BLESS THE LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
BLESS THE LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The LORD performs righteous deeds And judgments for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children, To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
BLESS THE LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word!
BLESS THE LORD, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will.
BLESS THE LORD, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalms 103:1-22 NASB1995
What satisfies you? And what makes you happy? Is it your job? Your possessions? Your home, your car, your family, your bank account? I’ve had a great job. I’ve had a big house, full of nice things. I’ve had a husband who loved me, a bulging bank account, a fun vehicle to do road trips and exploring. But was I happy? We had our moments, but we were constantly looking for something more. The prophet Isaiah tells us:
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2 NASB1995
All of those things, those actions, gave us temporary happiness, but none of it gave us – gave me – lasting Joy. In all of this, there were people and circumstances that hurt us. Some were unintentional, but some was very intentional. Anger and resentment stole my joy. It took several years and lots of hurt to find the place where I could hear the words of Jesus and let them soothe my bleeding heart. One of the first things necessary to healing is to learn to let the resentment go. Forgiveness….
“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:23, 29 NASB1995
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB1995
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.” Psalms 37:7-8 NASB1995
I think that many times we go searching for our joy and happiness in the things I’ve talked about above to cover up the anger and frustration we have with others. By covering up and ignoring those feelings, trying to hide it – or outrun it – we are only hurting ourselves. We want joy. We want peace. We want the hurting and the anger and the fear and frustration to just stop.
We WILL have trials in life. People will hurt us. They will leave us, they will disappoint us. Circumstances will change. This fallen world will hurt us. Expect it. The trials we go through are crucial to our maturity in Christ. They allow God to do His greatest works. They produce steadfastness in us. I don’t like what James says here, but he’s right.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 NASB1995
He says “Consider it all joy” – how is that possible? It’s actually very simple. Joy is a state of mind; we make the CHOICE to Rejoice. Joy is found solely and completely in the recognition of the Sovereignty of God. We are not alone, he says “my brethren” and he means we are connected, sons and daughters through God the Father, and brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. He reminds us that when we encounter all of the various trials, we know that they are the “testing”, like when gold and silver are subjected to fire to remove the impurities. Our testing will be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and painful but it will REFINE our faith.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB1995
READ verses 5-9, too! Endurance is an active hope, a living Hope in and through Jesus Christ our LORD. When it takes everything we have to hold on, even when it seems all hope is gone. Remember Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted….” Your faith produces endurance living by and for GOD, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing when we see Him. God prunes us so that we may be more fruitful, and to bring Him Glory; to deepen our dependence on Him and NOT to be be independent and dependent on ourselves. It is through dependence on God that we find true independence, and that is when we will find true happiness, satisfaction, and joy! Trials bring us closer to God “by breaking and subdividing the stubbornness of our hearts.” – Daniel Dyke, an English academic and Puritan. The proper Christian response to trials is to be a source of joy.
“…. for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:10-13 NASB1995
“…. and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 NASB1995
Good Friday! The day Jesus went to the cross. What makes it good? He went to the cross, and He took upon His shoulders the sin of the world. My sin; your sin. He died, yes, but it was an incredible death! Unlike when we die, Jesus didn’t go on to heaven and call it good. He took on sin and death and defeated them. How much more glorious can it be? He died, and He fought sin and death – and what a battle that must have been! – and then, He walked out of His grave! GLORIOUS!
Jesus said “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:28, 33 NASB1995
Because of His death, I am free to live. Are you? Have you accepted Him as your Saviour? Do it, today, before it’s too late!
“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the LORD, that he will instruct Him ? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:11, 14-16 NASB1995
What a year this has been. I don’t need to recap it; too many others are already taking that on. Just like every year since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden, 2020 has been crammed full of deceitfulness, lies, misunderstandings, cheating, backstabbing…. if man could do it, he did. Just because the year is over at midnight tonight, don’t expect tomorrow to be any different. We still live in a fallen world that won’t see any substantial change until our LORD Jesus Christ returns.
Does that depress you? Does it mean that we have no reason to live each day?
Not at all! As Christians, we aren’t constrained within the thought processes of natural man, because through Christ, we are super natural. We are beyond this world! Oh, we still have to live here and deal with the natural world and all of it’s defects, but we don’t need to be bogged down in the details. Even though the enemy has temporary power and control in the earth, our GOD has control over our spirits! The enemy can manipulate our surroundings and events in our lives to try and make us miserable, but it’s all temporary. Our bodies will return to the dust they were made from, but our souls, our very beings, cannot be touched by that snake when we belong to Jesus Christ – Creator, LORD of the Universe, Saviour of all who love Him, and our Friend.
Start the new year of 2021 on a high note by allowing Him into your heart. There is NO better friend! Come as you are, “warts and all”. Jesus is waiting for you with open arms, my friend.
“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls . For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NASB1995
We receive Salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Jesus says “Come to ME.” That is the ultimate statement of salvation. HE, Jesus, the Christ, the One and Only Son of the Most High God, will GIVE you rest. We aren’t talking about a church or a creed or a doctrine, but Jesus alone.
