Today’s Worship Walk: Psalms 103:2-5

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“Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. Who satisfies your desires with good things…”

Psalms 103:2-5

I’ve found that reading this Psalm is a perfect antidote to discontent. Whenever I feel a creeping sense of frustration about life – plans not moving forward at my pace, an opportunity I liked fizzling out…whatever – one read through of this Psalm sets my heart right. 

King David understood the need for us to worship, and he truly loved to do it. Did you notice, though, how in verse 1 and 2  he adds, “my soul” after his call to worship? It’s as if David wants to be transparent, letting us know we all can forget God’s blessings and fall into discouragement as a result.

This list He gives, as amazing as it is, barely scratches the surface of what our Heavenly Father does for us. David lived long before Jesus walked the earth, and only saw glimpses of miracles yet to come. But, he used what he did know about: namely accounts of God revealing Himself to His people through the years.

I think this Psalm resonates with me so much because these “benefits” reveal truths about God’s love that fill me up with gratitude. In the NIV version, the word ‘compassion’ is used 3 times, along with others like ‘gracious’ and ‘righteousness.’ Such a strong reminder leads me to reminisce about how God has cared for me. Suddenly, my problems and complaints lose their importance, and gladness starts to take over discontent.

 

Click here for more info about Heather and Worship Walk Ministries.

Christian Quotes: C. S. Lewis

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“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”

C. S. Lewis

 

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

Proverbs 19:20

Today’s Worship Walk:Proverbs 30:7-9

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“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Proverbs 30:7-9

 

I’ve written before about my struggles with materialism. I grew up with a distorted view of money, namely that having lots of it was vital to my happiness in life. Now, I could say that I got that message while growing up in a worldly-minded home. That is true. But it’s also true that faulty thoughts can take root and stay firmly planted, which is exactly what happened in my case.

I’m reminded of this because of a discussion my husband and I had this morning about our budget. This subject has always been a trigger for me, one that I truly thought I had a handle on. For years I couldn’t have a rational talk with him about spending habits, because to me budget = deprivation. But after a lot of prayers and study and just plain growing up a bit, my heart changed – or so I thought.

Then today at the table, it all came flooding back: the fear, the dread, the angst. It caught me by surprise,u but it shouldn’t have. After all, I’m still human, even if a slightly more mature one, and our tendencies always lean toward wanting more than we have.

So, it looks like it’s time to pull some verses out to study again. I love this one from Proverbs in particular. It’s a very wise prayer, one that describes how easy it is to go wrong in our attitude and actions when it comes to money. Honestly, I’ve gone in both those directions the writer describes, and neither leaves me contented.

Only one way of thinking about money leads me to the right place: recognizing that God is my Provider and He gives me what I need, no more, no less. And when I can humbly thank Him for that, I know I’m headed back on track.

 

Click here for more info about Heather and Worship Walk Ministries.

Today’s Worship Walk: 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

The Apostle Paul was passionate about planting and equipping churches. Even more, he felt protective of them, with a fatherly sense of affection for each. Since his ministry called him to travel, he couldn’t stay to oversee any one church. So, his letters are full of advice about the logistics of running services, as well as foundational teachings about Christian faith.

In his writings. Paul placed a lot of emphasis on relationships between believers. He often reminded his readers that followers of Christ shared a profound bond, and were called to live together in unity of heart and mind.

Paul understood how challenging that call was, though. Living “as one” requires sacrifice, namely as Paul puts it, to think of others above ourselves. That instruction hasn’t gotten any easier over the centuries, has it? I know it goes against my human nature.

This verse in Thessalonians is a great way to fix my focus in a better place than my own problems and plans. As soon as I take the time to say something encouraging to another person, I’ve shifted gears – me-centered eases into he/she-centered. Out of that comes a God-centered moment of bonding with that brother or sister.

The change in focus can happen quickly, and when it does, it tends to feed on itself. After reaching out beyond myself once, many times I’ll want to keep it going, and see who else might need encouragement.

