Posted in encouragement, theology

Cast your cares upon Him; He can handle it

By Elizabeth Prata

We’re all going through something. We all have burdens, griefs, and issues to deal with. If not at this moment, we might be coming out of one or going into one. The Lord said that in this life we would have trouble. (Jon 16:33).

He cares for us and will be with us every step of the way. He said to cast our cares to Him.

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)

Believe it!

Still not sure?

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Really!

Think of it this way. There are 8 billion people alive on earth today. Of those, how many Christians are there in the world at any given moment? Millions? Hundreds of millions? Since Jesus calls us to cast our cares upon Him, and there are hundreds of millions of Christians doing just that each day, it’s a gigantic pile of cares. He handles it. In the face of all that, he can handle your checkbook. Your mother’s cancer. Your daughter’s shoplifting. Your husband’s grumpiness. Your job search. He can handle it, and He does.

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will do it. (Psalm 37:5)

cast your cares verse

Posted in encouragement, theology

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation

By Elizabeth Prata

In Psalm 51, David famously wrote-

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.
(Psalm 51:10-13)

His is a magnificent statement of repentance. No wonder God called David a man after His own heart. (Acts 13:22).

You notice that David ‘s contrition and petition for restoration didn’t include restoring a kingdom to him, or his fortress or his armor or his lands. He did not ask for material things. He wanted the ‘joy of God’s salvation’ – spiritual things. David wanted the spiritual joy of a right relationship with His God.

I often ponder the joy of my salvation. I don’t want to lose that wonder and awe of the miracle of a purified mind and a clean heart. Maybe it’s because I came to the Lord in my 40s, and I remember so well the feeling of moral confusion, impurity, and guilt. One thing I enjoy about salvation is the release of my mind from having to work so hard to justify my sin. Or the efforts of my heart to hide it. Or the difficulty in having my conscience making valiant efforts to tamp down the morally questionable things I said and did.

A willing spirit that finds joy in knowing and obeying our Savior is a release that can only come from Jesus. It’s a gift to us, borne on His blood and His cross. In gratitude, David said he would teach others the ways of God so that sinners would be converted. He is passing along the gift he himself thirsts for and treasures.

by faith you have been saved verse

Posted in encouragement, theology

Psalm 29: Praise and glory to the Highest!

By Elizabeth Prata

Enjoy this Psalm 29. As the MacArthur Commentary explains, it has the earmarks of earliest Hebrew poetry. Its general form is a hymn, proclaiming 3 representative realities of God as supreme and therefore praise belongs to Him alone:

1. Lord’s supremacy over heavenly beings
2. Lord’s supremacy over the “forces of nature” (references pagan gods)
3. Lord’s supremacy over humanity

It builds and in my opinion is a majestic and breathtaking poem/hymn. Happy Lord’s Day!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ascribe to the LORD Glory

A Psalm of David.
1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,a
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

3The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
4The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

7The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

9The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!

praise verse

Posted in encouragement, theology

Gratitude abounds, the LORD is so worthy to be loved and praised!

By Elizabeth Prata

From electing love to glorifying love, you are loved by God. You were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. He loved you in Christ before time began, and He will love you in Christ when time is over. The committed love of God for His people is as eternal as God is. There’s no time with God. He doesn’t learn anything. He doesn’t arrive on a new idea. He doesn’t come up with new people to redeem. He has always loved His own as long as He has existed. ~John MacArthur, Remembering All His Benefits

gratitude 2

This is an incredible sermon about the praise and gratitude of Psalm 103. Psalm 103 has had more music sung about it or from it than any other (except perhaps Psalm 23). The only name mentioned in the Psalm is YHWH. There is no historical note or context. It is pure praise and love and devotion toward Yahweh.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

6 The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
14 For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.

19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
(Psalm 103)

He has forgotten all our sins! Let us always remember Him and all His kindnesses toward us, each day. Please take a look at the 16 items that come in just The Salvation Package. And the LORD gives so much more.

Then please take a listen to this sermon that will no doubt ignite your gratitude and cause singing from the wellsprings of your soul. John MacArthur upacks Psalm 103 and in so doing makes God’s love toward His people real and devastatingly poignant. And then,

[N]othing more clearly demonstrates our remaining sin than the ease with which we forget such staggering love and blessing.

This sermon will help you remember all His blessings, and gratitude will flow and praise will come and worship will happen. I promise.

Sermon:

Remembering All His Benefits

Lord, May there always be a fountain of praise and worship from my soul to Him!

Posted in bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Reading the introductions

The Bible Reading Plan for today is to read Psalm 6-8. I’ve resolved of late to read the introductions of the passages and not skip them. Also, to read the endings and read the notes, like these in the Psalms I’m about to discuss. If all scripture is profitable, then I shouldn’t skip the intros, conclusions, lists of names, genealogies, or musical directions, lol.

Often David or the other Psalmist would make notes to the musicians who were going to play the songs, like this that begins Psalm 6-

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.

Of course, once I read the note and see something like ‘Sheminith’, I got curious. Like, what is a Sheminith?

