Monday, July 25, 2016

Return to Your Rest


[Photo of a woman thinking]

“Return to your rest, O my soul, for
the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”
—Psalm 116:7 NKJV

What does the Bible say about the Christian’s customary position? Hebrews 4:9 says:

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.

I believe that Scripture teaches that Christians should normally live in a “resting” position. This place of rest shows reliance on God, joy and divine peace, and trust in God’s care.

I like the King James Version of Psalm 116:7 because it uses the word “return.” God’s peace and rest remain our normal relation and position.

In Psalm 116, the Psalmist had been overcome by trouble and sorrow. (His words). He apparently had come close to death and God had spared him. In response, he speaks to himself and says, “Return to your rest.”

What kinds of things can you recall that have taken you out of your resting position? Maybe it was a deadly disease, a close call, a period of great stress, or the multitude of times when you just don’t know how a problem will turn out. Sometimes these “tempests in teapots” can cause great strife in our lives.

When we turn to God in these times, more often than not, He hears our prayers and answers us, and “tends and spares us” as the hymn “Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven” teaches us:

Father-like, he tends and spares us;
   well our feeble frame he knows;
In his hands he gently bears us,
   rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely as his mercy goes. 1

So, as you experience the turmoil and terrors of daily life and after praying see God do some wonderful things, remember to praise Him. Meditate on the many times He has answered prayer. Journal about those times in your life, so you can return and remind yourself of them in the future.

Then, rejoice in His goodness. He will allow your soul to return to its natural position of rest in Him.


1 Henry F. Lyte, Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven. Public Domain.

—Posted: Monday, July 25, 2016



Monday, July 18, 2016



[Photo of a person carving wood on a lathe]

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and
the firmament sheweth his handywork.”
—Psalm 19:1 KJV

I so much appreciate “handiwork.” From her youth on, my grandmother had the reputation as a particularly fine seamstress. I own a dress she made for a toddler with the tiniest hand made button holes. I admire her talent a hundred years after she produced it.

My nephew has a business carving and painting all kinds of colorful wooden lures for salt water anglers. No one would doubt his talented handiwork.

My late sister hand painted large murals, crafted thousands of words of pen and ink calligraphy, and, with a dainty hand in the tradition of our grandmother, sewed many pillows and articles of clothing decorated with buttons and ribbons.

In the Early Church, a woman named Dorcas, a disciple of Jesus, became sick and died. Acts 9:39 records this sentence:

All the widows stood around him [Peter], crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

All of this demonstrates to me that, just as God reveals His handiwork through the creation, everywhere and at all times, He has created humankind in His image with the same abilities to create for themselves. Creation, and all kinds of art, did not just happen for the utilitarian needs of humans. God gave humans this ability so that they could create beauty.

Just as God looked at His creation and exclaimed that what He had made was good (Genesis 1), He has allowed us the joy of creating, too. Besides that, He enables us to feel pleasure in the handiwork of others. In so doing, we derive pleasure and can offer praise in the revelation of Himself that we see in human creativity.

Psalm 8 tells us that God has set His glory above the heavens. God reveals His inherent glory. A few verses later, the Psalmist writes that God has crowned man with glory. Our glory derives from His glory. Every creature shows the glory of the Creator in some way. The more we know this great Creator-God, the more beautiful and glorious we become as His image bearers.

Thank God today for the ways in which His glory, His creative beauty, and His magnificent design, shows forth in your life and in the lives of those you know. All of this handiwork should prompt us to offer our praise and worship to such a breathtakingly glorious God.



Monday, July 11, 2016

The Nobles of Tekoa


[Drawing of Nehemiah supervising the building of the wall around Jerusalem]

“ The next section [of the wall] was repaired
by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put
their shoulders to the work under their supervisors. ”
—Nehemiah 3:5

What an exciting time it must have been in the days of Nehemiah. God had moved this man to travel back to his homeland and begin the process of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He had never seen Jerusalem. But, he had heard of the destruction of this city and its walls. The news of this disaster moved Nehemiah to seek permission from King Artaxerxes, his master, to return and give aid to the fallen city.

