Am I watching for God’s wonderfulness? Psalm 126

Bible open to the Psalms courtesy pixabayToday’s guest post, Am I watching for God’s wonderfulness? Psalm 126 written by Anthea Kotlan first appeared on antheakotlan.com.

As a little girl, I remember my family rarely spoke about my grandmother’s family of origin. Finally, after many curious questions, my mother explained that Ivy Chapman Wiles was forbidden to marry Mark Anthony Lindsey (my grandfather). When they tied the knot, Ivy’s family disowned her. World War II broke out shortly after the wedding, and the estrangement became set in stone.

Tragically, Mark Anthony Lindsey proved to be exactly what Ivy’s father feared. He left Ivy a few years later in the middle of the war. Ivy was a single mother of two small children, living in London as bombs dropped all around them. I believe there is a harshness that settles into the hearts of war survivors. By the time I met my grandmother, she had firmly closed this sad chapter of her life. Our entire family felt honor-bound to respect her wishes to never even try to find our long-lost relatives.

Sometime around 2000, a young lady was assigned a family history project which she took quite seriously. She began looking for her grandfather’s long-lost older sister. With some internet sleuthing, she found my grandmother. In 2002, during a visit with my family to England, I met my Uncle Charlie for the first time. He and Ivy remained closely connected with regular phone calls and visits until his death. It was a dream come true for my entire family to gain relatives after all those years of sad separation. Watching my grandmother spend time with her beloved brother was a sweet gift at the end of a difficult life.

It must have been something like this for Zion’s exiles and those they left behind when they returned to Israel.

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true when God returned Zion’s exiles. We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune. We were the talk of the nations—“God was wonderful to them!” God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people. (Psalm 126:1-3 The Message)

God returned his people to their homeland after decades in Babylon. Amazing reunions between those who left and those who stayed would have filled the air with laughter and tears. Instead, these exiles were taken away in a time of war and despair. Those who were left behind must have been shocked to see them again. Had they all lost hope of this ever happening?

Can I hold onto hope in a season of despair?

God delights in reconciliation, and such joyous reunions are worthy of celebration. But do I take time to celebrate God’s goodness? Do I really recognize and take time to mark those moments when He brings about reunions, miraculous provision, and joyful surprises? Instead, I tend to look ahead and get into the habit of focusing on the next thing or the new plan. If I am forever focused on what is coming up, I might miss the blessing right in front of me.

Can I take time today to recognize what God is doing for me right now?

Another truth I see in these verses is how God can be wonderful to them, and God can be wonderful to me. He has an unlimited flow of goodness. I can refuse to believe in scarcity and know God has plenty of goodness to go around. He gives to them and to me and still has more left over.

Can I take time to rejoice with others?

When I truly rejoice with others about their greatest blessings, a more resilient community is strengthened. God encourages me with stories of His faithfulness to those I care about, and God uses me to encourage others with my own stories of His provision. Perhaps if we were more willing to share our God stories with everyone, God’s blessings would become the talk of our community. If my eyes were seeking evidence of God’s goodness, would I see more of it? Can I choose to share a story about God’s provision and then ask others about how God has provided for them in good and beautiful ways?

Prayer

God, thank you that You are in the business of unexpected reconciliations and restorations that provide wonderfulness for me and mine. Help me to take time to celebrate the amazing provision You make for me as often as you provide. Help me to keep an eye out for your goodness and be faithful to share it with others. Amen

Anthea KotlanFor over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com 

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

God Loves A Fixer Upper

Bible open to the Psalms Today’s guest post, God Loves A Fixer Upper Psalm 19:10-14 written by Anthea Kotlan first appeared on antheakotlan.com.

The Fixer Upper Formula

Next time you watch a show featuring home or garden renovation, look for this universal formula to play out.

First, the family and the crew meet in the backyard or at the house, cast a vision, and get guidance on what they want, what they value, and how much it will cost.

Second, a hidden fault will be revealed just as the work starts. There is always something that no one saw at the beginning that threatens to hijack the entire project. The good news is that there will always be a creative solution. But in the meantime, we will all be on the edge of our seats to see if, once again, the team will overcome what no one saw coming.

Third, the grand reveal introduced the family to a transformed space. Everything has been made new and done in a way that will last and be sustainable.

How does God bring renovation to our lives?

God uses His word to begin a transformation in each of our hearts. First, He wants us to see how valuable change can be. Then, using vivid imagery, God reveals that His word is a treasure.