I read in Easton’s Bible Dictionary about Sheminith:

That the Hebrew of shemini is an ordinal number, eight. The Easton’s Bible Dictionary says sheminith is Eight; octave, a musical term, supposed to denote the lowest note sung by men’s voices (1 Chronicles 15:21; Psalm 6; 12, title).

Nobody really knows for sure. Other Bible dictionaries defined it slightly differently, but along the same lines. Some said, ‘we dunno, the word has passed out of use and understanding.’ I’ts still interesting to look these things up, though.

Psalm 7 is a Shiggaion. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines Shiggaion,

From the verb shagah, “to reel about through drink,” occurs in the title of Psalm 7. The plural form, shigionoth, is found in Habakkuk 3:1. The word denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; a dithyrambic ode.

Psalm 8 is “according to The Gittith: A stringed instrument of music.”

This word is found in the titles of Psalm 8, 81, 84. In these places the LXX. render the word by “on the wine-fats.” The Targum explains by “on the harp which David brought from Gath.” It is the only stringed instrument named in the titles of the Psalms. Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Well, that was about as clear as mud.

I do know that once we’re in heaven, we’ll likely be singing. (Revelation 5:9). Will we be singing these Psalms in heaven, properly as David originally wrote them, (According to sheminith, a Shiggaion, or with The Gittith?). I hope so. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did!

Meanwhile I resolve not to skip the intros, conclusions, lists, or notations. All scripture is profitable… I don’t always understand how scripture profits me, but I trust that it does.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading

I always enjoy Phil Johnson’s knowledge of the Psalms and his clear delivery in explaining them.

Here is a page of Phil preaching the Psalms, including one we are to read today, Psalm 8. Interestingly, Phil introduces his sermon by explaining what can be known about the mysterious term ‘according to the Gitteth’.

wed harp

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Our tender God?

Our Bible Reading Plan today brings us to Psalm 3-5. I was struck by this scene-

O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
(Psalm 3:1-4)

David is running from Absalom, his son, who wanted to kill David. How heartbreaking when your own child seeks to murder you! Absalom had undermined David and sought to usurp David from the throne and take it over. At a tipping point, David feared for his life and fled Jerusalem. He composed this Psalm.

David was dejected and depressed. He was surrounded by enemies which were Absalom’s allies. David couldn’t trust anyone. But David had God. David notes that he has God’s protection as a shield, His glory, and His tenderness.

God’s tenderness?

David has enough of a relationship with Jehovah that David could express it in terms this intimate- God cares for each of His people so much that He veritably lifts our head. He lifts us out of our despondency. God- the lifter of my head.

the one who lifts up my head: A lifted head signaled confidence and pride (27:6), while a lowered head signaled defeat and disgrace (Judg 8:28). Barry, J. D.,  Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 3:3).

When we’re despondent and depressed, our head is down. Our shoulders slump. Our countenance is low. In Genesis 4:5b when God rejected Cain’s offering, it says,

So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast
down

What the verse made me think of is when a toddler is upset and crying and sad. You go to them and you wrap them in your arms, and you want to talk to them, but they’re looking down or away. You take your hand and cup their chin and you raise their face to yours. We are a lifter of heads to our children, and so, God is lifter of heads to His children- us.

He is tender. Matthew Henry explains how God lifts our head:

Joy and deliverance: “Thou art the lifter up of my head; thou wilt lift up my head out of my troubles, and restore me to my dignity again, in due time; or, at least, thou wilt lift up my head under my troubles, so that I shall not droop nor be discouraged, nor shall my spirits fail.”

If, in the worst of times, God’s people can lift up their heads with joy, knowing that all shall work for good to them, they will own it is God that is the lifter up of their head, that gives them both cause to rejoice and hearts to rejoice.  ~Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume.

up

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Today’s Bible Reading thoughts, Psalm 1:3

A verse from our Bible reading for today:

psalm 1 wed verse
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
(Psalm 1:3)

In the ’90s I traveled a lot. I kept a travel journal most places I traveled to. One adventure was on an ice-breaking ferry/transport ship in Canada. We we started at Rimouski and went all the way along Quebec’s lower North Shore (of the St. Lawrence River) to Blanc Sablon, a city at the border of Labrador. On the early part of the journey when we departed from Sept-Iles, I wrote,

Got up at 5am to see departure. Whales and birds galore. The shore line is interesting, large rocks smoothed over by the tides. Rock ledges poke through the stands of trees lining the shore. How do the trees’ roots grasp in the 2 inches of soil?

I am not agricultural at all, but even a neophyte can muse upon the physics of it. It’s intuitive.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21).

That is what made Jesus’ metaphors so excellent.

fallen tree
The verse in the Psalm above refers to the rootedness of a tree that is planted where it can be fed by good soil and good water. Such a tree does not fall away. It bears fruit.

Where does a believer get his rootedness from? By planting him or herself in the Life of Christ, drinking and feeding on His word. By living and growing in obedience and submission to His commands. Those who fall away were never planted in Him to begin with. They had no confidence in Him, in comparison to their own sin and wretchedness. They were only joyful for a time because their consciences were temporarily salved. But unless one is truly repented, that joy will fade at the first hardship and there will be no streams to drink from for nourishment. They fall.

