Distinguished by His Spirit

“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him… He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” Daniel 6:1-4,10

“Pick out from among you men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to [serve tables].’ And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit… And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people… But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking… And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel...

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him… And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 6:2-3,5,8,10,15; 7:54-60

A life yielded to and filled with the Spirit of God stands apart from the world, and stands out in it. Even though some may not be able to identify Him, and might resist His influence, they cannot disregard His power. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Leaders and servants, citizens and exiles, young and old, learned and simple, all who know Jesus are indwelt with His Spirit, our present help and guarantee of future hope. Living in us, He distinguishes our intellectual stances, our habits, our zeal, our industry, our demeanor, our countenance, our soul peace. When the onlooking world cannot explain excellence in wisdom, cannot fathom unruffled faithfulness, nor understand serenity and joy in the midst of turmoil, they are confronted with the Spirit’s exquisite manifestation in humanity, and will either be drawn or repulsed. How will we make a difference? (John 14:16; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14)

Where am I lacking His sway? He gives courage in fear, calm in trouble, steadfastness in spiritual disciplines, strength against temptation and opposition, boldness to proclaim truth and suffer for His name. Are there specific areas where I have refused to surrender to His ministry? (Isaiah 41:10; Ephesians 6:10-19; Hebrews 4:15)

Lord, distinguish me in my places of influence by Your Spirit. Do what is needed in my heart for You to take complete precedence and obvious residence, that others see the glory of Jesus and are irresistibly attracted.

Looking for God’s Signature

“Praise the Lord!
Great are the works of the Lord,
    studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work…
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and merciful…
He has shown his people the power of his works…
The works of his hands are faithful and just…
    Holy and awesome is his name!” Psalm 111:1-4,6-7,9

“How great are your works, O Lord!
    Your thoughts are very deep!
Psalm 92:1-5

“O Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24

“And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!'” Revelation 15:13

Purple clouds hatch the dark sky, leaving criss-cross scars as a reminder of the hand that etched them there. Yet another divine signature to behold and savor as day begins, awakening desire to keep looking, and expectancy to find and see.

Do we attribute wisdom and righteousness in leadership, prosperity and order in possessions, and happiness of spirit to human effort and accomplishment, or the Sovereign of all things? Is there notice we crave for our efforts, credit we clamor to take for the work of our hands? Or do we acknowledge that everything comes from God, who is the Source of every good gift and is bounteous toward His children? (1 Kings 10:1-9; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13; 1 Corinthians 4:7; James 1:17)

When the sun rises and we awaken to a new dawn, and the sun sets on course to finish that day with a blaze of color that takes our breath away, thank God for His faithfulness and steady hand. When the breeze plays wind chimes in a doleful toll, when birds take flight in graceful dark vees against pale sky, when the scent of unseen jasmine blooms turn our heads in delight, all causing unbidden memories to appear, and the heart to squeeze and sing, His splendor and handiwork be praised. Indeed, His signature is the beauty of things.

When a dreaded conversation is woven with grace, a reasonable, creative solution comes to mind, a conundrum resolves with new understanding, thank God for His guidance and answered prayer. When our minds are cross-hatched with new ideas, alerted to new insights, enlightened to grasp a new word in context or concept not before grasped, and then bathed in peace so we deeply sleep, be grateful for His intellectual artistry.

As our senses come to life and our energies meet a clean slate of calendar and clock, will we pause to behold God’s handiwork? As we make our plans and go about our day, will we look for His signature in what and whom we encounter? Tracing His hand through color and shape and idea and pathos ignites wonder and thankfulness, and enriches our zeal for life. It broadens our perspective toward eternity and more significant meaning for the present. It reveals the grace, creativity, humor, and intellect of our Creator.

Good Father, please sharpen my senses to be aware of Your ubiquitous presence, in every moment, every loveliness, every interaction. And when I see Your signature, may my heart swell with joyful song and praise, to the magnification of Your glory on earth.

The Unchecked Slide of Self

“Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. [He] did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built.  And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him...

