Joy
Posted By Nan

Psalm 119:105-112

Your word shines out like a lamp for my feet. By your word I can see where I am going.

My life is hard and there are times when things are falling down around me. 

There are people in this life who try to bring me down. They mock and scheme against me. They delight to see me react or get upset or be bowed low with the troubles of this life.

But you have given me an inheritance. Your word. That is mine forever. Your word. Your word brings joy to my heart. It allows me to be happy. It brings me back to you and allows me to focus on doing what you want me to do.

You have filled me with a yearning to follow you. To follow my shepherd. The true shepherd.

The path is not easy, but you light the way and I can follow it. I have to focus or I will fall off. But you help me to do that. 

You encourage me to listen to you. You encourage me to bring my problems to you.

You listen. Really listen. You care and I feel so loved.

And on those frequent occasions when I fall off the path, you gently bring me back.

You teach me and I learn and grow.

You are changing me and I delight in the way I grow better every day I walk with you.

Thank you.

I will always remember, please remind me.

 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Psalm 118

The message of this Psalm for today is trust and its part in feeling joy. Without trust, we cannot experience joy in God.
For people who have suffered abuse. For people who have lived through wars. For people who have suffered as refugees. For people subjected to racism. For all these people and more, trust is an issue. 
How do you trust God when the world has not been a place you could trust in?
How do you trust God when the people you should trust in have been untrustworthy?
How do you trust God if the only example of a father in your life was an abuser who you could not trust?
I love the way this Psalm starts and ends with the same words. Thank God because His love never quits.
Just in case you may laugh derisively at that. “Yeah right. Well God has never supported me!” I agree. When I was abused at home and bullied at school and had nowhere safe to go, where was God? 
Reading further through the Psalm, the psalmist (presumably David) tells how he was in a terrible place. There was nowhere safe. He was hounded and in danger. His “back was to the wall”. He had nowhere else to go. There was nowhere to be safe. 
Why should he trust God? What was God doing to help him? 
The psalmist said he called out to God and God stood by him. When God stood by him he was no longer afraid. Things turned out well. His enemies did not succeed against him. He survived to live another day.
I know that many people who suffered the abuse I did have developed mental health issues that are crippling to their adult lives. I didn’t. 
I have trauma and sometimes it gets in the way, but I am able to lead a healthy life. 
I know that is because of God and I am so grateful. He didn’t stop the abuse all the time. Maybe he stopped it sometimes. I don’t know how much abuse I would have suffered if God had not been there. I know I still endured abuse at home and devastating bullying at school. 
I know I am disconnected from my siblings because of the toxic behaviour my parents taught them. 
I know that others like me ended up in abusive relationships. I know that God gave me a wonderful husband who has helped me learn to have a secure attachment to another person and be able to parent effectively and develop healthy friendships. 
I know that God has given me many gifts including the gifts of writing and healing. 
I know that God has been with me in my darkest moments as my comforter and protector.
It hasn’t been an easy path and it won’t be in the future. But I know that I am growing in my knowledge of and faith in God because I am on this path and He helps me.
I know I struggle with trust. Big time. 
I know God has shown again and again that He is trustworthy but I still question Him and struggle to trust Him.
I know God is patient and understanding. 
I know that I am slowly learning to trust and am grateful.
I thank God because He never quits.
He never quits loving us.
He never quits hearing our cry for help.
He never quits being patient with us when we hold back from trusting Him.
He never quits helping us in ways we cannot always see.
God never quits.

 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Psalm 107

To feel the joy of God, this psalm has some important directions. 

We are to share what God has done, but with wisdom.

There is a great belief amongst people that all they need to do is to be grateful. They must speak words of affirmation and gratitude. They must manifest success in their lives. Such positive speech has benefits. It can help someone to be more motivated to try and to have more energy to persevere. But it can also be a trap. People can be so obsessed with the relentless positivity of speaking the things they want manifested in their lives. In avoiding dealing with the things that trouble them. That they can be devastated when what they have wanted to manifest does not happen.

This is dangerous. 

This is something that many people are doing. There are even Christians who are doing this. It is one thing to be grateful to God, but to make the pursuit of such gratitude into a god is dangerous.

We also have to be careful how we share what God has done for us. To tell someone who is going through a hard time about all the wonderful things God has done for you is not considerate. It is not helpful. It is not caring. It is not what Jesus would do.
Stop and have empathy for the other person. Ask God for the right words. In our hardest times God comes to us gently and with care. He comforts us. When things are seemingly better, he reminds us of what He has done. Then when we are ready for that we can remember all He has done. Or we can be receptive to hearing other people talk about what God has done.

I have a Christian friend who fills the air with tales of all she is doing and all God’s blessings. She has hard things in her life, but she chooses to talk constantly about all the good things. The trouble is, she talks constantly. She never stops to listen to anyone else. She never considers that she is talking about things that other people are waiting for, or hurting about. She fills her need to talk incessantly but neglects the others around her who need her compassion and listening ear. It has come to the point that much as I like her, I don’t want to see her. Because I go away from our meetings feeling hurt and cut off from God. And I am not the only person she impacts in this way.

We need to share the good things God has done with wisdom and with an ear on what God wants us to say.

So my question today is, can you reflect on how in your life God has helped you?
Have you wandered in the wilderness and God has brought you out safely? Thank Him for His help. Remember what He has done for you.