Have you ever asked the Lord for a vision for your life?

10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:10-11 ESV)

God’s word is beneficial in short-term ways. Money or gold can be spent on whatever is needed. Honey can be eaten or used medicinally immediately. By contrast, Verse 11 points to the long-term benefits of listening and obeying God’s word. Notice the promise tucked in here, “there is great reward.”

12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. (Psalm 19:12-13 ESV)

The case of the rotten support beams

On a recent home makeover show, the crew discovered critical support beams were rotted inside the concrete. The rotten wood was concealed until the time was spent in a very close inspection.  Some of the concrete had to be chipped away to reveal the state of these beams. If left in place, the balcony would have collapsed.

The problem with hidden faults is that they are hidden. Spending regular time alone with God, focused on hearing from Him, is a pathway toward discovering secret sins. Sometimes praying for the Holy Spirit reveals what we can’t see by ourselves.

A Heart Inspection

Have you set aside time recently for a heart inspection with your Heavenly Father?

Finally, the “big reveal” day comes on the renovation show, and the changes are displayed. Fresh flowers and candles are added to make a clear outward sign of all the work done behind the scenes.

An Authentic Renovation

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 ESV)

An actual heart renovation is revealed by what I say, how I think, and what I care about and value. These are the visible signs of all that has been changed within. We are walking about as living evidence of what God is doing to transform us daily.

Do the words of your mouth and how you spend your time and talent reveal God’s priorities?

As humans, we a drawn to the idea of renewal because it positions hope within reach. On television, it is all about the talented crew’s hard work. Spiritual transformation works from the inside out and can only be accomplished by God, but He desires our partnership.

A Prayer for Personal Renovation

Lord, thank you that you long to transform with the ultimate makeover to restore hope, reveal hidden problems, and support sustainable growth and change. Please show me how to begin that work today. Amen.

This is the third post in a series on Psalm 19. Here are the links for the first and the second posts if you want to read more.

 Anthea KotlanFor over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com 

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!  

Does Your Parched Soul Need Some Spiritual Drip Irrigation?

Bible open to the PsalmsToday’s guest post, Does Your Parched Soul Need Some Spiritual Drip Irrigation? written by Anthea Kotlan first appeared on antheakotlan.com.

An English Rose Garden

In the middle of the 1970s, my Welsh-born father brought our family from England to Texas. After purchasing a modest home in the Spring Branch area, he created an English Rose Garden. Popular gardening wisdom warned him that this might be impossible, but he took the challenge in stride. Clad in his favorite bicentennial shorts, he set out to create the perfect place for delicate roses to thrive in the harsh Texas climate.

He built a raised flower bed with railroad ties to provide proper drainage. He filled it with premium soil. Before planting those rose bushes, he added a drip irrigation system. This form of steady watering was indeed the best-kept rose-growing secret. Roses love moist soil. If you know Texas summers, you know the two kinds of weather: monsoon and drought. None of those gentle, soaking rains around here. It is all or nothing. My father’s drip irrigation helped keep those roses happy. My father’s efforts were rewarded with the most spectacular display of rose blooms that wrapped our entire front garden in a rainbow of colors.

Gardeners must provide all that is needed for plants to thrive. Because God is a faithful tender of my soul, he provides the Bible to give practical guidance on soul care and keep. The book of Psalms is one of my favorite places to find this wisdom.

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are valid, and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:7-9 ESV)

We all need a drip irrigation system of daily exposure to God’s word. A once-weekly reading of the Bible at church might last for a day or two, but the daily infusion revives us and keeps us thriving.

Soul Care Essentials

Verses 7-9 of Psalm 19 identify three soul care essentials.

  • law, commandments, precepts
  • testimonies
  • fear or proper reverence or respect

The Law

We have to know the law or the commandments to follow them. God is our designer, and he knows all about our design capacity. Can someone function well without sleep? No. Did you know that God directs us to rest in His word? Can someone lie or steal and suffer zero consequences? No. God’s guidance is always for our good, and we need daily reminders lest we wander off course.

Testimonies

God directs his people to share what He is doing in our lives. (1 Chronicles 16:8) He knows we need the reminder, and sharing testimonies is a powerful way to encourage others.

Fear

God wants us to remember to show respect for Him and for all He has created. When we lose touch with this principle, suffering follows quickly.

