quieting the soul

Of one thing I am certain: my soul has become calm, quiet, and contented in You. Like a weaned child resting upon his mother, I am quiet. My soul is like this weaned child.” (Psalm 131:2, VOICE).

Be still, my soul.

“Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.  And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Philippians 4:6-7, VOICE).

Be still, my soul.

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” (Isaiah 26:3, AMP).

Be still, my soul.

“Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, VOICE).

Be still, my soul.

“David, too, was in anguish. Some of his men talked about stoning him because they were so bitter about their families being taken. But David took comfort in the Eternal One, his True God.” (1 Samuel 30:6, VOICE).

Be still, my soul. Know that He is God.

Holy Week: God’s Plan, Timing & Love

The first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, documents the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah, beginning with Abraham, the father of Isaac. Verse 17 states, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.” Forty-two generations.

Even without counting the generations from Adam to Terah, Abraham’s father, 42 generations represent a large number of people, living life in all its dimensions. And, encompassing all these numerous people and all their living, was the Omnipotent One, existing outside of time, but diligently, patiently, lovingly, meticulously working out His eternal plan of redemption, through humans and in time, to bring us back to Himself.

4 “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:4-7, NLT)

These verses are worth reading again and again until they sink deep and indelibly into our beings. Why wait for a later time? Let us read them again at least once now. Shall we?

He made us His very own children at an incalculable cost. You. Me. As such I find it impossible to muse on His Plan and His timing and not think of His incomprehensible love, which has been and will always be His motive for all He does for us.

The classic hymn, “The Love of God,”* speaks powerfully of God’s love.

  1. The love of God is greater far
    Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
    It goes beyond the highest star,
    And reaches to the lowest hell;
    The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
    God gave His Son to win;
    His erring child He reconciled,
    And pardoned from his sin.
    • Refrain:
      Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
      How measureless and strong!
      It shall forevermore endure—
      The saints’ and angels’ song.
  2. When hoary time shall pass away,
    And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
    When men who here refuse to pray,
    On rocks and hills and mountains call,
    God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
    All measureless and strong;
    Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.
  3. Could we with ink the ocean fill,
    And were the skies of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade;
    To write the love of God above
    Would drain the ocean dry;
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.

Holy Week, which began this year on Sunday, March 28th, invites us to reflect on God’s Plan, His timing, and His love.

*Lyrics are from https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/The_Love_of_God/ (Public Domain)

infused ordinary

Ordinary… A day with only the typical activities scheduled.
But is it possible that hidden in the ordinary are secrets of the extraordinary that are revealed with keys such as gratitude, obedience, praise, attention?

Ordinary … A person who is seen as average. Having no talents that the rich and famous, those with status, seem to possess. But that ordinary person can make a life changing difference in the life of another human. By an act of kindness, by the recognition of Imago Dei in another, with love, an ordinary person could change the world in which God placed them – a job, a neighborhood, a family. 

Ordinary does not mean insignificant, or worthless, or unimportant.

Yahweh has a way of infusing ordinary moments, days, people, with His presence, His matchless power, making each His own, and transforming them all.

*A version of this post was originally published on 10/11/2013.

Green

Green.
In a traffic light, it signals go.
In things that grow, it is an indication of life and thriving.

Water is not needed for the former
but is a necessity for the latter.
The former is inanimate.
The second is alive.

And so is the human spirit.
It needs water to thrive.
And that water is the Word of God,
written by human hands,
not from their own imaginations but,
as one such scribe noted,
God-breathed.”

This Word is as alive,
as potent now as when it was first spoken.
It continues to give life
and hope and strength,
and encouragement.

It continues to transform and
God honors it above His name.
He has declared, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away,”
meaning,
what He has spoken will happen.

I am joining (on a Monday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. The current writing prompt is, “Green.” Links to Scripture verses were added after the allotted five minutes had ended.

Once

Once upon a time…” is a familiar opening phrase for most fairy tales that I recall reading or heard narrated in a movie. “Once upon a time…”

What are some of my “once upon a times”?

Once upon a time, I was married.

Once upon a time, I lived in a different state.

Once upon a time, I could go outdoors without a mask.

Once upon a time, I could hug my family, friends, and acquaintances even if we did not live in the same house.

(Sometimes even individuals to whom I had just been introduced, who declared themselves huggers.)

Once upon a time, I was a brand new employee instead of a seasoned veteran.

Once upon a time, I published, for the first time, something I wrote.

Once upon a time

This phrase is true for fairy tales and for human stories.

But it is not true of God’s story.

He has always existed and is unchanging.

Upon this truth I build my life with all its “once upon a times.”

Design

Creator God, You are intentional. Chance is not part of Your modus operandi. You have an eternal plan and are working it out, as the hymn writer stated, “as year succeeds to year.”

Creator God, You are intentional. Chance is not part of Your modus operandi. When You made the world, it was according to Your design. When You give instructions to Moses for the tabernacle in the wilderness, You were specific in Your instructions.

When You made me, You were no less specific and made me according to Your design. You included some things and left out others. You determined the times, places and seasons of my life.
As David testified, all of the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. You, Yourself said You have counted the hairs on my head. You know each word I will speak before I say them.

