Reflections On Psalm 6

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The violins are playing a dirge…

And it’s not for a funeral. It’s for a man who is pining away. The music he hears in his head is mournful. And the words he hears in his heart are sorrowful. The two go together like tears and grief.

David wrote Psalm 6 for the eight stringed lyre. He wrote words to mock and composed music to taunt. Music to express sorrow. A sorrow that’s almost too hard to express because it comes from someplace deep.

Like the pit of the soul.

The place where sometimes there just aren’t any words. Only sounds.

Yet, somehow, David–this man whom God called “a man after His own heart”–always seemed to find the words. Somehow, he always managed to give God the raw emotions that threatened to eat him alive if he didn’t bring them to the surface.

I don’t know about any of you, but I can recall a season when I, too, was pining away. Far from God. Weak. Feeble. Head hanging down and heart drooping low. Bones disturbed and soul dismayed.

Sin does that. It affects the entire body, soul, and spirit.

This is what David is trying to tell us. He knows he’s messed up. He knows he’s done wrong. He knows he deserves God’s wrath.

But, David also knows his God. So he appeals to His Father’s mercy.

“O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O Lord–how long? Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your loving kindness.” Psalm 6:1-4

Even though it sounds like David feels abandoned by God, he still believes God is there. He still cries out to God. He still talks to God. He still believes God will listen. God will forgive. God will restore.

Because this he knows…

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…” Exodus 34:6

For all of David’s messes, he still knew what it would take to get right with God.

I can’t help but wonder…the way David felt…for all his pining, all his sighing, all his groaning…I wonder…was it God Himself that he missed the most? Is that what made his heart so sick? Is that what made his soul so dismayed? His bones so disturbed?

“A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Sometimes God’s silence can be so frustrating. So disturbing. So depressing.

I don’t like it when God is silent. I, too, have found it very disturbing. I, too, have cried out in frustration, “How long, O Lord–how long?!?” 

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines…

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  Hebrews 12: 5, 6, 10, 11

David was a man of great passion. But so is God. His lovingkindness is all about His zeal for His children. All about His goodness. His kindness. His faithfulness.

It’s also all about His holiness. His righteousness. His salvation.

When I mess up–and I do–I appeal to God’s mercy. I appeal to His lovingkindness.

But, I also have to understand that sometimes there are consequences. If I believe that God truly loves me, then I have to believe He will discipline me in His love. Not His anger. He will always be merciful. He will always be kind. He will always be faithful.

Even in consequences, God’s grace is sufficient.

And how long does it take? Until I learn. Until God knows I’m ready. Until He feels I’m equipped.

I may get weary with my sighing. My bed may swim and my couch may dissolve with tears. My eyes may waste away with grief, but this I know…

“The Lord hears my voice of weeping….He hears my supplication…He receives my prayers.” 

I wouldn’t ask God to rescue me if I didn’t think He could deliver me. 

I wouldn’t ask God to save me if I didn’t think He could liberate me.

I wouldn’t ask God to return to me if I didn’t think He could strengthen me.

I wouldn’t ask God to heal me if I didn’t think He could restore me.

And so…I’ll never stop asking. I’ll never stop making my appeals.

No matter how many times I mess up, I know God will never abandon me. He loves me too much.

I may hear the violins play a dirge in my head every now and then…I may feel like I’m pining away…I may sigh and groan and dissolve my bed with tears, but it’s not because I’m forgotten by God.

It’s because I feel something deep in the pit of my soul.

Even when I hurt over my sin, I’m always comforted in my salvation. And because of that, I will always find the words. While the violins play a soulful tune, I will pour out my heart, trusting God will always hear and God will always pardon.

I will always trust in His love.

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Next Sunday is Easter. My favorite holiday of the year. Yes, I love it more than Christmas. Because I’m so thankful for the Cross.

