Psalm 90 — The Work of our Hands

Psalm 90 — The Work of our Hands

At every stage of our lives, the work of our hands significantly impacts both this earthly realm we now occupy and the eternal one to come. Psalm 90 encourages us to continue with our efforts — large and small.

Several years ago, I retired from occupational employment and re-positioned myself into the full-time ministry of writing, artistry, and raising up faith-filled believers in God. The value of the work of our hands does not equate to the size of our paycheck at the end of each month. What we do carries eternal impact in the lives of many others. Only eternity will reveal the true merit of our efforts.

In reading Psalm 90, I find perspective to the ups and downs, and the successes and failures of life.

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

Wisdom

Another version says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Of course, only God knows how many days we have been granted. Sadly, I have heard people say at the end of their life, “I thought I would have more time.” More time? For what? To do the things we knew to do earlier but didn’t do? For another chance to live better?

May we learn to appreciate and make the best of our days. May we have godly wisdom to realize this moment only comes once. We aren’t promised this opportunity tomorrow. Life is short — very short. Eternity is long — very long. With wisdom, may we live fully and love wholly, without regret and with eternity in focus.

Often, how we begin our day sets the trajectory for the rest of it.

“Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.”
Psalm 90:14

If we awake each morning with a sense of gratitude, thankfulness forms the climate of the day. The psalmist had already learned that a thankful attitude comes not from circumstances but the “unfailing love” of God. When we are grounded and rooted in His love, the decision to choose joy comes much more easily.

The psalmist considers the shortness of his life on earth. He wants to finish well — settled and secure in God’s love.

Request

Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Moses wrote the words of Psalm 90. We gain a further glimpse into his heart in the next couple verses as he prays.

“Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory.”
Psalm 90:15-16

When we remember Moses, we often think of his great exploits in facing pharaoh and leading Israel out of Egypt. Or we remember him speaking face-to-face with God until God’s glory had settled on him.

But how quickly we forget about the Moses who was ripped from his family as a toddler and taught to worship every god but God. We forget about the Moses who fled for his life and spent forty years in the backside of a desert. Did Moses know misery? Absolutely! Had he experienced many evil years? Most certainly! But all those years of misery drew Moses into an unshakeable relationship with God which grounded him for whatever may come.

So as Moses considers the shortness of his life on earth, he asks God for one thing — that he might finish well.

The Work of our Hands

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands.”
Psalm 90:17 NIV

Jesus taught his disciples that without Him they could do nothing (John 15:5). Neither could Moses. And neither can we. But when the favor of God — His grace and delight — rests on us, everything changes. Then, He establishes the work of our hands.

Wisdom displays itself through “the work of our hands.” Wisdom determines how we spend our time and where we focus our energy. The New Living Translation says, “make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful.”

I don’t know about you, but I can be full of good intentions. But God never promises to bless our good intentions. He never promises to make our good intentions successful. It is only the work of our hands — that collaboration between wisdom, prayer, and effort — that He blesses, establishes, and makes successful.

Prayer

Father, by Your grace, may all our good intentions transfer into the purposeful work of our hands — a work that focuses on You and others. Whether we are stay-at-home mothers or airplane pilots, may we number our days with wisdom. Whether we are young with our lives ahead of us or grey hair and wrinkles mark the end of our days, may we live with eternity in mind. Give us the single-hearted assurance of Your unfailing love and the deep-seated joy to live each day to the fullest. Though our efforts may feel weak and insignificant, breathe life upon them. May the work of our hands create a long-lasting impact in the lives of others. Lord Jesus, it is only through You and by You that we can and will make a difference in our world and for eternity. So today, we commit to You the work of our hands.

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Rooted and Grounded in Christ

Rooted and Grounded in Christ

Are you rooted and grounded? Planting takes only moments, but roots develop and spread over a lifetime. Fruit appears last of all. By allowing God time to send our roots outward, we will flourish wherever He plants us. But lately, I’ve been a little frustrated with my personal growth and progress — feeling stagnant and unproductive.

As a long-time gardener, I have gained experience in rooting and planting annuals, perennials, and trees. Though I experimented with newer species, my gardens often contained tried-and-true varieties, originally passed from my mother’s or grandmother’s gardens. In our northern climates, the extreme heat of summer and cold of winter offers a more limited palette of vegetation than in other parts of the world. But no matter where you live, a healthy root system is the key to any plant’s longevity and growth.

