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Some thoughts for worship:

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! Psalm 32:11

As the eastern sky begins to glow with the dawn of a new day, I rejoice in you my Lord. The tasks before me today are great. I’m sure there are surprises of varying degrees that await me. But my rejoicing isn’t based on the activities, events or people who cross my paths.

My rejoicing comes from you.

People change. Activities can sap our strength or go wrong. Even when they go well, they end and in their ending leave a void. People, even those closest to me can’t fulfill every corner of my soul. Sometimes, people fail me.

Not only do I rejoice in you, I’m glad because in your eyes I’m righteous. Thank you Lord that righteousness isn’t based on my ability to meet the expectations of you or others. You aren’t surprised by my weakness; others will never be satisfied with who I am. My righteousness is based on Jesus’ blood and forgiveness. Holiness, oh God, isn’t perfection, but knowing how to handle sin when it attacks me.

I sing! I sing to you my Father with words that I often can’t express in notes and words. My song comes from my heart! We fight over what songs should be sung, what instruments should be played and how ‘worship’ should be accomplished.

The best worship, O Lord is the worship of my heart. In the midst of my doubts; in the midst of my fears; when I feel overwhelmed by the tasks before me, my heart sings for I know that you will see me through if I rely on you for my strength.

Today, I rejoice in you. Not because of what lay ahead of me, but because I know you will go with me. My heart sings for I know my allegiance to you will empower me for the day ahead. Amen.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. Psalm 32:6

As I read Psalm 32:6 a picture came into my mind. It was a home video taken during the horrific Japan Tsunami of 2011. As flood waters came into a small seaside village, sirens wailed and residents took shelter on a small hillside, running to the safety afforded them by a single set of stairs. We all watched with amazement and horror as the sea crept down the streets, then gained momentum and began to sweep cars, truck, boats and other debris ahead of it.

The water rose higher and higher, endangering the small group of people taking shelter there. They were safe, but the destruction around them was a stirring testimony to the power of nature and the frailty of life

“Surely, the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them,” is a promise those of us that are believers in Jesus Christ can hold on to. Flood waters will come. Those earthy things we hold dear may be taken from us. Those things that have provided us security may falter or even fail.

Relationships we thought would last a lifetime end in divorce or death or job changes. Careers once though secure will end abruptly. Freedoms we hold so dearly too may be in danger or taken completely from us. The winds of time and age will change the lifescape we have always known.

Those who put their faith completely in God, who trust in Jesus Christ and build their security on the word of God and prayer, need not worry when the flood waters approach. We may lose all of our earthly possessions. We may watch as the world we once knew gets swept away. But our souls remain secure in the promise of Psalm 32:6.

Here’s the true beauty of this promise. Sometimes the flood waters that threaten us are our own doing. Sometimes they are the result of evil in the world. God’s promise of protection isn’t affected by the reason for our struggle. His promises are based on his character and strength, not ours.

When you see those flood waters approaching. When everything you held as secure crumbles or is swept away, remember that the God of the universe has promised to be a refuge from which the raging waters of the sea can not reach you.

PRAYER: Father, we are surrounded by adversity and pain and trials. It seems sometimes as though our hopes and dreams are being swept away in flood of adversity. During those times may we run to you for refuge and strength. We praise you for your promise of ultimate protection. In Jesus name, Amen.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” Isaiah 55:1

We’ve all heard the old saying. “If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” In most of life, the saying is full of truth, unfortunately. The relationship you found is amazing. He/she does everything you ever expected. You pinch yourself and say ‘It’s too good to be true’, and a few weeks later the relationship ends when the real person emerges and you hear the small voice inside say “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t’.

You look for a house where you can raise your family. As you are moving in you fight off the visions of watching your grandchildren swinging from the tree in the backyard. Never mind the fact that you are expecting your first child. Years from now the dream will come true. You are sure of it. Until the promising job you have ends abruptly and you lose the house. As you are moving your young family into a too-small apartment the vision of the back yard swing comes back and you hear the voice, ‘If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.’

Life is full of dreams and hopes and anticipation, but all too often that anticipation turns to discouragement because people, careers, finances and health fails us. We watch television shows about the rich and famous and wonder what it would be like to have all the money in the world. To see something you want and get it without a thought of how it will affect the electric bill at the end of month.

I can give you an idea of what it is like. Not because I’ve ever been there of course. I have little hope of ever being in that lifestyle. But I can tell you based on what I’ve read and heard. The suicide rate and drug use rate and divorce rate is amazingly high for many of those who ‘have it all.’

Perhaps the wealthiest man in all of history put it in his own words. “I had it all,” Solomon said, “I had women, and money and power. If I wanted something, I got it. Know what I found? It couldn’t buy my happiness and contentment. It was meaningless and worthless.” (Read the book of Ecclesiastes for the real story.)

