Honey For My Soul

Scripture mentions honey a lot, often relating its sweetness to the benefits of the Word to our souls. I started wondering about just what benefits honey has for our bodies, and I am amazed at what I found!

Honey has antiseptic properties, is an antioxidant, and encourages healing. It has long been used to cleanse wounds, and with the rise of antibiotic resistance, honey is once again being explored for its benefits in that area.

So what’s the spiritual application?

God’s Word is sweet and increases my appetite for Him.

God’s Word has antiseptic properties and cleanses my soul.

God’s Word is an antioxidant. It prevents the growth of bad things in my heart, and keeps them from circulating in my life.

God’s Word heals. How many times have I taken my broken heart, my discouraged soul, my overwhelmed mind to His Word and received exactly what I needed to restore me? Too many times to count.

Today it will sustain me regardless of what comes my way.

Hungry Birdies

Have you ever seen baby birds wanting to be fed. They even go into a frenzy when the mother approaches with food. And they always want more! One worm just isn’t enough :-)

Now I don’t want to liken the Word of God to worms, but there definitely is a parallel between the birdies and our insatiable appetite. And God promises to satisfy our hunger…

I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Psalm 81:10

Today, I will open my mouth wide and be fed by the Word of God. I will hear it, and it will be sweeter than honey to my soul.

Stuffed But Not Filled

Have you ever eaten to the point that you felt stuffed? Wanted to eat more but just couldn’t hold another bite? Miserable feeling, isn’t it? And it’s not just the physical discomfort, but there’s an underlying soul dissatisfaction that keeps grumbling.

The Bible even talks about that:

Thou shalt eat, and not be satisfied,
and thine emptiness shall remain in the midst of thee.

Micah 6:14

God didn’t decide that because we got hungry, that would be a good analogy to show us how we should “hunger” for Him… No. He has always been the life giving Bread of Heaven and the soul refreshing Living Water. He created us to hunger physically so we would understand our soul hunger and turn to Him to fill us, to satisfy us.

It is only when I stop trying to satisfy my deepest hunger, my soul hunger, with physical food that I will be truly filled. Isaiah puts it this way:

“Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.”

Isaiah 55:2-3

The Psalmist agrees:

“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

Psalm 63:5

Today I will agree, too. I will not seek after that which does not satisfy, but instead, feast at the Lord’s Table. What about you?

How Many Wagons?

How many wagons have I fallen off of? This blog is one of them! I’m not going to tell you about ALL my wagons, but I will share one other — The Diet Wagon. Sigh.

I am overweight. Period. End of discussion.

Well, no, it’s really NOT the end of the discussion. I have to admit that I’ve managed to raise denial to an art form, but this is one area that desperately needs to be addressed in my life.

Several months ago a friend suggested that I look into a program called The Lord’s Table, offered by Setting Captives Free. I did, and I love it. Problem is, I fell off the wagon when my marriage fell apart. But I’ve jumped back on the wagon (and I use the term figuratively, of course), and hope to share my progress with you here. Daily? Maybe… but don’t get your hopes up!

Before I share with you the lightbulb moment from Day 1, let me tell you a little bit about The Lord’s Table (TLT). The initial course is 60 days. Online. Interactive Bible study – you enter your answers right on the screen. When you submit the day’s work, you get a response that includes all the questions and your answers. Additionally, you are assigned a mentor/prayer partner, who contacts you regularly, encourages you, and (very important) prays for you. And — get this — it is all FREE!! What a blessing!

So, here’s the lesson for Day 1…

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.

Isaiah 48:11

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

If I am trying to lose weight for any other reason than to glorify God, I will fail. I may have some success, but ultimately, if my goal is my own glory — looking better, getting compliments, improving my health, fitting into my clothes again… If my goal is to do it for those reasons, then I’m in trouble.

God will not share His glory with me. He may bestow some of His glory on me, He may allow me to experience His glory, but He will not share it.

That’s why Paul says, in his first letter to the church in Corinth, that whatever you do — and he specifically mentions eating and drinking — do it all for the glory of God. God loves to be glorified — and He so deserves it! My goal today is to consider everything I desire to eat, and only eat that which glorifies Him.

Wait for the LORD

Wait for the LORD;
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14

My mother did not like to wait. My dad was in the Army, and so we were always expected to be very punctual. I can remember my mother saying often, “Hurry up and wait!” And she wasn’t cheerful when she said it, either.

Do you like to wait? I don’t really know anyone who does, though some are definitely better waiters than others. So when we come to this verse, at the end of a chapter titled “A Psalm of Fearless Trust in God” in my Bible, we might think it is anticlimactic after all the encouragement David gives in the previous verses.

