Devotional

A Song of Praise

Garden Devotionals – Spring 2021- Part 4 of 4

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our God… Psalm 147:1,7 (NKJV)

The Dawn Chorus of birds fill the air with beautiful song at the first hint of light. Every morning the trills, coos, warbles, and chirps of various birds join together from the tree outside my bedroom window. The mockingbird adds his variety of songs. Joyfully they begin each day. They do not worry or get too busy to begin their music. I believe they are praising their Creator.

The LORD desires our praise, for praise glorifies Him. God wants us to praise Him for who He is, His attributes and His character. He is the Creator who determines the number of the stars and names them. He lovingly cares for each of us, as well as the rest of His creation. He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens that cry….the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love. (Psalm 147:4, 9, 11). He is the one true God. He is truth. There is no falsehood with the Lord. We can rejoice in God because He keeps His promises.

The LORD is just and righteous, unable to look on sin. But because He also loves us unconditionally, His Son Jesus shed His own blood to pay the penalty for our sin so we could have His forgiveness.  He is our provider, forgiver, and the healer of our mind, body, and spirit.

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Photo by Kevin Blanzy on Pexels.com

Praise not only glorifies God, but lifts our souls. I find it harder to complain while I’m praising God for what He has done or is doing in my life or in the lives of my loved ones. Worry about the future is displaced when I praise the Lord for providing for our past needs and often our wants too. Remembering His past provision, even while my husband was unemployed, helps me to trust Him with my future.

I’ve learned that praise can even be part of grief.  While my father was suffering with terminal cancer, I was able to praise God for how much closer Dad began to walk with Jesus, and for the lives of friends that turned to the Lord as a result of Dad’s testimony and his death. The pain of saying goodbye for now was there, but as I turned to the Lord, He helped me. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.   

The LORD is worthy of praise! As the Psalmist said in Psalm 147:5, Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.

Lord, may I praise You daily like the dawn chorus of birds do each morning. You are worthy of all praise. You are great, Lord. Your power and understanding are beyond measure. Amen.  

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.

For information on making your garden a home for birds, see my article “Planting to Encourage Birds” on my Gardening page.

Devotional

Quench the Thirst

 Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like the tree planted by the waters…and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.                                                                                                              Jeremiah 17:7,8 (NKJV)

I bought a Gaura lindheimeri plant (aka. Butterfly Bush or Beeblossom). I was delighted that it had two plants within the pot, one with pink flowers, and the other with white.  Before I got them planted into the soil, a record heat wave hit our area. To my dismay, the next day part of the plant was crispy and dry, while the rest of it sat limp and wilted. The soil was dry, though it had received water the previous day.  I plunged the nursery container into a bucket of water, which revived part of the Gaura. Instead of butterflies visiting the airy branching flowering spikes of pink or white flowers, it lost all of its flower buds. It showed the damage done from going thirsty during trying times. It’s in the flower bed now. It took some time, but as it received the water it needed the new growth is once again beautiful.

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Guara lindheimeri – Image by Annette Meyer from Pixabay

We can be like the Gaura plant, beautiful until the scorching heat of a trial arrives and it wilts us. We grow more and more anxious. Fear controls us. Our souls are thirsty, needing to plunge into the Word of God for the life- giving refreshment of the Holy Spirit. If we don’t quench the thirst, damage can result within us just as surely as it does for a plant without water.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote of a person being blessed because of his hope and trust in the Lord. “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes;…” (Jeremiah 17:8a)

If my Gaura had its roots in the water instead of trapped in a thin plastic nursery pot, water would have replaced what it was losing to the drying sun. The water it received before the heat wave was not enough to keep it healthy.

Likewise, the time we spent with God last Sunday or even yesterday is not enough to keep us thriving during today’s hot, drying winds. How can we be like that tree planted by the rivers of water?

  • Study the Bible. “…his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…” (Psalm 1:2, 3a; NKJV). Are we spending time daily reading the Bible and thinking about what the Holy Spirit shows us? Are we applying it to our lives?
  • Commit to staying immersed in the Living Water of Jesus. He replenishes us as we stay connected to him. We will remain fruitful for Jesus’ kingdom as others see us go through trials and survive them. We do not need to fear the heat.
  • Confession is on-going. Believers in Jesus Christ are forgiven once at salvation. However, we don’t always obey God. When we sin, we need to confess that to our Heavenly Father and seek His forgiveness.
  • Pray. Jesus Christ spent time praying to His heavenly Father. If Jesus, the Son of God, needed time with the heavenly Father, certainly we do, too.

