Faith

Psalms-Superbook

Happy Sunday!

As you know, I take Sundays off from blogging. This allows me to be able to focus on worshipping God and spending time with my family. These Sunday devotionals and book reviews are pre-scheduled. Join me in this quick devotional on Psalms!

A True Super-book

I don’t know about you, but the book of Psalms has helped me through a bunch of hard and joyful times in my life. It is both encouraging and challenging. It really and truly is a SUPERBOOK.

Psalms not only has encouraging and uplifting songs, but also exhortation and promises, along with darker aspects such as sin and consequences of that sin. Not to mention, there are prophesies woven into the book as well!

So many times, we turn to “self-help books” or motivational speakers to encourage or “uplift” us. How many times do we turn to the Word of God to do that? Especially when we really do have the ultimate “self-help” book in the palm of our hands!!!

I have been recently going through the book of Psalms and it has been such a blessing to be able to see God’s heart intertwined into the book. His goodness, His power, His faithfulness and Holiness.

 

I love how the book starts out with a promise…

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” Psalms 1:1-3
Then there are pleas to God for His mercy…
“LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Psalm 3:1-3
And exhortations…

“Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD.” Psalm 4:4-5

 

And Prayers…

…”But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.” Psalms 5:7-8
And Praises….
“O LORD, our Lord,How excellent is Your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:9
So wether you are needing encouragement, exhortation, encouragement, prayer or the desire to praise…The Psalms is your book! It truly is an amazing book!
I encourage you to read through a few Psalms every day. You will be both encouraged and strengthened in the Lord!
Meditate on the Word of God this week..and “whatever you do will prosper”, and “…you will be like a tree planted by streams of water”!!!
God Bless!
-Z
 
Faith

What the Heck is a Phylactery?

A Fancy Word

You might think that I just mentioned something “dirty” or maybe I brought up  a medical condition.

Nope.

A Phylactery is just fancy word for a leather box.

Let me explain….

phy·lac·ter·y

fəˈlaktərē/

noun
plural noun: phylacteries
  1.  a small leather box containing Hebrew texts on vellum, worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law.

Let me show you this short and insightful video that will explain exactly what phylacteries (Tefillins) are, way better than I could.

Y’all! We’re gonna learn something new today!

See!! Isn’t that interesting???

Ok, so not all of us “feel the need” to wear little leather boxes and leather straps all over us. But, if you are jewish, it is a very normal thing. Especially in traditional jewish orthodox homes. To you, it probably seems silly…

pharasee
This dude means business 🙂

It’s really not silly though. It is an outward expression of the command to “wear” scripture.

Here’s what I get out of seeing this funny looking tradition: KEEPING THE LAW OF THE LORD IN YOUR HEART AND MIND EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY!

Doesn’t sound so funny to me!!!

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” -Psalm 1:1-2

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with keeping God’s word in my heart. It doesn’t always come easy to meditate on God’s word day and night. Especially when you are busy mom, or a career guy. I know that is not an excuse, but it takes INTENTIONAL thinking. Discipline.
In the Old Testament times, the people of God were trained (intentionally) since young to obey the law of the Lord. To teach it to their kids and grandkids. It was something that was intentionally instilled in their families.
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates..” Dueteronomy 11:18-20

Intentional

I encourage you today to be intentional about walking, talking, thinking, sleeping, meditating on JESUS! “Carrying” the law of the Lord on you every second. It is a discipline. It takes intentionality.

How much more important is it to INTENTIONALLY teach the law of the Lord to your children?!?

We may not tie little leather boxes on our heads or arms, but we can do that symbolically. We can choose to meditate on the Lord every hour, every minute.

I leave you with this worship song. I pray that you are encouraged today to be intentional. To “tie the Word of the Lord to your hearts and minds.” In everything to remember Jesus.

God Bless! -Z

 

Faith

The world will know you by how you LOVE each other…

Good morning and happy Sunday!

This morning, I woke up at 4:30 am. Wide awake, with a burden on my heart.

I started thinking about family.

I started thinking about all the family issues that are not only in my extended family, but in my church family.

If you don’t have “family issues” however dysfunctional….you’re blessed.

But, most families that I know have SOME or a BUNCH of family issues. Dissensions, quarrels, disagreements, etc.

People….THIS SHOULD NOT BE SO!