I don’t know when it hit me exactly…but one day…many years ago it dawned on me…before I could see the Risen Savior I had to see the Crucified Christ. Because the Cross is at the root of it all.

No, the Cross isn’t pretty. It’s ugly, but it leads to something beautiful. This is why I lead a reflective life. I reflect to connect with Jesus. All the ugly in my life He has turned into something beautiful. He took my whole heart and held it gently in the palms of His hands and healed it…with all His tenderness and all His love and He bound my heart to His.

And I can only hope my heart now reflects less of me and more of Him.

Easter Joy!

 

Reflections On Psalm 5

IMG_1572I’m glad I don’t have the responsibilities of a ruler. No one calls me the Queen Mother.

Well, I take that back. Sometimes my husband calls me a “queen.” He can do that, if he wants to. He’s my earthly king, after all. I’m crazy about him.

But, you know what I mean.

I’m glad I don’t have the fate of an entire country in my hands. I’m glad I don’t have to make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about people speaking falsehood about me or people deceiving me or people flattering me with their tongues.

I mean, I guess even those who aren’t ruling a country experience such things, but I can’t imagine how much worse it is for those who pretty much live their lives in the eyes of the public.

I guess if I really wanted to revel in it, I could recall to mind times when others spoke unkindly about me, told me untruths, or lied to my face. Yeah…I could do that. But, I don’t wanna.

Not today.

Because today I want to remember the kindness of people. The goodness. ‘Cause there’s just too much evil in the world. And I hear all about it. All the time.

I don’t hear enough about the good stuff and sometimes I need to focus on what’s good. ‘Cause if I don’t, I might forget. And I don’t ever, ever want to forget that no matter how bad things are, there’s still a lot of good in this world.

“For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. 

The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.

You destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.

But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness, I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” Psalm 5:4-7

Oh. Gosh. How I need to remind myself that God rules. He sees. He hears. He loves what is good. He hates what is evil. He takes no pleasure in those who deliberately rebel against Him and those who purposely do evil with no thought of consequences.

How I need to remind myself that God sees. His sees my seeking, He considers my prayers, and He heeds the sound of my voice. verses 1-3

How I need to remind myself that God hears. He hears my words, He considers my groaning, and He heeds the sound of my cries. verses 1-3

He is King. The fate of the entire world is in His hands. Not mine.

God will make the final decision that will affect the lives of all people. I know because I’ve read His Book. From cover to cover. I know how it all ends.

My King knows falsehood when He experiences it because there is nothing false in Him. He knows deception when He sees it because there is nothing deceitful about Him. He knows flattery when He hears it because there is nothing insincere about Him.

He has the whole world in His hands.

I recently spoke these words at a women’s event and I’ve come to believe them with all my heart:

“If we believe that God is perfect then we have to believe that He is perfect in all of His ways. And if we believe that God is good then we have to believe He has a good plan and a good purpose for our lives, in spite of the bad things that happen to us.” 

When I wonder how much longer this world can remain and how much more evil this world can take, I remind myself that God is ever watchful. Ever patient. Ever in control.

As He is perfect, so is His timing in it all.

As He is good, so are His thoughts toward us all.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God. For He will abundantly pardon. 

‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:6-9

Yes. Today I’ll focus on the lovingkindness of God when I enter into His presence. verse 7

Today I’ll focus on the way He guides and leads me when I walk in paths of righteousness. verse 8

Today I’ll focus on His favor and blessing around me when I love and praise His name. verses 11-12

And I will choose to remember He always speaks words of affirmation to me. His words are never false. Never deceiving. Never insincere. He’s crazy about me.

The Word of God is truth.

It is life.

And that is that.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth…” Isaiah 55 10-11

 

Reflections On Psalm 4

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Somehow, I imagined I would’ve gotten over the sting of my fears by now. I imagined age and wisdom would make me less fearful. Maybe I’ve outgrown the fears of my youth and I guess I’m more fearless than I used to be, but in all honesty, I still battle fear.