Dear Lord, Thank you for being the source of Living Water. I confess I try to go through life on my own power and don’t spend time with you every day. Please forgive me. I need you, Jesus. Help me to sink my roots deep into You, and not into the dry dirt of the world. Quench the thirst of my soul. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.

For information on watering plants, see my article “Quench the Thirst of Your Plants” on my Gardening page.

Devotional

Am I a Content Daylily?

Come to the Garden series

Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 RSV

I doubled my rose garden from six to twelve rose bushes; still, my longing gaze drifts to more varieties. I chafe to reestablish the large vegetable garden and flower beds I had before the gophers, water restrictions, and drought took out many of my plantings. I dream of overflowing flowerbeds of colorful annuals, perennials, and succulents. But such thoughts are selfish, for my budget currently only allows me to buy a few of my long list of desired purchases. Shouldn’t I appreciate what I have?

My discontentment isn’t limited to things. My adult child isn’t available to get together, my husband may be working on a project that takes priority over something we were going to do together, or someone may interrupt me and disrupt what I was scheduled to accomplish in a given period of time. I complain. I want to do what I desire, God, not be on the phone with the friend who needs to talk for an hour. “It’s too hot to weed.” “I don’t want to clean house.” My attitude is not Christ or others-centered. 

Oh, how I grieve the Lord with my discontentment.  I need to remember that my attitude is not reflecting the will of the Lord God.

I need to be more like the daylilies. They bloom where they are without demanding that conditions be “just right.” Daylilies are not picky about soil, or complaining they won’t bloom unless they get their full allotment of water.

Daylily at San Diego Botanical Gardens, 2019. Photo by Kathryn Hughes

Do you ever struggle with discontentment like me? Are you like a rose that gets leaf diseases if conditions are difficult? Or possibly a fern that wilts when the heat comes? Oh, that we would be like the contented daylily, blooming readily in different circumstances, satisfied with things as they are.

 When we desire more and fail to appreciate what we have, it shows an unthankful heart and a lack of trust in God. Scripture says “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NKJV) Do we focus on our fears and doubts and question what He says? Or are we content to let our Creator bring both the sun and the rain, knowing He cares for us?

The Lord said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We can simply repeat it, or we can grow deep into knowing who God is and that He is with us. He doesn’t forget us. Even when life seems to be crashing down around us, we can know with certainty that the Lord is with us. He knows every detail. Jesus experienced the trials and difficulties of being human. He has compassion on us. The writer of Hebrews linked God’s promise to contentment. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)

The Apostle Paul must have struggled with discontentment, for he said, “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” How did he learn? Paul continued with “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul took his wants and his needs to Jesus. Like Paul, we can learn to be content. Let’s give our discontentment to Jesus, trusting He loves us and knows what is best for us. Christ will help us

Lord, please forgive my grumbling and my discontented attitude. Teach me to be content no matter what my circumstances. Help me to remember that You are my helper and I don’t have to struggle or fear. You will never leave me nor forsake me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Devotionals post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.

For information on Daylily plants, see my article on Daylily Care on my Gardening page.

Devotional

Remember

Come to the Garden Series

I will extol You, my God, O King: and I will bless Your name forever and ever. One generation will praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.  They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness.  Psalm 145: 1,4,7 (NKJV) 

My cousin has a special spot in her garden, a place set aside where she can go to remember our grandmother. In it are Grandma’s chrysanthemums, tulips, her Mother’s Day peonies and other flowers from Grandma’s garden.

My own garden of memories is scattered throughout my flower beds. Special plants remind me of my parents and other people I’ve been blessed to know and love. The Paperwhites and Jade plants from the home I was raised in remind me of my parents and brother. The purple bearded irises especially remind me of Mom, as she generously shared them. The red Chrysler Imperial rose reminds me of Dad. Other roses bring to mind my friend Judy, or our family’s trip to the Rose Parade. Some plants have been chosen by my children or have come from friends, and I think of each one when I see “their” fern, bush, succulent, or flower. I use the memories to pause to pray for him or her, and to thank my Lord for putting that individual in my life.

