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Luke 6:21b, Matthew 5:4  Click on these links to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

How can we be blessed when we cry? In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says that those who cry now will laugh in the future. Matthew’s account in 5:4 says that mourners will be comforted.

Jesus promises over and over that there will come a day when everything will be turned upside down. We will all pass through a form of judgement when God separates the sheep from the goats. People who have lost a faithful loved one who walked with Jesus in this life can more nearly know morning and joy at the same time. The contrast between sorrow and joy is perhaps never so real as when they realize that their departed loved one has left his or her broken down crippled body behind and has entered into the presence of Jesus with a glorious new body. 

But God doesn’t expect us to have to wait until we die to enjoy his blessings. Read Psalm 30 and find your spirits lifted. The Psalmist shared that weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning. He also declared that God had turned his wailing into dancing.

I have often heard the difference between happiness and joy explained. Happiness is based on our circumstances. We are happy when people praise us and do nice things for us. But joy is based on our contentment with our lot in life and our relationship with God. As long as our trusting eyes are focused on God, we can be content knowing we are in loving and competent hands. But when our eyes stray as we compare our circumstances to those around us who have more wealth, status, or _______ (fill in the blank), we risk losing our joy as we covet what others have.

Whoa! I’m preaching to myself today!

Father God, help me to keep my eyes focused on you alone. Help me to accept my lot in life with true joy and thanksgiving in my heart, and help me to accept disappointments without grumbling and complaining.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 118:5-9 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

 Is the Lord your refuge? When your financial security gets pulled out from under you do you feel secure? If you have experienced the rejection of divorce or alienation from a close friend, did you feel secure? There are many trials that may come across our path that test whether we are putting our confidence in people and relationships or whether we are putting our confidence in God.

I think this is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. It isn’t that I don’t trust in God, I do. But when it gets down to facing the future with abandon knowing that my job will be terminated just before Christmas, I am filled with panic. It seems that this is a pattern that has followed me throughout my lifetime, and I have often given in to feelings of panic and fear. I cannot glorify God when I give in to these feelings.

It is time to step back and remember just who this awesome God is.

  • He is the creator of the Universe and everything in it. 
  • He died on a cross to give us eternal life.
  • He has walked this earth and knows our troubles from the inside out.
  • Death could not keep him in the tomb.
  • He uses sand to keep the ocean in its boundaries.
  • He knows the stars by name.

Read Psalm 139 and be reminded that God is with you in every circumstance.

Recount times in the past when God rescued you in times of trouble and know that he will do it again.

Re-read today’s passage, Psalm 118:5-9, and remember that David went through many desperate times himself, yet he was able to put his trust in God. Read it again with praise and celebration in your heart. If you don’t feel like praising on the second or third time, read it again and again until it finally sinks in. God is faithful and his Word will not return void. Use his Word to lift your spirits.

Father God, who knows me better than I know myself. Protect me from moments of despair by lifting me up and drawing me close to your heart. Help us to truly trust you in every circumstance.

One more note: as I was writing this prayer I had to pause and listen to a song that was playing on the radio that meant so much to me in a critical time in my past. Isn’t that just like God?

The song is He’s Been Faithful by Carol Cymbala.  I did a quick search online for a sound bite of the song. I found this on YouTube He’s Been Faithful by Vicki Yohe. I also found The words of the song on this website.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 121:1-4 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

As a child I misunderstood the first verse of this Psalm. Of course, at that time, the King James Version was the only version available, so it read “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Did God live in the hills? Did my help come from the hills? Fortunately, the newer translations have helped to clarify this for me. The first verse asks the question, where does my help come from? And the second verse answers it, my help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.

These are very comforting verses for us when we begin to feel apprehensive over our circumstances. God is always watching over us, guarding us with his protection that is better than any insurance policy or bank account can afford. He is always available to us, 24/7. We can sleep on this knowing that God will neither slumber or sleep.

Father God, we thank you for your faithful loving care. Help us to remember this when we feel anxious over circumstances that seem out of control. Remind us that you are watching over us and that we can rest in your care.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 141:1-4 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

This Psalm is written by David. It is a good prayer to use to start any day. Verses 1 & 2 express the intimacy that David felt when he talked with the LORD in prayer. I love how David anticipates that God sees his prayers like incense rising up to him.

