The Psalms of Thanksgiving

I am slowly but surely returning to a regular blogging schedule, and I thought for this month’s “Scripture Sunday,” I would share some of the Psalms of Thanksgiving.

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Source: Pinterest.com, Fred W. Symmes Chapel, Cedar Mountain, NC

I wish I could find the original source for the photo above: it’s taken at one of my favorite places, and truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

According to various commentaries I have read, the verse refers to entering a public place of worship and being able to worship God with a Thankful heart. David is the likely writer of this song of Thanksgiving.

It is believed that this verse has to do with being thankful for the opportunity to worship God openly and publicly. In our modern day society, there are many civilizations and nations which do not allow the public worship or even the public profession of Christian faith.

I am thankful to be able to worship my God in public without fear.

 

 

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Scripture Sunday: Galatians 6:9


Photo from YouVersion.

Do you ever feel like no one notices your good deeds and no one appreciates you

I have often felt this way. I can assure you that not only does God notice, but he’ll later reward you in secret. (Matt 6:3)

Don’t be discouraged if you think no one sees or appreciates the good you’re doing. God sees it, and if you don’t give up, you’ll see the fruits of your harvest. 

Have a wonderful week. 

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Scripture Sunday: Hebrews 12:2

I have finished week five of the Bible study “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” and now I only have one week to go. I’m not sure what Bible study I’ll do next.


 “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” is based on the book of Ruth. I’ve been challenged, I’ve been convicted, I’ve been inspired and I’ve been uplifted.

Today’s verse of the day is Hebrews 12:2. 


Nicki talks about distractions and how keeping our eyes on God help us to ignore those distractions. 

She talks about how Ruth goes to the threshing floor and lies down at Boaz’s feet. In this culture, lying down at a man’s feet was an indication of a marriage proposal. Boaz understood her intent, but…there was a man who was more closely related than he. 

Don’t you know Ruth was probably disappointed to hear this? I bet Boaz’s heart hung on the answer of the nearer kinsman when he went to see him the next morning. I bet he was relieved to learn the other man didn’t want to redeem it. 

Nicki Koziarz, through the life of Ruth, offers these tips for us when distractions make us want to quit. 

1. Step away for a day. Sometimes you just need a quick break to feel refreshed.

2. Find your forward. Everyone needs something to look forward to.

This Bible study is focused on five habits of perseverance based on the life of Ruth. The  habit we’ve studied this week is “she gives others what she needs.” Sometimes you just need to do the unexpected and invest in others emotionally, even when you don’t want to or feel like it. 

I hope you have a wonderful week. 

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Scripture Sunday: James 4:14


I am now wrapping up week four of the Bible study “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” by Nikki Koziarz. This is a six week Bible study on the book of Ruth. The author Nikki wrote the study based on five habits of perseverance from the life of Ruth. 

In day five, week four, Nikki uses James 4:14 as the “quit Quitting verse,” or verse of the day. 

The author also talks about how most of us believe God wants to use us to do great things, but it’s often hard for us to move forward and accept new responsibilities. Nikki says she doesn’t want her life to be filled with responses like, “someday, one day.” She is correct when she says time passes quickly and we need to maximize every opportunity  we are given. 

Nikki then challenges us to think about what we need to do to reach our goals and visions, and what visions we may need to put on hold for now. 

In this lesson we are reminded that being open to God’s movement is filled with hard work- work that often feels fruitless and like we’re not accomplishing anything. But, on his timing, and after we’ve stuck to the task at hand, God always gives us what we need. 

Just wait til week five. God does a huge work in the lives of Naomi and Ruth. 

Have a wonderful week.

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Scripture Sunday: Matthew 11:28

Today’s Scripture Sunday involves one of my all time favorite Bible verses, Matthew 11:28.


I am now wrapping up week three of the Bible study “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” by Nikki Koziarz. This Bible study, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is based on the book of Ruth. Nikki teaches us how to be women of perseverance using five points from the life of Ruth. 

In week three, Nikki talks about how a woman who doesn’t quit follows through with a task even when she doesn’t feel like it. Funnily enough, I wrote Wednesday’s post about struggling with perfection before I read my Bible study this week. I was pleasantly surprised by how related the two are. Isn’t God funny?

We women are expected to do it all and have it all together. No one does. No one can. Society and social media today leave us in a constant state of Comparison. When we feel we can’t compete, we quit. Nikki says this: “when we give God our soul’s best, he gives us a spirit of rest.” 

