The Lord has done great things for us

Psalm 126

A Song of Ascents.

When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
and our tongue with joyful shouting;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.

Restore our captivity, O Lord,
as the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
he who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.1

It seemed too good to be true that they were able to return to Jerusalem. It was like a dream—they couldn’t believe it. Now they want to give a testimony to the world.

The remnant of Israel that returned to their land after the Babylonian captivity does not exhaust the meaning of this psalm. It also looks forward to their national restoration when their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, returns.

Let me quote Dr. Gaebelein’s comment at the conclusion of this Psalm. “Beautiful is the ending of this Psalm of prophecy. We must think first of all of Him who came in humility and sowed His precious seed with tears, our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Only His Father knows the many tears which He shed in His presence in secret prayer . . .  And it is perfectly proper to apply this to ourselves also. So let us weep and scatter the seed! ‘Let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not’ (Gal. 6:9)” (The Book of Psalms, p. 456).2

1New American Standard Bible (NASB)Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

2J. Vernon McGee, Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983).

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The Throne of Grace

Heb4-16-TiredManTruckCab--AMPLet us then with confidence draw near to the
throne of grace,

that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help in time of need. 

Hebrews 4:16

“That will be ten dollars.” Miriam looked expectantly down at her customer, who couldn’t have been more than five years old.

The tiny girl carefully placed several coins on the counter. “Is that enough?”

Miriam could see right away that there was not nearly enough to pay for the pink slippers. What to do now? She looked down again at the little girl. Her simple sundress was clean but neatly patched in several different areas.

“Who are these slippers for, sweetie?”

A bright smile lit up the girl’s face. “It’s my Mommy’s birthday.” She stroked the slippers with her index finger. “They’re so soft. Maybe now Mommy can walk.”

“Oh, I’m sure your mother will love these.” Miriam frowned. “Does she have trouble walking?”

The little girl shrugged. “She sits in a chair with big wheels.”

“You mean a wheelchair?”

The little girl’s face brightened. “Yeah, a wheelchair! I forgot the word.” Then she frowned. “I got enough money, don’t I? I saved it from my ‘lowance for three whole months.”

Miriam looked around. “Did you come here alone?” 

“Yep.” She nodded. “It’s real close. I got a tire swing in front of my house!”

Miriam raised her eyebrows. She knew which house the little girl was talking about, a tiny bungalow a few doors down the street with a wheelchair ramp down one side of the front steps. The house was in desperate need of repair. In a small town like this, everyone knew that the Clarks had been going through bad times since Joe Clark’s warehouse job had been eliminated. He had been looking for work for the last six months.

“I’ll tell you what,” Miriam made a quick decision. “Since this is a birthday present, I’ll wrap them up for you.”

The little girl watched in fascination as Miriam placed the slippers in a box and deftly covered it with wrapping paper and ribbon. “There, all done.” She handed the package to the little girl, who hugged it close to her body.

“Thanks, Lady!” She took a few steps but then frowned and turned back. “It’s enough?” She pointed to the money still on the counter.

Miriam smiled. “It sure is. Now why don’t you get that present home to your mother?”

The little girl’s face lit up and she thanked Miriam again before leaving the small drug store.

Miriam picked up the thirty-seven cents’ worth of coins and stared at them for several seconds. Then she reached into her purse under the counter, drew out a ten-dollar bill and stuffed it and the coins into the cash register.

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Beloved, did you know that You can approach God with the same kind of confidence this little girl showed toward Miriam?

It is somewhat overwhelming to think of God’s throne of grace as being so easily accessible, but that’s exactly what God wants. He yearns for us to be comfortable enough with Him that we will not hesitate to bring our cares and concerns confidently to Him so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

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Living in Deep Darkness

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I will give you the treasures of darkness. —Isaiah 45:3

In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are special rooms devoted to the spinning of the world’s finest lace, all with the most delicate patterns. The rooms are kept completely dark, except for the light that falls on the developing pattern, from one very small window. Only one person sits in each small room, where the narrow rays of light fall upon the threads he is weaving, for lace is always more beautifully and delicately woven when the weaver himself is in the dark, with only his work in the light.

Sometimes the darkness in our lives is worse, because we cannot even see the web we are weaving or understand what we are doing. Therefore we are unable to see any beauty of any possible good arising from our experience. Yet if we are faithful to forge ahead and “if we do not give up” (Galations 6:9), someday we will know that the most exquisite work of our lives was done during those days when it was the darkest.

