

photo by Cristina Gottardi via unsplash

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. Psalm 130: 6-7

It is Friday and I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: MORE

Building a Home

It is day eight for #Write28Days.  I am joining the Five Minute Friday Community and will write with Kate’s prompt for today: BUILD.

One of the Songs of Ascents in the book of Psalms mentions building a house. The Hebrew word for house in the text is bayith. The definition, according to Strong’s concordance is: house (in the greatest variation of applications, especially family, etc.).

The Hebrew word for build is bânâh. The definition according to Strong’s Concordance is: to build, obtain children, repair, set.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. 

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127: 1-3 ESV

Family - Bouquet

Here are these same verses from the Message. 

If Yahweh doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks. 

If Yahweh doesn’t guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap.

It is useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?

Don’t you see that children are Yahweh’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?

Children

Prayer: Lord God you are the Creator, our provider. Your love is amazing. You are merciful and have given us salvation through Jesus. We praise you and kneel before you. You give the gift of new life. We ask that you guide us and build our home.

Forgiven, Healed and Redeemed

For the past month I have been studying the book of Leviticus. It is a study of God’s holiness and his plan to redeem mankind. The sacrifices and offerings that God required of Israel point to man’s sin and the need for payment in blood. Sinful man cannot approach God.

Psalm 15 raises these questions.    Lord who may dwell  in  your  sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?

God had a plan from the very beginning. In Leviticus we see the outline, or shadow, of a plan that is completed through Jesus.   Jesus  provides  forgiveness for our sins and redemption by his death on the cross  and  resurrection.

The Psalms look ahead to our salvation and declare the love and compassion that God has for us.
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits—
Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
Who satisfies you desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.   Psalm 103: 1-5

The book of Leviticus and the Psalms lead me to reflect on God’s holiness and his loving plan for us. So many reasons to give thanks and have praise on my lips.

The troubles in the world can weigh us down; we need to keep our focus on God.

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday community of writers. Every Friday we write for five minutes (or a little more) inspired by the prompt that Kate Motaung gives. Today’s prompt is: WHO

Praising God During Troublesome Times

This past week I read Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin. It’s a story about three Swedish sisters that immigrate to Chicago. I enjoyed the character development, especially the youngest sister, Sofia.

Sofia is tried and tested by circumstances but her faith in God gradually grows. The Bible verses that guide Sofia’s faith are woven into the text. The story holds a  message of hope. In troubled times, when we don’t see an answer to problems, we can to turn to God in faith and with praise.

One of the verses that Sofia returned to a couple times is Psalm 66:1

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!

The Psalms are a wonderful resource that demonstrates both lament and praise. There are times when I have doubts, when my faith is faltering. I don’t think of praising God. At that time I should turn to the Psalms for inspiration and words of praise to God.

What helps you offer praise to God?

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt for today is: PRAISE  Also linking with Booknificent Thursday and  Literary Musing Monday.