What holds true in the natural holds true to our spiritual condition as well.

“Having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.”
Colossians 2:7

Planted

Each plant thrives in a specific location and environment. And so do we. While shade loving plants wilt in dry sunny locations, the reverse is also true. But even when planted in the perfect location, a gardener focuses on root development. Trees need to be staked for the first few years until their roots spread far enough to support them against even the cruelest winds. Weekly watering routines become essential, as well.

Where has God planted or perhaps transplanted you? Do you feel fragile? Are you fearful that the winds of adversity may topple you?

As we give God time to expand our spiritual roots, we gain greater stability in our lives. Shuffling from one thing to another hinders spiritual progress. We may look healthy on the surface, but it is the hidden strength of being rooted and grounded that helps us to withstand the storms of life.

God says of the righteous,

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
Psalm 1:3

Cut Down

Without success, I have attempted to “trick” certain plants to grow where they weren’t designed to flourish. But when I followed instructions and planted the seedling in their preferred location, the resulting growth was stunningly obvious.

We have all felt my tender roots pulled up from soft fertile soils, only to be pushed into one restriction or another — without room or stability. We have felt the stretch and strain of being “planted” in unfavorable and unfamiliar territory, including hard and rocky circumstances. I, and perhaps you, have resisted God’s choices, believing we could never grow in such adverse conditions. Yet, God knows where our roots of faith and trust in Him would grow the best.

Job felt it, too.

“For there is hope for a tree. When it is cut down, that it will sprout again. And its shoots will not fail. Though its roots grow old in the ground and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant.”
Job 14:7-9

Where roots grow, hope remains. And we, my friends, have been rooted and grounded in Christ. Every external circumstance must bow to Him.

Trust

Jeremiah encourages us to trust “in the LORD,” because our trust “is the LORD.”

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

God birthed within us the desire to reflect such vitality, growth, and maturity. But, it takes time. Spring, summer, fall, and winter repeated year after year. Some seasons kind. Other seasons harsh.

Yet, as we trust in the Lord, and our trust is the Lord, seasons pass as strength builds and and we become rooted and grounded.

Rest

We can either resist God’s process or rest in it. Resisting comes easy. Rest takes courage and faith to remain rooted and grounded.

A tree never strives to grow. It rests while growth naturally occurs. God has formed us the same way. The more we strive, the more we pull apart our fragile roots. But as we rest in His goodness and sovereignty, our roots push ever deeper and wider.

May God give us the courage to stay, wait, and rest. Unlike a tree, we can pull ourselves out and force ourselves into something we believe more conducive and comfortable. Shade sounds good. Shelter invites.

“The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”
Psalm 92:12-13

Gratitude

As I look back over the seasons of my life, I feel a sense of equal gratitude for both the easy and trying seasons. The seasons of apparent spiritual drought, dis-ease, pruning, and struggle have caused a deeper maturing as sin has been exposed and confessed, ungodly attitudes have been unearthed and removed, patience has been tried and pressed, and Christlikeness has been refined.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:5-8

God directs us to places we don’t understand and to circumstances we might resist. When people damage us, abuse us, use us, wound us, rob us, or mistreat us, may we send our roots of trust in God deeper, knowing somehow, some way He will use it all for our good. Richer fruit will come from our lives.

Just like a tree goes through a season of dormancy before sending out new blossoms and shoots, so must we. The season of fruitfulness will come. Each season prepares us to produce greater and better fruit.

If you are in your fruitful season, be grateful. If not, rejoice! Your time will come, if you remain rooted and grounded.

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Expressing Thanks, “Thank You. Well Done!”

Expressings Thanks

I want to take a moment to say, “Thank you. Well done!” A fruitful, productive life requires effort, perseverance, and faithfulness, among a multitude of other qualities. Though our efforts don’t always produce the benefits hoped for, our attempts to follow Christ’s example have not gone unnoticed, either in Heaven or here on Earth.

A distinct vein of musical ability runs in my ancestry. For many of them, music flowed as easily as water running downhill. For me, however, it required much effort and dedication. Years ago, I had the privilege of being the accompanist for a choral group. My mother acknowledged the excellence of the performance with, “Well done! Your father would have been very proud.”

