Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Significance of a Satisfied Soul

“I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you”
 (Psalm 63:5).

Have you ever noticed how many holiday and social events revolve around food?  Thanksgiving is probably the most obvious one, but usually any special day involves eating.

Food has become challenging for me.  Certain foods aggravate my pain, and I feel that others are not the best for my overall health.  Sometimes these restrictions, whether medically or self-imposed, make it hard to enjoy holidays. I end up feeling dissatisfied and discontent.

Some translations of Psalm 63:5 replace “I” with “my soul”. The Psalmist compares the spiritual satisfaction of his relationship with God to the physical satisfaction of earthly food. Having a personal relationship with the living God is like having the best spiritual meal ever:  “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8); “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:9).

I need to consider whether I am spending as much, if not more time, satisfying my soul than my body.  Making choices to nurture my relationship with God requires self-discipline and sacrifice, just as my food choices do, but my spiritual and physical health are better for it.

Holidays and social gatherings aren’t just about food.  They’re about the blessings of relationships and the significance behind the celebrations.  So this Thanksgiving and the remainder of the holiday season, I need to focus on all the blessings God has given me, including being thankful for what I can eat and the fact that I even have alternate choices. 

Above all, I need to remember that in God my soul can be completely satisfied here and now, even if my taste buds are not. That blessing will stay with me long after the brief satisfaction of a tasteful meal is over.

And so with singing lips, I will praise Him and give thanks.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, it’s so easy for me to look for contentment and satisfaction in earthly things.  I can easily get my priorities out of balance, spending more time trying to satisfy my physical needs than my spiritual ones.  This Thanksgiving and holiday season, let my primary focus be praising and thanking You for Your blessings in my life and for the eternally satisfying fulfillment that comes from knowing You. Amen.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Reflecting on the Goodness and Mercies of God

“Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this” (I Timothy 2:7).

Not too far from me is a picturesque lake surrounded by beautiful mountains.  I enjoy going there to walk, read, think, or pray.

As I was reading one of David Jeremiah’s devotionals, I thought of this lake.  He describes reflecting lakes as God’s mirrors, because we can view His creation from two perspectives at once.

The word “reflect” can refer to casting back an image as well as meditating on or re-thinking about something.

The following words from Dr. Jeremiah’s devotional apply to any season, but they seem particularly appropriate for Thanksgiving.

“This is a good season to review your life and reflect on God’s mercies. Take time to ponder the mountaintops of His unchangeable nature, the treetops of His lofty reign, the colors of His grace, the clouds of His anticipated return.  Take time to meditate on a verse He’s given you. Reflect on all this, and the Lord will give you fresh insight for living.”

Placid lake water beautifully reflects the landscape surrounding it.  Sometimes I become so consumed with my problems that I don’t see the many reflections of God’s goodness and mercy through my suffering.  I don’t spend time pondering His greatness and beauty, and I lose sight of the wonders that await me in eternity.

Reflecting on God’s attributes and Word calms the ripples and waves that pain and problems bring. Then I can more perfectly see the reflection of His power and presence in my life and respond with a thankful heart.

If you are struggling with a thankful attitude, find a spot that you enjoy and meditate on how God has and still does bring goodness and mercy to your life.  And who knows?  Perhaps you will have opportunity to be a beautiful reflection of Him to someone else this Thanksgiving season.

Prayer: Gracious God, sometimes it is hard to have a thankful attitude when I am in pain or suffering. I don’t take time to see the reflections of Your goodness and mercy in my life.  As I think on these things, give me a heart of thankfulness, and let me reflect this thankfulness to others.  Amen.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Is God Using Your Pain and Problems to Repurpose Your Life?

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose”
(Philippians 2:13).
I enjoy reading books and magazines on decorating, and lately I have noticed the term “repurposed” quite frequently.
If an item is repurposed, rather than throwing it away after it becomes, old, defective, or useless, it is given a new purpose or use.
Living in area with many local artisans, I have seen some amazing products made with repurposed materials - picture frames and cabinets made from old wood floors, jewelry made from old paper, sculptures made from trash metal, garden d├ęcor made from kitchen wares, cloth pumpkins made from old quilts, and nativity figures made from antique textile thread spools.  With some creativity, the possibilities are endless.
I can relate the concept of repurposing to my health problems. I don't have the same capabilities that I had in healthier years.  At times, these changes have left me feeling useless and purposeless.
Repurposing is accomplished by modifying something to fit a new use, and God has and continues to repurpose my life through the modifications that my health changes bring.  I may not be doing my previous work, volunteering, or church ministry, but God has led me to usefulness and service in other ways which are just as significant in His eyes as what I did in healthier times.
It takes creativity and effort to repurpose materials, but the results can be unique and quite useful.  Our disabilities may keep us from doing what we used to do, but with hearts and minds that are open to God's leading, and some creative thinking on our part, we can be repurposed in unique new ways for His glory.
Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the assurance that You will never discard me, and I will never outlive my usefulness to You. Although my body may not be what it once was, give me the direction and creativity to see new possibilities in serving you as I am now. Amen.