I woke up and began praying and reading my bible, and God brought 2 Tim 3 to mind…

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
 
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
 
without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
 
treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
 
having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
I know that God already knew that these things would be so in the end days. But I struggle with the fact that these things are happening in our church! RIGHT NOW! How do we as christians, expect the world to WANT to be a christian if these things are going in our families and ESPECIALLY In our church???
We need to love each other. We need to forgive each other.
We need to remember 1 Corinthians 13:1-2…
 “If I speak in the tongues[fn] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
If we go to church every Sunday, are involved with every ministry, sing worship songs, smile and pretend everything is “peachy”, but we do not have real and unconditional LOVE for each other….ITS ALL FOR NOTHING. IT’S A GIANT FACADE. Might as well stay at home and binge watch on Netflix, until we can learn to love each other unconditionally. Right? It’s pointless.
And how much more in our OWN FAMILIES?!?!?!
If you have anything going on in your family today, I encourage you to make it right. Go to that person, or to the people who may have wronged you. Reconcile, forgive and move on. We all have weaknesses. We all struggle with sin. The part that turns wrong for us as christians though, is if we leave it alone and let it “fester”, If we don’t fix it.
I mean come on…God is so much bigger than our problems, right? He is faithful. He will work it out…IF YOU ASK HIM TO.
Anyways…I leave you with this verse from John 13:35

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Go BE love today! Forgive! Reconcile! Make right the wrongs!
Why? Because Jesus said so.
God bless you today.
-Z
Faith

The Quiet Season

The season

Are you feeling like your walk with God is at a timid place? Do you feel like you might be in a season with God where you are quiet with Him, and where He is quiet back?

“We are sinking by our struggles when we might float by faith. Oh, for grace to be quiet!” -Charles Spurgeon

I have had quiet season in my life. Some of those seasons and moments have been the most growing and beneficial times in my walk with God. I’ve experienced the quiet peace of knowing that, even though I am not hearing any direct “words from God,” or experiencing the “writing in the sky,” that I am reassured through scripture that He is with me. He is near.

Throughout the Bible we can see God’s promises. We can know without a shadow of a doubt that he is near, and we can have confidence that we can draw near to Him…even if we are in a “quiet season”.

“In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength…” (Isaiah 30:15).

“So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Heb. 13:6)

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” (James 4:8)

 Confidence

Here’s what the Bible says about confidence…

    “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[fn] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
       “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
The greek word for Confidence is : παρρησία
Transliteration: parrēsia
Pronunciation

pär-rā-sē’-ä (Key)

feminine noun

Root Word (Etymology)

From πᾶς (G3956) and a derivative of ῥέω (G4483)
The KJV translates Strong’s G3954 in the following manner: boldness (8x), confidence (6x), openly (4x), plainly (4x), openly (with G1722) (2x), boldly (with G1722) (1x), miscellaneous (6x).
  1. freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech or conduct

    1. openly, frankly, i.e without concealment

    2. without ambiguity or circumlocution

    3. without the use of figures and comparisons

  2. free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance

(courtesy of blueletterbible.org)

A couple things that I noticed with this greek word is that is a feminine noun. Strange huh? But look at some of the highlights that I bolded for you.

  • Open-without consealment
  • Without ambiguity
  • Without the use of figures and comparisons
  • fearless confidence
  • cheerful courage

We do not need to compare our walk with God to someone else. Sometimes we see a person who is at that “loud season” with God. They are being directed plainly by God, and blessed so clearly. Those people are at a great place with their walk. The “loud seasons” are a blessing too, but they are not usually the constant. God works on all seasons of life.

We don’t need to be ashamed of these quiet seasons. Even in these seasons, we can have confidence as we approach our walk with Him. We can have assurance that he is near.

As you ponder which season you may be in today, or even if you are in a “loud season” in your walk with God, I want to leave you with this prayer.

As you settle your mind and close your eyes, let this be your prayer today. Take a listen.

God bless you on this Sunday! Now go spend time with your family! 🙂

-Z

Faith · Home

Don’t be discouraged!

Welcome to my Sunday devo time! It is my conviction to take Sunday’s off from my blog, and really focus on the Lord and my family. I write these devotionals during the week, and schedule them for Sundays. I pray that you will be blessed by what I have learned in my personal time with God this week!

The Thoughts that Jumble

What are you reading right now?

I tend to read multiple books at the same time. For some reason, my brain does well with multiple things going on at once. Right now, I am only reading two “leisure” books, but usually I have a few that I am reading, along with my bible study.

Today, as I looked over at my pile of books, I started asking myself, am I studying to be better? Am I learning anything? Am I applying anything?

I know that sometimes we can get discouraged with our chaotic lives. I know that I do. The “thoughts” start taking over… “am I a good enough mom,” “am I a good enough wife”, “am I doing enough ‘God stuff'”, “am I praying enough”…on and on it goes. Those thoughts start to “jumble” your brain, until all you are thinking about are the negative thought processes.

When you start to let those thought processes take over, it is easy to get discouraged. When I started getting down on myself for not learning enough, I let my thoughts take over. I let myself get distracted from the whole point. The point of studying the Bible, or a devotional book is to learn about God, Yes, but it is about quieting your mind and focusing on Jesus. Not yourself and you “not being good enough”.  the Bible tells us to “take every thought captive, to the obedience of Christ…”. That means that we have control over our thought processes.