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Photo by rasik on Pexels.com

The LORD often called His people to remember what He had done for them, and to teach those things to their children and grandchildren. The Passover feast reminds the Israelites of God’s deliverance from their slavery in Egypt. When Joshua took over leadership after Moses, the Lord told Joshua to have the twelve tribes of Israel pick up stones from the midst of the Jordan River, and they heaped the stones on the bank and in the river as memorials of their crossing on dry land through the river (Joshua 3 and 4). The Lord’s Supper is also a memorial, instituted by Christ Jesus in remembrance of Him and of how He gave His blood and body for us. (Luke 22:19-20).

I think God calls us to remember and to tell of His works to each other so we will remember Him and what He has done for us. He knows how forgetful and unthankful we can be! King David realized the importance of remembering, for he told the Lord, “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate. People will speak of the power of Your awesome acts, and I will tell of Your greatness.” (Psalm 145: 5, 6 NASB20)

Whether it is with a special plant, a pile of rocks, or a special meal, let’s find ways to remember to pray for others, and to meditate on God and how He has been at work in our life.  Keeping a journal helps us remember how the Lord has answered prayer or acted on our behalf in the past. We can see God’s faithfulness and provision in the small and the large things in our lives. Those memories can be shared with our families, so they know the way God has been with us and with them. Lessons we’ve learned can be taught to others. Like King David, we can commit to blessing and praising the Lord every day so that we quickly remember what the Lord has done for us.

How many things can you praise God for today?

Lord, help me to remember what You have done in my life and in the lives of my family. Help me to tell my children and extended family of the blessings You have provided. Help me teach them the lessons You have taught me. In doing this, “One generation will praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.  They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness.”  Amen.

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Devotionals post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.

Thank you for joining me! I would love for you to leave your comments.

Devotional

A Promise and a Command

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 NLT

Can you imagine how the followers of Jesus felt when Jesus Christ was taken up in a cloud right in front to them? They hadn’t grasped that He was leaving them again despite Jesus telling them that He would. Jesus left them when He was put to death on the cross. He came back to life and was with them again over a period of forty days. They had just asked Him if He was now going to restore the kingdom of Israel. But they didn’t receive the answer they desired.

Instead of kicking out the Romans, Jesus told them it was not for them [or us] to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. Instead of staying with them, He gave them a command. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

The assignment still seems difficult today. Allow me to put it in my geographical terms. Be a witness for Jesus in my city-that starts with my family, my neighborhood, my church, and my work place, and extends to my region. Next Jesus said Judea. That’s a lot of territory and a lot of people. Samaria? That must have raised eyebrows. The Jews and Samaritans despised each other. Does that mean I need to be a good witness of Jesus to people I don’t like, or to those who are enemies to my country? Yes, it does. The Jesus said, “to the end if the earth.” That still hasn’t been achieved.

It’s no wonder that Jesus’ followers stood watching Jesus disappear into the clouds. How overwhelmed they may have been. Sure, the Holy Spirit was promised, but they hadn’t been empowered by the Holy Spirit yet. Jesus left them! How alone they must have felt!

Our Lord knew their hearts, just as He knows ours. While they were steadfastly watching Jesus as He went up, two men dressed in white appeared. I think they were angels. They came with a promise.

This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)

Jesus will return! We don’t know the day or the hour, but Jesus promised to return. Jesus keeps His promises. His return is described in I Thessalonians, chapters four and five, and in Revelation.

I notice that along with the promise, it seems like the angels gave a subtle hint to Jesus’ followers to get busy. “Why do you stand gazing up into heaven?”

Jesus is coming back. Will we have fulfilled His assignment when He comes?

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

How can you and I be witnesses for Jesus? How can we be Jesus’ hands and feet for others? Let’s prayerfully consider who we will tell this week about Jesus. Do you have someone in mind? A friend challenged me to put a deadline on when I will talk to someone, with the idea that I not put it off, possible forever. Scripture tells us the Holy Spirit will give us the words to share with others. “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Exodus 4:12 RSV) The Holy Spirit lives in believers, giving us the power to conquer our fears and obey our Lord’s command. Let’s GO.

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for the promise that You will return. I want to be ready, having accomplished the work You have given me to do. Open my mouth with boldness. Remove my fears and my disobedience that keep me quiet when I should tell others of Your love and salvation. Help me rely on the Holy Spirit to teach me what to say. Amen.