Praise ye the Lord

This morning as I opened Granny’s Bible, I found myself on page 642 looking at the words of Psalms 117 bracketed and starred at the bottom of the page. It reads, “O Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.” At first I just read it and started to move on, but something stopped me. I read it again and realized why I had stumbled upon that Psalm.

My prayers lately have been about me, myself, and I. I find myself spilling out my problems and concerns and forgetting an important aspect of prayer- praise. I was reminded by Psalms 117 that it was God who found me and by His mercy and grace I am able to lift up my voice to Him in prayer. What reason do I have not to praise Him? He loved me enough to send His one and only Son to die the death I deserved. He created me. He made the earth and all its beauty for me to enjoy. He comforts me and accepts me regardless of my flaws and failures. He has promised me an eternal home. And the list goes on. I have ample blessings; sometimes, I just don’t take the time to think about them and offer God the praise He is more than due.

I wonder if David realized the same thing as he wrote this Psalm. Maybe he had been wrapped up in himself too and was made aware of his need to praise God. Maybe he had just had a victory in battle or a personal victory and was rightly attributing success to the Lord (something I sometimes fail to do). In the midst of the Psalm he says, “and the truth of the Lord endureth forever”. I believe he says this because he was reminded of God’s character. We all need to be reminded of God’s character and that often is revealed to us as we offer praise and thanks to the Lord.

This morning, take time to praise God. Take a look outside and thank him for the beauty of this earth. Put your worries and concerns on the back burner and praise Him for being in control of your life instead. Let your mind and heart be filled with His promises and His truths that endure forever. Think back on times the Lord has intervened on your behalf (for instance, paying the price for your sins) and give Him the glory. Turn your focus from your problems and towards God as you lift up His Name. It will do wonders for your soul. Praise ye the Lord.

What do you praise God for today?
What do you praise God for today?

But The Greatest Is Love

I have spent the last fifteen minutes typing and backspacing. I just don’t know how to begin to express my thoughts today. Recent scripture reading and sermons have prompted me to think about our culture, and it has left me feeling burdened. I’m burdened mostly by the sad fact that so many people in this world do not know the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. A love so strong that it broke the barrier of sin, allowing all who are willing to be in relationship with Our Lord. A love that provided for all mankind an escape from death. I’m burdened that instead of showing this very same love to others, we so often show hatred instead. I’m burdened that culture has shaped our ways of thinking so much so that they are becoming less Godly and more worldly without us even knowing.

My burdens originated from the topic of homosexuality, a hot topic now-a-days. Homosexuality is clearly in opposition to God’s Word, yet culture does a good job at making it okay. It is so easy to get sucked into culture, but we, as God’s people, were not created to follow cultural views. We were made in the image of Holy God; therefore, we too are meant to be holy, or set apart. Set apart from the world and its mainstream beliefs that are so often in opposition to God. Now, this does not mean that we are better than anyone else. We must remember that all people have something in common- we all sin. It means that we no longer belong to this world and have established our eternal homes in Heaven. Therefore, we don’t live by the world’s standards, but we aim to please God and live out His teachings.

We love grades, scales, and ranking systems in this society, so naturally we want to rank sin as well. We rank sins like murder and rape as much worse than lying or gossiping. Contrarily, God sees all sin the same. He has no ranking system. Sin is sin and all sin separates us from Our Eternal Father until we confess, seek His forgiveness, and repent. On that note, we must remember that God’s Word, not culture, is our outline for what is considered sin. So, going back to the topic of homosexuality, is it sin? Yes. Is a homosexual a worse sinner than an adulterer or a blasphemer? No. All sin is seen the same in God’s eyes and all sin is cleansed only by the blood of Jesus.

Culture tries to confuse us by legalizing gay marriage and promoting same-sex couples on TV and tabloids; however, like I said earlier, culture does not determine what is right in God’s eyes and the Bible teaches that God did not intend for same-sex couples. But homosexuality is not the only thing that culture tries to convince us is acceptable. Culture also tells us that divorce, pre-marital sex, abortion, and so much more are all okay. That is why it is so important that we hold tight to the Word of God and stay grounded in His truth.