Are you still wandering in the wilderness waiting for God to bring you out? I am sorry you are going through such a hard time. I pray that God will give you His comfort and that in time you will be able to rejoice in being brought out safely. 

Have you been locked in a dark cell of injustice, hopelessness and despair? Has God delivered you safely from that terrible ordeal? Thank Him for his deliverance.

Remember what He has done for you and rejoice.

Are you locked in a dark cell, caught up in harsh treatment, in injustice, in despair? Are you struggling to find God in this darkness? I am sorry for the terrible things you are feeling and suffering. May God comfort you. May He show you joy even in that dark place. May he deliver you safely.

Have you been sick with the awfulness of your life. Maybe you were caught up in the horror of addiction. Maybe you were caught up in a destructive lifestyle that left you unhappy and ashamed. Have you been healed? Have you found your way to a life that leaves you feeling whole? Thank God for His love and for His miracle of healing. Thank Him that He loves you and found you in the pit of destruction and brought you out into a life full of His blessings. May you never forget and may that remembrance bring you great joy.

Are you still in that awful place of destruction? Are you still desperately waiting for God’s healing. I am sorry. That is such a hard place to be. I pray you may know how much God loves you. May you know and believe that no matter how unworthy you feel, God considers you totally worthy. May you know His healing.

Were you caught up in the storms of life and God guided you safely through? Have you endured natural disasters such as drought, storm, floods, fires and famine? Has God brought you out the other side where you can begin to rebuild your life. Thank God for His love and never forget the joy of knowing how much He loves you.
Are you still caught up in the storms of life? Are you still living in the aftermath of disasters waiting for life to start again, stuck in limbo? I am sorry. That is a hard place to be. May God give you comfort and strength and may the help you need arrive soon.

We live in a world full of abuse, evil and trouble. There are times when we are in the midst of this and times when we remember how God delivered us. May we remember the times of deliverance and feel the joy of that.

I finish with the final words of this Psalm as written in The Message:

“Good people see this and are glad; bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks. If you are really wise, you’ll think this over – it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.”

 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Psalm 106

Psalm 106 is like the flip side of Psalm 105. It is what happens when people forget what God has done for them. When they forget to give thanks. When they forget to seek God’s face. When they forget to remember all God’s miracles and interventions in the life of their nation and in their own life. When they forget the moments when God has given them cause for Joy.

When the people forgot, they turned away from God. They broke the covenant with God. They forgot to be his beloved, chosen people. They worshipped other gods. They lost their Joy. 

And God punished them. He took away what He had given them. They suffered under foreign rulers. They were dispersed among the nations. They forgot God.
I am not just talking about Israel here and their sinfulness. I am talking about us. The ones living today who profess to love God and follow Jesus. We forget. We turn away from God. We forget to be His children, the ones He has chosen and delights over. We worship other gods. The ones of power and prestige. The ones of maintaining the status quo. The ones of racism and hate speak. The ones of money and greed. The ones of selfishness and self serving behaviours.

We need to be the people of Psalm 105, not Psalm 106. 

We need to remember God.

We need to remind ourselves of the Joy He gives us, constantly.

Never forget God.

 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Psalm 105

Today I am writing this and in Australia hundreds of people are daily being added to the lists of those infected with COVID 19. While people were rejoicing in the worst seeming to be over and people being able to tentatively start going about their business with care, now in Melbourne people are again shut in their homes and businesses are again facing ruin.
All this coincides with the darkest days of Winter. Those days after the Winter Solstice when temperatures plummet and the temperature is at its coldest.
For some there is joy at being able to move across state borders and for others there is despair as they are again shut down. There is the fear at what may come. Fear at the possibility of financial ruin or catching the virus. And outside the days are short, and dark, and cold.
In such times it is hard to remember good times. It is hard to feel joy.
This Psalm is a reminder from long ago to not forget. It is a two pronged reminder. On the one hand it is a reminder to keep the covenant with God. On the other hand it is a reminder that God is faithful and is watching out for us.
The Psalmist reminds the people to never stop giving thanks to God. He reminds the people to not be afraid to share what God has done with all others throughout the world. It is a reminder for us to thank God for all He has done and for all He does every day in often quiet ways. It is a reminder for us to not be afraid to admit to others that God has looked after us, even if it is in a seemingly insignificant way. God’s miracles are not always big production numbers. They are often small, seemingly insignificant things that are easily overlooked if we are not being attentive to notice them.
The Psalmist also reminds us to seek God’s face always. There are two aspects to that. The first is to seek God and seek to notice the myriad ways He intervenes in our lives. The other is to seek God just to be with Him. As we seek out a close friend in whose presence we love to be.
The Psalmist exhorts us to constantly remind ourselves what God has done. In relationship counselling we speak about people forgetting what it was about the other person they fell in love with. Often people need to remember those things to renew their relationship. If we forget what God has done for us, when bad times hit, we can easily become discouraged. Remembering all God has done is a great encouragement, a great reminder of God’s faithfulness. It is also a good way to draw our attention to how God helps us now.
As the Psalmist says, it is important for us to remember the times when God gave us cause for Joy. In that remembering, we may even discover the moments now that are cause for Joy.

 

 

 

 
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Nan
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