That simple and unexpected expression of gratitude caught my breath away. Something in me inexplicably broke. I loved my father deeply and desired to please him. The thought of him finding pleasure in my accomplishments, even years after his passing, touched a chord indefinably deep within me. It didn’t matter that I was decades old. Again, I felt like a child, known and loved by her father.

Romans 1:8

Today, I’m seizing this opportunity to express appreciation and gratitude for every kind word and gesture you have shown toward me and others.

Thank You

Paul articulated the Father’s heart so well.

“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

I don’t know about you, but I often feel like I fall short of God’s desires for me. We live bombarded by put-downs, critical attitudes, and never-quite-enough expectations which often taint our perception of ourselves, God, and others.

Although I don’t personally know the vast majority of you, like Paul, I thank God “for all of you and continually mentioning you in (my) prayers.” What an honor to have you take time, stopping by to read these little God promptings. With sincere humility and gratitude, I thank God for you.

Philemon 1:4,5

God sees everything you do — “your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” He recognizes your effort and says, “Thank you. Well done!” Your example forms a powerful witness to others as they watch you set your goal, again and again, toward excellence in Christ.

Well Done

People don’t always notice, but God sees. He knows both your faith and faithfulness as you work to overcome an area of struggle, perform silent acts of service, offer gentle care to the vulnerable, or give sacrificially of your time, attention, and resources. Well done, my friend. Thank you.

Paul wrote to the church in Colossae,

” . . . I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works in me.”
Colossians 1:29 NLT

Living for Christ often feels like real work and hard struggle, right? In one way or another, we are all working out our faith, struggling with everything in us, while leaning wholly on God to do the impossible through us. Like a mother giving birth, we endure the pains of labor because of our love for Him and each other. Jesus alone gives us all we need to endure.

Ephesians 1:15-16

God sees the weariness of our hearts. He understands how we’ve poured ourselves out without seeing tangible results. He looks upon us, not with disdain, but with deep compassion, and whispers, “Thank you. Well done!”

The Lord’s Delight

God works in you, through you, with you, and for you. He walks beside you each step of the way. He leads and empowers to live fully, bringing Him great pleasure.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what please him.”
Philippians 2:13

May we each take a moment to rest and sense His pleasure, as our Father delighting in us, His children.

1 Timothy 2:1

” . . . the LORD’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.”
Psalms 147:11 NLT

God doesn’t evaluate us like the world does. Rather, He measures us by our love and devotion to Him — our willingness to wait, hope, and trust in Him. Then, He encourages, “Thank you. Well done!”

Agreement

So today, let’s come into agreement with God’s assessment. Set aside the weariness of labor, the shame of failure, and the heaviness of defeat. God is pleased! What else matters?

Let’s give Him our best, allowing Him to do the rest! Like a little child, sink deep into the love of your Heavenly Father, feel the pleasure of His heart.

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

Numberss 6:24-26

That word “rejoice” literally means that God jumps with great joy, twirling and spinning as He triumphantly delights over His “kids.” What an incredible image of His extravagant pleasure in us! As we come into agreement with His great happiness over us, our response aligns with His,

“Sing . . . shout aloud . . . be glad and rejoice with all your heart . . . “
Zephaniah 3:14

For good reason, the Bible commands us to “be glad and rejoice.” When we do, we share in His over-flowing joy. Thank you. Well done!

Expressing Thanks

Finally, I want to be sure to give you my sincerest thanks. Every time you read these posts, share them with your friends, or offer comments, you bring tremendous encouragement to me. Your gracious support means more than simple words express.

In return, I faithfully pray for you and your nation. God knows your name, situation, and the circumstances you face. He loves you and believes in you, as He calls you to Himself. I join my voice with Him, “Thank you! Well done!”

1 Thessalonians 3:12

Giving Thanks – Sustaining an Attitude of Gratitude

Giving Thanks – Sustaining an Attitude of Gratitude

Sustaining an attitude of gratitude may seem difficult for many people. However, it is an attribute that we can develop no matter what our circumstances.

In my limited travels to developing nations ministering to the very poor, I have noticed thankfulness amidst great lack. Here is North America, we often struggle with being thankful while accumulating “more”, “better than we had before”, or “different than what someone else has.”

