Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Musings....

Just have a few moments, but thought I would share with the (soul) purpose of encouraging! Recently, as I was looking through my bookshelf, I came across the Oswald Chambers devotional "My Utmost For His Highest", as I began glancing through the pages, I came upon this...

"We hear it said that a man will suffer in this life if he does not pray; I question it. What will suffer is the Life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished.... (prayer) is the only way he can get into touch with Reality.... as long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.... it is not so true that prayer changes things as that prayer changes me...."

Although the above excerpt is only in part (as I was simply writing down notes of those particular passages that had begun to resonate within my own heart) I think it gives you a good idea of where this particular devotional was focusing. It made me think about my own prayer life and how much I enjoy the intimacy with God that is magnified in prayer - it is an intimacy that nourishes and sustains the life of God within me.
Many times, I have learned the hard way that self-sufficiency is a sworn enemy to this kind of intimacy with God, causing me to pray, 'Oh, that I may truly be like a little child before You always - mature and maturing in my faith YES!, but child-like in my dependence upon You for all things - ALWAYS!

During this particular quiet time, I was also reading in Philippians 3 and 4 and as I began to read, found this....

"....we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh."

Listed here are three very specific attributes of those who belong to God - they worship in the Spirit of God, they glory in Christ Jesus and they put no confidence in the flesh. Although each made an impact upon my heart, it was the last that brought with it the conviction that this is a temptation that will arise time and time again!

As I read further on in these two chapters it was a time of being refreshed in Truth - there is a quick recovery for those of us who have slipped into the path of self-sufficiency - it is to confess and turn from it YES, but then it is to set our minds, not upon earthly things, but upon the things of God, and for heaven's sake, take up the birthright of our position in Christ and begin to rejoice in Him, now and for always!
Now THIS is Living! Do I always get it right? Nope. But let us be about encouraging one another in our common faith - to be dependant upon God, mature and maturing in our faith, setting our minds upon the things of God - so that in each and every earthly situation God is invited in and thus magnified, resulting in the rejoicing of our souls, always!

Just a few musings on this lovely Monday afternoon -

(BTW, if you are wondering what evening the girls are talking about in the Comments below, you can find out all about it HERE!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shutter Bugged!

A few weeks ago my husband and I purchased a new camera. The Kodak that we are currently using seems to have developed a mind of its own lately and will simply 'close down' when its little shutters begin to get weary with the whole 'let's take another picture' thing.

After a l-e-n-g-t-h-y time spent with a young woman who seemed to know absolutely everything that there is to know about HDMI's and DPOF print settings (which by the way may not be made to transfer to non-DCF P.40 files), we made our purchase and happily, if not stunned, walked to our car.
To be honest, I was more stunned than my husband, because as our camera was being parceled into the purchase bag, and as he put his arm around me in a warm embrace, he mentioned to the young woman that this was 'my' camera (as in me). She looked at me with raised eyebrows, obviously impressed and said with much feeling, 'Congratulations!'

Apparently, I have now been designated as the photographer in the family and with it comes the responsibility of .... this!
Sure it looks innocent enough, but I have not gone near this camera in weeks! I am still taking pictures with my old Kodak, taking some sort of comfort in its odd little ways. But it is time that I stop being shutter 'bugged' and actually sit down and read the instructions. I noticed that in the manual, under Basics, it has the heading "Basic Shooting Operation - Holding The Camera"... hey, a girl has to start somewhere! Besides, I promised the Sweeter Than Chocolate girls a weekly video, and by gum, you are gonna get one (High Definition no less!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Register for Sweeter Than Chocolate!

OK girls, are we ready to partake of that which is Sweeter Than Chocolate? If you are just joining us, welcome! Please make sure you have read the August 24th posting before registering. To register - simply e-mail me your first name, the city, state/province, and country where you are presently residing by Thursday, September 1oth, 2009.

Local girls, register by Monday, September 1st and I will be able to order your books with no additional shipping charges.

For our Canadian girls that are not local, you can order your Sweeter Than Chocolate! workbooks through Precept Ministries by calling 877 234 2030 - United States girls phone Precept Ministries at (800) 763 8280. Allow 10 days for delivery.

For a limited time only the Canadian and American cost of the study is the same - please contact me if you have any questions, and if you order too close to the September 14th starting date, I can e-mail out to you a PDF of the first lesson to use until your workbook arrives.

For a variety of reasons, many girls will opt to fly solo for this study, while others will want to meet weekly within the context of a study group. By all means, gather a few girls together for a Sweeter Than Chocolate! weekly Bible Study, and if you are of a mind to, take a picture of your group and send it in! I will be posting a personal video message each Monday with my own insights, as well as a few interactives that you can do within your own group to deepen your study time together. Whatever day you choose to meet, first watch the video and then start your discussion time and enjoy together, that which is Sweeter Than Chocolate!