“A prophet came to Ahab and said, ‘Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ And Ahab said,.. ‘Who shall begin the battle?’ He answered, ‘You…’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’ And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen…

After this Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.’ But Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.’ And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth had said… And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.” 1 Kings 16:29-33; 20:13-14;42-43; 21:2-4

Ahab was no saint. Against all deserts, God in His grace gave him numerous opportunities to experience His power over nature and in battle, and sent him prophets to convey His word that he might turn to Him. Ahab’s hard heart only calcified further, resisting every display of mercy, every command that offered true freedom. (1 Kings 18:31-39,41-45; 20:28-29,38-42)

Ahab started bad, and would not get over himself. He married a wicked, conniving woman who condoned his capriciousness and spoiled insistence on his own way, and with unspeakable cruelty ‘solved’ his self-pity and pout. One sin begat the next, pride begat avarice begat deception, until the slide down the decline greased with self-importance was impossible to reverse. But God would not, and will not, be mocked. (1 Kings 21:5-15)

A stubborn, resistant heart deadens to the Lord over seasons and years of selfish living. Determining who is on our throne is our vital start, and will determine the course of our spiritual walk. To elevate ourself and ignore or refuse His lordship sets us on a trajectory of idolatry, foolish self-promotion, skewed thinking, and ultimate destruction. Our rejection of Christ portends His of us, a sobering reality for those who choose to be their own king. (1 Kings 21:20-22)

Are there places in my heart I want the Spirit not to go, idols I refuse to relinquish, self-justifications I hide from scripture’s searchlight? In what ways have I slid into thinking I’m a bit more important, deserving, free to indulge my flesh? God welcomes, with fresh mercy, the worst of sinners who humbles himself. (1 Kings 21:25-29; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 John 1:9)

My God, check NOW any tendency to replace Your highness with my own.

Garden of Growth

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truthAnd so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” Colossians 1:3-6,9-11

When, by God’s grace, the word is planted in our hearts, good and glorious things happen. The church at Colossae had demonstrated how faith and love for the saints grew from hope fixed in the gospel of truth, and while Paul gave thanks for this beautiful display, he earnestly prayed it would grow further. The Christian life is never static.

Either we are growing and bearing fruit in our walk or we are not. Dormancy has no place for the faithful. If there is no hunger for deeper understanding of God’s word, no growing love for the saints, no increased spiritual wisdom applied in hard situations nor display of selfless generosity and kindness, we should question whether we have truly understood “the grace of God in truth.” Christ’s death on the cross for me should leave such an imprint that I’m forever changed and spurred to increasingly higher thought and exercised faith.

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23

The enemy will always oppose and do what he can to impede our spiritual progress. He uses exasperation and confusion stemming from biblical illiteracy, difficulties that shake our endurance, and the deception of worldly allures and ‘more urgents’ to deter us from pressing on. Committed perseverance in walk and work, against his wiles, multiplies substantial and glorious fruit.

How robust, how lush, how flavorful do we want our garden of faith to grow?

Lord, sow Your light and joy in me through Your word. May I increasingly grow and flourish in Your kingdom for Your great name and glory. (Psalm 97:11)

Spun About Face, by Mercy

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:1-8

We were in trespasses and sins, and are now in Christ. We followed the course and prince of the world, and are now raised and seated with Christ. We were children of wrath, and are now children of God. We were led to disobedience, but are now loved in the heavenly places. We were enemies, and are now reconciled friends. We were slaves to sin, and are now free, rescued for eternal life. We were dead, and are now alive. How can this be? (John 15:15; Romans 5:1,8-10; 6:20,22

All this spinning around and trading in is because of and completely dependent on our God who is rich in mercy, great in love, and particular in grace. Hallelujah! Only He can transform the inner man, awaken the spirit, and change a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. The winds of His intent blow with divine power to accomplish it according to His plan. What hope this truth supplies for our present days! (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33; 1 Peter 2:10)

Are there stickling spurs in my attitude toward my practical, work, or relational responsibilities? God in His mercy can remove them. Are there long-held hurts that I use as excuses not to love or forgive, or even make contact? God in His mercy can heal them. Has unreasonable fear or fretting blurred my sight of Jesus’s promises and power? God in His mercy can assuage my anxieties and correct my vision. By His grace, He does for us what we cannot do ourselves. Would we trust Him?

Are there uncertainties that loom before us, unsettling plans we long to make, and keep? Omniscient God goes ahead of us, leading our way. What questions go unanswered, what needs unmet? Omnipotent God hears our prayers and meets all our needs. Where is our world disordered, our normal disheveled, our communion with others strained? Sovereign God brings order and peace to our hearts and His wider domain. What cultural and national situations seem impossible and beyond redemption? Providential God is working all things for His eternal good, and will never forsake His own. By mercy, He does all things well. (Genesis 50:20; Deuteronomy 31:8; John 14:27; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:14; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 3:12)

Father, by Your mercy, keep spinning my face to things above, where You reign in grace and glory. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Wherever the River Goes

“Then he brought me to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar... Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep.  Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through…

And he said to me, ‘This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh.  And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea... And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’” Ezekiel 47:1,3-5,8-10,12

The River of Christ’s living water is vital, active, and makes a lasting difference. It is life-cleansing and life-giving. Whether in our individual lives, or our communities, water that flows from God’s temple is powerful and always makes and has its wondrous way. (John 4:14)

Personally, the Spirit leads me to dip, wade, walk, and swim in Him, with Him. All that flows from the temple of Jesus’s presence, and my presence there, shapes a conduit for His life in me. I begin, I learn, I grow as I keep going deeper with Him. The farther I go, the more I’m filled with His life.

