Joy
Posted By Nan

Psalm 81

This psalm starts with the admonishment to joyfully praise God. Here is a call to Israel, and to us, to worship God by acknowledging all He has done for us. A realisation of all God has done should be our main source of Joy and blessing.
In verse 10 the psalmist writes “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it”. As I read this, I could picture the people opening wide their mouths in joyful praise to God, and as they opened their mouths wide, God poured a cornucopia of blessings into them. He satisfied their hunger for Him. He satisfied their thirst for salvation. He filled them with Joy that overflowed in further praise to Him.
Did the people open their mouths wide enough to accept these blessings? According to the psalmist they are not doing that. He beseeches them to follow God. But they do not, they follow their own pursuits. And God is sorrowful. He tells them that if only they would praise Him and place Him first above all else, then He would be able to bless them and satisfy their needs.
Such a beautiful psalm.
Such love from God who wants nothing more than to bless us and fill us with Joy.
This is His call for simplicity. For just worshipping Him. For just remembering and acknowledging all He has done for us. For opening our mouths wide and allowing Him to fill us to overflowing.
 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

My blog posting has been extremely patchy lately. Major house renovations and dividing my time between houses during a lockdown and also working has been a massive use of my available time. Normally, I announce the blog will be pausing, but I never intended to pause it. Yes, God has given me time to ponder this subject. And He has given me time to complete what I need to do. And I have visited Joy and all the stresses of a house renovation during a time of a pandemic. It has been a time of much learning and much spiritual growth. I still have so many questions that need answers, but I know the time for those will come later.
The blog I have written below is a wonderful blog to return to regular posts with. It speaks to me of faith and how that fits into this current situation. I wonder how many people struggling in these times feel that God has forsaken them? For those whose businesses have failed without customers. For those who have lost their job. For those who have been sick, or who have lost a much loved person. For those who fear catching the virus. For all those people and more, this has been a really hard time.
This blog is about trusting God. About feeling Joy, even when things are not that joyous. About turning your eyes on Jesus. May this reminder of God’s love be a blessing to you.

Psalm 71

This is a beautiful psalm of praise to God. It is a psalm of such wonderful faith. The psalmist writes of how God has been with him since he was born and he has relied on Him from birth. The thought of a baby with the knowledge of God if amazing. But I wonder if that is what all babies experience, the faith that there is someone there who cares for them, who loves them. We do not remember what we were aware of at birth so we may well have a knowledge of God that we later either grow or forget.
The thought of the baby trusting God is wonderful, but it is not the part of the psalm that really struck me today. What stood out for me was verses 9 to 13 which speak of the psalmist’s enemies claiming the bad things that happened to him were because God had forsaken him. This is a theme that is repeated throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, when the prophets and leaders would cry out to God to save them so that His name would be glorified when His enemies saw how He had saved Israel.
In this world, there are those who will look for signs that our faith is a waste of time. There are those who do not want to accept God. Who want to see His followers fail, or be seen to be abandoned by God, so that they have an excuse not to believe in God.
In this case the psalmist, when going through bad times, saw God’s enemies delighting to see that God had forsaken him. Who can trust a God who forsakes us? Maybe he has been forsaken because he wasn’t good enough for God? Who can trust a God who is impossible to please?
But our psalmist stays firm and trusting in his faith in God. He can praise God with musical instruments, with singing, and with words. And he can experience Joy in praising and trusting God.
 

