Counting sheep when I could not fell asleep as a child or even now has never worked for me. I have been a “light sleeper’ for as long as I remember and that has made me appreciate any sleep I get.
We are designed to sleep, sleep is really important to us. Life tends to look brighter after a good night of sleep. Sleep is our God-given reset button to start again, awake anew, to begin again.
What to do when we can’t sleep? What to do when the worries and problems of life keep us awake constantly?
Jesus said: I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid
Peace is sleep’s best friend and God has gifted to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a gift we can’t program or produce, fabricate or buy, it’s given to and it is available to us right now, always.
Lets receive that gift of peace that surpasses understanding and fill our consciences with that assurance.
”Who will help us at this time? Who will point out the way to a solution, to a good outcome? Who will take care of us, the economy, the future? ( see verse 6)
I do not know what questions are concerning your mind today my friend, I do not know if you are pessimistic about your job, your marriage, the education of your children, your life… all I know is that we all have concerns.
Our tendency is to see the worse in each other or believe the worst outcome of events. How can we change that? We learn today that we can ask God to smile upon us. What does that mean?
Have you ever been discouraged and demoralized and suddenly a stranger smiled at you and you felt energised and for the rest of that day that smile gave you hope?
Imagine the smile of God? The favour and the grace of the creator of the world. The goodness of all goodness shifting it’s direction towards us. It will be the beginning of the turning of our expectations and plans for the better for sure. Let’s ask with the writer.
“Many say, “Who can show us anything good?” Smile upon us, LORD!”
Have you ever been chased down to be harmed or even killed by someone you thought was family or a close friend?
Isn’t it true that our biggest surprises in life come from people we love and we thought were on our side.
King David has been hunted down to be terminated by is own son Absolmon. He is running for dear life, you can feel his fear and terror in the first two verses of this psalm.
I wonder what is the process that you follow when in fear and anxiety?
I know that fear that comes when we feel threatened and in danger can be good and helpful to us, but fear that lingers in the body for far too long and at times we can’t even find a reason why is there has become toxic and dangerous and needs to be treated, spoken to and solved.
King David leads us in the way he deals with fear. He starts by stopping and shuffling the train of his thoughts and redirects them to a place where fear has no power. Fear might be present but has no power.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory the one who lifts my head high. (v3)
David stops fear and panic at their tracks and proclaims; Wait, a minute fear, sto, panic, yes you are real, yes, you are present, but so is God.
‘My God is a shield around me -he argues, not just like any shield that protects from the front only, but all-around protection that covers me entirely.’
Then he continues, ‘God, you are my glory, meaning you are the one that my significance comes from, not my achievements he reasons, not my wins in life, not my titles, not my children, not my marriage, not my money ( although all them are good things), but you – who I am in you is my real identity and significance.
And lastly, David says, you are the one that lifts my head high, you are the one that bring me honour and joy. There is no one that raises us highly as God does, it doesn’t matter how triles and tribulations, fear and anxiety knocks us down, God always comes to lift our head high and give us joy.
He is our:Defence, Honour , Joy
Then, he does something that I know pushes fear even further away from intimidating us. He prays and cares for his people. He knows that his son is not what people need as King, so he invites God to bless and bring deliverance for the sake of the people he loves.
I have witnessed that all the times that we remove our eyes from ourselves and focus on helping and investing in other peoples lives, we kick fear and anxiety even further away from damaging and hurting us.
Does it feel like the world has gone mad? The nations are at war with one another, there are committees and meetings between governments to work out problems that seem common sense and simple to solve, yet remain unsolved. The news and the cable tv are littered with drama and disaster.
There are conflicts in marriages, families and communities that seem to never untangle. Is it always been like this? Why? What is going on in the world?
Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one.”
The relentless attempts of us to get rid of God it is not new to our generation for its effects stretched wide in our story of the human race.
The idea that we are far better off without any faith in the transcendent seems to leave the world always wanting and restless.
Like a raging sea that never sleeps, the world conspires in vain. We all labour and pursue stuff that we think will calm the raging sea inside of us and make us happy and more in control, but we soon understand that we are left with neither.
What is the answer to our restlessness and turmoil?
Surrender, yes, as we learn it here, the simple yet hard act of surrendering. ’Kiss the Messiah’ … we read today. Submit to him, his love and grace, his will and direction, his peace and salvation, his righteous and justice, his truth and goodness… all this by faith through grace, no works, no tries, no forcing ourself or proving ourselves to be worthy. He came to give us peace with him, peace within us and piece with anyone else, even more so, he came to give us life.
Are you tired of striving? Surrender at his loving arms today.
‘Because you have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.’ Augustine, Confessions, 1.1.1.
I want to be full of life and strength. I want to be successful and thriving in whatever season of life I am in. I want to be steady and beautiful, generous and kind.
