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

Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection – Part 4 of 4

A special weekly series for the Easter Season

Reflections on the hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today

And the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7 NASB20

Charles Wesley composed more than 6,500 hymns. Some of the best known among Wesley’s hymns are “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”; “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”; “Rejoice, the Lord is King”; “Jesu, Lover of My Soul” and the hymn of this week’s devotional focus, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” (also called “Christ the Lord is Ris’n Today”). The lyrics below were published in 1739; Music from Lyra Davidica, London, 1708 public domain. Six verses are shown here, so some may be new to you as verses five and six are new to me. Emphasis in bold is mine.

Verse 1.	

Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
Verse 2.	

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Verse 3.
	
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!
Verse 4.	

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Verse 5.
	
Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

Verse 6.	

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!
Easter Image by fedden from Pixabay
Christ the Lord is risen! I love that the angel showed the empty tomb to the women, people who at the time were around the bottom of the social strata. They weren’t allowed past the Court of Women in the Temple. The angel gave them proof that the seemly impossible had happened. Death no longer had its sting. Their Savior was risen, just as He said. Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. 

Jesus gave us reason to raise our joys and triumphs high. He died to save our souls. Our redemption from sin is done.

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!

Foll’wing our exalted Head, Because Christ Jesus is alive, we can follow Him every day. Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, We can know Him by studying the Scriptures and by having a personal relationship with Him. His power is proven not only by His resurrection, but by the change He brings in our lives as we trust and rely on Him and become more like Him.  

Heaven is open to those who believe in Christ Jesus. When death comes, or if Jesus returns again before we die, His followers will rise to everlasting life.

Alleluia!

Let’s spend time thanking Jesus for what He has done. He fought the fight, the battle won. Christ the Lord is risen!  Let’s praise Him.

Lord, thank you that You gave me a reason to have joy! Thank you for Your redeeming work on the cross for me. I’m sorry it took the cross and Your death to rescue me. Thank you for allowing me to follow You. I praise You, for You alone are worthy of all praise. Amen.

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Dear Reader, thank you for following along with this four-part special Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection. If you missed any of it, or would like to review it, they are posted under devotionals on the following dates: 3/18/21 Part 1- At the Cross;  3/25/21 Part 2 – The Old Rugged Cross ; 4/1/21 Part 3 – Christ Arose; 4/8/21 Part 4 – Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Devotionals post every other Thursday (Special series may occur more frequently, such as the Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection.) They are archived under Devotionals.

Devotional

Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection – Part 2 of 4

A special weekly series for the Easter Season

Reflections on the hymn The Old Rugged Cross

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18 NKJV

The cross of Jesus is despised by some. It seems like foolishness to the world. Why would God come to earth for humankind, knowing that they had already rejected Him or would do so in the future? Yet Jesus suffered and died on that cross to pardon and sanctify us. He sets us apart to follow Him, and to someday live in heaven with Him.

It is the message of the cross that led George Bernard to write the words and music to The Old Rugged Cross. He cherished the old rugged cross. (1913. Public domain.)

Verse 1: 

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,  
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;  
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best  
For a world of lost sinners was slain.  

Verse 2: 

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,  
Has a wonderous attraction for me;  
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above  
To bear it to dark Calvary.  

Verse 3: 

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,  
A wonderous beauty I see;  
For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died  
To pardon and sanctify me. 
Good Friday – Image by Marinas32 on Pixabay

Just think, Jesus left heaven for sinners- that’s us! I pray I’ll be faithful to Him, as George Bernard said in verse 4 and the refrain:  

Verse 4:	

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, 
Its shame and reproach gladly bear; 
Then He’ll call me someday to my home faraway, 
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

Refrain: 	

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, 
Till my trophies at last I lay down; 
I will cling to the old rugged cross, 
And exchange it someday for a crown

Our sins were nailed to the cross with Jesus. He removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. I remember when I was on a church youth group trip, we wrote down our sins on pieces of paper and nailed them onto a board. After a time of silent confession, the nails with the attached papers were removed. Nail holes remained. For me personally the holes were a reminder of the consequences to sin, but that Jesus forgave my sins and chooses not to remember my confessed sins any longer. A variation of this is to write down our sins on a piece of paper, confess them, and then to burn the papers. I think I want to do that again. Perhaps you would like to do something similar? 

Dear Jesus, Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for removing my sins and not holding me eternally accountable for anything You have already forgiven. May I gladly bear the reproach of others for Your cross, and lay everything at Your feet. Amen.