I just have different fears now, is all.

Maybe they don’t come to me in the same way and with the same intensity, but they still come. Sometimes they creep in, like a spider. They start making webs in the corners of my heart. If I don’t keep dusting them with feathers of Truth, I might just end up stuck in the web.

I always thought the longer I walk with God and the more I experience His hand at work in my life, my faith would grow so strong I’d never fear again, but I’ve figured something out in my later years…

Sometimes, fears surface most when I don’t enjoy God enough.

The fears I have now are fears that have come with age…new fears…different fears…like the fear of losing a job…fear of financial decay…fear of a major medical emergency that could bankrupt us…fear of growing old without my husband by my side…

because we recently lost our medical insurance and our new insurance isn’t nearly as nice as before…because as our bodies age we develop new health issues we’ve never had before…because there are new costs of living, including new healthcare costs…

…because it all seems such a mess and I don’t know how in the world anybody anywhere can fix it. It’s like a web that keeps growing and growing and growing.

And sometimes I feel trapped. Stuck. Fearful.

I’m just being honest, but I know I’m not alone. Yes, these are the new fears, the different fears I now lay before the throne of grace. 

There’s such a relief that comes to my soul and spirit when I do all I can to meditate on God and His unchanging character all day long, especially the last thing before I go to bed at night. Cause, hey, who doesn’t need a good night’s sleep? I mean, thinking about God is a whole lot better than thinking about my fears. He has this really crazy way of making me smile. Without realizing it, I’m experiencing the joy-thing.

A gladness, to be exact. This is one of those words I love. It means gaiety, mirth, delight…

Seriously, who couldn’t use some gaiety? Some mirth? Some delight? And who could fear when there’s such joy as this to be found in the Lord?!?

This gladness only comes from living in the light of His presence, by focusing–thinking, meditating–on His goodness

When I focus on what’s vain–things that are worthless, things that are deceitful, things that won’t last–I’ll more often than not focus on fear. No doubt about it. And I do NOT want to be a slave to fear. I don’t want to love what God doesn’t love and fear is the opposite of love. Because fear doesn’t trust.

Instead of getting stuck in the web of deceit–the lie that God cannot keep me safe, cannot deliver me, cannot shower me with lovingkindness–I can focus on His constant nearness, His consistent goodness, His continual gladness.

I can put my head on my pillow at night and rest, safe and secure.

That’s where I long to get stuck. Where I long to dwell. Where I want to rest my head.

That’s my happy place. Not in a web, but a bed.

A bed of stillness, of peace.

I don’t know, but the older I get the more I need my beauty sleep and I kinda like the idea of falling asleep with some mirth in my heart. Who knows? Maybe I even sleep with a smile on my face.

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. verse 1

How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah. verse 2b

Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. verse 4b

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and trust in the Lord. verse 5 

Many are saying, ‘Who will show us any good?’ Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord! verse 6

You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. verse 7

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” verse 8, Psalm 4 

Reflections On Psalm 3

IMG_0108Several weeks ago we had an ice storm. Much of the mideast received tons and tons of snow. Or ice. I’d rather have the snow. You can’t shovel ice.

It was pretty perilous just getting in and out of our house. We have 3 dogs and they don’t even like going out in it. My poor little miniature chihuahua had to be carried up and down the steps and then out to a little place we had carved out under a tree where she could “do her business.” Her poor, tiny paws just couldn’t handle the cold. God bless her.

IMG_1592(This is me and my cocker spaniel-poodle mix in last winter’s ice storm.)

But what really broke my heart was the way the ice damaged our trees. Our backyard looked like a war zone. Both river birches took quite a beating.

I love river birches. I love their crazy, curly bark that peels and sheds all over the place. I love the way their branches grow fine and feathery, swaying in the breeze with grace and gentility. I don’t live near the river, but if I did, I’d have a million of them.