David is not hesitant to lift up his hands to the God in prayer. I remember how self-conscious I felt when I first tried this. But then I did a little reflecting on other times when I reach toward other things I like with no sense of embarrassment at all. I would not hesitate to reach toward a beautiful flower, vase, or butterfly. It would not embarrass me to reach out to a baby or child to express love to them. We reach out our hands to our pets. Our hands seem to be designed for expressing love. I can feel my heart lifting to God as I reach up to him.

Verse 3 needs to be planted in my heart and mind 24/7. It is so easy to speak first and think later with regret. What a powerful prayer for every day of the week. Verse 4 follows 3 very appropriately. It is as if once the careless words are spoken we are all the more susceptible to go along with the crowd in other ways as well.

Re-read this scripture and offer it up to God in prayer. Lift your hands to him and speak the prayer out loud.

Lord, give us the courage…

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 119:33-40 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

What a wonderful passage. This does not need any explanation. It only needs to be made into the prayer of our hearts. I encourage my readers to read this scripture several times, and at least one of the times you read it, make it your prayer.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 119:25-32 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

We are about to begin a study of Josiah, the boy king. I believe this Psalm was selected for today’s scripture because it reflected so well the barrenness of the spiritual condition of the Jewish nation when Josiah began his reign.

This passage would not only have encouraged Josiah in Bible times, it is written for us today as well. Perhaps you are at an all-time low and you are tempted to believe that God has abandoned you because of your circumstances. The psalmist is writing from the perspective of the dust heap–he is feeling great sorrow.

But the psalmist is lifting his eyes to the Lord. He is pleading with God to teach him his laws so he could meditate on them through his time of sorrow. He is praying that God will strengthen him through the scriptures, that he will keep him from becoming deceitful, from trying to rise in his own strength. He resolves to continue in the way of truth with his heart set on the laws of God, and prays that God will not allow him to be put to shame. The psalmist is able to run in the freedom he has received from following God’s paths.

Are we willing to trust in the scriptures to lift us out of our own despair? I recall a Sunday when I was so deep in despair that I couldn’t bear to attend our worship service for fear I would make a spectacle of myself through my tears. Instead, I armed myself with my Bible and some scripture-based music tapes and drove to a secluded place to worship my God in private. I cried as I listened to one song after another. I looked up the scriptures the musicians sang. Even though the tears continued to flow, they gradually changed from tears of grief to tears of hope and then joy. I returned home with a new lift to my spirit. I was ready to face whatever came my way.

Father God, we thank and praise you that you know our hearts and that you care. Just as Jesus wept for Martha and Mary in their grief, you weep for us when we are hurting. Help us to never forget your love, and to never forget to lift our eyes to you when we feel discouraged. You have promised to never let us down. Thank you for always being there for us.

P.S. As I was uploading this message God blessed my heart with the song “You Are My Hiding Place” on the radio and my tears again flowed, as he had been my hiding place on that day I just wrote about. God will bless you if you will give him the opportunity. (Psalm 32:7 is the scripture that inspired this song)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 Praise the LORD.

      Praise the name of the LORD;
praise him, you servants of the LORD,
2 you who minister in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God.

3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own,
Israel to be his treasured possession.

5 I know that the LORD is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.

Psalm 135:1-5 (NIV)

God is so good. Rejoice that you know his name and he knows yours. God is so worthy of our praise. Those who serve in our houses of worship need to lead the way in the worship of our God, but don’t wait for them if they don’t. Praise the Lord, your God.

Just how good is our God? He has chosen us to be his own. He first chose the house of Jacob, Israel, to call his own. Later through Jesus Christ, he called the rest of us who will receive him and grafted us into his wonderful family. In spite of our unworthiness, he has called us to be his own.

The fifth verse reminds us that our God isn’t just another god, he is THE GOD, the one and only true God. All others are impostors. Don’t let anyone try to tell you that all religions lead to the same place, or that they are all basically the same. If you believe that lie, you cannot believe the Bible at the same time.

  • Read the first Commandment: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3-4 NIV)
  • Read Jesus’ words: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

This is one basic ingredient of the Christian faith that cannot be compromised. You believe God and Jesus Christ his Son, or you don’t.

To know God (Jesus) is to love him. Show him your love through praise.

Almighty and most glorious God, your name is to be praised above all others. May our worship and praise flow from the depths of our hearts, minds, and souls whenever we think of you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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13 For the LORD has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling:
14 “This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it–
15 I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor will I satisfy with food.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her saints will ever sing for joy.