I sure wasn’t controlling my negative thought processes when I was getting down on myself for not learning enough.

That silly story was just an example of how easy it is for us to lose focus.

The Antitheses

I never had heard the word “antitheses” before I met my husband. You see, my husband is super smart. He is one of those naturally smart people. One of those people that uses “antitheses” on a regular basis. haha. When he first used the word on me, I was like, “anti-tha-what???”

He explained to me that when you break apart the word, you get the first part, which is “anti”, which means….

an·tith·e·sis
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH….
The rest of what he explained to me just went over my head. So I sat there smiling and nodding at him, and pretending to be all into his super nerdy conversation.
That diagram and my husbands explanation, is a just a fancy version for the definition:
Antitheses:
1. a person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else.
2. a contrast or opposition between two things.
3. a figure of speech in which an opposition or contrast of ideas is expressed by parallelism of words that are the opposites of, or strongly contrasted with, each other, such as “hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins”.
God gives a command in Joshua that is the antitheses (opposite) of our nature…
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Be strong-opposite of how we feel most of the time
Be courageous-opposite of how we act most of the time
Do not be afraid-opposite of how we feel most of the time
Do not be discouraged-opposite of how we feel most of the time
But, God calls us to be:
ANTI-weak.
ANTI-wimpy
ANTI-afraid
ANTI-down on yourself
God always has a reason for saying and doing the things He does. He says these things to us, so that we will rely on HIS strength. On HIS power. You see, “HE is made strong in our weakness”! HIM! IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM!
 (no old guy was harmed in the making of this devo.)
(now stop laughing and get serious. This is serious y’all!)
(p.s. Im sorry if I offended anyone that looks like this guy,
Im sure he’s nice.)

His promise

The best part of that verse is the fact that he promises to be with us WHEREVER WE GO! Isn’t that awesome? He promises to BE WITH US! His power in us!

Dang! The God of the universe says he will go with me wherever I go! Yea baby!

“…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go…”

Don’t be discouraged Friend! if you have been struggling with discouragement, I just wanted to share what the Lord encouraged me with this week!

Be encouraged! God bless!

-Z

Faith

Scumbag

Psalm 51

V. 4 “Against You, and You only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgement…”

V. 6 “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart…”

V.9 “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. V. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

V. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

V. 12 Restore to me, the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

V.16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with burnt offering.

v. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Author: David “A man after God’s own heart”

The guy in the story

When I think about David, and the story of his life, I sometimes get angry. He really was a scumbag sometimes! How was he such a huge figure in the Bible? How did God use him so mightily?

If you look at his story, around the middle part of his life, he really screwed up. He not only had a bunch of wives (customary in that time), but he had this huge crush on a married woman! What he ended up doing to get that woman, is crazy!

So, instead of leaving it alone, he ended up lusting after her so much, and “had to have her so bad”, that he ended up sending her husband to the front lines of battle, knowing full well that it was a suicide mission! Then, to top off the [raunchy] story, David takes that woman to be his own wife!

Sounds like a story from Jerry Springer, right?

So, why does God call David “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22)??? I never could understand this. Until I really understood Psalm 51.

If you notice the words in the Psalm, you see that he says to God, “against you, you only have I sinned…”, and , “hide your face from my sins…”. Here, he is truly repentant of his sins. He not only repented, but he turned away from his sin. He quite doing the bad stuff. He ended up seeking God relentlessly. There was a heart change. And, God ended up blessing him incredibly! In fact, Jesus came from the line of David!

(The whole story of David is quite dramatic. You should read it for yourself! Start in 1 Samuel)

But, that’s the key. The whole point of the story…true repentance.

God desires brokenness

“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with burnt offering.The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart…”

The God of the universe doesn’t want you to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, He doesn’t want you to be perfect in all your conduct or to never slip. He wants you to be broken. Just like David was.

The world views brokenness as weakness. Why is that? Why is it that when you are at a place of surrender or brokenness, that you are viewed as weak? Hmm. The world really doesn’t understand the paradoxes of God (“the first will be last”, “love your neighbor as yourself”, “if you’re humble, God will lift you up” etc).

What is a contrite heart?

Contrite:”feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming”

God sees brokenness and contriteness as beautiful.

Let’s relate

So, what did I learn from Davids story? I learned that I am a scumbag! Just because my story doesn’t sound like something off of Jerry Springer, doesn’t mean that I am not just as bad as David was. My story might not go like his did, but boy do I screw up. All the time.

I get angry, I get selfish, I get stupid.

I need Jesus.

By myself, I am a dirty-rotten sinner. I need to be broken and contrite, and realize my need for a savior. Just like David did.

I love Psalm 51. I love the fact that it shows the real person that David was. I love the fact that God loves us despite ourselves, and that He desires a relationship with us…

…even when we are scumbags.

-Z