April 30, 2007

Truth Always Triumphs


Psalm 12 is all about words.  At times it seems as if someone could conquer the world with mere words, just like the 3 people on the left of my picture.  They are full of flattery, lies, and boasts.  They deceive everyone with their vile words.  No one is able to stop them, and they are maligning the truth, oppressing the weak and needy, who are crying out for God's help.  Notice that it seems there are more of them than there are of the godly - sometimes it seems that way, but I must remember that God is on my side, and He's stronger than all of them put together.

The power of words is amazing.  Words can crush the spirit.  Or they can lift you up.  Truthful words of a faithful friend can bring comfort.  The true Word of God gives protection from anything I might face.  God's words are purer than silver that's been heated and refined seven times!  I can always count on His Word, and I need to use it to test everything I hear.

Jesus comes between us and our enemies to protect us, to cut off their lips and tongues that will not speak the truth.  He rescues me from every lie that Satan uses to try to deceive me, if I will only seek Him and call to Him for help.  His Voice of Truth is the only voice I need to listen to.

Posted by jennbeck at 06:52 AM | Comments (3865)

April 29, 2007

Take Refuge in God

Psalm 11 depicts a wicked man lurking in the shadows ready to shoot his arrows at the righteous man.  Another person has seen the violent man with his arrows and urges the upright man to run away from what seems like certain disaster.  Instead of running, the godly man expresses his certainty that God protects him, and that he will see God. 

From this Psalm, I learn that God does indeed see me in whatever situation I face - he examines me and my enemies.  He is my refuge.  His soul hates the wicked, and he demonstrates his love of justice by raining down fiery coals and burning sulfur on the attacker, and sending the scorching wind to destroy him. 

When I face troubles, is my first inclination to run away from it, or to turn to God and trust in Him for protection and deliverance.  Today's passage reminds me that God is in his holy temple, and 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 reminds me that I am that temple, in which God's spirit lives.  God will surely protect me.  I am never alone, no matter how many or few people are around me.  I am in God - He protects me and shields me, and He is in me. 

Lord, help me to pray to You first and entrust myself to your care no matter what difficult situation I may face.  Whether it be the attack of spiritual forces or physical forces, may my first instinct always be to seek You!  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:05 AM | Comments (3712)

April 26, 2007

How majestic is Your name, O Lord!

I've been amazed in the last week at how similar all the Psalms seem to be - all of them talk about God, and us, and our enemies.  But I learn so much about each of these as read the next Psalm. 

I love Psalm 8 - it's one of my favorite Psalms.  It reminds me that God is the Lord, our Lord.  His name is majestic, and He is glorious - he set His glory above the heavens.  He ordains praise, even from the lips of children and infants, which my children represent in this picture.  His works are wonderful.  He made the heavens and set the moon, stars, and other heavenly bodies in place.  He is the creator of the entire world, the whole earth.  He also made man - He made me - and placed us a little lower than the angels, crowning us and making us rulers over all He made.  He didn't stop at simply making me and giving me my position in the world;  He continues to care for me, as for all the people He made. 

How amazing it is to consider all of the world God has made.  I thought this morning about the science curriculum I've been using to teach my children ("Considering God's Creation") and how that gets to the very heart of why we need to study the world around us.  As we study God's creation and discover how intricately each animal, plant, and even rock is designed, we learn more about what a wonderful majestic maker our Lord is.  It draws us and even our children into praise. 

As I thought about the ways God has made us rulers over the beasts of the earth, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, I couldn't help but think of farmer, zookeepers, and animal trainers that work with sea animals like whales and dolphins. 

Our enemies (or the Lord's enemies) are only mentioned once in this Psalm.  What it says about them should certainly lead us to praise our amazing God.  Our praise, and especially that of our babies and children, silences the foe and the avenger.  In this spiritual battle I face every day, a song of praise may be all it takes to point me and my children back to the Lord and chase away the evil one.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1a, 9)

Posted by jennbeck at 07:14 AM | Comments (5185)

April 24, 2007

Rock Bottom

As I read Psalm 6 today I thought about several things. I thought about the TV show Drive that I've been watching recently.  One lady on the show last night thought God had told her to participate in an illegal race to win 32 million dollars, and that she would win.  In last night's episode, she died.  Clearly she was mistaken.  I thought of her in her car after she'd been repeatedly rammed off the road, groaning, weeping, physically in anguish.  Psalm 6 seemed like a prayer she might have thought of praying. 

