Go Jump in the River

Psalm 46: 4

There is a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God, the holy place where the Most High lives.

This river is the Holy Spirit and the flow of the Holy Spirit brings many benefits to our lives. Among these is joy. The Holy Spirit is often characterized as a flow in addition to water, rivers and fountains. It is the flow of the Spirit which brings revelation and waters the garden of God. We live in and as part of God’s city right now even as we dwell on earth because the earth is part of His realm too. Because there is great, and I do mean great, profit flowing in and from the Spirit, it is important that we come to know him better and better.

One of the things that is interesting about the Spirit is shown in today’s passage and that is that he is often referred to as some form of water. Think about water for a moment and consider not only how important it is for all life forms but also all of the ways water impacts your life. Try washing clothes, dishes or your face and most often you will use water. Most detergents and cleaners have water in them already or combine with water to do their jobs. Just imagine a week without water even if you had drinking water. I would be using some of that potable water to brush my teeth. We use water in cooking. Besides all that, our bodies are mostly water, as you know.

When you consider the importance of water don’t you find it interesting that God identifies the Holy Spirit as living water? In Jeremiah 2: 13 God said, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters.” God calls Himself The fountain of living waters referring to Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit. Do you remember the story of the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well? In verse 10 of John chapter 4, “Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Again, living water but this time it was Jesus who reveals there is living water, i.e. water that is alive and which gives life. Later in that same chapter, in verse 14, Jesus describes the value of the living water, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Jesus also said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water,’” (John 7: 38).

I find these verses exhilarating but I am also impressed by their significance. Water is vital for life and I think that is the point Jesus is making in these verses. From this fountain of living water springs all of life. Perhaps Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit is vital for life and he, therefore, wants us to seek this living water. Jesus wants us to become cognizant of the role the Holy Spirit is intended to play in all our lives. We cannot live without water and I believe Jesus is saying that none of us will flourish or grow without the flowing river of the Holy Spirit. This river is meant to spring up from our innermost being. We can ask ourselves if we feel we are living in this springing up flow from our innermost selves. We can ask if the Spirit is welling up within us. Then, we can ask the Father for this revelation about the Spirit to be manifested in our lives whether we are experiencing a little creek or a raging river for there is always more of the Holy Spirit for us to receive.

Make it a point to meditate on and come to know this third person of the Holy Trinity. Think about what these water verses mean. What did the Father and Jesus mean for us to get out of them? What was Jesus trying to get the Samaritan woman to see and do? Most of all, jump in the river of living water and drink your fill.

Finding Joy

Psalm 42: 5        NIV

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

This week we are continuing our journey through the psalms with this passage from Psalm 42. Since you seem to be enjoying the psalms, we will continue to do one every Monday.

This psalm is one sad lament and yet, is there one amongst us who has not felt equally forlorn at some point in life? The psalmist had a revelation, though, one which buoyed him even at his lowest points. He knew that a time of praise was coming, a time to thank God for rescuing him from this desperate place and time. Though the shadows darkened his doorway, he knew that light was coming and that the light would overshadow even the darkest dread. From that point of knowing we can shout, “Hallelujah!” Even when situations seem threatening, even in the midst of turmoil, we shout praises to the Father knowing that He is present and will lift us and set us high on a mountaintop.

God is worthy of the praise but what is thrilling about offering praise even when your soul is downcast is that the praise itself has power. It begins to lift your soul and brighten the horizon. Sometimes it is all we need to break the binding darkness. When we lift our eyes and fix them on Jesus, the flood of light fills the space. Darkness must flee in the presence of the light. It is the easiest and most natural thing in the world to keep looking at the trouble which is oppressing your soul. However, we are not of the world. You are of God little children and it is upon Him that you should cast your gaze. Looking at the glory of the Father who loves you more than life, shines joy and hope into our innermost being. We only need become as accomplished as this dear psalmist at recognizing the loving kindness and radiant power of a Lord who is always willing to be our rescuer.

Let not your heart be troubled. Do not give into the worry and fear. Sing your praise to the Father confident that He has your back and is with you always. Sing your way clear of trouble. Shout away your sorrows. Give thanks knowing your savior is near. Put your hope in God and let your joy be renewed.