A Daily Dose of God’s Word

How can we make daily Bible reading a part of our daily lives? How do we make that drip irrigation of Bible verses an essential part of every day?

First, figure out your best learning style.

Are you a visual learner, an audio learner, or a tactile-kinesthetic learner (someone who learns best through movement or touch)?

Second, test-drive some different ways to take in scripture daily.

Since I am an audio learner, I listen to a podcast that reads scripture daily, taking me through the Bible in one year. It’s a daily 15-20 minute investment that makes a difference for me.

What could a visual learner do? First, find a daily scripture reading program that would give you daily doses of scripture that could be read in less than 15-20 minutes.

What about tactile-kinesthetic learners? Try moving as you listen to scripture. I walk while listening, and this helps me to focus.

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, that your law is perfect. Thank you that it has the power to revive my parched soul today and always. Thank you that testimonies about what you have done for me and others are specific and daily reminders of your kindness. Thank you that your guidance makes wise the simple. I could use an extra measure of your wisdom today. Thank you that your precepts are correct, and they bring joy to my battered heart. Your commandment is pure and enlightening to my eyes when I don’t know what to do or where to go. Please help me recognize and respect you and be cleansed by drawing near you. Thank you that in an ever-changing world, all of this is enduring forever; your rules are valid and righteous altogether. When I cry out to you, I am restored. AMEN How about you? How will you take in your daily dose of scripture?

Anthea KotlanFor over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com 

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Sunrise Sightings of the Kingdom of God

Bible open to the PsalmsToday’s guest post, Sunrise Sightings of the Kingdom of God, written by Anthea Kotlan, first appeared on antheakotlan.com.

Don’t you love a good home or backyard makeover show?

Everyone does because it is entirely satisfying to spend less than an hour watching the entire transformation from broken to beautiful, gross to gorgeous, and so forth. A home renovation or backyard makeover typically takes months, but pop on your favorite streaming service, and you can witness a swift restoration. It’s a quick fix!

As humans, we are drawn to renewal. I believe it is a glimpse into the ache for the now and not yet of living in God’s Kingdom. God is in the business of renovating our lives for His glory. Will a setback turn into a setup for a miraculous display of restoration? Psalm 19 begins with recordings of these sightings in the world around us.

1The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.(Psalm 19:1-6 ESV)

God Sightings

God appears in all aspects of creation. His presence is translated from the skies to the earth. In every 24-hour cycle, His presence is revealed from the first light to the dark of night. No part of earth or resident of this planet doesn’t experience the warmth of God’s presence. He covers every inch of the world and makes Himself known over and over in so many different ways because He is so kind. He wants everyone to see and experience Him. This drives His endless creativity to show up in new ways every day and night. Those twinkling stars, that staggering moon, and the sunrise remind us that His mercies are new every morning. He’s at work in a makeover every single day.

Sunrise Spotting

If your schedule permits, consider getting up about thirty minutes before the sun is scheduled to rise. Check the weather app on your phone; it will tell you when the sun will be coming up. Find a place outside where you can sit, sip coffee (a pretty essential part for me), and watch the first light of the sunrise begin to fill the sky. It’s a slow-motion reveal. Don’t take your eyes off the horizon for even a minute. A soft but growing glow begins the display. Then fingers of light poke up and out. Incrementally the sun appears and then hangs suspended between earth and the sky. So often, there is a vivid display of many colors. The sun almost seems to be paused, and yet it surges on. Finally, it is fully sprung and released to fill the sky with brightness.

This soul-tending activity is a sacred practice in the quiet early morning hours. It feels like a secret that God is sharing just with you. But, most of all, it is a reminder of God’s power to make all things new. A momentary glimpse into the promise of eternity in a new heaven and earth gives us the strength to face another day. These are sunrise sightings of the Kingdom of God.

Prayer

Lord, open my eyes to your displays of majesty. Please help me to see what you are doing in the world around me every day to prove who you are. Thank you for the sunrises. Thank you for reminding me of how you renew my and your world. Amen.

Anthea KotlanFor over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com 

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

When Planting Leads to Uprooting and a Reason to Lament

Bible open to the PsalmsToday’s guest post, When Planting Leads to Uprooting and a Reason to Lament, written by Anthea Kotlan, first appeared on antheakotlan.com.

Snow in South East Texas?

