Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fill Your Reservoir

You’ve heard the old saying, “make hay while the sun shines…” And believe me we’re well experienced in trying to catch the weather jusssst right for putting up hay. But, there’s one thing about sunshine - you can’t “store” it up!

Not so with rain. There are areas and people in the country, indeed in the world, who depend on storing up the water in reservoirs and water towers during the rainy season for the times of drought.

I’m well experienced with that also. When I was growing up, we had to haul our water from a local spring. When one of my aunts had a well dug, we only had to carry it from her house (approximately 500 yards.) So I know about “catching” water. We had rain barrels at the corners of the house, and we depended on these for our “wash water.” We made sure we caught every drop possible when it was raining.

Our spiritual lives are like that, too. When you’re being filled with the Spirit; when you’re being washed in His glow, you need to “store it up!”

There are times when you’re “in the flow!” You know what I mean? You’re spending time in prayer; you’re reading your Bible, and it’s actually making sense! You’re underlining passages, and hearing God speak. The Psalms are resonating with your soul and the Gospel is filling your spirit. God’s presence is palatable, it’s so close…

And then it happens… the drought comes. And you don’t want to pray, you don’t want to read the Bible, you just don’t want to do anything. Oh, it’s not that you don’t want to hear God - you do; you desperately do! You just don’t. You don’t hear Him, you don’t feel Him, and you don’t sense His presence anymore…

It’s those times that you need to go to your reservoir. Turn to those promises you heard, felt, and believed before. Don’t feel like praying? Pray anyway! The Holy Spirit will carry even your groans to the Father.

Don’t feel like reading the Bible? Read anyway. Read the “underlines”. Don’t try to read long stories and doctrines - just read the underlines. Read the words that God so lovingly spoke to you before; that God put in your reservoir.

I have a poem that says in part, “A woman gives, and gives, and gives, then has to give some more. Not only must I meet my needs, I need a reservoir!”

And in truth, we all do - men and women!

So yeah, “make hay while the sun shines”, but don’t neglect to fill your reservoir - trust me, you’re gonna need it some day!

Father, thank you for the rain. Thank you for filling our hearts and souls with Your presence. May we savor every drop. May we fill every bucket, jar and teacup, so that when the drought comes (and we know it will) we’ll have Your mercy and grace stored up in the reservoir of our heart, and be able to draw on it’s abundance in our hour of need.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Psalms 23

A Psalm of David. (KJV)
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

David begins this Psalm with the lofty, “The LORD is my shepherd… I shall not want…” and we often hear ministers with deep booming voices draw that phrase out saying “The LOOOORD is my shepherd… I shall not want…”

But did you ever notice that as David writes the Psalm, he begins by referring to God in the third person - “He makes me; He leads me; He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths…” .

Then, when he gets to the real struggles, when the real "troubles" of life hit - the valley of the shadow of death - David turns from the lofty declaration of “The Lord” to “You” are with me.

He turns from talking about the Lord to talking to the Lord, personally. “Your” rod and “Your” staff - the discipline and the support - whichever is necessary, and sometimes both, they comfort me. We are comforted by the dependability and the consistency of the “rod” and the “staff.” They never waver and never fail.

Then he begins to say, “You, Father, prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies" - and what more fierce enemy can there be than death (or illness, or loss, or suffering) - and he says, “You pour the healing oil of comfort over my head in this difficult place.”

Then he says, “Surely - I am assured - that goodness and mercy will accompany me all the days of my life, and I will settle down and be comfortably at home in the house of my Lord - my Father - forever!”


Most of us grew up hearing, reading, and memorizing this Psalm from the King James Version, as I quoted above. But, read it now from the New Living Translation (as follows.) It will really touch your soul…

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

PMA or Solid Hope?

Our pastor’s sermon Sunday which keyed in on Ephesians 5:19 “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;” came to mind when one of those moments of doubt and fear hit, as they seem to do when you’re just sailing along…

I’d gotten a phone call that sorta shook me, and immediately the words, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives…” filled my heart, and I instantly felt better.

Then, of course, Satan throws his two cents worth into the mix, “Yeah, that’s right. Talk yourself out of it. It’s all ‘mind over matter’ anyway you know…”

And I began thinking - just what is the difference between PMA (positive mental attitude) and “solid hope” - that is, hope that doesn’t fail?

It’s true, one can talk themselves into and out of despair and hopelessness at times. When I was in high school, I felt “different.” (Didn’t we all, when we were in high school!”) Anyway, I would “deal with it” by talking to myself. I’d say, “Of course you’re different, you’re an artist…” And that would help… for a while. The problem was, I had to keep telling myself that.

However, once I began to hold to the fact that not only was I an “artist” but also a “child of the King” it became “fact” and not just a placebo.

Now, I hold to the words of Scripture and songs. I often sing, (to myself, mind you!) “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand…”

“When He shall come, with trumpet sound, Oh! may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne…”

I’ve noticed, when you know nothing about music (as I don’t) it forces you to be more aware of the words. When you’re dealing with a struggle, or at the highest of peaks, still hold to the words of your favorite worship hymn. It will give you strength for the journey, comfort in the dark, and reassurance in the light.

It’s not just all in your mind!