When the evening comes

Let me be singing when the evening comes

The title of this post is from the song, “10, 000 reasons (Bless the Lord),”  written by Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin. I love the song and it has become an anthem for me in all seasons. When things are going well, it is a shout of jubilation. In challenging times, it becomes an instruction, a commitment, and a prayer.

I sang the song during my quiet time today and, conscious that 2018 is still in its infancy and much is unknown, the words below became a plea:

Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes

“When the evening comes.” “When the evening comes,” not if.

Evening, as in painful seasons.

Evening, as in periods of distress and confusion.

Evening, as in periods of shattering loss  and aching grief.

As we can be certain that evening hours will come in the (approximately) 24 hours of each day, we can be certain that the evenings of life will come to each of us.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth,” said the psalmist-king David (Psalm 34:1, AMP). “All times,” including evenings, as defined earlier. What makes this form of consistent praise possible? Two sources come to mind:

  1. Consistent praise is possible when we base our praise to God on His character, not on our emotions or circumstances.  Our emotions and circumstances can change in seconds but our God is unchanging. When we praise Him because of who He is, we can praise Him, with the grace He gives, in all seasons.
  2. Consistent praise is possible when we make the decision to praise Him, regardless. Note, David said “I will bless the Lord at all times” (emphasis added). “Will” is defined, in part as, the power to decide or control emotions or actions, and, a particular person’s decision or choice (merriam-webster.com). David made the decision to praise God at all times. We can do the same. Praising Him at all times is one of “all things” we can do through Christ. 

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” (Philippians 2:13, AMP)

Because of this truth, “Whatever may pass, And whatever lies before” us, we can be singing “when the evening comes.”

“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am— praise His holy name” (Psalm 103:1, VOICE).

Expressing thanks but ignoring the Giver?

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Two years ago, speaking about the Thanksgiving season, a fellow blogger commented, “I’m always amazed this time of year to hear people speak of being grateful, but denying the one to whom we should direct our gratitude.”  Her comment invites reflection, does it not?

How is it possible to be grateful but never acknowledge God? Could it be that we fail to see Him as the Source of all good gifts? Could it be that, in the vein of king Nebuchadnezzar, we are taking all or most of the credit for the good in our lives? Could it be that we do not know or live in the light of the truths revealed in Acts 17:24-28 (CEV):

This God made the world and everything in it. … He gives life, breath, and everything else to all people. From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and He decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for Him and reach out and find Him. He isn’t far from any of us, and He gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are…”

Could it be that we do not know or remember that it is

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” and great is His faithfulness? (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)

How well do those of us who call Him Father and claim that He is Lord know these truths? Is our knowledge only head knowledge? Or do these truths so permeate our being that thanksgiving, gratitude has become our lifestyle instead of something we do occasionally and without intentionality?

Someone posed this question, “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” What would the answer be for each of us? Sobering. 

I close with an invitation/prayer/plea from Psalm 107:1-2, 8-9, NKJV).

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy… Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

 

Monday Vitamins: Truths from a mealtime prayer

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Recently, I have been reflecting on truths found in prayers seen as prayers for children. Today I turn my attention to the one below, known as a mealtime prayer for children.

God is great, God is good.
Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands, we are fed.
Let us thank Him for our bread.

I see several truths that we all can benefit from knowing and remembering in all seasons, regardless of our age.

God is great
Definitions of “great”* include remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness and chief or preeminent over others. Deuteronomy 10:17 is one of many verses in the Bible which speak powerfully of the greatness, the preeminence of our God. “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.” (AMP)

God is good
God is unchanging in His character and there is no unrighteousness in Him . As such even when our circumstances can invite us to question His goodness, we can rest assured that He is always good, as the following verses declare:

“For the Lord is good; His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting, His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5, AMP)

“The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works [the entirety of things created].” (Psalm 145:9, AMP)

“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His compassion and lovingkindness endure forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary, And gathered them from the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south”. (Psalm 107:1-3, AMP)

Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands, we are fed.
Let us thank Him for our bread.