Now comes the question, “What do we do?”. I’ve asked myself this question several times, and I’ve found that the answer is a very simple four letter word that is the basis of Christianity- love. Love is wanting the absolute best for another. If you are a Christian you know that God’s best is the absolute best. Therefore, you want more than anything for those you love to accept Christ as their Savior and have God’s best for their lives. Everyone who is in relationship with God got there only by the precious gift of His love and grace. God doesn’t draw people close to Him by pointing a finger at them and condemning them. He draws people close to Him by offering them love and forgiveness, by offering them a new life. We, likewise, should draw others to Christ by showing His love. Loving someone does not mean you have to approve of what they do or how they live, we should never condone sin. Rather, love is encouraging others to repent from their sins and showing them a new, better way of life, an eternal life in Christ. As Christians, we should not point our fingers at the sin we find in others and shake our heads because we have been there too. We should welcome sinners of all kinds and invite them to come to Jesus, and we should pray for their salvation. Most importantly, we should love them, even if they don’t agree with our views and even if they don’t love us back. Don’t close off that door. Show them that door. After all, some do not even know it exists.

Day One: Sticks and Stones

What better place to start this journey than a Proverb? So Proverbs 15:1-4 it will be- “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”

How often do our mouths get us in trouble? We often say things and immediately, sometimes even as the words are coming out of our mouths, we regret voicing those words. I know I do. The first verse in this passage tells us to respond to people gently, even if they approach us harshly. That’s tough. I mean it’s natural to want to fire back with anger when someone makes a comment you don’t like. However, the Bible instructs us to do the opposite of human instinct because human instinct is led by the sin nature in us all. So instead of responding with anger, we are to respond with kindness and gentleness. That way we can avoid unnecessary arguments that would result from responding in anger.

The second verse contrasts the wise with the foolish and how they use their tongues. Notice the verb usage in this verse, “the wise useth” but “fools poureth”. Wise people think before they speak. They knowledgable assess the situation and effective use their words if needed– sometimes opting not to say anything is the wisest response. Contrarily, fools respond in an instant before taking the time to think about the consequences their words could have. It goes back to the first verse. Fools respond to anger with anger, but wise people respond to anger with soft, gentle words. If someone responds harshly to those soft words, well that’s on them and they will be the ones left feeling guilty for their actions.

Now for the third and fourth verses in this passage. Notice first those words written in italics, “are” and “is”. I didn’t add that emphasis, I typed it exactly as it is in Granny’s Bible. Those are present tense verbs and I believe they were written in italics to emphasize that important fact. It’s not “the eyes of the Lord were” but it is “the eyes of the Lord are in every place”, meaning yesterday, today, and tomorrow the Lord sees all. Likewise, “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life” and this holds true yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If words of kindness, truth, and love proceed from your mouth then you will be like a tree of life, growing and bearing much fruit. On the contrary, separation from the Lord results from negative and obstructive words.

That old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a false claim. Words can hurt, and that hurt can last and last. We can’t take them back once we say them. We can apologize and seek forgiveness, but the damage is already done. So let’s keep these verses close to our hearts and start to use our words wisely. Pray for wisdom and the ability to control your words. Use words to build up and not to tear down. And lastly, think before you speak.

I’m New at This

As you all can probably tell by my bland layout and the title of this post, I’m new to this whole blogging thing. i was hesitant to start one because I don’t consider myself a writer, but I thought since it’s free why not give it a go. The thought to even start up a blog all emerged from a torn up, dirty black book in my drawer. It belonged to my great-grandmother, who my dad knew as “Granny”, and it was a precious book to her. I never knew Granny, I was just shy of turning one when she died. However, I’ve always had this strange connection to her; I feel that she and I would see eye-to-eye on a lot of things if she were still around. My family members must think so too because anything special they find of hers winds up in my hands. Thats how I got this raggedy old black book I keep mentioning.

You are probably all wondering what this black book is all about. It’s got some important names and numbers in it, but it’s not a list of secret contacts. It’s got some handwritten words in it, but it’s not a journal. It’s got some pictures in it, but none that you can see on the pages. So what is it? Any guesses? It’s the Holy Bible.

So now my mission, and reason for creating this blog, is to go through this black book of Granny’s and meditate on those passages she had underlined, starred, and marked and share my thoughts. Whether this blog is more for my readers or for me I’m not sure yet, but I’m excited to get started and see what is revealed to me as I dive into that beat up black book.

Thanks for reading! More posts to come later!