That is what we all crave, right?
There is a yearning inside of us for the best in life. It’s a good and reasonable longing.
For if we are created by an incredible God who has put heaven and eternity in our hearts, then the desires of our souls that long for perfection are justified.
How can we be that person though?
We find the answer is in our conclusion of Psalm 1.
We have learned so far that Happiness is possible and available to us, ( the theory ) happiness is not a direct result of any outside conditions but a byproduct of our relationship with our creator and who we are ( not what we do).
We saw yesterday that continual meditation in the Scriptures is crucial to lasting happiness (the practice) and today we see the result of what happens to us if we establish ourselves into that path.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.”
Psalm 1:3 MSG
What a result my friend! We become like a tree, strong and stable ( not like chaff, easily blown by wind and tossed by the sea)
We are constantly nourished and looked after, always bearing fruit and blossoming.
We don’t change colour because of the shift in weather or become spiky and dry for lack of nutrients. We don’t lose our vividness with times and become lifeless. The passing of time makes us even better, for our souls get renewed day after day.
What is meditation? I know that there is many alternatives and teaching nowadays about contemplation and ways to do it best, but what meditation consists on, really?
Meditation according to psalm 1 is the way we work out what we believe. The living out of our belief, the process of ingestion, digestion and practice in everyday living of our faith.
From Psalm 1 we see that the secret to happiness rests upon the practice of meditation – our reasoning, our thinking, for as a man thinks so he is.
The writer in psalm 1 is saying to us that if we want to be happy we must observe our walk, we must examine our standing and we must survey our seating.
It’s the stopping and thinking about who and what are we listening to. It’s the reflecting on where and who are we hanging out with and in who’s counsel are we seating under.
It’s a thorough observation of our ways of thinking, feeling and acting. It’s examining the views we have about life, the principles and convictions we hold and live by. We do this by keeping the Scripture as a mirror in front of all that reflection, we wrestle with scripture, we question it, we debate with and we wait to hear from God.
Any good relationship pertains to some sort of wrestling with each other to find meaning and understanding together. Our relationship with God is similar. We bring all our thoughts, feelings and actions before him in the form of prayers, complains, songs, confessions and thanksgiving and wait on him to answer, he always does.
We come to God through faith and in grace, not forced and obliged ( for no relationship can stand by the use of force or religious obligation),
We enter his presence though the work of our Lord Jesus an bask there. We come as we are, and he shows himself as he is.
What does it take to make you happy my friend? Why it is so hard to stay happy?
Is happiness even possible? I mean the greatest literature, the best-selling books, poetry and stories are in the drama and tragedy category. Storie of life that tell of disappointments and letdowns.
Well, the good news is that the book of Psalms, right from the beginning (Gateway Psalm 1) starts with the word happy- blessed…
I have come to understand that the scripture is simple, clean, practical, plain, direct and it’s saying to us today that Happiness is possible, and that being blessed is available to us all.
From the very start, we are put between two alternatives, we have two people that follow different paths and arrive in two different destinations.
It doesn’t matter how many choices are made available to us in the end it’s always between two, these two. The ways of someone who follows God and someone who doesn’t.
The first thing that we learn about happiness is that happiness does not depend on life’s circumstances.
Real, enduring and timeless happiness or joy is a byproduct of something else. Happiness is an inside job. That’s why when we seek to get it from the outside we don’t find it, or worse we think we have found it only to lose it shortly.
We learn here that: Happiness is a byproduct of our relationship with God, the creatour and who I am in light of that.
Happiness is inside me it’s how I see life.
I am sure you too have heard many stories of people that are put in similar circumstances, same time of history, same place yet the response coming from each of them to that same situation is different. Why?
Two men looked from the small window inside the prison bars, one saw mud the other stars.
So, that deep joy that a lot of peole seem to have it’s not what happens to us, but who we are when life happens.
I agree that this is a very different view on happiness, but it’s true, it’s surprising, it’s unique, it’s fresh and new, profound and simple.
Let’s ponder on that today.
“Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product…” Eleanor Roosevelt
I wonder how are you feeling today friend? What words will you use to describe the state you are in right now? Would it be sad, happy, joyful, hopeless, confused, fearful, hesitant, angry, vague..or just, ok?
What if I told you that there is a book that offers understanding, guidance and insights for every spiritual, social and sentimental condition we might be.
What if I told you that this book shows the real fountain of happiness and guides us through dangers of life like no other book does. This book helps as a good mentor to simplify the ways we connect to God and do it with sincerity and vulnerability.
Through the teachings of this book, our minds, our hearts and our wills will get renewed, strengthen and encouraged.
It is a book that speaks of every situation in our lives and let us see God as he is, not in an airy-fairy-scary way, not in a box that we human tend to put him, but as he chooses to reveal himself to us.
