Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Renewed Strength

I remember a quiet drive on the roads of Wisconsin. The winding paths, the sparkling sun, the crisp breeze whipping in through the crack at the top of the window. It was peaceful and routine, and then out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a bird in flight. Turning my whole attention toward the bird it dawned on me it was a beautiful and strong bald eagle. And it was not alone, three companions took wing together on the wind currents.

Psalm 103 talks about God’s goodness and then the sweet reminder, He “Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Naturalists tell us of the power and beautiful of an eagle that extends throughout its life. An eagle can live through its hundred years of life, and still be as energetic and vital as when young. Our own eyes remember the magnitude and strength of an eagle, we even choose it as the symbol for our country. To be renewed to the strength of an eagle is no small promise.

These words emphasize to us the infinite benefit of God’s forgiveness. Just look at the verse just about in Psalm 103 to gain context. Verse three says, “Who forgives all our iniquities, who heals all your disease.” When God forgives it is complete. He blots it out. Imagine the energizing realization that the burden of sin is removed. That God says to you, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Conversation starter with God: Spend time talking about the places you need to confess. What sin do you need to turn over to God and go boldly in the future knowing He truly and completely forgives you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Painting Our Praises

Have you ever painted a picture? Maybe with oils, or water colors, or finger paints. How about writing a poem or a book? A sonnet or a haiku? What about sewing or weaving a tapestry? Built a piece of furniture or a house? Each of these take God-given abilities, talents you can use in turn to praise Him with.

David took his gift to praise God with song, and wrote a psalm. You can find his beautiful hymn in your Bible in Psalm 103. It begins with the words, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

This hymn is called a “star of the first magnitude” in the galaxy of hymns because of the all-pervasive sense of gratitude to God. David exhorts himself to bless, or praise, God’s holy Name. And he even explains the reason, “forget not all His benefits.” God has done so much for him, he can’t help but sing his praises. Apparently the psalmist so deeply appreciated God’s goodness bestowed on him, he feels the inner urge to express his gratitude to the Lord with jubilation, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

How will you praise God today? Will you sing? Will you speak his praise? Will you bless him with music or draw a picture of praise? Today, do not forget the many benefits that can only be attributed to God. Spend time praise Him for His goodness to you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We Grieve with Hope

In the past few weeks these verses stands out as my theme: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” 1Thessalonians 4:13-18

You all know of the loss in my family. My father in law, Bill Crews passed away on March 31. This turned our known world upside down and sent us rushing to be with family in Florida. Life is different without him in our lives. As we gathered together to talk and pray and encourage one another, there was a steady stream of reminds that we walked this difficult road with a family of believers. Texts of courage came to my phone. Messages of lifted prayers on our behalf came. Then the bereavement cards arrived to remind us that while we grieve, we grieve with support. So during this time of loss I grieved with the hope of the resurrection, and with the full knowledge of my church family who came around and supported us. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for those expressions of caring and for the prayers lifted on our behalf. God is carrying us through into this new reality, and I thank you for letting Him use you to remind us of that.