Don’t quit. Give it to God instead.

What in your life is making you weary or heavy laden? Give it to God and he will give you rest. 

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Scripture Sunday: James 1: 2-3


This week, we completed week two of the Bible study A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit. This Bible study, based on the Book of Ruth, continues to bless and convict me all at once. Today I’m going to share some insights from Day Five: It Just So Happens…and the above verses.

Ruth went to glean wheat from a local field…that just happened to belong to a relative of Elimilech’s family. The author Nicki Koziarz points out that when we decide to accept an assignment of refinement, we tend to have lots of “just so happened” moments. 

Did you ever do the sand and gravel experiment in church when you were little? The experiment is an illustration of our lives when we put God first verses when we don’t. Take a vessel, some sand and some rocks. The sand represents everything else in your life and the rocks represent God. If you pour in the sand first, the rocks won’t fit, but if you put the rocks in first, the sand falls into place. Our lives are like that too. If we put everything else first, God gets what’s leftover, but if we put God first, everything else falls into place. 

Ruth did that very thing. She trusted God and he sent her Boaz. He chose to protect her and provide for her because he heard about what she’d done for Naomi. She trusted God and he met her needs. 

Now, let’s look at that memory verse. When we face trials, God wants us to trust Him and persevere. Ruth lost her husband, brother in law and father in law. She left her home country to go to a land where she knew one person only. Talk about trials! She persevered and in the end, she was mature and complete and lacked nothing. God uses trials to shape and mature us as Christians. Let’s persevere and emerge victorious and lacking nothing. 

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Sunday

 
Romans 8:18: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Or a different translation: 


We are into week two of our Bible study “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit,” which is based upon the Old Testament book of Ruth. 

Each day, there is a “Quit Quitting” verse, and tomorrow’s verse is the one pictured above. I consulted a few commentaries to get some insight into this verse. 

The book of Romans was written by Paul to the Church of Rome. It is believed to have been written around AD 57. At this time, Paul had been on his third journey as a missionary and was planning to return to Jerusalem. The Church of Rome was majority Gentile, with a substantial Jewish congregation as well. Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Rome to share his basic gospel, that God has a plan of salvation for all people- both Jewish and Gentile. 

The meaning of verse 18 is this: though we face suffering and pain in this life, Christians will receive their inheritance and it will be more glorious than we could ever imagine. 

So how does Paul’s letter to the Church of Rome relate to Ruth? 

Ruth was likely suffering. She’d lost her husband, her brother in law, and her father in law, and now her mother in law was leaving as well. Ruth did something that Naomi didn’t expect, and tried to talk her out of doing: she clung to Naomi and  vowed not to part from her. 

In doing so, Ruth accepted a new assignment, and possibly the most difficult one of her life: leave her country and everything she has ever known, and follow Naomi back to her country, her family and her God. 

The writer of our Bible study Nicki Koziarz, says this: “The assignments of joy, peace, and love are easy assignments for us to accept, but the assignments that challenge and stretch us are usually the assignments that make us want to quit.”

But as Paul wrote in the verse above, you may be suffering now, but unimaginable joy is headed your way. Don’t quit. If we keep going , no matter how difficult the circumstances, something wonderful awaits us on the other side.

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Scripture Sunday: 

          Source: Soulful Creations

Esther is one of my favorite books of the Bible, as Esther is a woman of remarkable courage and obedience. How frightening would it have been to become queen and have to hide your heritage and identity? 

The verse above has been used at graduations and dedication ceremonies for years, as it is a verse about God’s purpose for our lives. 

Today, let’s talk about that verse and what it means within the context of Esther 4.

Queen Vashti had just been disposed of for disobeying the king. Esther, a beautiful young Jewish orphan, was selected from a large pool of eligible girls to be the queen.

The Jewish people were facing a time of great persecution and oppression, although Esther’s uncle and guardian Mordecai had a high ranking position within the town. For her safety and the safety of her family, Esther was not to disclose her identity or heritage within the palace. 

When Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, Haman was angry enough to influence the palace to issue an edict to eradicate the Jews. Mordecai put on his sack cloth and ashes, and was wailing. When Esther received word of this, she sent a eunuch to find out what was wrong, as she had not yet heard of the plot against her people.