The only source of true fulfillment and contentment is found in our Heavenly Father. The only way to find true and meaningful peace is through the God of creation who promises us that he will take from his wealth and his storehouses to give us all we need to be content.

An unending supply of money will provide you with all your physical needs, but the needs of the heart will only be met through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need to fill that hole in your soul. And best of all, it’s all free for the asking.

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord! Psalm 31:24 (AMP)

The amount of courage we have is dependent on what we put our hope in.

If I put my hope in my own ability to follow God I’ll be frustrated. I’m weak. I follow my own desires far too often. Selfishness sneaks up on me at the least likely time. I’m full of lust. My past haunts me.

If I put my hope in relationships I’ll be lonely. People fail us. The promise things, but fail to honor that promise. They all too often put demands on me that I can’t fulfill, or if I do fulfill them to the best of my ability, expect more.

If I put my hope in finances I fall short. Too many times that I have way too much month at the end of the money and if I do have the finances to get what I want, it’s often outdated by the end of the week.

Putting hope in religion is demoralizing. Religion puts far more expectations and demands on me than God would ever do. Churches seem to be ivory palaces full of dead man’s bones. Pretty on the outside but full of politics, judgmental attitudes and hypocritical leaders on the inside.

If I put my hope in living healthy, you know, doing the diet thing, exercising, and all the rest, someone else always seems to be trimmer or enjoying life more than I. And I still get sick. Some of the ‘healthiest people I know’ have suffered from debilitating illnesses or accidents that have robbed them of life.

Maybe you have felt some of the feelings listed above. Your strength to go on seems to have left you. Increased effort has only brought increased frustration and feelings of failure. It doesn’t have to be that way.

If we put our hope in God’s hands our frustration turns to a realization that our success has never been dependent on our ability. God has never put much hope in our ability to follow his rules, that’s why he offers me Jesus. That’s why he offers me forgiveness and grace.

He’s never measured our success by the amount of money in our bank account or the number of friends we have on social networking sites. He’s never demanded anything that he doesn’t first give us the ability to follow through on. He knows your heart. He knows your deepest fears. He knows your past and wants to walk with you into the future.

Losing hope? Frustrated? Worried? Tired of losing sleep. Have courage based on a loving forgiving God. Worship and praise him for fact that he has reached down to give you peace through his son Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Father God, there are many things that scare me today. I have lots of worries; lots of fears; failure seems to follow me wherever I go. Thank you that I can find my hope and rest in you. Help me have courage through your son Jesus Christ. Amen.

You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength. Psalm 31:4 (NASB)

One day a Hummingbird got ‘caught’ in our garage. It apparently darted away when we came out of the house and flew into the garage. It couldn’t figure out that if it just flew down a couple feet it could go out the garage door. To rescue the small, frightened animal I took a couple butterfly nets and gently trapped it inside the nets and carried it to safety.

The small, frightened animal couldn’t have known that safety was just a few feet away. It couldn’t have known that the monstrous animals chasing it around its cell were trying to help it. I couldn’t have known that the nets that eventually captured it were meant for good, not evil.

It’s the unknown that scares us most, isn’t it? Like the Hummingbird we can go through life thinking that our safety and protection depends on our own ability to figure things out. But life isn’t predictable, and every net that captures us isn’t for our own good.

Relationships we seek may seem to be safe and fulfilling until the ‘honeymoon is over’ and anger, rage, frustration and abuse set in. Business dealings may seem ‘too good to be true’ and then we find out they were too good to be true and we lose our retirement. Friends and even lovers may pledge their allegiance and later we find out that they are saying things behind our backs, cheating on us or, in some other way, making us out to be the fool. Politicians and bosses make promises to us that turn out to be empty words.

It’s not the nets of entrapment we see that are dangerous, it’s those that are laid in secret that are our biggest threat. Like an animal walking through the forest, unaware of a pit hidden by brush, we fall into situations that catch us off guard. When that happens we end up at the mercy of our captor. The walls are too steep, the darkness to deep for us to find a way out. Desperation, fear and depression join with hopelessness to become our biggest enemies. There’s no way out.

That’s when your Heavenly Father steps in. That’s when God comes to the rescue. There is no pit too deep but that he can’t lift you out. There is no darkness to black but that his light can’t shine through it. The reason you are in the pit you are in is irrelevant. How you got there is of no concern to God, getting you out is his biggest priority.

Whatever pit you find yourself in today, God wants to lift you up. Whatever net has you entangled, he has the power to tear it open and provide your route of escape. You may have spent a lifetime refusing to acknowledge his existence or wandered away from him in the forest. None of that matters. His goal is to free you.

PRAYER: Father God, I’m trapped. The nets the enemy has thrown have hit their mark. The fear and darkness of this pit I’ve dug for myself are too steep. Please rescue me through your love, grace and forgiveness. Amen.

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September 2012
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