Both of our birches lost big branches that grew out from the center trunk. The ice snapped them right off. All of the branches seemed to bend so dangerously low to the ground that I’m surprised they survived. They looked weighed down. Weary. Weak.

I really don’t think river birches are built to handle ice. They live happily beside river beds and thrive on the sounds of rushing streams, but they don’t like it when their water supply is harsh and unforgiving.

Sometimes…I am just like the river birch. I don’t thrive well in harsh and unforgiving seasons. Like this fragile tree-with it’s wispy branches and beautiful bark-that can’t sustain the weight of ice, I find heavy burdens and difficult seasons leave me with a head bowed low and shoulders that slump.

At least, that’s how I feel deep down in my soul. Weighed down. Weary. Weak.

And, yet, just when I think I can’t handle any more weight, the sun comes out. Temperatures rise and the ice melts. My fine, feathery branches lift and spring back to life. I start to sway in the breeze again, thriving on rushing streams of God’s grace because…

He is the Lifter-Of-My-Head. He is a shield about me. He sustains me through the storms of life. He gives me courage, boldness, and confidence to wait out the storm.

When the ice is at it’s thickest, I may not think I’ll survive, but I always do.

When I’m weighed down by heavy burdens, I may think I’ll never stand tall again, but I always do.

When my head bows low and my shoulders slump, I may think I’ll never see blue skies again, but I always do.

I may lose a branch or two in the harshness of life, but I’ll never lose the part of me that’s His…The Lifter-Of-My-Head will always have my heart.

And my spirit finds rest in that.

“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.

I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:3-5 IMG_0106

Reflections On Psalm 2

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I got a traffic ticket. Once. Nearly broke my heart. Felt seriously like a criminal. My pride was crushed. Never could I ever say, “I’ve never had a speeding ticket in my entire life.”

I remember it like it was yesterday.

My younger son got glasses when he was in the second grade. It never occurred to me that he would have trouble keeping up with them, much less keeping them on his face!! Any 7-year old should be able to keep up with glasses, right?

Of course not. What was I thinking? Don’t answer that.

Those first couple of weeks with new eye-ware were an adjustment period for us all. Brandon would take them off and forget where he put them and I would search for them. We made several trips back to the school at the end of the day so he could retrieve them.

One particular day when he got off the bus without them, we really, really needed to be somewhere right after school so upon leaving the school parking lot I pulled out and hit the gas. Within 3 seconds my rearview mirror lit up with bright, flashing lights and my heart flipped out. With a quick glance at the speedometer I let out a groan and pulled over…

45 in a 35 mile per hour zone–a zone complete with subdivisions on either side of the street and a school in the midst. Families, children, pets everywhere. And I wasn’t thinking of any of them.

The policeman who pulled me over was actually very nice. Kind, even. I even think he was a little tenderhearted. I don’t think he really wanted to give me that ticket. He hesitated as if he hoped I’d offer an explanation. He definitely didn’t throw his weight around.

Maybe because I said something like, “I’m so sorry. Just give me the ticket.” I even hung my head. Tears actually fell off my cheeks onto that yellow piece of paper as I signed on the dotted line.

Because I deserved that ticket.

That was over 20 years ago and I’m proud to say I’ve never had another one since.

But maybe I shouldn’t be so proud. Because in all honesty, I don’t always go the speed limit.

You know that 5-miles-per-hour-over-rule? Well, that’s me. Yep, most of the time I give myself 5 miles over. And, guess what? I’m still breaking the law. If I ever get a ticket for going 5-miles over, I’d deserve it. If  a policeman pulled me over with a blue-light-special, I’d still accept the consequences. That’s the law and a policeman wears the badge to show he has the authority to enforce the law.

Psalm 2 is one of those psalms you have to dig deep to find gold. It’s not one of those psalms we turn to over and over again, but I kept focusing on verse 4. It’s the only place in Scripture where we’re actually told that God laughs…and it’s not the fun-loving kind of laugh that makes us feel good.