How deep am I willing to be led in the river of God’s delights? Do I stop at first damp or douse and get on my way, or take time to get soaked and filled? It takes vulnerability and surrender to Him, attention away from other pursuits and distractions to concentrate on His words and attributes, and allow them to sweeten me and prepare me for fruit.

Living water issuing from Christ in His people has great effect on the world, invigorating and soothing, drawing others to its power, satisfying many with its fresh supply. As His vessels, how effectively are we growing and offering the fruit His Spirit? Where and to whom are we pouring His words of life, His balm of mercy and forgiveness? (John 7:37-39; Galatians 5:22-23)

Lord Jesus, take me deep with You. Flow into and through me as the truest of refreshment in a thirsty world.

The God of Enough

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.’ And the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’ So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.  And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him, ‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’” 1 Kings 17:1-9 Elijah followed God’s commands, proclaiming His word as prophets do, and going where He said to go, and his God took care of him every step. Though he had his weak moments of discouragement and fear, Elijah would learn by experience that the Lord would never ask him to do anything for which He was not enough. Repeatedly, His adequacy came forth out of lack and impossibility, and that is where it best shines. (1 Kings 17:11-16; 18:32-39)
There are many pressures, events, and messages today that by nature or intention cause fear, unrest, worry, even panic. But this is never the response dictated by our Lord. “Fear not,” “Come to Me,” He beckons. He is on our side as the perfect Advocate, His strength perfected in our weakness. What keeps us fretting in the fray rather than relying on His sufficient grace and power? Why, when He shows us again and again its futility, do we try to rely on our own smarts, strength, and success? (Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 11:28; Romans 8:31-34; 2 Corinthians 12:9) When we are confronted with angry opponents, or suddenly altered plans, or a crippling diagnosis, would we turn our grip from the terrible impossible and open it to the One who makes His grace abound?  It is in these very hard circumstances that His enough is the most welcome, satisfying, and glorious, showing forth the bounty of His nature toward us. (2 Corinthians 9:8) Where has He met us in drought of spirit, dearth of energy and will, lack of vision and hope, to revive, fill, and empower? What He has done before He can and will again. He knows both present hardship and future threat, and guides us faithfully to His gracious enough every step along our way. Would we trust the ravens and poor widows He assigns to supply- the sources we may not have sought- because we trust Him, and His ample and glorious riches? (1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:19) Good Father, help me never dwell on the tumult that surrounds me, nor my inadequacy to meet it and respond appropriately. Teach me to rely fully on Your great sufficiency. May Your every supply to me show forth Your greatness and love to those I encounter, so they long to know You too.

No Beautiful Baggage

 

“There is no health in my bones
    because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
    like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

My wounds stink and fester
    because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
    all the day I go about mourning.
For my sides are filled with burning,
    and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and crushed;
    I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

O Lord, all my longing is before you;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
    and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me…

But for you, O Lord, do I wait;
    it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer…

For I am ready to fall,
    and my pain is ever before me.
I confess my iniquity;
    I am sorry for my sin.” Psalm 38:3-10,15,17-18

Unaddressed sin is a burden. We drag it behind us and its weight impedes our growth and slows our progress in faith. Its poison seeps down into attitudes and bones, often inhibiting our ability to love, forgive, sleep, even be kind. It taints our view of and reactions to others, smudging them with criticism, revenge, covetousness, malice, and blame. Its tentacles can manifest themselves in misery, irritability, anxiety, anger, and depression. 

There may be some pretty good glossing over, make-up that conceals some of the hurt and pain, colorful masks that hide what we never want to reveal, but there is no beauty in sin’s baggage, and no blessing in trying to cover it up.

The good news is that Jesus bore the burden of our sin, and all its attending effects and fall-out, for us on the cross. Trusting in Him to forgive and save releases us from its onerous weight and entanglements, and sets us free to flourish, unencumbered. The light and color we radiate as His redeemed children reflects His purity and splendor. (1 Peter 2:24)

What ungodly attitudes, what fears and worries, what disdain for others, have we accepted as part of our wiring and been unwilling to deal with before God? What grudge or bitter baggage are we holding on to and pretending to justify? What indulgences of our flesh do we sequester, or disguise, or excuse, and where are we experiencing their detrimental effects?