Photo Credit: YouVersion Bible App

Creator God, You are intentional. Chance is not part of Your modus operandi. I have no reason to envy anyone. I have every reason to trust You.

I am joining (on a Saturday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Design.” Links to the hymn and passages of Scripture referenced were added after the allotted five minutes had expired.

What lies ahead?

“What lies ahead?”
When it comes to human experiences, no one knows for sure.
Engagements can be broken and weddings cancelled.
Marriages that began with hope, love, and passion
can end before the first wedding anniversary or after the 30th.


Jobs that seemed to have so much possibility
could end in unexpected termination.
A patient could come through a complicated surgery successfully
and die during recovery because of an unrelated infection.
A day that began with a brilliant sunrise could end in a fierce storm.


A few words spoke thoughtlessly could inflict a deep wound
that takes months or even years to heal.
A conversation with a stranger
could lead to a life-long friendship.
One idea could become a multi-million business.
One blog post could provide encouragement to a discouraged soul.

What lies ahead?
When it comes to human experiences,
no human knows for sure.
But the omnipotent, omnipresent,
omniscient God and Father knows.
And has promised sufficient grace,
and added strength,
and comfort,
and above all,
His abiding presence,
and an eternal home.

This post was originally published on November 8, 2020, as “Ahead.” Rereading it was helpful to me and I am reposting it with the hope that it could be helpful to you … whether you are reading it again or for the first time. Blessings.

Forward

“The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to move forward [toward the sea].” (Exodus 14:15, AMP).

There are any number of factors that can elicit apprehension, if not dread, when we face the prospect of moving forward. Even when what we are moving into is familiar. Even more so when what we face is novel.

A common thread shared by the familiar and the novel situation is the incomplete, imperfect, fragmentary nature of human knowledge. This quality of human knowledge means that no matter the level of research in which we have engaged, no matter the level of expertise we possess about any situation, there will always be aspects that are unknown to us.

And among the many lessons that the COVID-19 global pandemic have taught and continue to teach, are that we control less than we believe and there is much we do not know – about ourselves and those around us.

As of today, in the USA, 400,000, persons – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, employers, employees, neighbors, etc. – have died of complications of the COVID-19 virus. Tomorrow, January 20th, the 46th President of the USA, Joseph Biden, and the first female vice-president, Kamala Harris, will be inaugurated. There is so much that is unknown about the future.

Thankfully, there is One who is omniscient – ELOHIM. Thankfully, He is with us and for us as we face what is unknown to us. As we face the unknown, we can find comfort in the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “Never be afraid to trust your unknown future to a known God.” Let us make increasing our knowledge of the omniscient God, a priority, for wholehearted trust of God is tied to a deepening, intimate knowledge of Him.

“Those who know you, Lord, will trust you;  you do not abandon anyone who comes to you.” (Psalm 9:10, GNT).

N.B. A version of this post was first published on May 23, 2020.

An Invitation: Come to Bethlehem

“O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”

We know the Babe of Bethlehem grew into manhood, lived a sinless life, endured indescribable agony on all levels, died, rose again, sits at the right hand of the Father, and will come again. Why then the invitation to “Come to Bethlehem,” especially in January, weeks after we celebrated His birth? Because it was in Bethlehem, God began to demonstrate in an unprecedented manner that when He promised to redeem us, thousands of years before, He meant it. His promise was not an idle promise. And this fact lets us know that He will keep every promise He has made to us.

The invitation to, “Come to Bethlehem” is not an invitation to physically visit Bethlehem, although you can do that also; rather, it is an invitation to turn our hearts toward Bethlehem when we need a reminder of the faithfulness of our God. The current season is such a time, wouldn’t you agree?

28-30 Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and then lifted them to the splendour of life as his own sons.
31-32 In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need? (Romans 8: 28-32, PHILLIPS).


Refrain

If you had to choose, which of God’s character traits meant the most to you this year? For me, it is His faithfulness, which I connect to His immutability. The truth that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, is assuring and deeply comforting in a world where anything, all people change, and not always for the better.

I wrote and published the post I will share below in May 2020. As we stand at the end of a year unlike any most of us have experienced in our lifetime, and face a new year that no one can truly predict, God’s faithfulness, His immutability is a firm foundation on which we can stand flat-footed.

Refrain, the noun, is a regularly recurring phrase or verse especially at the end of each stanza or a division of a poem or song.

I have been wondering,
if my life was a song,
and each season a stanza,
what would be my refrain?
What would be repeated
at the end of each stanza,
each season?
I thought of several things
but kept coming back to this,
“God is faithful.” 

When the stanza was filled with sorrow,
God was faithful.
When the stanza was characterized
by uncertainty and confusion,
God was faithful.  
Whether the stanza was one of joy
and accomplishments
and the satisfaction of a job well done,
or marked with disappointment and failure,
God was faithful.

In every stanza written to date,
God has been faithful.
And for every stanza that will be written
in the future,
He will remain faithful.
If my life was a song,
and each season a stanza,
what would be my refrain?
“God is faithful.”

“Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9, HCSB).

“Remember my affliction and my homelessness,
the wormwood and the poison.
I continually remember them
and have become depressed.
Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
(Lamentations 3:19-23, HCSB).