Barnes Notes on the Psalm-

A description of the happiness or prosperity of the man who thus avoids the way of sinners, and who delights in the law of God, now follows. This is presented in the form of a very beautiful image – a tree planted where its roots would have abundance of water.
Planted by the rivers of water – It is not a tree that springs up spontaneously, but one that is set out in a favorable place, and that is cultivated with care.

God cultivates us by the Spirit, but we shepherd our salvation too. Drink deeply from the word, obey and submit with grace without grumbling. Pray earnestly for all things, and praise the One who planted you. May you bear fruit in your time.

psalm 1 wed verse

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

The Idlers at the Gate

‎This celebrated sixty-ninth psalm has been called the missionary’s psalm. It speaks of the miseries of one far from home and kindred, of one who proclaims God to those who will not heed. The unbelievers, in their rage and scorn, heap injury upon the preacher, afflict him both in body and in mind. “Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.”

‎Then follows the picture of this good man mocked by the idlers who even to-day, as in the psalmist’s time, gather about the gate of every Eastern city, to chat with those who pass, and comment upon them. The ridicule of these falls heavily upon the psalmist; he cries out, “Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee. Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness; and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.”

Source: The Bible and its Story, Volume 6: Poetry–Prophets, Psalms to Isaiah

The Bible and Its Story is a massive collection of images which illuminate the story of Scripture. The images are taken from modern paintings, illustrations, and other renderings of the ancient text. Together, The Bible and its Story serves as a pictorial narrative of the entire story of the Bible—from beginning to end. It compiles the best of modern artwork to bring the Bible vividly to life.

 

Posted in picture mixture, Uncategorized

Picture Mixture Tuesday: kids’ digital footprint, bacon, 9/11, piano, gelato, more

There are lots of people in my area without power from yesterday and into today due to the remnants of Hurricane Irma passing north through the state of Georgia. Thank you, Linemen, for your dangerous but so important work!

picture 1

Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of 9/11. On waking up that bright fall morning, millions never knew that in a few hours their families would be devastated, and our national security and psychology would never be the same.

picture 2

A new trend, this precious moon nightlight!

picture 3

 

I’m a vegetarian due to taste and preference issues (not philosophy). I rarely eat any meat. I dislike cooking bacon because of the mess. But this is funny. In the south, I hear many wives mourn the fact that they can’t get their men to eat vegetables, and salads are practically anathema. This dish would be close to the truth in any proud southern home… 😉

picture 4 bacon

 

I thought this was pretty. I’m getting set to do a musical instrument series. I shot this after church Sunday. The delicacy and beauty of a well-crafted instrument is wonderful to behold. When it is played skillfully by someone singing hymns to the Lord, it’s even better.

picture 5

Something to think about when posting pics of your kids on Facebook. Are you widening their digital footprint to the degree that their future privacy will be lost? More here.

picture 6

Where is the best gelato in the world? Well, duh, Italy of course! After three years and many nations competing, one gelateria in Spoleto Italy has won. I’m not an ice cream fan but when you are in Italy tasting real gelato, your world will be rocked. More here on the winner.

picture 7 gelato

Psalm 63:6-8

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me

Have a great day!

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

David’s brave prayer

In Matthew 16:24-26 we read,

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

We know that passage means we turn our back on the kingdom of darkness and everything it represents, including self-aggrandizement, self-absorption, selfishness, anything self, &etc. We know we are supposed to die to self. We know we are supposed to hold others in higher regard than ourselves. We know it is written that we should be willing to lay down our life for our friends.

It’s hard.

Very hard.

Oh, does the flesh rebel against this.

We read in Psalm 7:3-5, the following prayer by David.

O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.

In that section of the Psalm, David is saying that if he has violated his Godly principles and done evil to a friend, may the Lord crush him. He is saying that if he has done evil to an enemy without cause, may him be trampled to the ground without honor.

Barnes Notes explains,

repaid friend with evil – The meaning here is simply that if he were a guilty man, in the manner charged on him, he would be willing to be treated accordingly. He did not wish to screen himself from any just treatment; and if he had been guilty he would not complain even if he were cut off from the land of the living.

plundered enemy without cause – The allusion here is to the manner in which the vanquished were often treated in battle, when they were rode over by horses, or trampled by men into the dust. The idea of David is, that if he was guilty he would be willing that his enemy should triumph over him, should subdue him, should treat him with the utmost indignity and scorn.

No wonder David was a man after God’s own heart. It is a hard thing to pray. Because, God will do it.

Sometimes I try to pray this kind of prayer. The words stick in my throat. Or, as the words come out, I soften them. I am a weakling when it comes to the battle between myself and others. ‘Lay my glory in the dust’? I am far from mastering that.

Praise God for the Psalms. They are comforting yes, but they are convicting too. Lord, help me by giving me the strength to more deeply obey Your principles. As I take up my cross today and go down the dusty road, give me the strength to truly care for others beyond myself, in spite of myself, denying myself.

EPrata photo