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Would we come to Jesus to be cleaned, and loosed from all that would drag us down and hold us back from pressing on to know and be filled with our Savior?

Father, uncover and reveal the root of any anxiety and tumult in my soul. Cleanse me from sin, and release me from baggage so I am free to live and serve and glorify You. (Psalm 139:23-24; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7)

Stop and stay, then on your way!

So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire.” Nehemiah 2:11-13

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

…a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:1,6,7

When Nehemiah was released by King Artaxerxes to return and repair the Jerusalem wall, he experienced remarkable permission and protection for the journey by the grace of his God, in answer to his prayer. Yet once he arrived, he needed to take time again to refocus on this faithful Lord to understand his next steps. Before jumping in to help with the trouble and destruction of his city, he took three days to hear from Him how to proceed. It was vital for him to be still before taking action, and that he did at measured pace. This instilled practice served him well then, and in challenging times to come. (Nehemiah 1:4-2:8; 5:6-10)

Watching shore birds as I walked, my attention was drawn to those that stood, for long moments, facing the wind and the loud waves it folded like thick liquid batter onto the sand, over and over. ‘Be still,’ seemed their morning mantra. ‘Be still and take it all in.’ Then, as though called by an inaudible voice, they turned and tittered off, leaving an imprint of their time at rest.

Am I still long enough to leave an imprint on my space of quiet, and have the Lord leave His on me? The time of focused devotion, of taking it all in-Christ’s living water, soul-delight in my Savior, the wind of His Spirit’s voice and leading- is what compels me forward with His mindset, poise, and countenance. It equips me to leave tracks through my days, sweet love prints by way of encouragement, kindness, a smile, a truth spoken, among friends and acquaintances. There is a time for both the stopping and the going, and there must be. (Isaiah 61:10; John 7:37-39)

How willing are we to stop our natural momentum and give some structure to staying still before the Lord? What specific urges, bents, items on the agenda need we set aside, or delay, so we can spend long moments taking in our Savior, His wisdom, His love? Would we fix our souls in Him before getting along our way, or do we drag Him behind as a magic charm, a quick check off the list, a token name-drop, with no real connection?

Because of my time in quiet with my Lord, what print might I leave on another’s heart, hope, or attitude by spoken concern, loving interest, willingness to offer God’s balm for their hurt, or blessing for their efforts?

Good Father, so imprint my life with Your Spirit’s wind and living water that I leave Christ-shaped prints through my days.

The Sheep of Whose Hand?


Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.
Psalm 95:1-7

“Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

The LORD with a name too holy to be spoken, the immovable rock and foundation of salvation, the King above all gods, guides and guards and feeds us. The Lord who holds- yes holds- the unmeasured weight of the depths of the earth, and the lofty heights of the mountains, holds and supports us. God who made and swirled and put boundaries around the sea, and whose hands crafted and dimpled and smoothed and forested the land, fashioned us fearfully and wonderfully. And He tends us now, watching over us in love. (Genesis 1:9-10; Job 38:8-11; Psalm 139:14; John 10:3-4,14-15)

When we know not which direction to go, we can trust His lead. When we are unsure where to nourish our souls, and with what, He leads us to green pastures of true spiritual food from His word. When we are lost in anger or bitterness we cannot shake, stuck in despair over choking, heart- wrenching circumstances, wandering in sin habits that have a foothold, He searches us out to rescue and cleanse. If I am timid in the noisy crowd, startled and shaken by events around me, lonely for fellowship because I’ve strayed from the fold, hungry for real satisfaction because the world’s fare has left me empty, I must remember, I am a sheep of God Almighty’s. The hands that crafted the heavens, earth, and seas are not too short to save, small to protect, or weak to uphold me. (Psalm 23:1-4; Isaiah 59:1; Matthew 18:12-14; Ephesians 4:27)

In this world’s pastures of grief, disquiet, and confusion, do I intentionally take time to recall what my Shepherd’s hands have made and now sustain, and make my way to rest in them? What difference in my perspective, emotions, and will, does it make knowing that He daily bears me up? Will it change fear to peace, worry to comfort, and transform whine to song? How could singing this psalm affect the rhythm and melody of my day? (Psalm 68:19; Colossians 1:15-17)

My Lord, because of who You are, and because I am the sheep of Your hand, therefore, may I stand firm and full of song in You. (Philippians 4:1)