In the middle of February 2021, my area of tropical southeast Texas experienced a significant snowstorm. We awoke to find a crisp blanket of snow, inches deep, as far as the eye could see. In the midst of this deep freeze, I wondered what plants and shrubs would re-emerge once the snow went away?

If you had asked me at the end of March, I would have told you that it wasn’t looking good. However, the next thing I knew, green shoots surged up all over my front and back garden. These green bursts were a mixed batch of weed and plant. I have systematically worked over various flower beds by trimming back the overgrowth and pulling out the weeds.

As I began the removal surgery on one particular bed, I spied a tiny oak sapling. I tried hard to gently remove it but failed. I pulled and pulled and pulled even though it was a relatively small sapling, its roots sunk deep down into the bed.

Finally, I managed to excise the tiny tree with a shovel in hand, with most of its roots still attached.

Uprooting and Planting

Something nobody tells you about church planting is the uprooting that occurs right before you start. Leaving behind the familiar and comfortable and exchanging them for the new and uncertain is exactly where I found myself in the summer of 2021.

My husband and I have felt a call to church plant for a very long time, but it never seemed quite the right season. Finally, months ago, God made it clear to us that it was time.

However, obedience is costly and painful, and my wise daughter told me just days before our final Sunday at our old church, “Mom, you’ve got to feel all the feels.”

The Untethering

It is challenging to feel uprooted and untethered as we launched out and away from the wonderful group of believers we have worshiped alongside for over two decades. So I am going to have to leave some room for lament in this season of transition.

In the second half of Psalm 42, (I looked at the first half of Psalm 42 last month on this blog.) David started with a desperately thirsty deer, and he circles back to the subject of water again by calling to mind the sound of waves and waterfalls.

7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

(Psalm 42:8 ESV)

Waves and Waterfalls

Waves and waterfalls move with power and loud sounds. A simple flow of water carved the Grand Canyon. Water is indeed the universal solvent. Waves wear down inches of sand from beaches around the world. However, God’s love is steadfast and unchanging. It does not get worn away by the ebb and flow of tides or water flows.

In times of deep sadness and lament, I have a profound need within my soul to cry out to the only one capable of plumbing those depths. This level of need requires a supernatural remedy. Only God can handle such profound wounding in me, and when I try to call other people to meet me in the depth of my suffering, they may be pulled into something that will overwhelm them.

Songs in the darkness

Sometimes I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night with worries and concerns. In the darkness, a song about God’s faithfulness can encourage me. The familiar lyrics take me on a journey to the refrain carrying truth deeply down into my heart.

Music is a powerful reminder and force to lift moods and provide comfort. Singing a praise and worship song or listening to Christian music can transform the atmosphere in significant ways.

9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:9-10 ESV)

Waves of Grief

Verses 9 and 10 vividly reveal the cyclical nature of grief. I believe I have moved forward, and yet a fresh wave of grieving hits me hard again and again. My enemy, sometimes my own inner critic, gets louder in these moments. I have to counter all this with God’s truth.

I choose to stand on the rock of God’s word by intentionally recalling to my mind what I know for certain. I can counter the enemy’s caustic narrative and endless questions with God’s promises to me.

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11 ESV)

This final verse acknowledges the pain and then states the truth worth standing on in the midst of the storm of grief. “Hope in God…” In response to this truth, I shall choose to praise God as I grasp a rung of the ladder out of the pit of grief.

I will likely find myself here again, but I have a map contained in Psalm 42 to guide me back to the only one capable of handling all my deep feelings. He is my salvation and my God.

Let’s pray:

Lord, thank you for your kindness in providing a remedy for grief. You know me, you see my tears, and my despair is not too much for you. May I always run to you and entrust you with my sadness. Help me to take time to lament today. Keep me from stuffing down sadness and denying my loss. For in the leaving and the letting go, you have even more for me than I could ask for or imagine. You alone are my hope. Amen.

For over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com 

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Giving Margin for Lament

Bible open to the PsalmsToday’s guest post, Giving Margin for Lament, written by Anthea Kotlan, first appeared on antheakotlan.com.

Everyone I know experienced loss in recent years. Job loss, death, illness, cancellation of special events, long months of separation from loved ones, financial struggles, depression, the strain on marriages, anxiety, and more rained in abundance. After loss, I am often surprised by the unrelenting nature of grief.

What do I do when faced with a sad situation, a significant loss, or a painful transition?

I believe there is a need, hard-wired into our soul, to grieve, process, and lament pain. Stuffing it down only lengthens the healing pathway or avoids it entirely.