God laughs because even though the pride of man, especially earthly kings and rulers, makes it look like human power prevails over God’s power at times…haha…it just can’t be done.

In fact, the patience and lovingkindness of God to wait until the appointed time to act shows great restraint and power on His part! Some tend to think that God doesn’t see or God doesn’t care or God can’t perform mighty acts anymore or maybe…heaven, forbid…He just isn’t more powerful than the enemy.

That’s what the scoffers say, anyway. That’s what the mockers think. But, those who know who God really is…those who trust that He is The Omnipotent One…they know better.

Those who believe that God is mighty and powerful and able to save will find rest in His omnipotence.

Psalm 2 is a warning (verse 10). A warning to the kings and rulers of this earth that God has glorified His Son (verses 7 & 8). It should be a great comfort to us that He has, too.

Though Jesus was, and still is, mocked, ridiculed, and blasphemed by men, God will not allow His Son to be stripped of His crown. Though nations rebel and earthly kings rage against Him…though they show Him irreverence and openly defy Him…God has still raised Him up, exalted Him, glorified Him, and set Him upon The Holy Mountain (verse 6). In spite of anything that mere mortal man may do, there will come a day when those rulers will be forever sorry (verse 12).

Forever. Sorry.

The nations may be in an uproar. They may grumble and complain and express themselves with rage against one another and against God. The peoples of the earth may devise vain things. The kings and rulers of this earth may take counsel together against the Lord (verses 1-3), but God is still on the throne and Jesus is still King of kings.

The Father has given His Son the right to be King. The right to rule. The right to conquer. Those who will not willingly bend now under the prodding of His golden scepter will one day be shattered by His iron rod (verse 9).

That’s a fact, Jack.

Oh, my goodness…I’m so glad I trust in the power of Jesus to save.

I know at times my trust has been small, but you know? Trust grows over time. If my trust is real when it’s small then it can surely grow. It’s like a seed that needs to be watered and nourished. When first planted that seed is very real. Without the proper soil and the right amount of water and fertilizer it may never amount to much, but when it’s loved and cared for it will grow into something beautiful.

Yes, I’m so glad I’ve learned the joy of finding refuge in Jesus. I don’t want to ‘misplace’ Him or ‘leave Him behind’ like a pair of glasses I toss here and there. I don’t want to ‘rebel’ against what’s good and right for me, charging full speed ahead into dangerous territory. But when I do, I’m so glad He will pull me over and ‘slow me down’.

I can trust Jesus to be my Ultimate Authority.

I know a lot of people don’t get this, but I want Jesus to rule in my heart. I would rather learn to willingly bend now so that I won’t be shattered later.

I want my trust to grow and flourish and produce fruit. Because even though I deserve the wrath of God (verse 12), in His mercy, He doesn’t treat me as my sins deserve. Instead of me signing my name on a dotted line, Jesus has paid my debt in full. That’s why tears of gratitude fall down my cheeks.

That’s the beauty of my inheritance in The Son (verse 8), an inheritance zoned-out with spiritual riches on every side and Jesus in the midst.

Forever. Blessed.

That’s me.

“…How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” Psalm 2:12c

Reflections On Psalm 1

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I can remember when I valued exercise as a very vital, necessary part of my daily life. Back in the 1980’s there was this exercise show on TV called, “The Twenty Minute Workout.” I stumbled upon it one morning after I fed my toddler son breakfast and he was happily playing with his toys. In my early days of mamma hood I often left the TV on just for background noise, to keep me company, I guess. At the time, I hadn’t learned the importance of letting God and His Word keep me company!! Those were the days when I was still fickle and inconsistent in my relationship with Him, finding my way back after years of going my own way.

Sad, but true.

The Twenty Minute Workout was hosted by a woman whose name has escaped me. She and 2 other beautiful women with sculpted bodies and cute coordinating leotards, complete with leg warmers and tights, instructed the viewing audience in a highly energized aerobic fitness routine. I sat and watched that first time, completely enthralled.

