God speaks

Sometimes God speak so directly we can almost hear his whisper in our ear.

For several weeks, this blog has been primarily in silent mode while I work hard to complete a devotional manuscript. [I’ll post more specifics about that when appropriate.] With my intense writing schedule, the most I’ve managed is posting the occasional Christian Renewal article. And I’m pretty far behind on that!

This morning I’m working on the devotional for Day 29 from Hebrews 13:5-6. Taking a brief hydration break, I heated water for tea and pulled from the cabinet a package my husband bought for me some time ago: Scripture tea, which is Chai green tea. I held the package in my hand in amazement. The photo on the front of the package depicted a cup with a tea bag string draped over its edge, whose tab proclaimed, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5”!

As if that wasn’t enough, I took out an individually-wrapped tea bag with this verse on the wrapper, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Proverbs 3:5,” which is my Day 15 focus!

I felt compelled to share these clear evidences of God’s presence with me in this project and began typing this blog entry. Only now do I see that the actual tab dangling beside my mug says, “Yes, every man is a fool who gets rich on earth but not in heaven. Luke 12:21 TLB.” You guessed it–Luke 12 was the subject of Day 19’s devotional!

What am I that God is mindful of me? That he cares for me? (Psalm 8:4)

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Praise God! (Psalm 150)

The last psalm in the psalter rings with praise. It particularly emphasizes instrumental praise, and since it begins with a direct reference to God’s sanctuary, it seems a powerful argument for using all kinds of instruments in worship.

It begins with a call to praise God in worship and in the vast expanses of his creation (Psalm 150:1, ESV):

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
   praise him in his mighty heavens!

The psalm continues with reasons why God deserves praise (2, ESV):

Praise him for his mighty deeds;
   praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Because God has done great and excellent things, he deserves great and excellent praise. Talented musicians are called to praise God with a variety of instruments, not in noisy cacophony but in beautiful and vibrant harmony (verses 3-5, ESV):

Praise him with trumpet sound;
   praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
   praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
   praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Every creature that breathes should praise the Lord (6, ESV):

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

We are called to praise God in his sanctuary. We are called to praise God under his blue sky and starry heavens. God deserves great and excellent praise because he has done great and excellent things. Musicians and artists ought to praise God with all kinds of instruments or media. Every creature that lives and breathes on the face of the earth is called to use their talents and abilities to praise God.

At this time of year, when the leaves turn brilliant colors and farmer harvest plentiful crops, our hearts should overflow with praise to God for his abundant gifts.

Psalm 150 may have been singing in my mind some years ago when I wrote this poem:

Autumnal Psalm

Praise God

For gleaming star that crowns the gilded dawn
For frost that clings to shingled roof and lawn

For breath that fogs in air that’s crisp and clear
For flashing flags of startled antlered deer

For sunlight’s glint on frost-wrapped blades of grass
And even for the windshield’s frosted glass

Praise God

For warming sun in sky of sapphire blue
that glows through leaves in every varied hue

From flaming maple, russet oak, to gold
of elm’s frail pale and hickory’s brilliant bold

Above the clinging, crimson creeper vine
Beside the scarlet sumac and green pine

Praise God

For dry leaf crunch and dry leaf smell
While walking on the woodland trail

Praise God

For brunette bean field shaven clean
And blonde corn’s crooked stubble seen

For round bales, wrapped and stacked in rows
Rich fodder safe from winds and snows

For golden mountains of shelled corn
that suddenly in fall are born

And daily augered to new height
in dusty cloud from morn to night

Praise God

For geese in Vs that cleave the dusky sky
While purple clouds upon horizon lie

For rising amber harvest moon
like bulging shimmering balloon

Praise God

Let everything that hath breath
Praise the Lord

© Glenda Faye Mathes

>Dirge into Doxology

>I admit there are times when I need to work at turning dirge into doxology by changing negative thoughts into positive praise.

By nature I am inclined to be a “glass half-empty” person, and circumstances often create chronic negative thinking patterns.

Being outside and seeing the beauty of God’s creation helps turn my thoughts inside out.

The first verse of Psalm 103 sings in my mind and my spirit soars:

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!

The next four verses are meaingful as well as effective for turning dirge into doxology:

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,

who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Our minister echoes those words after the partaking of the elements when we participate in communion with the Lord and His people during the Lord’s Supper. The sacrament refocuses my thoughts from my trivial problems to my great Savior. Hearing God’s Word proclaimed during worship fills my soul with peace and praise.

I try to maintain an attitude of praise during the week through actively changing thinking patterns by praying praise. Revelation 4:11 is one of my favorite prayers:

Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.

One of the best antidotes for negative thinking is to read Romans 8. The whole chapter is magnificent and its “more than conquerors” conclusion is a glorious doxology. At times, however, I find its entirety elusive.

When my spirit groans and I see only groaning in creation, I remind myself that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us” (verse 18).

Then my dirge turns to doxology.