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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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: 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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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: Romans 5:4


As you know, some friends and I are doing a Bible study called “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.” It’s based on the Old Testament book of Ruth.


We just started yesterday and the study has been a blessing thus far. I thought maybe I’d use some of the daily verses for Scripture Sunday and kill two birds with one stone. Plus, if you’re doing the Bible study with us, this could serve as an additional platform.

Romans 5:3-4 is the memory verse for day one, and I feel like that’s such a great verse for this study:

3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.

What an incredible verse about not quitting. Here’s that same verse broken down:

“And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions…”   The previous verse talks about rejoicing when things are good, but did you know God also wants us to rejoice when we’re suffering? We are only human and this is so difficult because most of us have a hard time finding joy in our struggles. It’s hard to see the lesson and the grace when we’re going through hard times. God acknowledges this in the next verse, and tells us why we should still rejoice.

Have you ever felt you were suffering? I have. Most of us can recall a particularly difficult time in our lives where we experienced pain and suffering. It could be physical or emotional. Some of you may even be there now. Don’t quit. Here’s why:

“because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.”

Basically, God will use whatever trials we endure to teach us perseverance and give us Hope. We only have to stay the course and hope in Him.

In 2014, I experienced pain and suffering like nothing I’d ever known. I learned in that time that our God will not only use our suffering to mold us and shape us for Him, but he also suffers alongside us. He feels and he knows that with which we struggle. 

Think about the book of Ruth. Her father in law and husband had just died and now her mother in law was leaving to return back to Israel. Our Bible study author suggests that Ruth, a Moabite who worshipped idols, may have possibly found God during her marriage. 

Elimilech, Naomi and their sons, who were all God worshipping Israelites left Israel to escape famine and suffering, instead of waiting on God to bring them through it. They traveled to a land with idol worshippers and an evil king, and after about a decade, Naomi’s suffering increased when she lost her husband and both children. 

She was ready to quit. Ready to quit both her daughters in law and just go back to Bethlehem. But Ruth? Well, she and God had different ideas. In fact, God used this former idolater and she actually became a part of Jesus’ family tree. 

It’s amazing what God can do with our struggles. Struggle produces endurance, proven character and hope. Don’t quit. Rejoice in your trials and be blessed. 

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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 


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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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Scripture Sunday: 1 Corinthians 16:18

I did not make this printable, but I did find this on Pinterest. I unfortunately did not find the original source. How often do you do something that you know you should do, but you complain about it the entire time?

It is easy to do the things we enjoy out of love, but what about those necessary evils of life? Those things we don’t enjoy but still must do. That is when it gets hard to “do things in love.”

This week, I’m going to challenge myself to do everything in love, instead of complaining about them.

To download the printable, just right click and save it to your machine. Have a wonderful week!

 

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Scripture Sunday: John 3:16

I’ve been writing lots of Sunday Scripture posts lately about God’s love. This is partly because Valentine’s Day is happening this week, but it’s also partly because I feel led to do so.

Today’s Sunday Scripture is one that is mighty familiar to most of us. I can honestly say this is the first Scripture I ever memorized, and the entire basis on which my faith is built.

There are many great love stories that are universally repeated and celebrated, but what about the ultimate love story? What better love story than God’s love for US?

John 3:16 says this:

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Here’s a breakdown: God loved the world SO MUCH. That “so much” is really important. He loved us so much that He gave US His only son: His perfect, sinless, blameless son. He sent his Son to Earth to die a brutal, violent death so that we could live with Him forever in Heaven.

If we’re honest, we will admit that we are sinners. I mess up on a daily basis, folks. I know I do. No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be perfect. I deserve to die and go to Hell, but because I trust in the Lord, I won’t get the fate that I certainly deserve.

The Good News is that you can do the same.

As a 22-year old female, I was just coming out of a horrible relationship. While dating and ultimately becoming engaged to this young man, I began to steer away from my Christian upbringing and all the values and truths I’d held dear.

I made poor choices, many of them self-destructive. I was headed down a road that held nothing good, and I didn’t want to listen to anyone who tried to reason with me.

I began to realize, slowly but surely, that the young man I was with wasn’t who I needed to be with. I tried visiting my childhood church with my parents, but it wasn’t the same. All of my friends had moved on, the church was so big it was hard to get to know anyone, and I felt incredibly lonely. My mom, who is a nurse, got to know a preacher’s wife through her work. This lady, whom we are still friends with, invited us to her church.

We decided to visit there, and a few months later, I ended my destructive path by completely trusting Christ. I’m still not perfect, but I’m better than I’ve ever been. I like to think of myself as a “constant work in progress.” Did you ever sing that song “He’s still working on me” as a kid? “He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. Took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars; the sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient he must be, because He’s still working on me.”

I am thankful the Lord doesn’t give up on us and that He’s still working on me. I hope this week as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’ll think about our God who loved us SO MUCH that He sent his Son so that we might have an Eternal Life with Him.

Here’s a chalkboard printable you may download to remind you.

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