Dry Those Eyes

Jeremiah 31: 16 – 17

Thus says the Lord, “Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded,” declares the Lord, . . . “and there is hope for your future,” declares the Lord.

God is speaking to us today. He is speaking from His heart. Let’s listen to His words of encouragement and faith. You did know that God is a person of faith, didn’t you? He began everything by calling those things which be not into being, but that is a message for another day. This day, He wants to tell you to dry your eyes. He has promised you a hope and a future.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29: 11). He didn’t change His mind from chapter 29 to chapter 31. In fact, He reinforced His statement by repeating it so that we would be sure to understand that He has good plans for our futures. Now you can listen to the world or you can listen to God. Personally, I am more interested in what God has to say. The world will try to convince you that tomorrow holds calamity and that the world is falling apart. Well, we are not of this world. Isn’t that what the Bible says? So who are you going to believe?

Your Father, your real Father, the one who conceived you before the dawn of time saw this day and you in it. He saw your hopes, dreams, victories and disappointments. He saw the tears you cry today before the earth was every formed and He speaks into that very moment telling you, “Fear not. Have no worries. I, the Lord, am your guard and refuge and I will turn your sorrow to shouts of joy, your mourning to laughter.” He has a plan for tomorrow and it is a good plan.

Hear the good news of the Lord. Your work will be rewarded. Have you toiled but have yet to reap the harvest? Don’t give up; don’t give in. Take this promise of the Lord. Take it and hold on to it. Paint it on your bathroom mirror. Put a sticker on your cell phone. You are sure to see it there. Remind yourself; remind your Father. You have a promise from El Shaddai, a promise from the Holy One of Israel. Hold onto that and believe.

Hope and Trust

Romans 15: 13             NIV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Most of us are attracted to this prayer and the idea that we may be filled with joy and peace. There are a couple of interesting nuances, though, that we should look at.

First, Paul calls God the God of hope. Then at the end of the verse his prayer is for us to overflow with hope. Third, this overflowing hope comes to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. So, let’s just think about hope for a moment.

Hope is the precursor of faith. Faith is believing that what you once hoped for is a spiritual reality and will manifest physically. Faith is knowing that what you hoped for and then prayed for is yours in Christ Jesus. Many of our prayers begin with that simple hope though. So, hope is the beginning point and our Father is the God of hope. He is the source of hope. Without Him, there is no hope and that is so true. Hope, joy and peace are in Him and the Holy Spirit brings all three to us through his power. He is the actuator, Father is the supply.

Lastly, there is a key element in this prayer. Paul indicates that we have a role too. We are initiators. This is a grand machine with you, your father and the Holy Spirit all as parts. The initiator must begin the process and as the initiator you do that through trust. Paul understood, and thus teaches, that God is able to fill you with all joy and peace but only as you trust Him. I wonder, too, if we are filled to the depth of our trust, almost as if our level of trust establishes the size of our tank. God will give us all we can hold, all we want but it is in relationship to our ability, or willingness perhaps, to put our trust in Him. Whatever your trust God for, whatever you believe Him for, that is the requisition form which is filled by the Holy Spirit. You place the order. Tell the Divine Trinity what you want, what you are believing for by placing your trust in God to bring it to you. Trust plus the God of Hope and the power of the Holy Spirit equals the blessing of God flowing through you and on you in abundance. Be blessed!

No More Pain

Psalm 30: 1, 5               God’s Word

Verses 7 – 8, 10 – 11    Passion Translation

I will honor you highly, O Lord, because you have pulled me out of the pit. Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning. I was panic-stricken and became depressed. Still I cried out to you, Lord God. I shouted out for mercy. So hear me now, Lord; show me your famous mercy. O God, be my Savior and rescue me! Then he broke through and transformed all my wailing into a whirling dance of ecstatic praise! He has torn the veil and lifted from me the sad heaviness of mourning. He wrapped me in the glory garments of gladness.