On Mondays, the Comment Cafe transforms into the Bible Study Cafe! This is where the Sweeter Than Chocolate! girls will gather to ask questions, share insights and enjoy fellowship with one another. Bible Study Cafe is just not to be missed!

Now, here are a few practical tips to help you get started. You will need a Bible (I use a NASB but a NIV, King James Version or New King James Version is fine), a notebook of some kind, coloured pencils, a highlighter and of course your Sweeter Than Chocolate! workbook. I have added a button on the website sidebar which will lead you to any study helps that you may need to use, just scroll down until you see the opened Bible, click on it and you are in to the Study Helps Library!

There are a few rules of etiquette for each guest and participant of the Sweeter Than Chocolate! On-Line Study - please review these important rules and make sure you have a clear understanding before you join us in the Bible Cafe.

Bible Cafe Rule Number One: Respecting the Copyright of the Authors
It is essential to respect the copyright of the individual authors we are studying. You are asked to please exclude specific book references and published materials from your posts. In order to participate you will need to purchase the individual workbook necessary for this On-Line Study, then join us in an active discussion. We can’t publish their work, videos, etc. without written permission from the publishers. Please respect the work of the authors.

Bible Cafe Rule Number Two: Respect Privacy of Others
Many times in Bible Cafe we share information as we ask for prayer or in our general conversation. Please consider and respect the privacy of individuals and please ensure your post does not violate their privacy with too much detailed information! Bible Cafe is designed to be an effective and safe place to meet and fellowship together.

Bible Cafe Rule Number Three: All Posts will be Moderated
If your post does not appear, there may have been a violation of copyright or privacy. You may need to rewrite the post to meet the Bible Cafe rules. If you continue to violate the rules, you will be prohibited from posting comments.

Bible Cafe Rule Number Four: No Self-Promoting
Bible Cafe is not the place to sell products or to network for business opportunities. Bible Cafe is continually being filled with committed women who desire to study the Word of God in a safe and convenient environment and to leisurely indulge in that which is Sweeter Than Chocolate!
So register today, order your workbooks and join us, beginning September 14th for our On-Line Group Bible Study... Sweeter Than Chocolate!

Monday, August 24, 2009

God's Word ... Sweeter Than Chocolate!

I am so pleased to be able to introduce to you Sweeter Than Chocolate! the newly released Bible Study based on Psalm 119! This is a study that I have been looking forward to doing personally and just could not imagine not extending the invitation to all of you to join in as well!
I truly believe that this is the perfect study to introduce the joy of inductive study to many of you that may have never studied the Bible in depth before. Sweeter Than Chocolate! is specifically designed for those that are brand new to any form of Bible study, those who have been attending Bible study for years but are desiring something more in depth, and for those inductive study girls that just plain can't get enough and just need to take it as deep as they desire to go!
Those of you who are brand new to Bible study will simply stay within the main lesson of the workbook, while learning the basics of inductive study as you do. Those that desire a little more can take advantage of the additional steps in the "One Step Further" sidebars shown throughout the lessons. And for you girls that have been enjoying the deep pleasures of inductive study for a few years now, you will benefit immensely from the vast opportunity for spiritual growth with the sidebars containing the "Digging Deeper" assignments.
Another reason I believe that Sweeter Than Chocolate! is the perfect study to introduce at this time is the sheer fact that Psalm 119 is all about God’s Word. It is devoted entirely to the praise of God’s Word and its role in the life of the believer. What better place to begin our first inductive On-Line Bible Study, than here! I believe that Sweeter Than Chocolate! will prepare your heart and mind for every study that you will ever do.
If you have never participated in a Bible Study or are looking for one to join, then I invite you to join us in the On-line Bible Study Sweeter Than Chocolate! beginning here, September 14th.
Please check in tomorrow for more details on how to register and recieve your study workbooks!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Were you able to guess?
If not, then here is your next clue as to what is coming September 14th!
Check back here on Monday, August 24th to find out more!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Coming September 14th!

Mmmm-mmmm! Can you guess what this is? Check back here on August 28th to find out what's in store for September!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Twelve Gathering Place

Can you believe it? This is the last posting for the Summer in the Psalms Gatherings! I need you to know that I have loved every minute of our Summer study, it was just as brand new a format to me as it was to you, and I am so thankful that you persevered and participated right along with your sisters - each one of you are as dear to me as could be possible and I have valued the depth of your insights and your commitment to finish WELL!