The story of the nation of Israel’s journey from bondage in Egypt, their 40 year sojourn in the wilderness due to their disobedience, and finally the arrival into the promised land of the descendants of those who died in the wilderness, is one replete with God’s miraculous provision of food and other needs. The Bible also records God’s provision of food for His servant, Elijah the prophet, through ravens and then a widow. Some of us reading this post have also experienced His provision in miraculous ways which left no room for doubt that He was the Source. Most of us, however, experience His daily provision through ordinary, non-spectacular means and unfortunately, without realizing it, view our jobs and our hard work as the source of our provision. The truth is He is our Source and we owe Him everything we have. Let us thank Him, not just with our lips but out of the overflow of grateful hearts.

*Merriam-Webster

Expressing gratitude but denying the Giver

Today’s post is inspired by a recent comment C. M, a fellow blogger, made in response to one of my posts. She noted, “I’m always amazed this time of year to hear people speak of being grateful, but denying the one to whom we should direct our gratitude.”  As I continue to reflect on her words, I wonder if one reason individuals can “speak of being grateful” without acknowledging “the one to whom we should direct our gratitude,” is that they fail to see Him as the Source of all good gifts? Also, in addition to not seeing God as the source of all good gifts, can it be that, in the vein of king Nebuchadnezzar, even if they believe that God exists, they take all or most of the credit for the good in their lives?  Can it be that they do not know the truths revealed in Acts 17:24-28 (CEV):

This God made the world and everything in it. … He gives life, breath, and everything else to all people. From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and He decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for Him and reach out and find Him. He isn’t far from any of us, and He gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are…”

Can it be that they do not know it is

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” and great is His faithfulness? (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)

And how well do those of us who call Him Father and claim that He is Lord know these truths? Is our knowledge only head knowledge? Or do these truths so permeate our being that thanksgiving, gratitude has become our lifestyle instead of something we do occasionally and without intentionality?

I think of a question I came across once, “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Sobering, is it not? I close with an invitation/prayer/plea from Psalm 107:1-2, 8-9, NKJV).

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy… Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

Five Minute Friday: Gift

He is the Ultimate Giver, this Father of ours. Think John 3:16. He so loved the world that He give His only begotten Son. The Son in Whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Romans 8:32 encourages us by the reminder that He did not withhold His own Son but give Him up for us, and if He has already made the ultimate sacrifice, what else will He not freely give us. No gift too big after the Ultimate Gift.

He gives us gifts daily. Psalm 68:19 reminds us that He daily loads us with benefits. Think of a front end loader full of gifts. That only approximates what He gives.

Some gifts are easily recognizable: like the breath in our lungs (which we too often take for granted), or unexpected finances, the love of family and friends. Even the heart shaped leaf I found as I walked this morning.

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Thing is though, all of His gifts are not easily recognized. Coming in the form of tribulation, trials, hard times. But these are also gifts because of what He uses them to accomplish in our lives.

Romans 5 v3-4

Joining Kate Motaung and a group of courageous writers for Five Minute Friday. The prompt is “Blue.” To learn more about Five Minute Friday (and perhaps join us?) click here.

Reasons to Praise: Day 25 – Enjoy

GO

Children have to be taught many things: to share, be mannerly, tie their laces, button their shirts, etc. But one ability they seem to be born with is the ability to enjoy things, experiences, moments. It is likely we have all watched a child eating an ice-cream cone or a favorite food. Their eyes sparkle. They want to enjoy the very last drop. Their feet sometimes move to a rhythm they alone can hear. Enjoyment.

If children are born knowing how to enjoy their life, it means that we all had this ability at one time. What happened? Do we lose this ability as we age? Or does the rush and tumble of life bury our ability to enjoy what He has given? And it is all from Him.

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The “when … then” mindset is an all too familiar one, for example, “When ‘this” happens I will slow down and enjoy things more. But I wonder, when I do not take the time to enjoy what He gives now, is this ingratitude? We are told that He gives us everything to enjoy.

1 timothy 6-17

I believe He wants us to do so now. How about it?

STOP

Father, May I be better at taking time to enjoy what You so richly give, and in so doing, live more from a place of gratitude, intentionally expressing to You the thanks You deserve.

This post is number 25 in the series, “Reasons to Praise.” Joining Kate Motaung for 31 days of Five Minute Free Writes.