 I like how the King James translation puts this verse: “comfort yourselves together.”  At its best, building others up has a positive effect on the whole community of believers – encouragement, comfort, peace, joy. What if all our churches sought that covenant above any other ministry?

 

Click here for more info about Heather and Worship Walk Ministries.

Today’s Worship Walk: Mary & Martha

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In honor of the holiday season drawing near, I thought I’d share a piece I wrote about two famous sisters in the Bible who hosted a feast. I hope it blesses you!

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Martha Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Do you know the story of Mary and Martha in the Gospels? The two women, dear friends of Jesus, host Him and His disciples at their home. The focus of the story is how differently the two women choose to spend the time that Jesus is with them. Mary sits at His feet, listening to His teaching. Martha, however, is busy and distracted preparing the meal.

I used to feel a lot of sympathy for Martha – she got saddled with the work while her sister got to relax. And then, when she pointed that out, Jesus gently scolded her and defended Mary – that didn’t seem fair at all! But I’ve come to understand both sisters a little more.

Both women cared deeply for Jesus. They each valued the friendship they shared with Him. And they were excited to invite Him into their home, welcoming Him and His disciples warmly. Simply put, the difference between them is in how they showed their affection for Jesus.

Martha wanted to express her care through action. Providing a meal for visitors was part of the culture, an expected courtesy. And as a woman of the time, Mary naturally gravitated toward that task and was good at it. She probably assumed Mary would join her in the kitchen, so there was no need to discuss it.

In contrast, Mary decided to show her love by giving attention. She bucked tradition by settling at the feet of Jesus. She respected His teaching, and  wanted to soak in all He had to offer. Her focus was so fixed that it didn’t even occur to her that she needed to be anywhere else.

I think Jesus’ words to Martha, “you are worried and upset about many things,” were meant to calm her spirit. And when He said that Mary chose the better part, He wasn’t saying Martha’s situation didn’t matter. He was reminding her that relationships are more important than tasks.

As I get ready to prepare another round of holiday dinners, I’m hoping to find just the right balance between ‘Mary’ and ‘Martha’ thinking. Then I might just take a break from stirring and chopping to truly treasure being with my guests, even before the meal!

 

Click here for more info about Heather and Worship Walk Ministries.

 

Today’s Worship Walk: Proverbs 31:25

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She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.”

Proverbs 31:25

I’ve gone through a bit of a journey with this Proverb. The first time I studied it, I was a new wife, and took on the verses as if it was a job description. I wanted to be able to rise early, be clever and industrious all day, and make my family proud to call me theirs. But I soon discovered that living up to all the duties listed was impossible, which led to some self condemnation.

Thankfully God has helped me to gain some perspective. This poem is less a list to accomplish and more an overview of a life led by Godly wisdom – mature faith showing itself through productive and generous days. Understanding that has helped me let go of unrealistic expectations.

One of the qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman that I still aspire to, though, is the ability to “laugh at the days to come.” To be confident enough to face the future with a positive outlook, even if I don’t know what life has in store, sounds so sweet to me. And like all the other traits, the wisdom, grace and trust to live this way only comes through a close relationship with God. I’m glad He wants to meet us where we are and help us grow.

 

Click here for more info about Heather and Worship Walk Ministries.

 

 

Today’s Worship Walk: James 3:16

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But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

James 3:14

I’m not proud to say I’ve dealt with my fair share of jealousy. I’ve envied what other people have, whether a talent, a career opportunity, or a romantic relationship. And I also know what it’s like to try to pretend I haven’t felt it. I may have fooled other people at those moments, but not myself.

God was never fooled, either. As we know, He looks at the heart, and mine was full of selfish ambition and a sense of entitlement. He saw how much I clung to the frustration and anger, as if that would motivate me to try harder to get those things I wanted – in my own strength, of course.

A lot of those episodes happened before I became a believer. But, even since I’ve accepted Christ, these feelings have risen up in my heart from time to time. I’m better now at recognizing jealousy for what it is though, and being honest about it with myself and God. And the more I trust in God’s Will for me and desire to please Him, the less I look around at other people.

 

Click here for more info about Heather and Worship Walk Ministries.