Consumerism pervades not just closets but hearts. If we aren’t careful, a sense of entitlement creeps in. “I’ve earned it!” or “I deserve better!” becomes the unspoken but underlying thought pattern.

Paul encourages us,

Rejoice always,
pray continually,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Passion translation says, “in the midst of everything be always giving thanks.” It is impossible to sustain an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances” if we haven’t developed a prayerful lifestyle of giving thanks.

People

An assignment recently required me to write a few notes to those who have inspired, motivated, or encouraged me along my spiritual or occupational journey. I had no trouble thinking of multiple people who

taught me new skills,
created opportunity for growth,
advocated for promotion,
allowed me to be vulnerable and authentic,
or picked me up after a major setback.

I am blessed! Does that mean life has been easy or people always treat me fairly, with honour and respect? Absolutely not!

“Healthy cultures embrace people where they are
but they also nudge them
and sometimes even push them to get better.”
– Dr. Henry Cloud

I am thankful for those who have “nudged” and “pushed” me “to get better” even if it wasn’t comfortable at the time.

Paul wrote to a very unhealthy congregation at Corinth, yet he said,

“I always thank my God for you
because of his grace given you
in Christ Jesus.”
1 Corinthians 1:4

As I mentor women living under high-pressure, dysfunctional, and even abusive situations, I exhort them to search for the “straws of good” in others. I’m not expecting them to ignore the reality, but rather inspire an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude includes displaying thankfulness through words and actions. It isn’t long before these women come up with several things which they can genuinely give thanks for.

Circumstances

It is unreasonable to give thanks “for” everything that is thrown our way, but completely possible to maintain an attitude of gratitude “in” everything we are facing.

I have never experienced extreme persecution for my faith, like millions of others. Paul did. He gives a summary: “hard pressed, crushed, perplexed, in despair, persecuted and struck down” (2 Cor 4:7-9). Add to that, in prison, flogged, exposed to death, lashed, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, and constantly in danger (2 Cor 11:23-28)

My life looks easy in comparison. Yours probably does too. Yet, listen to his perspective.

“All this is for your benefit,
so that the grace that is reaching
more and more people may cause thanksgiving
to overflow to the glory of God.”
2 Corinthians 4:15

God’s grace works through every circumstance for His glory. That alone is reason enough for overflowing thankfulness.

I have enough years behind me to view life’s hazards through the lens of grace and thanksgiving. The tough times exposed ungodly attitudes and tendencies in me that otherwise would have continued to cloud my character. God uses the pressures of life to reveal and then refine. For that I am thankful.

God

A true attitude of gratitude rests in thankfulness toward God. The writer’s of scripture continually penned their recognition and appreciation for God and His great mercy and kindness.

“Praise the LORD.
Give thank to the LORD,
for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Psalm 106:1

Thankfulness naturally flows out of relationship with God. Yet even though God gives us ample reason to sustain an attitude of gratitude, David knew thankfulness comes from a decision of the will.

I will give thanks to you, LORD,
with all my heart;
and tell of all your wonderful deed.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name,
O Most High.”
Psalm 9:1-2

The people of Israel experienced God’s blessing yet they adopted an “entitlement” culture as well. Paul encouraged the Colossians to remember it is all about Christ.

“… Be thankful.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you
richly as you teach and admonish one another
with all wisdom and through
psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,
singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Colossians 3:15-17

Sowing and Reaping

Sowing and reaping works in every dimension of our lives — natural and spiritual. If I want to reap thankfulness, I must plant seeds of gratitude in the ordinary activities of my day. Here are a few examples:

  • Speak – Tell people how thankful you are for them and the impact they are having on your life. Don’t assume they know.
  • Journal – Challenge yourself to journal one thing you appreciate every day for a hundred days.
  • Pray – Like David, make the decision to praise and thank God for His goodness and grace. Don’t let your prayer time slip into a list of selfish wants. Recognize God’s presence and His grace in your life.
  • Memorize – Search out key verses of scripture about thankfulness and “hide them in your heart” through memorization.
  • Rethink – It only takes 3 seconds to change a negative thought into a positive one. So lighten the gloom by re-programing your mind toward appreciation.
  • Accountability – Ask two or three friends to hold you accountable as you reshape your character into one of gratitude.