17 “Here I will make a horn grow for David
and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
but the crown on his head will be resplendent.”

Psalm 132:13-18 (NIV)  

OK, now. This selection starts off with the LORD having chosen “Zion” as his dwelling place. I’ll have to admit that I’ve sung songs like “We’re Marching to Zion” and I’ve always had this warm fuzzy feeling when I heard the name, but today I had to look it up. Zion is often used as another name for Jerusalem which has also been called the City of David. More specifically it refers to a hill in Jerusalem, the highest point, which is considered to be the most holy place in Jerusalem. Zion is also referred to as heaven by many.

God has pronounced his blessings on Zion, declaring her (he uses feminine pronouns for Zion) to be his resting place forever. He has promised to bless and provide for her and her priests and saints forever.

God promises a “horn” which will grow for David. Fortunately for me, I read the footnotes on the word horn long ago and learned that whenever it is used it is referring to strength. These verses are referring not only to David’s son, Solomon, but they refer to Jesus Christ as well, the Most Holy descendent of David.

We mustn’t read these verses without recognizing the validity of the hand of God. Jerusalem has been the center of the Jewish faith from the time of King David. It was the center of the Jewish religion when Jesus walked this earth. It was the location where Jesus’ crucifiction, death, burial, and resurrection took place. Even though the Jewish nation hasn’t always held possession of Jerusalem, they have succeeded in regaining control of it. The whole world is focused on Jerusalem and the Middle East today causing many to read or re-read the book of Revelation.

Father God, may these verses increase our faith as we recognize your hands at work in the time of David, the time of Christ, and in our present and future. Give us the confidence and courage to continually put our faith and trust in you alone.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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Psalm 132:1-12  (click to view passage)

In this Psalm, King David re-states the oath he had made, the oath that God would not allow him to carry out. The ark of the covenant had been returned to Jerusalem; and David had it in his heart to build a permanent dwelling to house the ark. But to David’s great disappointment, it was not to be.

Yet David continued to praise his God, to “worship at his footstool.” (verse 7)

David continues his Psalm by recounting the oath the LORD swore to David, that he would put one of David’s descendants on the throne; and that if they keep God’s covenant they would reign on the throne forever. (verse 12)

Later scriptures reveal that David’s descendants did not keep the covenant. The Jewish nation suffered division and eventually was conquered and carried off into Babylon. But even though David’s descendants did not remain faithful, God did. Jesus Christ, who was one of David’s descendants, sits not on a human throne, but on the heavenly throne, where he will reign throughout eternity.

Lord God, help us to focus our eyes on you when we face disappointments. May we, like David, continue to put our hope in you as we continue to praise your name.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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67 Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loved.
69 He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
70 He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
71 from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
72And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.

Psalm 78:67-72 NIV

The verses we are pondering today focus on David’s appointment and role as King. But before I address this section I feel it is appropriate to at least pass over the first 66 verses of this Psalm.

The Psalm begins with an affirmation of the importance of teaching and remembering the great deeds and miracles God had performed on behalf of his people, the Israelite nation.

But the Israelite people had a problem. They did not remain faithful to God and they did not live by his law. In spite of God’s many miracles, they too soon forgot that they needed God and went their own way.

Whenever God sent hardships on them the Israelites would turn again to him. They would make promises they didn’t keep. Even though God led his people as a shepherd leads his sheep, they rebelled and suffered the consequences. These consequences led the Israelite people to risk and lose the Ark of the Covenant to their enemies, the Philistines. This happened before Saul was anointed King.

Verse 67 begins the explanation of the process God used to select David as the next king of Israel. David came from the tribe of Judah. He had been a shepherd as a youth – a role that he was able to carry over into his reign as King. He was no longer tending sheep, however. Now he was tending the flock of Israelite people, leading them as a shepherd leads his sheep. David led his people with integrity of heart.

Perhaps the message for our day and time that we can take from these verses is the example we are given for good leadership. God used the sheep pens to train David for leadership. David learned how to lead by shepherding his people. He led the people with “integrity of heart: with skillful hands he led them.” (Verse 72 NIV)

As we approach our next national election, may we pray for this kind of leader for our country. One who will lead by example, who will lead through service, who will lead with integrity and skill.

Father God, lead us as our shepherd. May we be willing sheep, eager to follow your example. Lead us through the next election to seek leaders who will lead with honor and integrity. And in the areas of our own individual lives where we have leadership roles, let us take to heart the example you have shown us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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