This last week of study has been just plain, sheer JOY to my soul! Taking to heart "...let the high praises of God be in their mouth" and knowing with all my heart, mind and soul, that even the ability to praise Him, comes from Him, "...for from Him and through Him and to Him are ALL things"!

In synagogues today, Psalms 145-150 are known as the 'Great Hallel', and these particular psalms are sung at all morning services... What a great way to begin our days! This week I enjoyed beginning and ending my day with these psalms, and throughout the day, as God called many of the verses back to mind, placing me once again in an attitude of worship.

I also began to sing so many of the old hymns of praise, which in turn led me to sing new songs of praise that came directly from my soul to my God. This has actually been occurring with me throughout our Summer in the Psalms, much to my delight! These songs of praise are encouragements to our souls; many times, throughout the psalms of David, we see him actually addressing his soul - 103:1 is a good example of this, where we hear David actually commanding his soul (and all that is within him) to BLESS the LORD and HIS HOLY NAME. David then goes on to recount to his own soul the benefits and righteous deeds of the LORD, so that his soul will in turn begin to once again praise God.

And that is what this week has been ALL about - recounting the benefits, the attributes, the deeds, the righteousness, the faithfulness of God.

Which leads me to ask, what is the most frequent song that you are singing right now to your own soul to encourage perseverance and faithfulness and to stir up hope within your heart? Think about what most frequently fills up your mind and mouth throughout your day, what song of praise can you begin to sing to encourage your soul on to victory? One old hymn of praise is "Oh for a thousand tongues"... now, I'm letting you know right now that that particular hymn would not be in my top ten, only because I know myself well enough to know that if I HAD a thousand tongues, I could just get myself into a whole lot of trouble! I have enough with just taming the one I have! However, there are many others, modern and old that I sing frequently throughout my day that simply recounts to my soul WHO my God is through the praising of Him... POWERFUL!

My memory verse for this week is from Psalm 147:1... "Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant and praise is becoming." I have always chosen to memorize verses that speak to where I am at a particular time and season of my life, so that the Word will minister mightily to that place in my soul that needs what the Lord would have for me at that time. I strongly hold that Scripture selection for memorizing should, for the most part, be a personal and intimate ministry to your soul of the Word of God in due season, not simply an intellectual pursuit.

I took my own personal study of these psalms this week quite deep, looking at the many occurrances of praise throughout the Bible, such as Moses and Miriam, Hannah and Deborah. I looked at the collective chorus of praise that was sung as Solomon brought the ark of the covenant into the temple, and I studied what the Word of God tells us about the praise that is due God and also at some of the ways that praise to God is described throughout Scripture, such as "the fruit of the lips" Heb 13:15, "the voice of praise" Ps 66:8, "the voice of triumph" Ps 47:1, "the garment of praise" Isa 61:3, "the sacrifice of praise" Heb 13:15, and "the sacrifices of joy" Ps 27:6 - however, it is the simplicity of praising our God that I would leave with you today.

As God Himself inhabits the praises of His people, in Spirit and in Truth girls, ... Let's Praise Him!

With love,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Twelve Reading

Hi girls, I have to tell you that I did not expect tears to begin to well up in my eyes as I made this final posting of our Summer in the Psalms Reading - but there they are nevertheless, a testament to what these past few months of intimacy with the Lord and fellowship with His people has wrought in my own heart and soul.

Whatever my own desires were for this Summer was long ago laid at the feet of our Lord, that His good and perfect will might be accomplished in each one of us. We are not the same women today, completing this series, as we were entering in. We have been changed, transformed, by the renewing of our minds, through His Word; and I believe with all my heart, that in everything that has been gleaned, God purposes to manifest into action in our daily lives, as He Himself now leads us... further still.

I have enjoyed our fellowship over these past few months, and like I said before, I have giggled, cried and just plain had a BLAST with all of you! Debbie recieved a new laptop in order to be with us during her summer travelling, MANY of you overcame tremendous computer challenges (Angie leading the way on that particular hurdle, well done!), there were lost comments that had to be patiently re-written, ANONYMOUS Cafe sisters that added an element of mystery soon to be solved (that would be Margaret!), and my favorite was the sister who commented in the Comment Cafe... "is this the Cafe? I can't seem to find it!"

And through it all, the depth of your heart for God has shown in your sheer excitement and amazement of what you have been learning each and every week, as you faithfully Gathered with your sisters to share all that was upon your heart. Many of you have voiced the realization that this Summer in the Psalms has s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d you, in ways that you could have never really imagined; others of you have been amazed and humbled, as these Psalms brought a much needed healing and ministering balm to your souls.
So, what better way could there possibly be than to end our Summer in the Psalms together, by raising our voices in PRAISE TO OUR GOD!

