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Extolling Him

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I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever.” (King David, Psalm 145:1, ESV – emphasis mine) Extol, the word is pretty much obsolete these days. When was the last time we used it in a sentence – it doesn’t just roll off our tongue? (Or should it?)

Webster’s defines it, ‘to praise highly or enthusiastically.’ Looking at the many different words translated in the Old Testament on praising and glorifying God, there are two main representations: When we exalt God, (in word AND deed) we are personally declaring Him as Superior: He is more, He is beyond, He is aboveall. When extolling God, we not only raise Him in high status, but we lift His attributes as well. God, YOU are holy! You are merciful! You are loving! You are sovereign! You are grace-filled and grace-giving! (Selah)

The imagery is likened to when we raise our hands in church, not only are we in a posture of surrender but raising God above – above the stuff, higher than ourselves. There have been a few times when I, reading His word and becoming so keenly aware of Him and His holiness, on the floor face down I can-not-get-low-enough. A true revelation of God will cause a gut response to do nothing else but lift Him up!

King Nebuchadnezzar experienced just this when stating: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven, for all His works are right and His ways are just; and those who walk in pride He is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37) As the ancient folks came across on dry ground, safely on the shores, with the Egyptians who sought to again enslave them, now lay dead, it is said of them, the Israelites  ‘believed in the LORD…” (Ex. 14:31) and sang: “The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.” (Ex 15:2)

Praising lavishly and magnifying His majesty! May ours, be a lifestyle of extolling God above all. (In Jesus name)

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

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Rest (Mini Devo)

quiet boat
When the disciples had returned from teaching, healing and delivering the people, exhausted, Jesus tells them, “Come with Me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mk 6:31, NIV) They get in a boat and go to a solitary place. Notice Jesus was very specific. He didn’t say ‘Go away – take some time off – I’ll see you on the other side.’ He wasn’t offering options. He said, “Come with Me ….”   The narrative doesn’t say it, but can you imagine the boat ride, they, being exhausted: no joking, no retelling of events and no telling Peter to sit down. Just quiet and the lapping of the water on the boat – and Jesus. Presence. Quiet on the way to and in the solitary place.  What God-math: Jesus + quiet = rest.
Perhaps YOU are exhausted, exhausted from the stuff, worn out from routine, serving and loving.  Rest.  Follow this example: “Come with Me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.”   By the way, we can’t stop there – that solitary place?  SOON thousands of folks show up, Jesus teaches them and hands the broken bread & fish to the disciples to feed them – getting ready (for the next thing) means getting rest! 
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
* Photo credit: Horacio Cardozo

Purposeful Process

Problem solving with Jesus

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man, hearing the commotion that Jesus was there, called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” In which he was told “Be silent!” by those around him. Well, THAT didn’t stop him, he cried out even louder, “JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!” Jesus stops, has the man brought to Him, He asked (although apparent of the mans need) “What do you want Me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus tells him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight. (Luke 18)

Mark chapter 8: In Bethsaida, a few folks have approached Jesus, begging Him to heal their friend who also was blind. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and walked with him out of the village. “When He had spit on the man’s eyes and put His hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” Amazing story, the man went from blind to the ability to see, to seeing with perception and detail.

Notice in these stories there was dialogue. Jesus could have from a distance, with a miracle-filled wave and a divine word, heal the men and continue on His way. Yet, He didn’t. There was purposeful process. Walk with Me – talk with Me, process. Some helped in the process, while others tried to discourage it.

How is our process? How desperate are we? Do we earnestly seek out Jesus regardless of obstacles, regardless of dismaying voices? Do we have folks around us that match or exceed our pursuit of God? Folks, Jesus invites us into the process.  Are we willing to walk with Him and process through?  Point to Ponder. Faith sees Jesus is, Jesus can and Jesus will.

Walk with ME – talk with Me, purposeful process.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)


Make Every Effort

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“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Said Thomas Edison, who after 1000 attempts, succeeds with the invention of the light bulb. Try just one more time!  The 4 guys carrying the paralytic in Mark chapter 2, understood this. Jesus is preaching to a packed house (literally) “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they …” the story continues with the guys making an opening on the roof and lowering their friend right-in-front-of Jesus. Jesus seeing their faith, He heals buddy number 5, because they kept going, creatively going.

We are lazy people (in general) we give up quickly or keep our efforts minimal at best, after all, we wouldn’t want to exert ourselves. (Phew) We take this into our God walk as well. Peter wrote; “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life… He has given us great and precious promises, enabling you to share in His divine nature.” (2 Pet 1:3-4, NLT) He continues, “In view of this, MAKE EVERY EFFORT …” (v5a, emphasis mine). Give all diligence in making good use of what God provides, apply it – apply yourselves! Peter goes on, saying ‘add to’ your faith; moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (vv 5-7). I would liken it to the Israelites in the wilderness, God provided the manna to survive, they were to go out and gather it, (yes, they had to work to get it) diligently they worked, adding to their jar each lil flake, they did this DAILY. (Ex. 16) Do WE put forth an effort to get the God stuff? Do we make time, make room, make it a PRIORITY to be in His word, talk to Him DAILY! Or do we mess around, give lil effort or quit altogether. Our very thriving existence depends on the effort we put into it!

Oh, and as for the guys and his lowered down friend? At Jesus’ word, he jumps up, grabs his mat and walked through the stunned onlookers. ‘They were all amazed and praised God…” (Mk 2:12) Those not giving up men with their determination to get to Jesus brought about a miracle, that miracle amazed the folks, which initiated praise. God doing a miracle in our own lives WILL catch the attention of others to the glory of God – our effort brings God glory!