Nehemiah motivated cooperation and a collegial work ethic among the people. Chapter three of the Book of Nehemiah lists the names of all those who helped on each section of the great wall. Goldsmiths, joined by perfumers, priests, merchants, and temple servants—and even a few women—got busy and zealously worked on the repairs.

However, this curious verse five from the third chapter tells us that the nobles of Tekoa refused to work alongside their fellow Jewish brothers. Fortunately, not all men in positions of importance acted that way. As we read through the chapter, we see that a number of rulers, men of authority, enjoyed the camaraderie, and did what they could to join the work.

Amy Carmichael, referring to this story writes:

In the list of honorable names in chapter 3, there is a little sentence that I am sure the men in question would like to take out of the Bible. But they cannot. They are for ever held up to derision and shame. They lost their chance, the great chance of their lives; it never came again… How glad all the other builders must have been when the wall was joined together; each set of people had done their bit faithfully… And how astonished they would be to hear that their names were written in a Book that would be treasured to the end of time. 1

Do we have our own nobles of Tekoa? I don’t think we would need to look too far to see people with this attitude in our churches today.

I once heard a woman say, “Oh, I direct choirs, I don’t sing in them!” I also knew a woman who held the position of the children’s ministry team director, who enjoyed chairing meetings, but never actually got to know any of the children of the church.

When we look at Jesus, we see the way that He lived, walking and helping those in need, always serving others. We read His words in Matthew 20:26-28:

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

When God calls us to serve, He builds us into a team of His people. While we work in whatever capacity He calls us, He makes sure that we, like the builders in the days of Nehemiah, rejoice to see the work completed and to hear His words to us, “Well done!”


1 Carmichael, Amy, Thou Givest…They Gather. Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade for Dohnavur Fellowship, 1958. p. 132.



Monday, July 4, 2016

Watch in the Same


[Photo of a woman standing watch]

“Continue in prayer, and watch
in the same with thanksgiving;”
—Colossians 4:2 (KJV)

God has told us to pray. But additionally, Scripture indicates effective praying includes both the anticipation, the expectation, and the perseverance having to do with faith.

Jesus told a parable of a persistent widow coming to a judge for justice, recorded in Luke 18:1-8. He used the story to teach His disciples that they should always pray and not give up. We read instances in scripture in which people, tired of waiting on God, took matters into their own hands to solve their problem. Disaster often followed such action.

We see others who just gave up asking, thinking God would not grant their requests. While sometimes God does tell us “no,” most often He answers our prayers in His own way and in His own time—which are infinitely better than our own.

We should live like anglers checking their bait, like bakers checking their pies, like lovers standing watch at the door waiting for the other. We should believe with anticipation that the answer will come. We should put our eyes, not on the object of our prayer, but on the One to whom we pray.

I like the way Puritan preacher Richard Sibbes puts it:

Waiting causes us to focus upon [God.] If we are earnest, we will not go away until we speak with him. Faith remains at the door until he comes. All of us fail in this; we do not wait until we obtain. Let us not blame the Savior whose promise is firm without change. If we would learn to wait, we would hear more from him. 1

We have this promise from Jesus Himself in Matthew 7:8:

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Don’t you suppose Moses’ mother not only had the little boat created for her baby and cast it in the water with faith mixed with hope? Of course, she did. But, she also continued to watch her little treasure—and set her daughter to watching as well—until

God answered her prayer and safely returned Moses to her.

Sometimes, we need to employ others in the process of our prayers. We may run out of steam when waiting seems interminable. But, God has graciously given to all of us someone, or a small group, or a church, standing ready to help us pray and watch.

Let us be encouraged today to persevere, to hope, to believe, and to watch for the God of the answer. He has promised to come to us.


1 From “Works” by Richard Sibbes, as quoted in Rushing, Richard, editor. Voices from the Past. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009. p330.