The next morning, I donned sweatpants and a t-shirt (cute leotards, tights and the leg warmers would come later) and with all the determination and gusto I could muster, I not only watched, I joined them right there in the living room of my apartment. I’m so glad there was no one but my little boy to watch me moving around the room like that, moving my body in ways that made my bones and muscles squeal with delight. Yes, delight. Because I was hooked.

I started on an aerobic fitness journey for the next 10 years that kept me fit and focused and did wonders for my poor self-esteem. After a couple of years, The Twenty Minute Workout was completely embedded in the halls of my memory bank. I no longer needed the TV. I could take my workout with me everywhere I went and, believe me, I did. When Jazzercise came to town during those lean years I soon learned that 20 minutes of aerobics was no longer enough for me. Jazzercize became my new thing! Three to 4 times a week I danced to music with a roomful of other women for hour-long sessions of intense dance routines that left me breathless.

How I wish I could find my exercise-happy these days. I’m so fickle and inconsistent with exercise that sometimes I just want to scream, “Jesus, PLEASE! Help me take care of this old body. Help me find something….ANYthing…that I love as much as The Twenty Minute Workout!” (Doesn’t sound very spiritual, I know, but I really, really loved that workout and I’ve never found any other exercise I love as much.)

See…it’s important we love it or else we won’t want to do it.

We’re already eight days into 2016. And, guess what? I’ve not even gone for one 40 minute walk around town.

Not one.

And I used to enjoy walking.

I’ve been feeling kinda puny lately. Back in December some health issues creeped into my life and I’m not going to lie…they were kinda serious. After an initial trip to the emergency room, I’ve been passed from doctor to doctor, been wheeled around on more than one gurney for more than one test, and I’m still not done. As one doctor stated, “It might take several tries before you get an answer.”

I haven’t felt much like exercising, but I’ve noticed something….in the last couple of months I’ve gone from walking to standing to sitting.

A LOT of sitting.

And I don’t like it at all.

This morning I was thinking of Psalm 1 where the idea of walking…not standing…not sitting…

speaks to a man who is blessed. A man who is happy. A man who finds delight in the law of the Lord. A man who finds his happy-place by meditating on God’s Word and then living it out.

A man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked but walks in the counsel of his God.

A man who doesn’t stand in the path of sinners but walks in the path of righteousness.

A man who doesn’t sit in the seat of mockers but walks to the throne of grace.

This man is so happy he’s like a tree. A flourishing tree. A tree with a healthy life and breath and soul prosperity. A tree with strong branches and leaves and spirit fruit. A tree with a mighty trunk and bark and godly roots. A tree where the heart of it is fed water from fresh streams that never run dry.

Man won’t receive all this goodness lying down day after day, just staring at his Bible. Oh no. He must open it. And read it. And study it. And ponder it. And embed it upon his memory bank so he can take it wherever he goes.

And then…then…he must put it to practice. He must sit up. He must get up. He must walk it out, exercising his faith with assurance that all he has and all he needs is found in Jesus, the Living Word.

I’ve come a long way in my walk with Jesus since those early days of my return. I’m not as fickle as I used to be, but I’m not as consistent as I want to be. Yet, of this I’m sure…

The counsel of God is my plumbline.

The path of righteousness is my guideline.

The throne of grace is my bloodline.

The Word of God is my lifeline.

And I am so incredibly blessed. I’m not just happy, I’m delighted. Loving the Word has become part of my fitness journey of faith. I want to read it, know it, live it.

Because I am hooked.

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3  

Behold!

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I know it’s Christmas, but there’s a chorus from a song sung at Easter that’s been ringing in my ears for weeks,

“Behold, the Lamb! Behold the Lamb!

Slain from the foundation of the world; for sinners crucified

Oh, holy sacrifice!