This psalm is full of praise, but it also reveals the intense mourning and emotional torment that David endured. One side of the coin may be praise but often the other side is tumultuous challenge and seemingly insurmountable problems. Reading it immediately made me think of all the hurting people in the world, people who are depressed and even suicidal and my heart, like yours, grieves for these people. I want to say, “Fear not, joy comes in the morning.” The NASB version of verse 5 says that a shout of joy comes in the morning. That’s big. Though the night may be spent in tears, there is hope, there is salvation and the situation will improve.

We sometimes limit Jesus’ scope of salvation to deliverance from sin and hell. Salvation means so much more to Jesus than simply eternal life with him. He is our savior in every single situation in this life. When you comprehend the richness of salvation and eternal life you understand that you are living your eternal life now. It isn’t that we will die and be reborn to eternal life. You are there now, we all are. So, this salvation of which David writes is the deliverance from grief, the release from mourning. It is the hope of a new day, a day which is full of promise and even resurrection. Each day is so new that it truly is a beginning and one thing we know about life, things constantly change. Life is not static. Therefore, though there are huge problems now, ultimately things will alter. For every problem, there is a solution. For every grief there is joy. That seems impossible when one is overwhelmed by grief, but it really is true. David could tell you it’s true and many other people as well.

Why did Jesus tell us to go and share the good news of the gospel? I believe the core of that answer is so that he could save people from the hopelessness of their present situations. We know that God gave his only son so that none should perish but rather that all should pertain to eternal life in paradise with Him (John 3: 16). God took care of eternal life. He has already done what needed doing in order to save us all from eternal damnation. God did that. It was His job. Now, we have a job to do. Jesus told us to go into all the world and share the good news of the gospel. To me that means sharing a lot more than one verse. Sure, tell all people about John 3: 16 and how the Father sacrificed His son and sent him to hell so that we would be spared. Just don’t stop there. Jesus said of himself that he came into the earth to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10: 10). He came to give us a full life, to save us from the train wreck that many of us have made of our lives here on earth. What I am trying to get you to see is that salvation and the good news of the gospel is so much bigger than a singular event, extraordinary though it is.

Jesus wants to save us in our frustrations, from our anger, he wants to heal the emotional scars we carry around, save us from our deepest depression and restore us to joy. Jesus is the joy of the earth. You cannot be in him and with him and depressed. He is glory itself. He is the lifter of our heads. That is good news. He is the lover of our souls. He lifts us even when it feels like the sun won’t rise in the morning. There is no problem which he cannot overcome.

I think our job is to go out and tell people the good news about God and Jesus and how much they love us so that they will not face hopelessness and so they will know they are never alone. Everyone needs to be loved by a love that is so sublime that it is breath to our lungs and health to all our bodies. Jesus is life, there is no life without him (John 14: 6). He has given a piece of himself to every human being so that they might have love, life, and hope. If we will go into the world and simply tell them the good news about a benevolent being who loves them and is powerful enough to save them from whatever torment they encounter, then I pray and believe there will be no suicide in the earth. We have the antidote for depression. God loves us, each and every one. He gave His only son as a sacrificial lamb. That has to stand for something. He didn’t do that because He is ambivalent towards us. Furthermore, He did that for a people who did not know Him, who did not love Him.

Please, send this to anyone you know who needs to hear the good news about being devoutly loved. Share the love and joy of the Holy One, not just so you can get them into heaven, but so they can have some relief right here and right now. There is no reason people have to suffer. Jesus is their saving grace for today, for tonight, for the dark times and the dark places. He is the light, the light of hope. And, say a prayer for everyone who is hurting. Ask the Lord of grace to shine his light more brightly through each one of us so that all, and I do mean all, may know there is a God and that He loves them immensely.

Radiant Joy

Psalm 19: 7 – 8                    (God’s Word)

The teachings of the Lord are perfect. They renew the soul. The testimony of the Lord is dependable. It makes gullible people wise. The instructions of the Lord are correct. They make the heart rejoice. The command of the Lord is radiant. It makes the eyes shine.

Well, who said we had to proceed to the next psalm today? This is our journey, we can go as we please and there is just too much in Psalm 19 to choose only one verse to share.