Is a book that we can recite, read, sing, pray and meditate time and time again and we will never exhaust it, but more importantly, is a book that points to Jesus and the hope and abundance he offers to all people with every page.
I am talking about the book of Psalms and I, enthusiastically am inviting you to journey together through this remarkable book.
The book of psalms is a definite philosophy that teaches a way of life, it’s poetic and expressive ( different from the other books in the Bible that can be historical, prophetic etc)
My desire is that we will read one psalm a day and meditate on it. Stop in different verses and sentences and ask questions how this passage helps us to see God, ourselves and the world we live in.
So let’s grab a good ballpoint pen and a good thick notebook and our Bibles ( although many of us use the digital one now 😊) and start our journey.
I would like to walk alongside you during this online devotion ( here in my blog site and on video via my social media accounds) and love to see where God through the Holy Spirit steers us and opens our eyes to see wonderful things in his Word.
I can’t wait to meet you in the pages of each psalm.
Dear husband. When you go to a party with your wife please stop time after time your engaging conversations and go find her. Give her a smile, a kiss on the neck or even a hip rub. She needs to know right there inside that big room that you eyes are still on her. Assure her that you are very proud of her and so blessed to have her at your side.
Dear wife, yes it’s good to have friends over for a meal. The evening has been lovely but longer than you anticipated and now you are tired. You are about to snap at your husband or put him down in front of all for not thinking of helping you. Please don’t. Go and give him a waist hug and a pair of loving eyes. I can promise you that he will feel immediately like a hero. He will grab that sword, cutlery I mean and shine it to perfection.
Dear boyfriend, be more affectionate (hold her hand, hug and smile often) to your girlfriend in public than private. She needs you to let her know and declare it to the world that the quest is over. You have found the One.
Dear girlfriend, yes your buddies are still very important to you. Nonetheless, your boyfriend will soon become your best friend, so invest more into that relationship please. I assure you that that time invested will give great dividends to your couple life later.
Dear mamma. Yes, all that shouting shame, criticism and rushing around weighs heavy on your shoulders. Don’t ever give up please, don’t give up on cupping their faces (make them bend if they have passed your height) and tell them. “You’re a good kid, I am so proud of you and I love you so much!” I promise you that they will forgive you for the shouting and that loving eyes talk will become their strongest inner voice for life.
Dear daddy. As you open the door to enter the house your energy tank feels scarce. All you want doing is grabbing your plate of food and reclining watching tv. Dig deeper please. That word ‘love’ indeed is spelled ‘time’ bigger and louder at home. The big and little eyes are waiting for a kiss, a smile, some kind of understanding.
Dear friend, yes it’s tough work to split open your heart’s pain and joy to someone who might abuse and use you. Keeping a friendship strong requires us to be bravely open, to be vulnerable. So be brave, be wise and you start first. Trust me friendships are worth the price. Our deepest pain comes from relationships, and God uses relationships to mend our hearts. Don’t miss out on that! Go brave friend
We need healthy relationships not only to enjoy life, but to be able to face life’s storms well . When Nath was almost forceful for us to have a ‘date’ each week I wondered if that was even possible. I though we will get bored by the third time and have nothing to say to each other. I was wrong. Not only that I look forward to that day but I have a deeper understanding and friendship with Nath because of it. I want to nurture that one better this year.
Those little conversations that my kids share as we drive to their school and back have become some recently discovered gems. I want to be more present in my children’s life and not miss those rich moments when they come by. I want to stop while chopping an onion and stirring up the dinner to hear their heart pour out, that will fill their soul and mine and sustain us longer than the food can.
A few friends and I started the ‘cooking club’ last year. Basically we meet once a month and share food and time together. Their company soon has become one of the highlights of the month and I love what that converge does to me. Time with those girls has challenged me, grown me, we have laughed hard and cried painful tears too. I need that relationship, I value that time so much, yes-that is a keeper too.
As a leader I meet regularly with many women from our community. We exchange encouragements, different pieces from our life and truths from the Bible. I love giving my time and heart like that. Community has a way of refining us. By edifying others we illuminate ourselves and fulfil the belonging ache.
Then come those relationships that I like to keep at bay. I have to be more brave with them then with the one I like to nurture. I love people, don’t get me wrong, but if good relationships build us up then the negative ones really dismantle us. Relationships that are kept by manipulation, control and guilt need established boundaries time after time as people need time to change, some never do. I have tried to love people like that…….many times, and all those times I am the one left to pay the big bill of maintaining ‘peace’ – which mostly means loosing myself little by little.
I have learned that love in those cases has to be more from afar till the right moment comes when our hearts are safe to build trust. Relationships are hard work, that’s why I want the main focus to be on them. Relationships are amazing, that’s why I want to be investing more and more of me in them.
Happy New Year Brave One! May we grow couragious with our relationships.