Girls, your final reading for this Summer is...
Psalms 145-150! Enjoy!

May God bless you,
and keep you
and make His face to shine upon you,
now, precious ones, and forevermore!

It has been my joy to serve you,
Your sister in Christ,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

August Giveaway!

Click on pictures to enlarge
Honestly, if you were paying me for this, you would probably fire me - TWO days late! But here it is girls, your August Giveaway!

I started out this Summer thinking that each Giveaway would be completely different, and in a way they all have been, in that no two Journals have been alike; although I really liked the theme of the last one I made (Life!), so I thought that I would continue that thought with this one as well - although picking up on Psalm 139 and how uniquely created by God, each one of us are.

So remember, each and every time you leave a comment in the Comment Cafe between August 1st and August 31st, your name will be entered into the drawing for this handmade Journal!

With love,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Eleven Gathering Place

Welcome to your Gathering Place girls - I can hardly believe that we only have one more week left before our Summer in the Psalms winds up... but more about that later!

As far as today's teaching goes - I am of the opinion that if you would just go in and listen to your sister's conversations in the Comment Cafe, you'll get all the teaching you need! This post will be short because you all have drank deep this week, and at this point, I am at risk of becoming redundant!

Throughout this Psalm 139 we are faced with the reality of God's Omniscience (all knowing), His Omnipresence and His Omnipotence (all powerful). This knowledge can be a great comfort or it can become a stumbling block to those that would prefer their deeds and thoughts to remain hidden. In v.1 David stated that God had already searched him and known him and yet in v.23 David asks God to search him and know his heart... do you know why he would have asked this?

One thing that I wanted to touch on is v. 19-22. Many times, this Psalm is quoted and these verses are left out because they seem harsh in the midst of the beauty of the surrounding verses. I am hoping that we can talk about this more in the Comment Cafe, but think about this... once you were an enemy of God, but now, in Christ you are His child. Have you ever thought, in the context of salvation, that if your enemies were to be 'slain' by God, that it could lead to 'newness' of life in Christ? I'm just sayin'!

Also, v.14 - sweetheart, your mind may not yet grasped how beautifully and wonderfully you have been made, you may be critical and hard on yourself... but listen, your "soul knows it very well"... take a few moments and know the reality of what God has whispered to your soul and written in His Word for you to know....

You are fearfully and wonderfully made
Gotta run, but I'll see you later in the Comment Cafe!
Friday afternoon POSTING ADDITION:
I would normally post this in the Comment Cafe, but thought that since I asked a question here in the post, and now that your responses are coming in, that perhaps I should answer it here for those that may not enter into the Cafe.
Angie, you took my question seriously and allowed God to guide you in your understanding of it and in your sharing of it with your sisters - well done!
The word 'try' in v. 23 is BACHAN in the original Hebrew. It is a primitive root, meaning that it cannot be confused with any other rendering. It means 'to test' (especially metals, think about the refiners fire in Scripture), to examine, prove, try (trial).
Angie, you were right to remember the tempting and testing of Jesus in the desert in relation to these verses.
In Matthew 4:1 we see that Jesus was LED BY THE SPIRIT INTO the desert to be tempted by the devil. In Luke 4:1 we see that Jesus was LED BY THE SPIRIT IN the wilderness. So we learn from this that Jesus was 'led into' AND 'led in' the desert by the Spirit - all for a specific purpose... to be tempted by the devil, but to be tested by God.
Although God tells us that David was a man after God's own heart, he was a man that was prone to temptation. We see this in David's adulterous sexual encounter with Bathsheba; in his successful plot to murder Bathsheba's husband; in the numbering of his mighty men. So, although David had the realization of God knowing him inside and out (v.1-6), in v. 23, we see the prayer of a man who trusted God alone to reveal the truth about what was truly in his heart.
We need to always remember, that it is God Who TESTS, however, it is Satan who TEMPTS (James 1:13-15). Why does God test?
Remember, that in Luke 4, it was AFTER Jesus had fasted 40 days and nights, when He was physically hungry, that the "tempter", Satan, came to Him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become BREAD."
Whenever we have a REAL physical need or a PERCEIVED physical need, we are in a 'position' that the enemy sees as an opening to attack. Remember also, that in James 1 we saw that we are 'tempted when we are carried away and enticed by our own lust...". To some degree, David knew this about himself; he knew, for instance, that when it came to Bathsheba, his own physical sexual urge, his own lust had carried him away from the moment that the enemy picked up on his lust and whispered the temptation to him (you want her, you can have her, you are the king).
However, with Jesus, His physical hunger being picked up on by the enemy, and the suggestion, the temptation being offered, instead, yielded to the Word of God - "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
Why would God allow this temptation, of not only His people, but of Jesus Himself? We find our answer in Deuteronomy 8:2-10. Because the temptations that Satan plots to destroy us, God uses for four very specific purposes, - to humble us, to test us, to know what is in our hearts, and to prove whether or not we will keep His commandments.
In Psalm 139, David knew that God knew him, inside and out, but now he wanted even more... David desired God to put him to the test and to reveal what anxious thoughts would then arise because of that testing! It is one thing to say that we are trusting God when we are living in abundance, but when difficult times come, in whom, or in what, do we find we are really trusting? David desired to be led in the 'everlasting way', not to be led by his own lustful desires, baited by the enemy of his soul.
As you think upon these things, let me leave you with Hebrews 4:13-16...