 
Posted By Nan
Many years ago, I was attending a tiny church with my family. A new curate gave a sermon one Sunday stating that you must speak with authority and that authority is from having a piece of paper that says you have studied for a specified time at a bible college! I was astonished and disappointed. He turned faith in God into something that imprisoned and caged faith, instead of it being the glorious walk in uncertainty and faith that it is. It sounded like the legalism of the pharisees in Jesus’ time.
I have not posted a blog for some weeks due to renovations on our house forcing me to live elsewhere and divide my time between my home, my temporary residence and my work place. Life has been busier than ever.
During the pandemic lock down I have been anything but locked down. I have spent the time living between two residences and my place of work. I have found time to walk along the beach, because the temporary residence has been metres away from the beach. And I have found myself berating myself because I wasn’t spending enough time naming God as I have walked in wonder among rock pools and the waves rushing to greet me. In the stillness of the night God has answered me by reminding me that I have been doing exactly what He wants me to do. Spending time with me, with my spirit and from that with God. Connecting with the creation and through that with God. As I swam in my pool last night and gazed up at the sky in awe, with its high cirrus clouds making spectacular patterns across the sky, I heard God speak to me of my contemplation being exactly what He wanted to teach me about Him.
I read many online devotionals and I have learned to be discerning about what I read. Some I discount without reading. I can see from the opening what they will say, and it is not about the foundations of our relationship with God, but rather about Churchianity and the legalism encompassed in that.
What I read celebrates the simplicity of faith in God.
What I have found in the last few weeks is confirmation of the simplicity of Faith. We have made a legalistic cage for our relationship with God. As the Jewish faith did in the time of Jesus, we have come up with rules that tell us how we should and should not relate to God. These rules make a cage for us and separate us from God. They make us, as Jesus said in Matthew 23:15, children of hell:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Matthew 23:15 NIV
Legalistic churchianity tells us we can’t do this and that. One of the worst of the legalism is telling us we can’t hug trees, or spend time feeling our connection with the earth, because they believe that is not of God!!! Not of God!!! God created all this and He expects us to connect to it because it is His creation and carries the Holy Spirit in it, just as we do when we come to faith in Jesus.
In the past few weeks I have met God in the tiny waves rushing up the beach to kiss my feet. I have met God in the waves crashing over the rocks as I explore the rock pools full of the wonder of creation. I have met God in His artwork in the sky as spectacular cloud after cloud drifts by. I have found God in the simplicity of connecting with creation, of connecting with myself and my feelings, in my constant conversations with God. I have explored with God what prayer is and He has shown me that the connection in the moment I have with His creation is part of that. He has shown me that my ongoing conversation with Him throughout the day is part of that. He has shown me that rather than making prayer a rod for my back that I find impossible to find time for, it should be part of my ongoing conversation with God.
He has taught me that in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve connected to all the creation and to God and we need to reclaim that. Maybe in this time of lockdown, people can come to appreciate that. In this time of churches being closed, people can begin to find God themselves and relate directly to Him.
Maybe in this time we can become children of God rather than children of hell.
 
 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Psalm 67

This is a particularly appropriate blog for Easter Sunday. This is about not just the individual, but all of humankind. I explain more below.

Once again we have a psalm that is pure praise to God. The content is interesting. It is not just about praising God for what He have done for them. It is also about the wish that the rest of the world would see how much God blesses His people thus bringing glory to God. In that declaration there is also the sentiment that as people praise God they will accept Him.
For the psalmist there was the double source of joy. There was the Joy of the people in praising God. There was also the Joy of the rest of the world in understanding God’s greatness and his joy at seeing all people acknowledge God.
Thus far, this blog has been about individual joy and a little about corporate joy. But it has never touched on the Joy of all humankind. This is the first time I have found a Bible verse that specifically mentions this. Joy is about worshipping and acknowledging God. But it is also about seeing other people worship and acknowledge God. This includes the unbelievers amongst us.
This is a strong call to us to not become so caught up in our worship of God that we forget to love and rejoice in the relationship of unbelievers to God as He draws them close.
 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Psalm 66 especially verse1

This psalm of pure praise and acknowledgement of God’s greatness is a call to the praise that brings Joy. The first and last verse are ones that I feel are particularly important. The first verse calls on us to shout with joy to God. Well, not just us, but the entire earth. Every stone, every creature, every tree, everything is called on to shout with joy to God. Then follows the verses that speak of all the greatness of God. This psalmist has experienced a great deliverance from sin and wants everyone to know about it. He wants the world to know he has been forgiven by God. This leads to the last verse. In this verse he praises God who has not rejected his prayer or withheld love from him.
When we find it hard to feel Joy we can feel that God is rejecting us and withholding His love from us. We stumble desperately trying to, under our own strength, find God again. But the more we try in our own strength, the further away God seems. It is a hard lesson to learn. It is at those times we need to let go and wait for God to come to us. To let go and wait in the promise that He is there and we will feel His presence at the right time.
Here in the waiting is the promise of Joy.
 

 

 

 
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Nan
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