Esther 4:14 is a part of a bigger conversation between Esther and Mordecai. Mordecai asked Esther to intercede on the behalf of her people, to which she reluctantly agreed to do. Esther knew she faced the possibility of death because, according to the laws, anyone who entered the king’s inner court without being called could be killed.

Mordecai had faith in God to rescue His people. After all, God told Abraham “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!” 

When Mordecai said the words above to Esther, he was reminding her that God didn’t just raise an orphan girl out of exile and into the palace for no reason, and that Esther had to have the courage to carry through with God’s purpose for her life.

While none of us are in quite the same situation as Esther, the same still applies to us. We have a purpose in life, and when God puts us in a place or situation for a reason, it’s up to us to see that reason and bring it to fruition.

Think about the places where you work, where you live and where you regularly go. Are you in any of these places by accident? God doesn’t put you anywhere for no reason. If you’re unsure about the purpose, ask God to help you see it.

It’s up to us to be obedient to His plan, as Esther risked her life to save her people. 

Have a great week!

 

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Wordfull Wednesday 


           (Source: Pinterest)

Last week, I expanded upon a quote I’d found by tying it to Scripture. This week I’m doing some of those same things, but I’m going to share some personal truths here as well.

Last week, I shared about five things we need to stop doing. One of them was to stop living in the past. Today’s post kind of bridges off of that quote.

Years ago as a student I encountered a teacher who, at the beginning, seemed caring and loving, but the more we came to know her, the more we realized she would go out of her way to tear down her students, to belittle us and stir things up between us. She enjoyed reducing her students to tears and she enjoyed making us feel small and inferior. 

I allowed this person to cause a significant amount of emotional damage in my life, and not surprisingly, I held a grudge against this person for many years. Way to live in the past, huh?

It’s been said that holding grudges is allowing someone to live rent free in our heads with no benefit to us. I was too immature at the time to realize that a person who is so quick to destroy you first of all has a problem within themselves. But worse, I was too immature to understand that holding onto all of  those things rather than letting them go was doing nothing for me. Who was it actually hurting? Certainly not that person!

The Bible has many verses about holding grudges and forgiveness, but read this verse:

James 1:19-20 (NIV). 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Holding grudges is bad for your physical health, but worse still for your spiritual health. When people do us wrong, it’s hard to let go of the anger and forgive them, but as James said, holding in your anger isn’t pleasing to God.

I struggle so much with letting things go. It’s an area of my life that I’ve really been praying about and I hope you’ll pray for me, too. Have a wonderful week. 

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Scripture Sunday: Psalm 61:2

I’m doing something a little different now with Scripture Sunday. I have selected a verse, and instead of just giving you an interpretation, I’m going to share the verse and what I learned about that verse through commentary. This week’s verse is Psalm 61:2.

Source: Pinterest

“From the end of the Earth will I cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

The writer of this Psalm is unknown, but widely believed to be David. If the Psalter is in fact David, then this verse was a prayer written during a time of exile and fear. It is thought that David composed this Psalm during his flight from Absolom.

Psalm 61:2 is a prayer to God. The Psalter begins the prayer with tears, but ends it with praise. Let’s break it down into parts and discuss it.

“from the end of the Earth will I cry to you:” The Psalter, likely David, had been driven away from the lands he knew by the violence of his enemies. It is believed he felt death was near and the “end of the earth” refers to the end of his life here on earth. The writer believed he had one foot in the grave, so to speak.

“when my heart is overwhelmed:” here the Psalter speaks about a heavy sadness or fear enveloping his heart. Bible scholars liken this to a garment like a mourning cloak wrapping around a sad heart. The writer is saying we can draw near to the throne of grace no matter where we are. We can lift ourselves in prayer to God when we’re fearful, alone, distressed or overwhelmed.

“lead me to the rock that is higher than I:” Literally, lead me to the rock that is too high for me to climb by myself and place me there. The rock in which the Psalter speaks is an elevated symbol of security that can’t be obtained without Divine help. Christ is the rock of our salvation and we are only truly safe within Him.

Psalm 61 is a prayer to God, but it’s also a vow to praise God. The writer desired to rest his soul on the rock of Divine mercy, but he couldn’t reach that rock by himself- he needed the Lord’s help. The Psalter was asking God to be restored in His presence.

When we feel overwhelmed or bogged down, let’s remember to ask God to restore us to His presence, and place us upon his rock of Divine mercies.

Are you feeling overwhelmed today? Lay it at his feet.

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