"...there is no creature hidden from His sight,
but all things are open and laid bare
to the eyes of Him
with Whom we have to do.
Therefore, since we have a great High Priest
Who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but One Who has been tempted
in all things
as we are,
yet without sin.
Therefore, let us draw near
with confidence
to the Throne of Grace,
so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help
in our time of need.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Eleven Reading

Good morning girls! I awoke this morning to the sound of raindrops... lovely - and as I had my quiet time (with the patter of raindrops as background music), how delighted I was at the Psalm the Lord has given to us for this week - Psalm 139.

This particular Psalm has ministered to me time and time again over the years and has become 'well-worn' in my Bible. I am looking forward to this week, knowing that each and every time I read it, it comes as a fresh Word right from the mouth of God.

I would continue to encourage you to READ ALOUD and to allow the Lord to guide you as to the verse or verses that you are to select as your memory verses for this week.

Also, you will remember from the Inductive Class that I taught last September, the following:

The Bible is God-Breathed
God's Word is Spiritually Discerned
When God Speaks, Talk Back
God's Word Brings Healing

Just remember that whenever you open your Bible, it is not just any book - these Words are God-breathed and they are spiritually discerned. So even before you begin, pray and ask God to "open your eyes that you may behold, wonderous things from His Word". Ask Him, by His Holy Spirit, to give you insight and understanding.

Remember too, that when God talks - talk back! Respond back to Him! The moment you open your Bible and begin to read, God is speaking to you, respond back to Him by talking with Him about what He is saying to you. Laugh, ask questions, come into agreement, cry, ponder, shake your head in wonder, clap your hands in joy - whatever, just remember to respond!

And always remember that God's Word brings healing sweetheart, "He sent forth His Word and healed them." Let the healing balm of His Word enter into the deepest place of your soul this week... and heal you.

I love you,

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you…
Happy Birthday to you…
Happy Birthday dear, Margaret!
Happy Birthday to you!

With love from,
all your sisters

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Ten Gathering Place

Welcome, once again, to your Gathering Place girls! I could tell from some of your responses, that perhaps more than any other week, this week has genuinely required of you - in the sense that the scope of your reading was not only lengthy, but also deep and far reaching in it's content as well. However, because the sole intent of this particular exercise was to simply set our heart's upon pilgrimage, allowing these psalms to draw us ever closer to our God, discipline was also required of you, as you were not to take it any farther than to just drink of God's Word and to not try and over 'think' it.

Although there have been many books and studies written, regarding these particular psalms, and commentaries will give you even more information regarding them, I am encouraged to know that you have allowed God alone to guide you through His Word and minister to you as you yourself were placed by Him upon the pilgrim's path.

The title, 'Songs of Ascents', is a Hebrew title given to Psalms 120-134, it looks like this in Hebrew שיר המעלות, and it's transliteration is 'Shir Hama'aloth‎'. Over the centuries these 15 psalms have come to be known as 'The Gradual Psalms', 'The Songs of Degrees', 'The Songs of Steps' or 'The Pilgrim Songs'. I came across this picture on the right, which shows the Songs of Ascents written in Hebrew right into the walls at the entrance to the City of David in Jerusalem.

You probably noted in your reading that although we do not know for sure who wrote all of these psalms, four of them are clearly psalms written by David (122, 124, 131 and 133), and one (127) was written by David's son Solomon. If you look closely at 127, and if you have every studied the books of Samuel and Chronicles, you will undoubtedly see the significance of Solomon's words, "Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it;".