Psalm 42 is written as a lament. It begins with the vivid picture of a thirsty animal.

1As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
 for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:1-2 ESV

The Master Designer of humans created me with a need for Him—my soul thirsts and hungers to be in God’s presence. Yet, shame, guilt, sadness, and depression far too often keep me from running to the only one who can fill my needs. I might even try to satisfy myself with people and things, but only God can water my parched soul.

My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

Psalm 42:3-4 ESV

In times of deep grieving, my tears have genuinely been my food day and night. Sometimes well-meaning friends offer empty platitudes or pointed questions that provide no hope or encouragement. While I long to gather in God’s house, I’m pouring out what little energy I might have left on my grief journey. The steps in processing grief must be taken one by one. Rushing back into a festival or celebration would be disorienting until the work of grieving is completed.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation
[c] and my God.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore, I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Psalm 42:5-6 ESV

Part of any grieving journey requires soul searching and exploring why. Asking God hard questions can help. My feelings surprise me. Hope is found in God and serves as a handhold on the dark pathway.

Can I call to mind times of God’s faithfulness in my life? Making a list might bring a fresh spring of encouragement. The psalmist recalls the unchanging landmarks in the land where he lives as he travels the uncertain territory of processing grief. What are the places where God has shown himself large and active in my life? Shall I place a stone of remembrance to bear testimony of what He has done for me?

How about you? Do you need to travel a journey of grief? Do you need to mark the pathway with stones of remembrance?

PRAYER

Thank you, God, that you provide a map for traveling the pathway of grieving. You give abundant margin for me to bring all my deepest and darkest feelings to you. You are always available to hear my cries. You never tire of reminding me of what you have done for me. Help me to travel the grieving pathway at your pace. Not running ahead or giving up but moving ever forward to great healing that can only come from you. AMEN

For over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com 

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Processing God’s Promises in Psalm 4

Bible open to the PsalmsToday’s guest post, Processing God’s Promises in Psalm 4, written by Anthea Kotlan, first appeared on antheakotlan.com.

My husband and I often tucked them into bed with prayers when my daughters were little. One of our prayers was from Psalm 4.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8 ESV

This declaration reminded us of God’s watchful protection and availability. Twenty years later, I can still hear two sleepy little girls putting their hands together and praying this verse with me.

Sometimes I need to declare the truth of God’s word over myself. Actively reading, writing and intentionally taking it into my mind and heart begins a conversation. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me to the treasure hidden in plain sight. The truth contained in God’s words applies to my life every single day, no matter what I face.

Psalm 4, like so many of the Psalms, takes the reader on a journey from recalling God’s faithfulness to reaching a place of complete surrender and certainty.

Using each psalm verse as a prayer prompt provides a map to peaceful rest.

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! Psalm 4:1 ESV

Lord, I thank you for hearing me. You are always available, day or night. You help me when I am afraid. You overflow with grace to me, and you have a never-failing track record.

2 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Psalm 4:2 ESV

God, sometimes it feels as if those around me are mocking me and trying to reveal my faults and failures. As they continue to seek flattery and things that are not true, help me refocus my attention on who you say I am. Flood my mind with truth.

3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.  Psalm 4:3 ESV

Thank you that you have set me apart for your purposes. As I walk in that, you are always close by my side and ready to hear my calls of confusion, distress, fear, and cries for help.

4 Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Psalm 4:4 ESV

Lord, please help me. When anger tries to rule my heart and lead me into temptation, guide me back to you. Please teach me how to hold my tongue. It is far too often the weapon used against me. Help me to practice the discipline of silence and rest.

5 Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. Psalm 4:5 ESV

Show me what is pleasing to you. Help me give up and give away what is not needed, even when I think I want it. I know you alone can satisfy all my needs when letting go of something. Help me put myself and those I love in your hands every minute of every day.

6 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” Psalm 4:6 ESV

Help me to testify to your goodness. Help me point others to all the ways you’re working and displaying masterpieces before our eyes. Help me daily to see your face.

7 You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. Psalm 4:7 ESV

While others may feast on food and wine, let me find all my soul sustaining satisfaction in you, alone. You are my abundant provider.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

As I lie down tonight and surrender myself to your care, help me to demonstrate how amazing it is to trust you even in my slumber. Only you can keep me safe in this world and into the world to come, forever.

Amen

Anthea KotlanFor over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com 

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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