However, the word translated “wait for,” as is so often the case, has a deeper meaning than what our modern eyes see. It can also be translated “watch for” or “expect.”

Have you ever gone to the airport to pick up someone you love? As you are waiting, you are also watching, expecting to see that face, those eyes, that special smile. You are waiting, but looking at the same time.

God is all about having a relationship with you. He moved heaven and earth to make sure that you could get to Him, and He delights at the sound of your voice. Do you think after all He did to provide for your adoption, that He would make promises to hear and answer you, to be with you and never forsake you, to give you wisdom, to supply all your needs, to love you as He loves Jesus, and then ignore you?

God is always communicating with us — but we often miss it. He cares not only about the trauma in your life, but also the trivia. He loves to hear your voice, and He also delights to touch your heart with His love. One key to living in love with Jesus is to continually expect Him, to watch for Him, to wait for Him.

Would you join me this week in an experiment?

  1. Pick 3-5 areas of major concern in your life. Could be a relationship or a circumstance — whatever is weighing on your heart.
  2. Write them each on their own index card.
  3. Tell God, as though He were sitting right there with you, all about it. What scares you, or hurts you, or threatens you, or makes you angry, or puzzles you. Admit your helplessness and ask for His help.
  4. Continue to tell Him about those things every day for a week.
  5. During the week, watch for Him to communicate with you. Write down on your card if you read a verse that brings light or comfort, or hear a song, or someone says something to you, or you have a random thought or insight… whatever. God is not limited in how He can communicate with you.
  6. Expect Him.
  7. Watch for Him.
  8. Worship Him.

I’m looking forward to “waiting on the LORD” this week, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you about your experience, too.

Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting

Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
Psalm 116:7

Loss is a hallmark of the human condition. All around us we see — and perhaps we are experiencing for ourselves — great loss. Loss of relationships, loss of jobs, loss of dignity and reputation, loss of financial security, loss of “stuff,” loss of health, loss of independence and mobility, and eventually, loss of physical life. Add to that loss of stability in the larger picture – nationally, culturally, politically, financially, globally, environmentally. Altogether it is enough to jar the heart of even the most complacent among us to unrest.

Yet even in the face of overwhelming difficulties, uncertainties, pain and loss, the Psalmist calls his soul to return to its rest. “Return to your rest, O my soul. Return to the calm assurance that comes from knowing that your God, the LORD who cares for you, He is not only in control, but working in your behalf. He has set His lovingkindness upon you and He cherishes you. He has taken hold of you with His strong and righteous right hand, and will not let you go. Return to that rest…”

As I was writing that it occurred to me that when I “return,” I change my focus from what is surrounding me to what I have left. When my soul returns to the LORD, I stop looking at all the problems and start looking at Jesus. The closer I get to Him, the bigger He gets, and the smaller the problems get. Are they still serious? Of course! But they are no longer the dominant influence on my heart and soul.

I am no longer hopeless because of my insufficiency in the face of the obstacles in my life. Instead, I am hopeful because of the sufficiency of my God. He IS my rest. I am secure in Him.

I love the old hymn, “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting.” It was hard to choose only one verse, but tonight this is my favorite:

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Jean Sophia Pigott

What challenges have disquieted your soul tonight? Know that even in these things, the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. He has lavished upon you His marvelous goodness, His lovingkindness that is vaster, broader than the sea. Rest in Him, your heart’s truest love, and know that His promises for you are certain. He loves you.

Trust Walk

…Even there Thy hand will lead me,
And Thy right hand will lay hold of me.
Psalm 139:10

Have you ever been on a Trust Walk? …Do you even know what that is?

Decades ago I was associated with a couple of groups that used Trust Walks as a way of building trust and teamwork. Here’s how it went.

Usually it was on a weekend retreat at a remote conference site, someplace where nobody was really familiar with the grounds. Early on, you went on your first Trust Walk. You were blindfolded, and your partner led you around the area, guiding you both physically and verbally.

The goal, of course was to be able to eventually fully trust the other person’s leading, even to the point of being able to run together, leap over logs, and climb trees. I don’t do those things well when I can see, so needless to say, my experience, while less than traumatic, was far from fun.

What I missed at the time, though, was the spiritual application. If you’ve been around Christian circles for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard the terms “walking by sight” and “walking by faith.” Walking by faith is a Trust Walk of the highest degree.

Think about it. We are called to step out in ways that would often be frightening even if we could see the road ahead. We aren’t supposed to rely on our ability to reason things out and plan our route and scheme and manipulate to get where we want to be. As though we were blindfolded, we are supposed to step out and follow God, trusting that He won’t crash us into a tree or let us trip and fall…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

But there are two really cool things about this Trust Walk that I have been thinking about.