I thought of my sister, who thinks she needs to reach rock bottom before she turns her life around.  It sure does seem like David must have been at his lowest point when he wrote this Psalm.  I pray that she will recognize her lowest point and call on God before it is too late. 

"But what does this have to do with me?" I wondered.  Then I remembered a couple weeks ago when I had reached my own "rock bottom".  I had tried to be "supermom" - to do everything perfectly, have perfect kids, and please everyone....all on my own without anyone's help.  That would wear anyone out.  So there I was, just like David, faint, worn out, sorrowful, too anxious to sleep, with uncontrollable tears, and achey from working so hard.  But I remembered God, and that what He asks of me is more important than what the world expects of me.  I praised God, remembering that he is merciful, and singing songs of praise - a great remedy for any trouble I may face.  And I prayed for His help, because I clearly cannot fight this battle on my own.  My enemies are not people, and they certainly aren't my children.  Instead they are the pieces of my old sin nature that want to just hang around and get under my skin.  God heard my prayer, and he sent them packing, rescuing me, delivering me from their grasp. 

God does rebuke and discipline me as His child.  But God knows when I am weak, and when I recognize and am truly sorrowful for my own sin.  In those moments, like a loving parent, he does not tell me how wrong I was or even punish me for what I have done.  He is merciful and displays His unfailing love.  When I call on Him with a truly repentant heart, He accepts my prayer and my tears and will save me, deliver me, and heal me, just as David asked Him to do. 

Posted by jennbeck at 07:44 AM | Comments (4473)

April 23, 2007

Reflections on Psalm 5


Psalm 5, like others I have read (1, 4), contrasts the wicked man ("them") with the righteous man ("me").  I am sorry so many of the words on my drawing did not scan well - I had a 3-year-old and an 7-year-old wiggling next to me on the sofa as I drew it. 

The wicked woman on the left is untrustworthy, arrogant, deceitful, wicked, evil, bloodthirsty.  She speaks lies and has many sins.  Her heart is full of destruction, and she has rebelled against God.  As a result, she cannot dwell with God or even stand in His presence.  God is not pleased with her actions.  He hates and abhors the way she behaves.  He declares her guilty, destining her for eternal destruction, if she does not change her ways. 

The righteous woman on the right.  She cries for help, starting first thing in the morning.  She lays her requests before the Lord and waits, expecting Him to do what she has asked.  That is faith.  She takes refuge in God alone.  As a result, she will come into God's house, and she will bow toward His temple, recognizing Him as her Lord, King, and God.  God hears her, protects her, and blesses her.  He leads her in righteousness and makes His perfect path straight for her - He makes it easy for her to see the right way and to walk in it.  He fills her with such joy that she can't help but burst forth into song.  He surrounds her with His favor, which protects her like a shield keeps a warrior safe.

Lord, help me to be like the righteous woman, following Your perfect path, presenting my requests before you as soon as I have a need, and waiting expectantly for You to act.  Help me to be humble before You, eager to do what is right, proclaiming Your truth.  May the unrighteous find You and turn to You before it is too late.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:31 AM | Comments (8323)

April 20, 2007

God is my Shield and Deliverer


Today I read Psalm 3 (thought it was Psalm 2 - oops), and I was reminded of my many foes.  I don't have many physical enemies.  The battle I fight is spiritual (Ephesians 6:12).   My enemies surround me on every side:  the desire to please people instead of God, perfectionism, selfishness, procrastination, feelings of helplessness or depression, bad moods or attitudes, anger, fatigue, frustration, sin, pride, fear, self-sufficience.... I'm sure this is just the beginning of a huge list.  I need to cry to God for deliverance because I am so desperate for Him - I cannot conquer these enemies without His help any more than David could conquer the tens of thousands who surrounded him.  Just as God heard David, He hears me.  He gives me the peace I need to sleep, while He shields me from my many foes.  I wake refreshed, sustained by Him alone.  He lifts my head and bestows glory on me.  My enemies seem fewer now, but they are still too many for me to handle on my own.  God fights for me.  He strikes each one of my enemies, rendering them all helpless against me.  He delivers me and blesses me.

This Psalm tells me that God is my shield, and deliverer.  He hears and answers my prayers.  He sustains me, fights for me, and blesses me. 

