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Psalm 18:32 on My Mind

NewOMM“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”Psalm 18:32

I’m going to do something a little bit different with On My Mind Mondays over the next few weeks. I came across a passage in my quiet time this morning that I would like to memorize. Five verses–five weeks. Could I memorize it faster? Probably. But this passage touched my heart. I want to spend some time with it.

This week I’ll be focusing on Psalm 18:32, above. If you’d like to look ahead at the whole passage, click here to visit BibleGateway.com where you can see all five verses right now.

What is it that I love about this passage? Throughout its words, David gives God credit for everything! God makes him able. God gives him strength. God prepares his path. God trains him for all he must face. God protects and sustains him. God stoops down to make him great!

And God does all of this for each of us, too! Meditating on these verses is like wrapping oneself up in a warm, comforting, and secure blanket entirely of God!

Interesting. That reminds me of St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer, the title of which comes from Ephesians 6:14, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” Yet, the essence of the prayer can be seen in Psalm 18 as well. In case you aren’t familiar with it, here are the words to St. Patrick’s prayer:

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ on the deck,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Do you feel it?! A warm, comforting, and secure blanket of God. He arms us with strength and keeps our way secure. He is with us always. He is everything!

Father, we thank You for being everything we need, for surrounding us with Your love, for providing necessary strength and security. As we meditate on David’s words and consider St. Patrick’s prayer, please help us to savor Your presence with us always. We love and need You, Lord! Amen.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you! No pinching today–instead show grace and God’s love in honor of Jesus’ name. I think St. Patrick would have liked that better! Me, too.

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1 Samuel 3:19 on My Mind

NewOMM“The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.”1 Samuel 3:19, NIV

When we write or speak, we are trying to communicate, to give our words to someone else. Sometimes our message gets through. But sometimes the person we’re trying to communicate with is distracted. That person is with us, but not really with us. That person’s mind is somewhere else. That’s never the case with God.God and Samuel2

God was with Samuel. God is with us.

When Samuel prayed, God heard his voice. The words got through to God. They didn’t fall purposelessly to the ground; God received them. He caught them. He kept them. Samuel’s words meant something to God.

God heard Samuel. God also hears us.

When Samuel grew up, he became a prophet. He spoke for God. God made use of Samuel’s words. They didn’t fall to the ground. God made sure that the people who needed to hear them did. He didn’t force those people to act on Samuel’s words, but the words carried His message. They had a purpose. That purpose was fulfilled–is still being fulfilled as people read Samuel’s words in the Bible today.

God made use of Samuel’s words. When we speak His words–Scripture, God-given insights. lessons we’ve learned and feel called to share, testimonies of what we’ve witnessed and experienced–God makes use of our words, too. He gives them meaning.

Father, sometimes it feels like no one is listening, but we know You are. You are with us. You hear us. You make use of our words. You give them a purpose that will be fulfilled. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

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Lamentations 3:22-23 on My Mind

NewOMM“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

I got to go on my first flower hunt of the season yesterday afternoon. My husband and I went walking on our community’s workout trail. This trail stretches ten miles across the city, allowing people to walk, run, ride bikes, skateboard, and roller blade. Every city needs a trail like this! It’s one of our favorite places here so far.

Mike and I did not walk ten miles yesterday, but we enjoyed making use of part of the trail not far from our house. We hadn’t gone far when I saw the first group of flowers I wanted to photograph. Crossing the trail carefully to be certain I wouldn’t get hit by a bike, I slipped under the guard rail, knelt down, and started taking pictures. I thought Mike was simply waiting nearby. When I got up, however, he was laughing. In fact, it took him a few moments to compose himself enough to tell me why.

DSC01173eIt seems while I totally engrossed in taking the perfect picture, a lady on roller blades being pulled by a rather large dog on a leash started to pass by. But the dog found me interesting and turned to investigate, pulling the lady behind him straight toward the fence. Mike had to get between me and the dog and wave the animal back onto the trail in order to save the very grateful lady from a collision with the fence and me from being pushed down the hill.

Of course, I just have to take my husband’s word for it that all this craziness actually took place. All I saw were my flowers, then a dog in the distance, pulling a lady on roller blades on up the trail. But Mike was laughing, so I’m sure the story is true. My husband was faithful. He compassionately kept the helpless lady from injury and me from being consumed.

I am so thankful!

I’m also thankful that our faithful God loves each of us even more than Mike loves me. He may, for reasons we may not yet be able to understand, allow life to gnaw on us a bit or maybe even bite straight into our hearts. This may really confuse us, but, even so, we can know that God will never let us be consumed. He always sees what’s happening and handles it with compassion and mercy–even, in fact, especially when we do not understand. He’s waiting each morning to greet us with the wisdom and strength we’ll need for the upcoming day. He loves us and He’s faithful. No matter what comes, we can count on Him each day.