Who can receive this gift of salvation? “….ALL who are weary and heavy-laden” – anyone; everyone who is weighed down by sin and guilt and will accept His salvation. We can’t earn it and we don’t deserve it. “Our merits merit nothing, Christ’s merits merit everything.” No matter what anyone else teaches or claims to know, this is fact: Christianity is NOT a religion of scales, it is a religion of the cross.
Jesus says “Take my yoke: submit to my authority.” When we submit to Him, we don’t become like a slave. He wants us to listen and learn to be like Him: Jesus is gentle, humble, accessible, tender, open, accommodating; He is not harsh or “trigger happy”. His yoke is well fitting, not uncomfortable or difficult. By abdicating control, it allows us to rest in body, soul, spirit.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,” Ephesians 3:14-20 NASB1995
Begin the new year a new person. Accept His Gift of Salvation today.
“The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 NASB1995
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2 NASB
I’ve spent my life chasing something, or someone. Lots of money and energy expended trying for the perfect partner, job, house, clothes; friends, family. The “perfect” church. Know what I’ve discovered?
They don’t exist.
What? Of course they do! Don’t try to tell me my searching, my life, is futile! ……. And yet, that’s the truth. Most of us spend our lives trying to have the perfect life as we imagine it, when the reality is that all of these things, and all of these people, won’t satisfy us. Sure, we can achieve momentary satisfaction, but it’s fleeting. I think that’s why our world is rife with ruthless people, in business and politics and in their personal lives. Business takeovers. Public lies and shaming. Affairs in the shadows, and affairs in the open, blatantly flaunting themselves. Desperate people everywhere, searching for nirvana.
It doesn’t exist.
We are a created race. Yes, one race, created by a Creator God, and we are created to worship Him. Nothing else can fill that hole. We can search and scrape and fight trying to find anything else to fill it, and that’s what we spend our lives doing. One thing fills that hole in your heart. One thing fulfills your search. ONE thing.
Son of the FATHER GOD. Second, but equal, member of the Trinity, God, Son, Holy Spirit. Saviour of the world. The One; The Way.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18 NASB
In 1670, Blaise Pascal published Pensées, in which he writes:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB
Change your focus. Look for Jesus. He will fill your heart in a way you could never have imagined. Not only your heart, but He will fill your life, your mind, your soul, if you will just let Him. He will give you Life Abundant. Even if you struggle financially, even if you are on your own, without a partner, or out of work, Jesus can bring a contentment that is beyond this earth.
LORD, I pray today for that person who is searching, that he or she will open their heart to You and realize real peace and contentment today, right now. Amen.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The LORD is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of Peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:4-9 NASB
Amen! There’s no room for anxiety when the Peace of our LORD washes over you. It’s important we don’t cause others anxiety, too. When we dwell on these things, the honorable, pure, lovely, good …. not only do we free ourselves from the anxiety of the enemy, but we also free those around us of the burden of our anxiety. Our example can show them what a blessing prayer can be.
How is your soul? Are you anxious? Tell God about it. He doesn’t care if you are alone in a closet, knelling by your bed, sitting in a chair, lying on the ground….. He just wants a conversation with you. Anytime, anywhere. Tell Him what you are thankful for (remember, you can always be thankful for toilet paper!), then tell Him what’s bothering you. If you can’t put it into words, that’s okay, too. He knows. He promises us that His Holy Spirit is always with us, ready to carry our groans and unintelligible words and thoughts to Him. And if you’re mad at Him, tell Him! He can take it! Talk, and let your soul settle down.
Is it well with your soul?
– Horatio Spafford, 1873
Mountain Fork River, McCurtain County, Oklahoma
“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” – JAMES 4:11-12 NASB
I don’t think James was speaking about man’s laws here, but God’s. There isn’t a person on earth who can say they are better than another, because even though our outward lives may appear “better”, God looks at our thoughts over our actions. Our thoughts make us no better than the worst murderer, because who hasn’t murdered someone in their thoughts? Or whose thoughts would reveal that they have desired a man or woman who was not their spouse? Who hasn’t wished for gold and riches, a bigger better house, more clothes and more things? Just because someone looks all clean and prim and proper on the outside, doesn’t mean that inside, they are the same. We have to remember, too, that in God’s eyes, sin is sin. A lie is no better or worse than murder – and everybody has lied.
“You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.” – James 5:5 NLT
So. What to do?
I think that all we can do is to do as Jesus did, and continually pray to the Father, not my will, but Thine. Actually, that’s the best thing we can do! I’m far from perfect, and I count myself among the worst of criminals, but there is one thing I know without a single doubt: I have been forgiven of all my sins, and one day I will see my Saviour! O Glorious Day, one day He is coming! Listen to this hymn, Glorious Day, sung by Casting Crowns.
Do you know that Truth? Can you sing without hesitation that when He returns, He is coming to sweep you up with Him ……. or will you be at the Judgement Seat, wondering what happened?
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s One and Only Son.” – John 3:16-18 NLT