Posted by jennbeck at 07:12 AM | Comments (3405)

April 19, 2007

How to receive God's blessing

Today I read Psalm 1, which compares the righteous and the wicked.  Instead of having other people (wicked, sinners, mockers) to advise or counsel me, I need to look to God's Word to guide me.  God wants me to delight in His law and think about His Word all the time, day and night.  If I do that, I will be like a tree, bearing fruit at the appropriate season, not withering, but prospering in all I do.  God promises to bless me and watch over or guard my way until I reach my final destination - the judgment (for reward), the ultimate assembly of the righteous in the very presence of God - heaven, my eternal home.

The wicked did not even make it into my picture, though their end is certain destruction.  The allow the world guide them instead of looking to God and His Word.  Instead of being like fruitful trees, they are like good-for-nothing chaff, blown away by the wind.  They will not find a place in heaven with God, but will face eternal punishment - they will perish. 

Posted by jennbeck at 07:33 AM | Comments (3266)

April 18, 2007

At the Cross

A few weeks ago in our Worship Community Choir at church, we sang the song "At the Cross".  This morning as I reviewed 1 John 5 and made a list of all the things we know, I was struck by how God loves me as His child and treats me as His child.  The song we sang such a short time ago came to mind once again:

At The Cross

Verse 1:
Oh Lord You've searched me,
You know my way;
Even when I fail You,
I know You love me.
Your holy presence
Surrounding me
In every season,
I know You love me;
I know You love me.
At the cross I bow my knee,
Where Your blood was shed for me,
There's no greater love than this.
You have overcome the grave,
Your glory fills the highest place,
What can separate me now?

Verse 2:
You go before me,
You shield my way,
Your hand upholds me;
I know You love me.
And when the earth fades,
Falls from my eyes,
And You stand before me,
I know You love me;
I know You love me.
You tore the veil, You made a way
When You said that it is done.

Posted by jennbeck at 06:40 AM | Comments (5289)

April 17, 2007

Just the facts, 1 John 5:18-21

Because Jesus is in my heart, I know that Jesus protects me from the evil one, Satan.  He cannot harm me even though he controls the world.  I am God's child because of Jesus.  Jesus gives me understanding so that I know God, and through Jesus I am in God as well.  He is the true God.  He is eternal life.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:12 AM | Comments (123)

April 08, 2007

Test the spirits

So many voices call out to me - TV, friends, pastors, the internet, family, and curriculum publishers all want us to listen to them and believe what they have to say.  How do I know if they have ulterior motives?  All I can do is test what they are saying against what I know to be true from the Bible, and pray that God will give me guidance by His Spirit to know the truth.

Posted by jennbeck at 12:40 AM | Comments (126)

Love like Jesus

I was touched this morning as I read first about the Lord's Supper and then read the commentary from Community Bible Study that covered 1 John 3.  One of the things I realized is that love is putting what is best for others above your own personal desires or comfort.

A friend from church invited me to a homeschool  Easter party that happens tomorrow morning.  All I could think about was how difficult that would make my day.  The party itself wasn't the issue; it was the  half-hour's drive to the party, coupled with the potential effects on my 3 toddlers' nap schedule.  That can really throw a ringer into my day.

But how could I not show love to my children by giving them the opportunity to have fun, meet new friends, play, and hunt for Easter eggs?  Sure, there are other things I'd rather be doing, just as Jesus would have rather done most anything than suffer like He did on the cross.  But His love took Him there, just as that same love working through me will take me to places I'd personally rather not go. 

Posted by jennbeck at 12:39 AM | Comments (850)

Lessons from a fig tree

Matthew 21:18-22
Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry.  Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.

When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Mark 11:12-14, 20-25
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.  Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.  Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"

"Have faith in God," Jesus answered.  "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

What a reminder to truly believe that we will receive what we pray for, if we believe and do not doubt!  I pray that my children will earnestly seek God.

Posted by jennbeck at 12:37 AM | Comments (2815)

Not condemned, 1 John 3:19-20

This morning my 3-year-old daughter and my 8-year old daughter joined me during my quiet time a bit earlier than I anticipated.  I try not to send them away in the mornings, but this morning they joined me so early I was quite bothered and annoyed.  After they got the point that I needed a little bit of quiet, they both left, and I felt a bit guilty.  Tears came, I prayed again, and then I tried once more to answer at least a couple of my Bible study questions before drawing my picture. 

As I re-read the passage I identified with what the verses were saying:  "This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."  I drew a picture of myself, questioning in my thoughts whether my heart was full of sin for not being more polite to my girls.  Jesus, the Truth, stood beside me claiming me as His own, and not condemning me even as he did not condemn the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11.

Posted by jennbeck at 12:35 AM | Comments (4548)