As always, I invite you to meditate on these verses with me today. Try to memorize them this week. As I’ve been considering them today, I find the hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, playing in my head, and I realize it uses phrases from this passage. If you’re familiar with the song, use it for further reflection on Lamentations 3:22-23. If it’s new to you, click here to read the verses and hear the melody.

Father, thank You for Your love, Your protection, Your compassion, and Your faithful presence always. We need You every morning and all through each day. As we cling to Your faithfulness, please make us more like You. In Jesus’ name, we pray.

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1 Corinthians 12:26 on My Mind

NewOMM“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” -1 Corinthians 12:26, NIV

Today’s On My Mind meditation is also a Parachute Prayer. I found today’s verse in one of the devotionals I read this morning. The author of the devotional reminded me that part of the body of Christ is suffering. Right now. These courageous members are suffering for their faith.

While it’s true that North Americans may experience some measure of persecution on a small scale, few will ever really know what it means to suffer for Jesus. I can’t even begin to fathom how this is possible, but in some countries, what you believe or don’t believe can actually be a crime punishable by death or imprisonment. In some countries, Christian parents are declared unfit and have their children taken from them. In some countries, teenagers who choose to follow Christ are disowned and thrown out of their homes onto the streets or turned in to the authorities for arrest. Such things are beyond my comprehension–how people could be so cruel! And yet, Christians really do die for their faith. every. day.

So as we memorize 1 Corinthians 12:26, let’s also get in the habit of praying for this suffering part of the Body daily. Here’s how we can do that:

Most of us, I think, have some kind of physical quirk that perhaps causes us pain from time to time. (If you don’t, be thankful! Then call on your own creative nature to come up with a reminder of your own for today’s prayer. In fact, feel free to leave a reply to share your ideas with others who are blessed like you are!) For me, the quirk is a shoulder twinge from time to time brought on by stress. It’s no big deal, just something that prompts me to exercise regularly. Now it will also remind me to pray! You can let your physical quirk be your reminder, too. When we feel a little pain in our physical bodies, let’s pray for those members of the Body of Christ who are truly suffering in Jesus’ name.

Father, our hearts break when we read about our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for serving You. Please give them strength to stand firm in their faith. Please build them up physically and spiritually. Please let them know that You are with them; comfort them as only You can. And please Let them know, somehow, that there are people in this world who also care. Bless them, Lord, as You have promised to. Thank You for seeing and honoring their pain. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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Psalm 51:6 on My Mind

NewOMM“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” -Psalm 51:6, ESV

In his sermon yesterday, my husband mentioned that marriage counseling, articles, and books are more popular than ever in today’s society–and yet divorce rates continue to stay high. I immediately knew why. I’m reading a book about nutrition right now. As the author makes suggestions, I often think, “That’s a great idea, but it won’t work for me.” I’m guessing that’s what a lot of people are saying as they go to marriage counseling or read the articles and books. I’m absolutely certain it happens in other areas, too. We seek wisdom then reject it by telling ourselves lies that stop us from implementing good ideas. And then we suffer for it.

(Note: I’m not saying we should implement every piece of advice we hear from a counselor or read in a book. Some of this advice really is just, plain wrong. We need to ask God to help us discern truth and implement it as He leads.)

New SpiralThis week’s On My Mind verse deals with that. It comes from Psalm 51–David’s prayer of confession after his affair with Bathsheba, murder of her husband, and confrontation by the prophet Nathan. Evidentally, David realized he’d been telling himself a lot of lies. You can read the rest of the Psalm to see what he did about it. It’s one of my favorites–a beautiful example of how to approach God when you realize you’ve done wrong or if you feel you need a check-up to be sure your heart is right.

Psalm 51:6 reminds us that God wants us to tell ourselves the truth. He wants us not only to acknowledge that it’s a good idea, but also to incorporate it into the deepest layers of our lives. Some versions use the word womb instead of inward being. Imagine that! God wants truth to begin growing inside of us from our earliest moments of existence! He wants to work His wisdom deeply into our lives.

Psalm 51-6As we memorize this verse this week, let’s pray that God will help us to recognize and implement truth in every aspect of life. Let’s pray He’ll reveal the lies we tell ourselves, so we can replace these with His truth in order to live healthier and happier, God-glorifying lives.

Thank You, Lord for delighting in truth in our inward beings. Teach us wisdom that we’ll live to honor You. Amen. 

Note: The pictures in this post are of my brand new spiral set of index cards. Beth Moore gave me this idea several years ago through her blog. Each week, I write out my new verse and place it by my computer where I’ll see it often. When I finish a spiral, I toss it in my purse, so I can flip through the verses to refresh my memory whenever I find myself in a waiting place on the go.