Watch for the rest of this four-part special Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection.

3/18/21     Part 1-  At the Cross  
3/25/21     Part 2 - The Old Rugged Cross
4/1/21       Part 3 - Christ Arose
4/8/21       Part 4 - Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Devotionals post every other Thursday (Special series may occur more frequently, such as the Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection.) They are archived under Devotionals.

Devotional

God’s Love for You and Me

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  I John 4:9, 10 NLT

I have a pile of love letters from my husband from the years we dated, and cards and notes from the years we’ve been married, too. I also have special letters written by my now adult children, some in their childhood scrawls of just learning to write. I keep the letters because the senders are precious to me. I love them.

God wrote His love letter to each of us. It’s called the Bible, or Scripture. Throughout the Bible God tells us how much He loves us. His love is true love: Love is patient, kind, not envious, not proud, not rude, does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (from I Corinthians 13)

God our Father loves us perfectly.  As He declared Himself to Moses, God is “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7 NKJV)

If all the iniquities are to be set upon the following generations, there is no hope for us. But because God loves us so much, He provided a way of escape. He didn’t just say He loves us, He showed us His love for us by sending His one and only Son into the world as a human being to be our sacrifice to take away our sins.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

Jesus Christ loves us so much that He willingly sacrificed Himself for you and me! We know this from Scripture. Jesus told the disciples (and us through the Bible) “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9 NKJV)

Image by Uce from Pixabay

Even when don’t abide or stay in Jesus’ love and we wander away from God, He does not give up on us. I take great hope in that! When I stray, He brings me back, causing me to desire fellowship with Him. He forgives me when I turn to Him. When loved ones turn away from God and follow the world, He cares and will rescue them. “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.”(Ezekiel 34:12 NLT)

God’s love for us is so immense. Is it any wonder that I love the Lord? I hope you do, too.

We love Him because He first loved us. (I John 4:19 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for Your great love for me. Dear Jesus, thank you for the sacrifice You made on the cross for me. Your love for me is beyond my comprehension. Help me to show Your love to others around me by loving them as You love me. Amen.

Devotional

What Is My Purpose?

by Kathryn J. Hughes

May he grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4

New Year’s Day has come and gone. Did you make resolutions? I tend to spend some time in reflection as I change yearly calendars. How did I do on my goals? What should I try to accomplish this new year? How have I grown in my faith? What areas have I failed in? What are my goals for the next year and several years?

I’m late in going through this reflection this year. I’m reviewing a book on organization that I read many years ago. It talks about starting first with a mission statement. A mission statement helps to guide the goals. Another way of stating my mission is to ask, what is my purpose in life? Certainly being a wife, an employee, a friend, and a mother to adult children are all part of my life. But what is my mission or purpose as a follower of Jesus Christ?

Jesus knew His purpose. In telling His disciples of His coming crucifixion, He said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this Hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” John 12:27. He knew His purpose was to die to pay the penalty of sin so mankind could be rescued from eternal punishment. He knew He would come back to life, showing His power over sin and death.

Jesus gave His disciples final instructions regarding their purpose. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

It follows that telling others of Jesus and teaching them to observe His commands is part of my objective. Hmmm. I need to be more faithful in the telling and the teaching.

I also need to be better at knowing and observing Jesus’ commands.One of Jesus’ commands were to abide in Him even as He did in the Father. Keeping His commandments was key in abiding. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” If I’m abiding in Jesus, then my desires should reflect His desires. Another commandment was to love one another as Jesus loved us. (John 15).

Later followers of Christ were encouraged to continue in the Lord. When he (Barnabas) came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. (Acts 11:23) ‘Purpose of heart’ means it’s a firm, conscious decision. It’s said that people often do not choose to wander from God, but that it is a slow eroding away of commitment that leaves them open to the enemy’s attacks and to choices that do not honor God. Part of my mission, then, is to stay on target with God and not allow a foothold for the enemy. I’m to continue in the Lord, and not give up when discouraged, nor become ‘too busy’ to spend time with God.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

So what is my purpose? My mission is to follow Jesus, obey His commands, and to tell others how they can know Jesus and observe His teachings, too. My mission is to abide in Jesus Christ and His love. I am to love others as Jesus loves me.

Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith… I Timothy 1:5

What is your mission statement? Are your goals on target with your purpose?

Lord, I want to live according to the purpose You have for me. Please help me be faithful to You. Show me how to set my goals to match my purpose, and then to follow through. Amen.