If you seem to be living in deep darkness because God is working in strange and mysterious ways, do not be afraid. Simply go forward in faith and in love, never doubting Him. He is watching and will bring goodness and beauty from all of your pain and tears. –J. R. Miller (from Streams in the Desert Devotional)

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The closer His embrace

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He has chosen not to heal me,
but to hold me.
The more intense the pain,
the closer His embrace.
-Joni Eareckson Tada, A Place of Healing:
Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering,
Pain, and God’s Sovereignty

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Holding Fast To Good : Teshuva

Life in this world has gone crazy lately. At least it seems that way to most of us. If you’re wondering how to handle all the upheaval without falling apart, please read this wonderful post by my bloggy friend, Ugochi Oritsejolomisan, of Teshuva. And while you’re there, check out the rest of her great site.

Holding Fast To Good : Teshuva

July 13, 2015 by ugochi oritsejolomisan

Sometimes thinking about all the craziness going on in the world we live in right now can make even the happiest person depressed. Especially one who looks away from the word to the world. I was in a discussion with some family members (Church family) and so many issues came up.

Random killings, terrorist attacks, kidnaps, robberies, sexual immoralities, divorces, Christians falling out of the faith…

The evil being exposed is so deep, intense and scary. Things that were formally unheard of are now being talked about with so much levity and casualness that boggles the mind and makes one wonder where exactly the world would be in few couple of years.

What’s a Christian to do?

Read the rest here.

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Leaning Against A Thorn [Repost]

Today’s post is something I shared with you several years ago that definitely bears repeating. It was written by my wonderful writer friend, Lynn Mosher. This was first published on her blog and it made such a huge impact on me that I asked Lynn if I could share it with you and she agreed. Here it is again.

Leaning Against a Thorn

 Thorns of trials.

Thorns of affliction.

Thorns of adversity.

Thorns of all kinds.

 Thorns pricking. Briers sticking. Thistles piercing.

Pricking thorns of…

  •  abuse
  • divorce
  • addiction
  • a lost job
  • failing health
  • loss of a home
  • financial disaster
  • a friend’s betrayal
  • a teen making bad choices

The enemy stands ready to prick us at any time with adverse circumstances.

However, sometimes we find ourselves being pricked with the barbs of consequences when we lean into an avoidable situation, something God’s Word clearly states that we are to shun.

If we lean into wrong desires, our hearts will be pricked with the thorns of heartache and sorrow.

If we lean into improper thoughts, our hearts will be pricked with the thorns of guilt and remorse.

If we lean into fleshly lusts, our hearts will be pricked with the thorns of shame and regret.

Sometimes, God will remove the thorns; however, on occasion, He will leave them for our good, as when He left Paul’s thorn to prick him when he leaned into pride.

I wonder if we ever thank the Lord for the thorns? What? Thank Him for a trial, a heartache? All things work together for good, remember? So says Romans 8:28.

The next time a thorny ordeal is pricking you, remember the words of this prayer by George Matheson, a blind Scottish theologian and preacher in the late 1800s…

My, God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn…Teach me the glory of my cross; teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.

He thanked God for his blindness. Is that something we would do?

What did David say? “I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of His glories and grace.” (Ps. 34:1 TLB)

What about Habakkuk’s attitude? The prophet asserted his faith in God and promised to praise Him, even if all else failed, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” (Hab. 3:17-18 NLT)

Being thankful is easy when everything is hunky-dunky, but the praise that emanates from a pain-ravaged heart, pressed by a thorn, is the sweet-smelling sacrifice of holy incense that rises to the throne room and lingers at the Father’s feet.

But what of those times when our hearts are pricked with grief?

Once I heard a song of sweetness
As it cleft the morning air,
Sounding in its blest completeness,
Like a tender, pleading prayer;
And I sought to find the singer,
Whence the wondrous song was borne,
And I found a bird, sore wounded,
Pinioned by a cruel thorn.

I have seen a soul in darkness,
While its wings with pain were furled,
Giving hope and cheer and gladness
That should bless a weeping world;
And I knew that life of sweetness,
Was of pain and sorrow borne,
And a stricken soul was singing,
With its heart against a thorn.

We are told of One who loved us,
Of a Savior crucified,
We are told of nails that pinioned,
And a spear that pierced His side;
We are told of cruel scourging,
Of a Savior bearing scorn,
And He died for our salvation,
With His brow against a thorn.

We “are not above the Master.”
Will we breathe a sweet refrain?
And His grace will be sufficient,
When our heart is pierced of pain.
Will we live to bless His loved ones,
Tho’ our life be bruised and torn,
Like the bird that sang so sweetly,
With its heart against a thorn?

~ Author unknown

Do you sing and thank the Lord when a thorn pierces your heart with pain?

Thank you, sweet Lynn! May God continue to bless you as you have blessed us today!