I wish for you to do me a favor, though. Re-read the verses, slowly. What do they speak to you? This is really about following our Father’s leading in your day to day life. The first thing I think of when reading that His teachings are perfect is the Bible. His Word gives us life lessons that are so good, so perfect that they restore our beaten down souls. They give us new life. His teachings are renewal to our souls. That is good news. Pick up your Bible, read your Word of the Day and you are ingesting soul reviving wisdom. Are you ever worn out or weary? Here is the boost you need.

What about “The testimony of the Lord is dependable?” The NASB says it is “sure.” God’s recitation of the facts is sure, stable, reliable and dependable. It is something you can stand on. The Passion Translation reads, “His laws lead us to truth.” You can count on His testimony for it will always lead you to absolute truth. I would define His testimony as everything He has ever said whether that is something recorded in the Bible or something He spoke personally to you.

His instructions make our hearts glad. If there was ever a better testimony, a better reason to follow His instructions, I don’t know what it is. Following the Father’s instructions, His directions, pleases our soul making our hearts light, joyful and happy. There is a way out of stress filled lives. There apparently is a way to live with a joyful heart. That way is to inquire of the Lord and follow His instructions. People sometimes think of God as bossy or as a task master, but can’t you see that it is just the opposite. His instruction exists to make your heart light, even care free for He has said to give Him all our cares.

This is the part I really wanted to get to though, “The command of the Lord is radiant. It makes the eyes shine.” Doesn’t that sound great, but what does it mean? Radiance is usually associated with light. That sounds like, God’s command is light. It shines upon us lighting our way and rescuing us from darkness. Have you ever had a challenge and said, “I am in the dark about this?” Well, no longer do you need to walk in darkness, confusion or ignorance. His way, His command is light unto your feet lighting your path. His commands lead you in the way you should go. They are radiant sonshine. They make your eyes twinkle with gladness and comfort. The Passion Translation rephrases this better than I can. About His commands it says, “they challenge us to keep close to His heart.” Wow! That is an entire sermon unto itself. Listen, though, what it says about the radiance of His instruction: “The revelation-light of his word makes my spirit shine radiant.”

There is the secret of life right there. Can you take that in? It is so massive that it is elusive. Here is Christianity and Judaism boiled down into a simply stated but intricate and complex idea. Walking in Him, with Him; living our lives intertwined within as we daily seek His wisdom, His ideas and His solutions, is the very essence of a healthy, glowing spirit. You know about health for your body. You may know something about health for you mind. This is spiritual health. His revelation, that revelation we glean by reading His word and by talking with Him is spiritual tonic. It is life and well-being. Your spirit will radiate His love, joy and glory when you intertwine your life with His. And, your light will be seen by others because this kind of radiance cannot be hidden.

Blessed Refuge

Psalm 5: 11 – 12

Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. Let them sing with joy forever. Protect them, and let those who love your name triumph in you. You bless righteous people, O Lord. Like a large shield, you surround them with your favor.

I hope you are enjoying this sojourn through the psalms. David reminds us, today, that there is blessing, success, victory, protection, joy and favor for those who take refuge in the Lord.

David found his respite in the Lord.  He had a way of intertwining his existence with that of God and that was an uncommon space for the Old Testament believer. I love reading David for this reason. He had an enviable relationship with the Lord. We get to peer into this relationship through the songs written by David. Can’t you almost hear his heart soar as he sings, “Let them sing with joy forever.” As he wrote these words, I believe he was basking in the presence of the Lord. You can hear the praise and reverence in David’s lyrics but you also sense the deep intimacy he had with Yahweh.

As you read this psalm, you hear about the favor of God surrounding you. You may even rejoice at the simple acceptance that God blesses us, His righteousness. Most of all, though, today I hope that you will not only hear the substance of David’s song but even more so the tone of his conversation with the Lord. I hope that through these words, you will glimpse the heart and passion of David seeing the inspiration of his affection for the Lord. I think if we will take our time with these words, we will find our own hearts stirred. Maybe we will raise our voices or pen a beautiful lyric of our own. Maybe you can write a love song to the Lord. If you do, I hope you will share it with the rest of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord. Rejoice in Him.