Make every effort.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)


Know the facts, not the hype

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60 SECOND BIBLE STUDY: Goliath was NOT all that!  Taking a closer look: 1 Samuel 17 – Goliath may not have been as big and nasty as perceived, or as LARGE as the flannel graph silhouette from Sunday school, scholars believe he may have been perhaps only 6 1/2 feet to 9 feet.  Super-sized large or not, there are other interesting facts to be had. When pictured, either mentally or vibrantly sketched, we usually see just the two of them facing off (Goliath & David) yet there was a 3rd person out there, Goliath’s shield bearer whom Goliath was standing behind (v7 & 41). Not so tough now big guy! But what is fascinating: when young David steps forward to fight, Goliath mocks him about being just a boy and coming at him with a stick, yet Goliath doesn’t change his stance, he doesn’t drop any weapons, doesn’t take off any shielding, or send the shield bearer away. This so called champion was still concerned. And rightly so, that boy who RAN towards him, was the future warrior-king (and killed him and cut off his head).
 Sadly, the foes and so-called giants we face get deemed BIGGER and BADDER (Yes, that is a word according to my granddaughter) than they really are, in reality they are not all that, especially when we, like David, come against them in the name of the LORD Almighty!  As a dear friend said, “Sometimes it’s the hype that undermines our confidence not the facts.”   We are to direct our attention to the truth of God and not allow unhealthy thoughts, fears or perceptions to take us captive (like Goliath did the with the Isrealites, v11).  I’ll leave us with the wise words of Paul, “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.” (paraphrased, 2 Cor. 10:5 –  The Message)

Know the facts, not the hype.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)


FEARFUL-HOLY-REVERENCE!

 

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Having read the bible for many years, I’ve noticed a few scary verses, SCARY I tell you! Like those words in RED, I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:36) Wide-eyed and hands over mouth! And, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17) OUCH! Or of ancient days, Exodus 35:2, “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death.” (immediately dropping laundry basket). And for those of us in our teen years, “If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:9) It’s a GOOD thing I got water baptized as a late teen, I was raised to newness of life!*

But of recent, (seriously) I came across not so much a scary verse, but a wake-up verse: James 2:19 “You believe that God is one, you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder.” Here, James, Jesus’ brother, the younger brother who went from disbelief (Jn 7:5) to “James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ja. 1:1). James is speaking of faith and works, but oh the principle! “You believe … even the demons believe – and shudder.” This is the only time in scripture this particular word (shudder) is used, it means to tremble (with fear). We (the redeemed) are not to freak out in fear, thinking our God is going to step on us like an ant, but we are to have a FEARFUL-HOLY-REVERENCE! In context: demons do not have a redemptive plan, (you ARE going to get stepped on, so yes, FEAR!) Multiple times the scriptures tell us the demons knew Who Jesus was – there was extreme (crying out, falling at His feet, pleading) responses. The correct response. What is interesting, the opposite of the fear James mentions is …confidence, boldness. Here is where I was stopped immediately. (Head bowed).

I am fully persuaded in today’s culture; we are OVER confident! We reach and grab for what is considered owed us, we (the universal church) have embraced this and pulling the package into our perception of the Godly Kingdom. We are whitewashing the relationship between creation & Creator. We tend to exercise our boldness (inappropriately) and consider the God of the Universe our pal and approach His presence liken to a buddy: We go into His throne room, throw our stuff on the floor and fling ourselves across the celestial couch, with one leg hanging over the arm, while reaching forward, grabbing a fist full of food from the banquet table and popping it in our mouth and speak (with our mouth full), “Heh, how are ya?” To quote Paul, (yes, out of context – kinda) “May it never be!”

YES! A thousand yeses, our Holy God made provision for relationship. His smile is mercy filled. His grace the welcome mat and we CAN come boldly to His throne.

YET!

Father forgive us, forgive me! May we, (I) never become so confident that I miss the mark of trembling before You – reverently before You, taking pause before I open Your word! May my only boldness take me to Your feet! I echo a dear friends’ words, “May I never allow that kind of casual brashness (as the world) to enter into my relationship with the Holy One of Israel, the Creator of the Universe, who formed me from the dust.”

All these things My hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word. ” – Isaiah 66:2

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

*Please note, YES, context is everything, and Jesus brings forgiveness and New Covenant terms, the above verses were stated for emphasis.


Living By Design

 

Solomon wrote; “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)  Good words, wise words.  Solomon was stinkin wise. 1 Kings 4:31 makes mention, listing those he was wiser than. In this list, among many, we find ‘Ethan the Ezrahite‘. Can you imagine going down in permanent history, basically being said of you, “Ethan, oh he’s the not so wise guy Dude!” – overshadowed by another, someone greater than you?  We live in a society where there are comparative views of about EVERYTHING.  “This tastes better than that… over there is more spacious than here…he sings better than him… she is prettier-thinner-gifted and smarter than her… they have more than us.”  Comparison.

Even though, Solomon was granted wisdom and a discerning heart by God (See conversation in 1 Kings 3) reading this narrative of Ethan, we can’t stop there! Scholars believe Psalm 89 is attributed to this same Ethan the Ezrahite. He is divinely granted parchment space of 52 verses.  He writes of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness of covenant, with strong worshipful words, “I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth, I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations.” (v1)  He goes on to declare  “You have made … established… You rule… crushed… scattered … founded, and created…”  THAT is some dandy declaring!

Overshadowed Ethan?  I think not.  Yes, not as wise by design as Solomon, but he was impacting, he was declaring, worshiping Ethan,  “O LORD God Almighty, who is like You? You are mighty…” (v8)

May we be inspired, it is not a matter of comparison, but one of living by design. What will WE do, write or sing?

Stinkin wise?  Perhaps not, but making known God’s love and faithfulness.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)