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God is Love

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God Is Love

by Joni Eareckson Tada

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” 
—I John 4:16

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are fellowshiping in a waterfall of love and joy. It is nothing short of amazing that the Trinity is driven to share that joy with us. It was the Savior’s mission: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you.” (John 15:11). What joy the Trinity enjoys! Misery may love company, but joy craves a crowd, and so the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s plan to rescue humans is not only for man’s sake. It is for God’s sake. The Father is gathering a crowd–an inheritance, pure and blameless–to worship His Son in the joy of the Holy Spirit. “God is love” and the wish of love is to drench with delight those for whom God has suffered.

Soon believers will step into the waterfall of joy and pleasure that is the Trinity. Better yet, we will become part of a Niagara Falls of thunderous delight as “God is all and in all.” In heaven, we will not only know God, we willknow Him in that deep, personal union, that utter euphoria of experiencing Him. There in heaven we will“eat of the tree of life” and be filled to overflowing with more joy and pleasure than we can contain (Revelation 22:2).

Amazing grace, how can it be, that God would share His joy for eternity with me? Remember, God shares His joy on His terms; and those terms call for us to, in some measure, suffer as His beloved Son did while on earth (I Peter 2:21). If you and I experience hardship, it is paving the way for a deeper joy for all of eternity!

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank You for inviting me into the fellowship of Your joy. Thank You for preparing me for heaven’s joy as I trust You in the fellowship of Your sufferings while on earth.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends 
www.joniandfriends.org

Copyright © 2006. Pearls of Great Price by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Monsoon Storms = Pain + Exhaustion

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Well, it’s that time of the year again up here in northern Arizona. Monsoon weather is hitting me hard as usual. The storm systems that build up each day combined with the fluctuating barometric pressure cause horrible migraines with nausea. My body is constantly fighting these pain and nausea attacks and that leaves me with a bone-deep exhaustion that no amount of sleep seems to relieve. This means I need to cut back on all my activities, so I’ll be mostly sharing blog posts from others, plus the wonderful devotionals from my sweet friend Pat Knight. These take me much less time, which helps me conserve energy.

Beloved, I’m not sure how long this siege will last, so please bear with me. I covet your prayers. As always, I will be praying for all of you.

Let love be without hypocrisy.
Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give preference to one another in honor;
not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord;
rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation,
devoted to prayer,
contributing to the needs of the saints,
practicing hospitality.
—Romans 12:9-13

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When you can’t, He can

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When We are Neediest 

When you are the neediest, He is the most sufficient.

When you are completely helpless, He is the most helpful.

When you feel totally dependent, He is absolutely dependable.

When you are the weakest, He is the most able.

When you are the most alone, He is intimately present.

When you feel you are the least, He is the greatest.

When you feel the most useless, He is preparing you.

When it is the darkest, He is the only Light you need.

When you feel the least secure, He is your Rock and Fortress.

When you are the most humble, He is most gracious.

When you can’t, He can.

—Source unknown

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Remember the 19 plus 1

Two years ago today, 19 brave Granite Mountain Hotshots perished in the Yarnell wildfire. You can read my posts about that here and here.  Those of us who have firefighters in our families never forget that every day they are on shift they put their lives in danger without worrying that they may be badly injured or even die while fighting a fire. 

Please remember and pray for the families of these 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots today.

In memory of the brave
Granite Mountain Hotshots
who perished in the line of duty
on June 30, 2013

GMHSInMemory

I am blessed and privileged to know several firefighters. All of them—and I know this holds true for all firefighters—put their lives on the line every time they suit up in their turnouts. Whether on the job or in their personal lives, they are selfless and giving people who always seem to think of others before themselves. They are the embodiment of 1 John 3:16:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 

The collage below shows the long funeral procession in which 19 white hearses were accompanied by fire and police vehicles. The lines of people on both sides of the highway spanned miles.

The memorial service took place in Prescott, close to where we live, and Rick and I were privileged to open our home to my son, Alan, along with Justin and Zane, two firefighter buddies from Dallas Fire Department who are also members of the Dallas Pipes & Drums. Each of them attended and were involved in the memorial service, along with many, many others.

HotShot-Collage2

We cannot forget another brave member of  the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew, Brandon McDonough, the sole survivor. Brandon read The Hot Shot’s Prayer during the memorial service:

When I am called to duty, Lord …

To fight the roaring blaze …

Please keep me safe and strong …

I may be here for days.

Be with my fellow crew members …

As we hike up to the top.

Help us cut enough line …

For this blaze to stop.

Let my skills and hands …

Be firm and quick.

Let me find those safety zones …

As we hit and lick.

For if this day on the line …

I should answer death’s call …

Lord, bless my hot shot Crew …

My family, one and all.

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I want to thank all firefighters for their unselfish and giving service, even though that never sounds adequate to express what’s in my heart. God bless you and your families with His everlasting love and peace…

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