During the reign of his father David, it was in the heart of David to build a house for the Lord, but because David was a man of war the Lord chose his son Solomon to build the house (1 Kings 5:1-5, 2 Chronicles 6:7-10). Similarly, knowing the life of David will intensify his words in Psalm 133, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" David had known the love of Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4), yet David's life was characterized by anything but unity. The first king of Israel, Saul, sought David to take his life; David's own sons were against each other, leading to the murder of one of them by the hand of his brother; one son schemed to kill David himself; one son raped his sister, David's house seemed to be a house divided and anything but unity seemed to reign. So his words in this psalm are deeply meaningful. David understood that the unity of God's people was pleasing to God, it sets them apart from the other nations, consecrating them as the oil that ran down the beard of Aaron the priest - this reminded me of our study in the book of John, where we learned, through the High Priestly prayer of Jesus, that His desire for us is that "(we) be one, just as We (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) are one;"

These psalms are significant in that they are songs of worship, sung by pilgrims as they made their ascent (way up) to Jerusalem to attend the three annual festivals - the Festival of Passover, the Festival of Pentecost and the Festival of Tabernacles. In her time, Hannah, the mother of Samuel, would have been counted among the number of these pilgrims (1 Samuel 1) who sang these Songs of Ascents as she made her way up to Jerusalem. In Luke 2:41-42 we see Jesus Himself, a pilgrim of 12 years of age, going up to Jerusalem for the Festival of Passover; He would also have been singing the Songs of Ascent, the Hallel, just as you yourself did this week.

Think upon Jesus, singing, along with his parents and the others on the pilgrimage path Psalm 121... "I will lift My eyes up to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip..." I cried as I read this, knowing that as Jesus sung this pilgrimage psalm, on His first journey to Jerusalem for the feast - that ahead of Him yet lay His wilderness temptations (Matthew 4:1-11), the persecution from His own (John 1:11) - yet lay ahead of Him Gethsemane, where His soul would be "deeply grieved to the point of death" (Matthew 26:38) - and yet lay ahead of Him the agony of the cross, the separation from the Father (Matthew 27:46).

He Himself was the "Maker of heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2; John 1:1-3), yet He positioned Himself in submission to the Father and lifted His eyes to Him and Him alone - that I might today, on this side of the cross, claim these words as He Himself did, knowing that all has been accomplished through the pilgrimage of Jesus that ultimately took Him to the cross, for the forgiveness of my sins. These Songs of Ascent speak to me this... "STEP UP! STEP UP!" I do not know what yet lays ahead of me on this pilgrims path, but as I look up, keeping my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, He beckons me on.... "STEP UP! STEP UP!

The Songs of Ascents are also significant because they were also sung by the priests as they ascended the fifteen steps in the temple in Jerusalem, to minister to the people. And once again I hear, "STEP UP! STEP UP!"

Psalm 126 was also meaningful to me, as I saw that it was written upon the return of God's chosen people, from the Babylonian exile, back to Jerusalem. It describes their emotions upon their entering in... it was like a dream, mouths were filled with laughter, their tongues becoming the instruments of joyful shouting, "the LORD has done great things, we are glad". This took me back to the time of my own initial salvation, when God Himself delivered me out of the captivity of death and darkness and into Life and marvelous Light... and I sang this particular Song of Ascent as praise to my God.

Psalm 122 reminds me of the importance of praying for the peace of Jerusalem. Not human, wordly, governmental peace, but God's peace, for "Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain." (Psalm 127:1) An ordinance has been given to Jerusalem, that thanks is to be given "to the Name of the LORD." We can pray for God's peace (shalom, meaning 'whole, complete, nothing broken, nothing missing') to be upon and within Jerusalem.

This week has been deeply meaningful to me, God has ministered to my thirsting soul and given me refreshment through His Word. And although each held meaning for me, it was Psalm 130 that was continually upon my heart, my memory verse being v.5-6...

"I wait for the LORD,
my soul does wait,
and in His Word do I hope.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than the watchmen for the morning;
indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning."

Now girls,
may the God of hope
fill you with all joy
and peace
in believing,
so that you will abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit...
Romans 15:13

I missed seeing you in the Comment Cafe last week at our Gathering Place, so I am really looking forward to seeing you there this time!
Until then,
love you like crazy!
Your sister-mama,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In Absolute Stitches...

Before we left on vacation I was in absolute stitches, trying to get some draperies completed! I had been searching for material over the past few months and had not seen any that I really liked - then one day I happened to glance at a 50% off table on my way out of a fabric store and there it was! I knew right away that it was what I was looking for, I immediately took out all my little paint chips to make sure my eyes were not playing tricks on me, and yep, everything seemed to just blend together beautifully.

So, home I went and out came the scissors and tape, the needle and thread!

