Bless the Lord, O My Soul

lifting-up-handsToday in Psalm 145:2 I read David’s words:  “Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.”   David very clearly declares he will bless the Lord each day for the rest of his life.

Haven’t you wondered about this—how is this even possible? How can we bless God? Isn’t He the Blesser and we the blessees?

Jack Hayford, in his wonderful book, Living the Spirit-Filled Life, states that the idea of “blessing” is a reciprocal event:

The two ideas of giving and receiving a blessing are brought together in the word David uses here for “bless,” in Hebrew barach, which is derived from berech, “knee.” In Old Testament times, one got down on his knees when preparing to speak or receive words of blessing.

The act of blessing, therefore, is a two-way street. On God’s end, He is the Blesser, the Source of everything we need to daily live a rich, committed life. There are many biblical instances of God imparting a blessing or promising future blessings  (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 9:1, Genesis 17:20, Exodus 32: 29, Numbers 6:22-27, Haggai 2:19, Malachi 3:10, Hebrews 6:14, to name a few).

On our end, it requires an adjustment of altitude and attitude. We must kneel — hit our knees — fall before our Authority and the One Who gives good gifts. He is Jehovah Jireh!

In summary . . .  God gives to us the enabling, through the wonderful Holy Spirit, to live each day in obedience to Him. From our knees, we respond back to our loving Father with words and songs of praise. This plays out everyday as unceasing worship to God. Realize from Whom your blessings flow!

Next time you read “bless” in the Word, think about its reciprocal meaning.

Yes, you can “bless” the Lord! Acknowledge His many gifts! Lift up your songs and prayers of praise to your Great Blesser!

Lookin’ up,

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Heart Surgery

I have two friends who’ve recently endured the highs and lows of major heart surgery.

Duke University Medical Center is home to some of the best cardiothoracic surgeons in the country.  No small challenge, this kind of heart surgery. Part of the procedure sometimes involves replacing of  heart valves with either mechanical or pig valves, and bypass surgery to graft in new vein sections from the patient’s leg.

My first friend and church family member, Bobby Temple, fought a long and hard fight after his heart surgery. God chose to heal him permanently and called him home to heaven.

My second friend and co-worker, Jan, is now in the fight of her life. She is slowly improving, day by day. But it is a struggle. A struggle to move from a hospital bed to a chair and watch a few minutes of TV. It is a struggle to walk the hallway, IV pole at her side, even once a day. It is a struggle to acknowledge visitors, to talk a few words of conversation to them, to stay in the moment. These acts require an extraordinary amount of cardio and pulmonary efficiency, which are extremely difficult for her right now.

As I visited with Jan yesterday and then dug into the Word, it struck me how similar this epic battle is to the spiritual heart surgery that must happen to each of us. We are all born with a sinful, marred “heart” that must be removed and replaced. Replaced by one of God’s making. A new heart that has the Will and the Desires of God beating through it.

God says: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgements and do them.”  Ezekiel 35:26-27

Only God can thrust His hand into a man’s being, extract a stony heart, and insert a heart of flesh. The new heart of flesh He implants . . is pliable and squishy. . .  and it beats after God.

The new heart is polar opposite to the old. It no longer seeks its own. It does not exalt worthless idols. It does not sin without discretion.

It is a heart with the Holy Spirit of God instilled in it. . . cleansing it. . . strengthening it. . .  keeping its owner pointed toward the Only One Who Saves.

I am thankful for the heart surgery God did for me, for my circle of family and friends. Where would I surely be without Him?

ARE YOU THANKFUL TODAY FOR YOUR ” NEW HEART”?  STOP AND TELL HIM HOW GRATEFUL YOU ARE TODAY–

IF YOU’VE NOT HAD A ” NEW HEART REPLACEMENT” AND WOULD LIKE TO KNOW MORE, WOULD YOU LIKE TO START A CONVERSATION ABOUT IT?  COMMENT BELOW AND I’LL GET BACK TO YOU VERY SOON. . . GOD BLESS!

Lookin’ up,

 

 

 

5 Easy Ways to Celebrate the Advent

© Byronwmoore | Stock Free Images

Wikipedia says “Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth on earth at Christmas.”

Many churches formally celebrate the Advent season with centuries-old liturgical rituals. We here in our Southern Baptist church family do things a bit more low-key. You’ll hear Christmas sermons and programs. You’ll see decorations: the nativity scenes, the Chrismon trees with Christ-centered ornaments, the poinsettias and other arrangements.

However, outside of the church building, the Real Reason for the Season is drowned out by things that steal our attention. Things, that in the light of eternity, won’t be counted for Christ.

I decided to make a personal Advent list this year because I didn’t want to lose sight of Jesus in the midst of busyness. I want HIM to be centermost in my thoughts and attitude.

1) FOCUS ON THE WORD – Below is a list of Bible readings I am working through, each day, to remind me of Jesus and His purpose.

List of Daily Bible Readings for Advent

2) FOCUS ON THE MUSIC -  Try to listen to just carols this year, leave off Santa and Frosty. I have a Pandora station set up for “Christmas Carols” that I plan to use all through December.

3) FOCUS ON MONETARY GIVING – There are thousands of causes and organizations that ask for funds this time of year. Try looking within your local church, first of all, to pray through the ones to which God would want you to contribute. Al and I are giving to several of these mission needs. The amount of money given doesn’t have to be a monumental–it just needs to be an amount you and Lord agree on.

4) FOCUS ON SERVICE GIVING – Ah, here’s the counterpart to the one above! Not only should money be given, but physical service should be donated too! Our Ridgecrest Toy Drive is next week and through it we get to share Jesus, the Greatest Gift of All. It makes my year! So this year,  STEP OUT IN FAITH–believe and live out II Timothy 1:7! God will bless you for it!

5) FOCUS ON SYMBOLISM – Pick out one Christmas symbol and reflect on how it portrays Jesus, whenever you encounter it. Thank God for this reminder of Jesus. This year I’ve chosen the wreath. Here’s what I’ve pondered: A wreath is a circle, showing God AND Jesus are infinite. . . without beginning or end. . . He is the Great I AM. . . the Alpha and Omega. . . He is Evergreen and cannot die but lives FOREVER!  HALLELUJAH! Jesus Lives!

Will YOU join me and make your own Advent list? It might look very different from mine,  but try committing to see Christ in every aspect of Christmas this year!

Praying abundant blessings for all you and yours! May HE be glorified!

Lookin’ up,