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James 1:18 on My Mind

NewOMM“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” –James 1:18, ESV

I’m memorizing this week’s verse along with my Protestant Women of the Chapel Bible study class. We’re working our way through the book of James. I find this particular verse quite intriguing and look forward to learning more about this passage with the group next time we meet.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve discovered about this verse that can help you and me commit it to memory:

In the first phrase, James, writing specifically to Christians, tells us that we have been brought forth—or born again—by God’s will, by His Word. God wanted us to be born again. (He wants all people to be born again!) He made it possible for all people to be born again by His Son, Jesus Christ—the Word of Truth. Those of us who have repented of our sins and invited Jesus into our lives as Lord are assuredly born again. God is always faithful to His Word—both in Scripture and in His Son.

In the second phrase, James calls us a “kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” In the Old Testament, the firstfruits of anything belonged to God: first harvest of any food-bearing plant, firstborn of any womb. Firstborn sons of the Israelite people had to be redeemed by sacrifice, according to what the parents could afford.

James 1-18When James calls us the firstfruits, he is saying that Christians are to be fully dedicated to God, set apart for His service, devoted to His will. This isn’t unlike Paul’s petition in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Paul urges us to be living sacrifices. James says this is what God intends for us to be. As the book continues, James teaches believers what exactly this means.

As always, I invite you to meditate on or memorize this verse along with me. And, if you have time, I recommend you read the book of James: just five short chapters, but packed full of spiritual meat.

Father, thank You for sending Jesus that we could be born again. We’re your children now, heirs with Christ, all thanks to Him. Help us to remember that we are “a kind of firstfruits of Your creatures”—set apart for service to You, devoted to Your will. Teach us Your ways, Lord. We exist for You. Amen.

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Hebrews 10:23 on My Mind

NewOMM“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” –Hebrews 10:23, NLT

Though we can’t always understand God’s ways or His timing, one thing we can always know is that God will keep His promises. We can trust Him completely to do everything He has promised to do.

Therefore, whenever we’re called to pray about something long-term, no end in sight, we can encourage ourselves to hang in there and keep on praying by seeking out promises that we can cling to, by carefully studying God’s Word.

In Hebrews 10, the author is doing just that. The people are becoming discouraged as they suffer under great persecution. The author reminds them that God has promised them a great reward for their patient endurance (v. 35-36). Christ, who died for their salvation, is coming back to take faithful believers to their future home (v. 34, 39). The author of Hebrews quotes promises from Deuteronomy and Habakkuk in order to give the people solid hope to cling to.

None of those believers lived long enough on earth to see those promises fulfilled, but those who hung in there, as the author encouraged them to, will see it all happen someday, just as we will, in God’s perfect timing. Hebrews 10:23 assures us all will be well. God keeps His promises.

And His Word is full of them! To encourage us all through this life. To give us something to hold tightly as we prepare to journey into Eternity with Christ.

This doesn’t mean we can take the Bible’s promises out of context and twist their meaning in order to manipulate God into giving in to something we want Him to do for us now. He wouldn’t fall for that kind of thing anyway. Yet we can carefully study what the Bible has to say, pray over passages that give us hope and build our confidence, and trust God to do everything He plans to just perfectly.

When life tempts us to give up or give in, let’s choose to hold tightly to hope by seeking to understand all that God has promised in the Bible, His Word.

Father, lead us to the verses we need to see. Use Your written word to speak truth to us each day. Help us to understand Your teaching that we’ll come to know and fully trust You. The Bible says You keep Your promises. I’ll believe this, Lord, as I continue to wait and pray. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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John 21:25 on My Mind

NewOMM“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” –John 21:25

We sang a hymn in church yesterday morning called The Love of God. The imagery in this hymn is incredible! I especially appreciate the third verse:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were ev’ry stalk on earth a quill,

And ev’ry man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Tho’ stretched from sky to sky.

Can you picture it?

We can see the idea in action today—not with parchment or ink, but right here on-line. Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve found so many other Christian blogs written by people who just love to proclaim the works of God. Add Google+, Twitter, and Facebook to the mix, and you’ll find a steady stream of praises 24/7. This is true!

I’m not recommending that you spend all your time on-line. Quite the contrary, in fact. I just think it’s amazing that so many people are taking the time during the day to drop everything for just a moment, post a good word about our great God, then go back to their routine, so that, all together, the praises just keep flowing.

John wrote what he could, his messages contained in five of the Bible’s books. In today’s verse, he implies that he couldn’t write everything he wanted to—wouldn’t have been able to if he tried. Yet he wrote what he felt was most essential in order to introduce us to the Jesus he knew—his Savior, his friend—so Jesus could be ours, too.

Since then, evidently, God continues to compel His people to tell others all about all the things He has done, things He continues to do—because He loves us so and longs to draw all who will come into His eternal kingdom.