Behold, the Lamb of God! Behold the Lamb!” (David Phelps, Behold The Lamb)

Behold. Stop what you’re doing and pay attention. I’ve got something important to tell you.

I love the word behold. It actually has a very simple definition, to see, lo, but because it’s an imperative it has a very definitive meaning, “when a thing specified seems to be impossible and yet it occurs.” 

Wow. I think I like this word A. Lot. Why don’t we use it more often?

Just askin’…

Behold is an imperative used many times in Scripture, but I love that Dr. Luke uses it in his biblical account of the birth of Christ. Of the four Gospel accounts, Luke gives us the most beautiful details of Jesus’ birth, including an amazing birth announcement to humble shepherds by heavenly angels,

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10, 11 

I could go into a dozen different directions here, but I won’t. This is blog. Not a dissertation so let me just say how much I love that the angel appeared to lowly shepherds. Don’t miss the fact the message was for all people, but a Savior is a very personal thing. That’s why the angel said, there has been born a Savior for you

OH. YES! GOOD. TIDINGS. OF. GREAT. JOY.

I don’t know about you, but this is a behold-moment.

Who doesn’t need some tidings of great joy these days?!?

Me!! I do! I do!

I think the shepherds needed it more than just about anybody. They were considered the lowest class of society, living virtually all alone out in the open fields. They used rocks as pillows. They had the b-a-a-h’s of sheep to keep them company by day and the twinkle of stars at night. They had no money. No home. No hope.

And then came, Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…

I’m seriously having a stop-and-pay-attention-moment right now. Because the news that a Savior was born in the town of David is bigger than just about any news I’ve ever heard. EVER.

Except for maybe one. And the apostle John records it as a behold-moment in his Gospel (and, by the way, you do know that gospel means good news? right?),

“The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'” John 1:29

I think John the Baptist needed this moment more than just about anybody. He lived out in the desert wearing camel’s hair. He ate locusts. He had no money. No home. BUT…he had something the shepherds didn’t…John had hope. His whole purpose in life was to prepare the way for Jesus. His whole message was one of calling the people to Behold.

John and Jesus were cousins so he knew Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. He believed it so much that he preached like a hell-fire-and-brimstone-preacher-with-no-time-to-waste and people flocked to hear him proclaim this good news. Because, you know? People need hope. People will always need hope.

Like the angels who brought good news to the shepherds out in the fields, John’s message was one of good tidings. A message for all people. For the shepherds of this world. For the John’s. For me.

And you.

Behold! Christ is born!

Behold! The Lamb of God!

You can’t have one without the other. They are the same. Savior. Lamb.

And I am just so full of GREAT JOY that I can hardly stand it. I’m having a behold-moment right here at my computer.

I need to hear the good tidings of God made into flesh.

I need to hear that the Son of God was born to a humble girl of meager means.

I need to know that Joseph loved Mary and the baby within her conceived of the Spirit enough to risk his own reputation and good name for the sake of God’s good name.

I need to know that Jesus wasn’t born in a palace but a stable and laid in a feeding trough for a bed.

I need to know the angels announced Jesus’ birth not to the rich, the powerful, and the elite but to the poor, the weak, the common.

I need to know that Jesus grew “in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God and man.”

I need to know that Jesus was baptized, not because He ever sinned, but because He wanted to be obedient to His Father.

I need to know that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin.” 

I need to know that Jesus gave His life for me, the spotless Lamb of God. He died a cruel death at the hands of heartless men, was buried in a tomb made out of rock, and BEHOLD! He was resurrected and now sits at the right hand of the Father and for those who call upon His name He gives eternal life.

BEHOLD! I bring you good tidings of great joy.

For all people.

A baby born. A Lamb slain.

A Savior lives. And because He does, so does hope.

There are no better tidings than this in all the world.

Please…stop what you’re doing and pay attention! The shepherds did.

And so do I.