One of my favorite parts about sewing draperies is the hand-stitching of the hems, no sound of a machine, just the quiet, simple, easy motion of needle and thread...

Early one evening, as I was hand-sewing, my husband had just finished cutting the lawns and the fresh fragrance of new cut grass came wafting in through the window. As the sky began to darken, it looked as if we might be in for a little bit of summer rain. So, in came the pillows from the garden chairs and the barbeque covered and put away, and not more than an hour later there was the most spectacular display of thunder and lightening that I have seen in quite a while. It was glorious!

And all the while, there I sat, quietly stitching to the sounds of the cracking of lightening, the roll of the thunder and the patter of heavy rain on the roof.

It's a lovely way to spend a few days... in absolute stitches.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Ten Reading

OK, this is the last posting of the day! Promise!

I was giggling just thinking about telling you what your reading would be for this week, thinking that some of you were holding your breath, believing that because our last psalm was 118 that I would never, ever, ever, suggest that this week's reading would be 119 - just from the sheer fact that they are back to back and it being so-o-o long and all! Well, you know what? You're right! Your reading will not be Psalm 119... (sigh) but I have to say, it is one wonderful psalm, and one that is well worn in my Bible.

Girls, your reading this week is Psalm 120-134, the "Psalms of Ascents". Should I be wondering at this point whether your enthusiasm for me being back is as enthusiastic as it was earlier?

I will continue to encourage you to keep on reading Out Loud and to select from your reading a verse, or verses, to commit to memory.

Other than that, I will say no more, except... ENJOY!

Summer in the Psalms - Week Nine Gathering Place

Thank you so much for your lovely words, welcoming me back to our Gathering Place and just plain, back! I really had a great time with my family, I'll tell you all about it later... with pictures!
Angie said in one of her comments that I would be overjoyed at the activity that has been taking place in the Comment Cafe and, oh my goodness, Angie, were you ever right! I was on the deck with my computer early this morning, laughing and clapping my hands in sheer delight as I saw your time together in the Cafe. I giggled when Angie said that she was enjoying chasing Debbie around in it, I totally 'think' in pictures, so this was a visual that just tickled me no end! Edna, Marnie, Debbie, Takako, Jan, Margaret and Angie you are my 'go to' girls this week, and I treasure you like crazy!

After reading through your (very lively, I might add) discussion, it became apparent that I needed to, once again, just bring everything that I had personally gleaned over this past week, lay it before the Lord and only add to your comments very little, so as not to go over what I believe you all 'caught and got' already!

Right out of the gate, I just have to say that when I read Takako's comment, my arm just flung itself into the air and punched out the exclamation marks to my repeatedly stated word of YES! YES! YES! Takako sweetheart, you nailed it, pure and simple... any form of true spiritual deliverance, out of the enemies schemes against the child of God, will only come IN THE NAME OF THE LORD... ever. Read through v. 10-14 and notice that through the psalmist, God tells us that the enemy nations that surrounded the psalmist, surrounded him like bees. Girls, have you ever been surrounded by bees? Is there any possible way of escape? Which one do you hit? How many can you hit? They are too numerous to count. If you hit 50, will that nullify the other 1,000 that are attacking you? Can you see them all at one time, simultaneously? They are too numerous to count, and so like many, you end up just yelling, swinging your arms and legs frantically, randomly, hoping to hit, shake or scare any or all of them away. What do you think your odds are of achieving victory - not only over being stung, but of sending them all 'to flight' or even causing them to all drop dead?

I found these verses to be quite profound, in the sense that the word 'surrounded' is in the past tense, meaning the occurrence of this 'surrounding' has already happened in the past, and yet it is in the present tense that the psalmist takes us back to that very moment of faith in his God, that moment in the midst of his being surrounded by an enemy whose numbers were too numerous to count, that moment in time where he lifted up his voice in faith and shouted, "IN THE NAME OF THE LORD I WILL SURELY CUT THEM OFF!" And those bees, that enemy whose numbers were too numerous to count "were extinguished as a fire of thorns". During biblical times, thorns were used as kindling, if thorns were burned on their own, they would eventually be extinquished as the source of fuel itself had completely burned up without anything else for it to ignite. It was a crown of thorns that was placed around the head of our Saviour Jesus, but those thorns, placed mockingly upon His head, when kindled by God Himself, as He hung on that cross, ignited the power of the cross and became the burning fire of the crown of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; and led to a fire in the bosom of his children that is unquenchable.

In Psalm 118, we see the enemy that was extinguished as a fire of kindling thorns and written of by the psalmist, become a roaring fire of faith in the heart of this same psalmist.