This week, I invite you to memorize John 21:25 with me. As you do, watch for opportunities to proclaim the good things God is doing in your life. Let’s not only attempt to drain the ocean and cover the sky, fill books and take over cyberspace, but also to fill the hearts and minds of the people God brings into our lives—Then they can joyfully help us continue the work on this on-going task for the glory of God’s name.

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Isaiah 58:11 on My Mind

NewOMM“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” –Isaiah 58:11, NIV

Oh, how I needed to read these verses this morning! They’re just perfect for a Monday—don’t you think? Especially for a Monday after week like the one just past: I was so sick last week! My poor husband kept looking at me in confusion and saying, “But you don’t get sick.”

It’s true. I don’t. Not usually. But last week I did and nothing I tried to do to hurry myself well again would work. I drank tea by the gallon, ran on my treadmill, took Vitamin C, ate healthy—mostly, and firmly told myself not to be sick. I laughed one evening when my husband and I were watching a television show about a virus that was claiming victims one by one. The main character looked at herself in the mirror and said, “I will not be sick.”

I said, “Give it up, Honey. I tried that. You’re doomed.” I was right. She got sick, too.

At least I didn’t get what she got! I guess things can always be worse.

Sometimes our bodies just have to ride illnesses out. On the bright side, these illnesses, if they’re minor ones like sinus infections or colds, force us to rest and relax—they actually give us permission to do so as they insist on it! I didn’t reach my writing goals for the week and missed attending Bible study, but I got lots of reading done and enjoyed catching up on the US Figure Skating Championships. I’m ready to watch the Olympics now; I know what’s going on.

That said, this week I’m feeling mostly better, so Isaiah 58:11 encouraged me greatly. I hope it will encourage you, too! God’s given us some beautiful promises for the start of a new week:

1. He will guide us always. As I begin to feel better, I long to dig into all the projects I had to neglect last week all at once. Trying to do so will only defeat me—and maybe cause a relapse. I’m thankful God is there to help me prioritize as I complete one task at a time. God doesn’t only guide us through the big decisions of life. If we’ll let Him, He’ll guide us through our daily decisions, too.

2. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land. My land is currently covered in frost, but God will meet my needs here, too. He knows our needs better than we do; we can trust Him to provide.

3. He will strengthen our frames. Aren’t you glad God made our bodies able to heal themselves most of the time? As I am recovering from this recent illness, I’m looking forward to running again in a few days, rebuilding endurance and strength. I realize, though, that God, in His perfect, yet often mysterious wisdom, doesn’t always grant physical healing. Even so He does always give strength. He will always provide all the strength we need to accomplish His purposes for our lives. We can count on this.

4. He will make us like well-watered gardens. Gardens are fruitful, beautiful, pleasant, temperate, inviting, and peaceful. In the Bible, gardens are often places where people meet with God. Therefore, the promise of Isaiah 58:11 assures us that God will make us into people He can use to draw others to Himself whether He does this in social situations, through writing projects, in random encounters, or in our homes. When we devote our lives to God, He uses them to invite others to meet with and get to know Him, too.

5. He will make us like springs whose waters never fail. This is closely related to the promise of the well-watered garden. Jesus is the Living Water. God promises He’ll flow through us. If I really think about that picture, that means we’re simply the ruts in the ground that carry the real Water. But that Water is essential for life—for eternal life, for abundant life, for really-real, genuine life. (The redundancy there is intentional: life defined does not exist without Christ!) Therefore, let’s be happy to let God form us into springs that carry the Water of Life.

As always, I invite you join me in meditating on or memorizing Isaiah 58:11 to firmly get it placed on your mind. The more Scripture we put in our heads, the more God’s Spirit can use to help us on our journey through each day.

Father, thank You for the promises of Isaiah 58:11. Help us to absorb their Truth as we reflect on them this week. As You keep these promises, we know You’re making us into people who honor and glorify You. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

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Psalm 73:26 on My Mind

NewOMM“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” –Psalm 73:26

I’m suffering with a sinus infection today, so this verse seems especially appropriate. I tried to run it off because I read, a few years ago, that it’s possible to run off a cold. That really does work, but I didn’t get very far today. I know: sinus infections aren’t colds. But it was worth a try. Perhaps I’ll feel the results a little later on. For now, I’m drinking hot tea—and lots of it! I will overcome this thing.

In the meantime, it’s comforting to know that though my body may let me down, God never will. He provides all the strength and resources I need to accomplish whatever He calls me to do. (And maybe a sinus infection is telling me He’s calling me to rest.)

As always, I invite you to meditate on and memorize this verse with me this week. When we put God’s Word on our minds, we know it will be there when we need it. God’s strength never fails; neither does His Word.

Father, thank You for being the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I’ll rely on You at all times, whether I’m feeling weak or strong. In Jesus’ name, amen.