The first thing is that God’s intentions towards me are always good. He isn’t a practical joker who would deliberately lead me somewhere I would fall so He could laugh at me. He might lead me where I could fall, but He would be there to help me. Even when He leads me into difficult situations, I can trust that He is guiding me and it will turn out for my good and for His glory.

The second thing is that, as the Psalmist said at the beginning of this post, He has His hand on me, and He will not let me go. The scariest thing for me on a Trust Walk is to lose my bearings and then have the person who is guiding me turn me loose, leave me to figure it out for myself. In my Trust Walk with Jesus, that never happens. I may lose my bearings and be confused, but He never takes His hand off me. I don’t have to figure it out. All I have to do is stay close.

Has He taken you on a Trust Walk lately?

Chosen and Blessed

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you,
that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain,
that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.
John 15:16 (NASB)

How blessed is the one whom Thou dost choose,
and bring near to Thee, To dwell in Thy courts.
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, Thy holy temple.
Psalm 65:4

This has been a day of not measuring up to someone else’s expectations. Ever have one of those days? You do what you think is right, but it doesn’t go well. Somebody gets angry, or hurt, or feels betrayed or marginalized. And in the midst of it you know you have been scratched off the “A List.” You might not even be on a list at all at this point. It’s been THAT kind of day. I hope yours has been better!

But then, as I was praying about the whole thing, Jesus whispered to my heart, “You’re still on My list. I chose you from the beginning, and nothing you will ever do can make me to drop you or love you less. Let Me satisfy your hurt and hungry heart.”

In Psalm 65:4, David says that the one the Lord chooses and brings near to Himself is blessed. That sounds good, but what does it really mean?

“Blessed” is a congratulatory term. The one who is blessed is in a position to be envied. If you are blessed, you are in a place that others wish they were. They look at you and say, “Oh, wow! I wish I could be where she is!” That’s where you are when God has chosen you and brought you near.

God has chosen a lot of people, but it’s not like when we were in school and the two captains took turns choosing kids for their teams. Once the best players were chosen, it got down to picking who would cause you the least damage.

God didn’t pick  His “A Team” – you know, Paul and David and Moses and Billy Graham and Beth Moore… those people – and then look around and with a deep sigh say, “Okay… I guess I’ll take Susan. She’s not worth much, but maybe she won’t hurt us too much…”

No! The original Hebrew makes it clear that when God chose you and when He chose me, He was making a deliberate, well-thought-out decision. He knew that we were exactly what He was looking for, and He set His affection on us and drew us close, the better to lavish upon us His abundant lovingkindness and tender care.

And just how close did He bring us? Close enough to see Him clearly, to experience unparalleled intimacy. The word is from the same root as “Qorban,” that which is dedicated entirely to God.

Jesus affirms what David said. He chose us. Intentionally, individually, and with great delight. He was pleased to ordain certain things for us to accomplish, and He gives us not only the ability to do them, but even the desire.

And so, as this day ends, my heart is encouraged to remember that I have a God who has specifically chosen me, that He has drawn me near, that He really likes me, and that He will never toss me aside. I am indeed blessed.

A Thirsty Soul and a Hungry Heart

O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly;
My soul thirsts for Thee,  my flesh yearns for Thee,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

~Psalm 63:1

There was a time when I drank mostly water. The effect on my body was dramatic. I was well hydrated, and the benefits of consuming water were not just documentation, they were real in my life. I could concentrate better, I was less fatigued, I had fewer headaches, I was able to lose weight easier, I felt better in general, and I looked younger… of course, I WAS younger, so maybe we can toss that one out! Another benefit was that I knew when I was thirsty, and I knew what would quench my thirst — only water.

At this point in my life, I drink more coffee and diet soda than water, and I suspect that it has a negative effect on my body. One of the most insidious effects is that habitually consuming beverages other than water, instead of water, causes my body to lose its awareness of what it really needs.  Slowly, over time, I have cultivated a thirst for what does not satisfy. And not only that, it is probably harming me — and I’m not even aware of what I’m missing.

Pure Water

There is, of course, a spiritual application. When I am regularly refreshed by the Living Water, my soul functions better, I’m aware of my need for more, and I seek after that which will quench my thirst.

When I have strayed, and consume gallons  spiritual caffeine and diet soda, I lose my thirst for Water, and my heart and soul become murky and life becomes a drudge.

As this new year begins, and with it a new decade, I want a greater thirst for my God. I want to be satisfied with the Living Water and the Bread of Heaven. I want to taste and see that the Lord is good. I want a thirsty soul and a hungry heart. What about you?