God never wastes a Word. And in this psalm He wants us to KNOW, that it is the enemy that pushes the child of God violently so that they fall (v.13); but that it is God Who helps that child, when they call upon THE NAME OF THE LORD. The Lord is our strength, He is our song, He has become our salvation (v.14) This is a truth, and also a warning.

Margaret, you were absolutely right in pointing out v. 29 as being a covenant term in relation to God's kindness being everlasting; and also when you shared that this Psalm was also part of the Hallel that would have been sung during the Passover. Girls, since we have just come out of our year long study in John, think about this. Psalm 118 is the last of the Hallel Psalms - Hallel simply means praise, and consisted of Psalm 113-118 that was sung, in all probability, by Jesus and His disciples in the Upper Room before they began the journey to the Mount of Olives on the night of His arrest.

Now, think about Jesus singing this, last of the Hallel's - "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His kindness is everlasting." As He stood singing the Hallel with His disciples, He was the New Covenant; He was the Stone the builders had rejected who would soon, through the cross, become the Chief Corner Stone; He Himself was and is the Gate of Righteousness that we ourselves have now entered through; and get this .... "this is the LORD'S doing", He knew what lay ahead of Him and it was His doing, and isn't it truly just "marvelous in our eyes"!

When v. 24 tells us that "this is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it", the day that is being spoken of here is the church age, the age that we now live in, inaugurated through the cross, as the Stone the builders rejected became the Chief Corner Stone, and which points, ultimately to the "day of the Lord" yet to come (1 Thess. 5:2). The LORD Himself made this day (v.24), it is His doing (v.23), that all who now enter in through the rent veil of the flesh of the Son of Man may now have fellowship with God and access to the very throne of the Father Himself.

Remember, it is vital that we understand that the an enemy attack is 'cut off' IN THE NAME OF THE LORD and not by our own fleshly strength or worldly wisdom. Look at v. 26... those who come IN THE NAME OF THE LORD are... blessed! Debbie asked a great question, I just loved it, because it just so ties in the Old and New Testaments so beautifully, and Angie, you did a great job answering it! In the O.T. those that COME IN THE NAME OF THE LORD were not only blessed by God Himself through the priests, but today, those that COME IN THE NAME OF THE LORD are blessed by God Himself, through Christ in their brothers and sisters in Christ. Believers are a royal priesthood in the house of the Lord, Jesus Himself being our Great High Priest (Hebrews 6:20), and when others come IN HIS NAME we bless them from this house!

Where is this 'house of the Lord', this temple of God today? Today, the Lord takes up His residency within believers.... we are the house of the Lord, the temple of the Lord! (1 Cor. 3:16 1 Cor. 6:19).

In Psalm 118:15 God promises us, through the psalmist that "the sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous" - "the tents of the righteous" today, on this side of the cross, are our earthly bodies, where Christ Himself dwells. This has always been one of my favorite verses, and of course, last week we learned all about "joyful shouting', so the impact of this should be huge for us this week.

There is so much more that I would like to say regarding what this Psalm has to say about 'distress', or what this Psalm means regarding "therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me", but we can continue that discussion in the Comment Cafe!

By the way, Angie and Jan, what a blessing it was to hear your conversation regarding the Family of God. I was blessed by your words to one another and it really resonated within me because of my own thoughts and musings before the Lord just this past Saturday morning. The last line I wrote in my Journal before heading into the day was this - "...this morning I give thanks, His covenant kindness is everlasting, and I join my voice with all believers as I read through Psalm 118, knowing that my precious sisters in Christ, are doing the same.

I love you and cherish each and every one of you, and frankly, missed you like crazy!

I'll give you the 'heads-up' on our next Psalm in the next post!

And the Winner is...

Congratulations Debbie! I was dancing around the room when I opened up the entry paper - and there was your name! I am really happy for you and am hoping with all my heart that this Journal will become, not only a sweet and joyful reminder to you of your Summer in the Psalms, but also a place where you will be able to pour out to the Lord, all that is within your heart, and record all that He is showing you, through His Word and by His Holy Spirit as He restores and brings refreshment to your soul.

The theme of this Journal is Life, and sweetheart, it just could not be more suited to who you are. Truly you are full of the Life of Christ which overflows into the lives of others. Your sisters and your 'sister-mama' have been blessed so abundantly through your questions, your honesty, your encouragement and your love and zeal for Life.

Have a wonderful time away and I'll see you when you get back! And please thank that wonderful husband of yours for me, for purchasing that laptop for you - for the express purpose of being able to visit the blog while you are away... as a matter of fact, we ALL thank him!


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