Even small steps go a long way in creating an attitude of gratitude. The reward will be a new perspective on how you view people, circumstances and even God. As you plant the seeds of gratitude in your own life, don’t be surprised if you hear those around you express their appreciation more freely as well.

“…Express your thankfulness regularly.
If you pray, offer prayers of gratitude.
Second fall more in love with the Giver
than you ever do with his gifts.
Third, never claim full credit for your story.
Acknowledge the role of grace and providence
publicly when you talk.”
– Carey Nieuwhof

Thankful

My paternal grandmother died of cancer leaving her young children behind. My grandfather was a rough man who found it difficult to express kindness. Yet my father and all his siblings developed a contagious sense of humour and an ease in conveying appreciation. Living with a mean-spirited father in the absence of a nurturing mother did not hinder them from creating and sustaining an attitude of gratitude.

My father generously passed on the heritage of thanksgiving to his children, of which I am a beneficiary. Though giving “thanks in all circumstances” is not always easy, I am thankful for the example he established.

Those seeds of thankfulness my father planted in me, I now want to invest in my children, grandchildren, and those I influence. Let’s pass it forward!

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Thankfulness – Painting On a Canvas of Gratitude

Thankfulness Gratitude

Events can ignite awareness for thanksgiving. This week is certainly spattered with strokes of thankfulness – painted with ever-changing tones of gratitude.

There have been several studies toting the astounding effects of gratitude. The benefits are many:

  • better and more fulfilling relationships
  • improved physical and emotional health
  • enhanced performance and job efficiency
  • decreased levels of stress and improved sleep patterns

If you haven’t developed the practice of thanksgiving, how does one start? Most experts say just do it!

Just like an artist uses many tools to produce a masterpiece, here are a few tools to help us get started.

Thankfulness Gratitude

Thankfulness Journal

Perhaps you would like to start a journal listing at least one thing you are grateful for each day. It doesn’t need to be an earth-shaking event, start small! Writing things down helps us to develop the thought process more fully increasing retention of those thoughts.

Talk About It

Phone or write a note to someone you are thankful for; be specific about the impact they have made in your life. Talking with someone will not only reaffirm gratitude in you, but it may inspire others to appreciate something in their own lives.

“The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Proverbs 18:21

Expressing thankfulness is a great way to speak life into those around us. We all enjoy being around those who are willing and able to express appreciation and see things from a positive perspective.

Gratitude

Prayer and Meditation

Maybe you could start your journal with a bible verse about thanksgiving. Take a few moments to mediate on each verse asking God to make His word real to you.

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”
Psalms 9:1

I have a special spot in my home, “my quiet spot”, where I find it easy to settle my thoughts and fix my focus on God’s. Sometimes a peaceful walk in nature is enough to provoke thoughts of gratitude and appreciation.

Prayer Spot

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

Even our prayer requests and needs are opportunities to filter them through the lens of thanksgiving.

Remember, sometimes it is the little things that have the biggest impact.

“Let them praise the LORD for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
Psalms 107:8

Ask God for Help

There are times when it is difficult to be thankful. If you are struggling to get out of a rut of discouragement, you certainly aren’t alone. The bible is full of examples of those who found them themselves in similar situations: Jonah, Elijah, David, and Job to name a few….

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:11

John chapter 6 gives an illustration of the power of thanksgiving. There were five thousand hungry people and only a small lunch of a few small loaves and fishes the share among them. But in the hands of Jesus, He “gave thanks”. All were filled and there was more to spare! Verse 23 affirms that giving thanks was a powerful element in the miracle.

In Every Circumstance

I have a friend who just a few days ago, gave his bicycle to someone who needed it. Being his only mode of transportation, we decided to purchase a new bike to get him to and from work. Within a few hours his new bike was stolen leaving him frustrated and questioning. In the midst of the trial, he not only took the necessary steps to locate his bike, but also developed a deeper compassion for others in similar situations and need. Turns out he was able within the week to raise funds not only to replace his bike but supply two more bikes for others in need. That is the power of thanksgiving! Thanksgiving always multiplies and supplies!

Thankful Always

Today is a new day! This is a new moment! May each of us look with new perspective and truly be thankful. We may not be able to thankful FOR the situations of life, but nothing can stop us from being thankful IN all our circumstances. An attitude of gratitude is possible. In fact, it may change your life!

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More good reading here!

Friendship – Embracing Unity While Valuing Diversity

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