Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Line of Sight

"Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always." ~1 Chronicles 16:11

A few weeks ago, I accompanied my husband to Chinatown in Los Angeles.  He was sent there to survey a piece of property that was nearly straight up and down on a side of a hill. It had a beautiful view but the topography of the lot would be a bit of a challenge to map out.  Luckily, technology has provided a tool that makes the surveyors job easier. The way it works (remember I am a  a non-surveyor, non-techie person) a base station is set up on what is called a control point. Then, the surveyor carries a rod with a prism that reflects a beam of light back to the base as he stands on various points on the property.  The information is stored and a model can be generated from the data received. This all works well until something comes between the base station and the prism.  Things like a trees or fence posts that block the surveyor's view of the base can break the connection and information cannot be received. There must be a 'line of sight' to be successful.

Watching the whole process made me think of some I just read in Beth Moore's study Stepping Up; A Journey through the Psalms of Ascent. Beth spoke of how keeping our eyes focused on God is so utterly important to our well-being. She says that she would "like to suggest that an entire chain reaction begins with our eyes and ultimately affects our hearts, souls and minds.  Where we look--where we genuinely fasten our gaze amid the continual life challenges has a tremendous on how we feel". She goes on to say that the reason "she is convinced that where we look has such an impact is because where we look is also primarily where we listen".  If our gaze is on God then we will hear from him and when we hear from him it affects the way we feel. But there is another added bonus--When we focus on God and hear from him, we also can know what to expect from him through the knowledge we have gained about who he is and how he operates. We will not have to ask ourselves I wonder how God feels about this. The more we focus and the more we hear,  the more we hear the more we will anticipate God's ways and the more easily we can follow the Lord.

This all works well right up until something stands in the way of pursuing regular Bible reading and prayer.  Many times a busy schedule can take priority in our every day life leaving us with the feeling there is little time to seek the Lord on a regular basis. Just as a tree or fence post interrupts the signal between the base and the prism when doing a survey, life's issues loom in the forefront of our daily living blocking out our vision of God. Before we realize it, the connection is lost and we find ourselves out of communication with Him.  It's a bad position to be in but the solution to this dilemma is easy. We must reestablish that 'line of sight' with the Lord. Seek his face. Make prayer and Bible reading a must in order to navigate through this life successfully. First Chronicles 12:14 says to "seek his face always".  Always, continually, daily.  It's a constant action that provides a strong connection. And with this strong connection, God can pass along His wisdom to deal with the details of life providing me with His strength and peace.  Psalms 34:10 states, "those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." That being said I'm planning on keeping my eyes on him.

The LORD is a friend to those who fear [in awe of] him. He teaches them his covenant.  My eyes are always on the LORD, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies. ~Psalms 25:14-15 NLT

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Legs to Stand On

This morning while on a walk, I noticed a small millipede crossing the road. All of his legs were working in unison to move him along his way.  What a lucky little creature to have so many limbs to rely on. It seemed to glide along its pathway without hindrance or hesitation. We bipeds are not so fortunate. Only two legs to stand and if one is injured we are pretty much stranded where we are unable to move without help of some kind.

This visual brings a new perspective to the verses from Ecclesiastes 4 that say, "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." [9, 10 NLT]  Solomon, the writer of this saying, sees the benefit of having a friend to help "have a good reward for your labor" [KJV] and when you fall to have "another to lift him up!" [AMP]

Let's take this idea of helping one another to a new level. What if like that tiny creature the milipede our legs numbered anywhere between 36 and 400? That kind of support would certainly make an impact our lives as we move along life's path. This is where small groups, ministry partners and church fellowships come in. They are the multiplication factor when it comes to having others to share the joys and struggles of daily living. The writer of Hebrews urges us to "... not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another..." in order to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:25, 24 NIV

Paul  also spoke of this idea of supporting each other in his second letter to the Corinthian church--

"We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety."
2 Corinthians 1:8-11

 "And you are helping us by praying for us..." is a factor in "leg multiplication". These people who prayed literally came along side and carried Paul and Timothy with their prayers. In addition,  the words encourage, build up, serve, do good, share with and love found in the New Testament speaking on how we should relate to each other. When we come along side one another and put these words into action everyone benefits. And these benefits are not just added to individuals, they are multiplied throughout the whole group.

Here is another way to look at it. Let's look at the action of sharing. When someone shares with you, you have something you didn't have before. Two people rather than one have something. Whether it be a piece of cake, a kind word or a helping hand, both have enjoyed an increase. Yes, it's true. No dividing has taken place but rather a multiplying  of the 'joy factor'.  Joy in the giving and joy in the receiving.  Win win.  When its your time to share you not only have the joy in giving but now because you have received you also understand the joy the receiver will have in the getting.  Now, we are moving beyond simple multiplication into exponents (and I know by just saying the word I've lost you), but it's win, win, win for each person- the giving, the receiving and the experience we have in common of knowing what the giving and the receiving feels like. Too complicated? Maybe but it only builds from there and it applies to the words encourage, build up, do good and love as well.  They are multipliers of hope when it comes to living life side-by-side.

In the case of our little millipede, more legs mean more stability, more ease when it goes along its way and more hope that it will reach its destination. As we watch this little creature whose legs work so well in unison scury off on its way, we can picture a life that can seem to glide along when we work together and watch out for one another. Paul writes of a time when he can't wait to be rescued from Judea and return to the church in Rome saying, "that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed." Romans 15:32  Refreshment does come when we join together.  Life seems a little easier, we feel encouraged, and the joy we share is multipied.  What a wonderous thing it is to to have each other's legs to stand on as we move along the path of life!

"May God, who gives this patience and encouragement [waiting for his promises to be fullfilled], help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." ~Romans 15:5-6


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Built on the Rock

 "I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." ~Psalm 18:1-2

David sang to the LORD the words of this particular song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. I came across it while doing a search on what the Bible has to say about God being  'a fortress of salvation'.  The phase the Lord is my rock has always caught my attention.  What does that that mean anyway? When I was a kid we moved into a new housing tract that was built in an area that was very rocky.  I remember these rocks making hard to grow things.  They had to be removed from the yard to make way for a lawn and shrubs.  It was backbreaking work to make anything flourish in the hard environment.  Rocks were a nuisance.   Mom made the most of them by mounding them up to create a rock garden and planting it with cactus and flowers. But no amount flowers made those rocks less rocky.

It wasn't until I visited the Middle East did I get what ROCK the psalms were talking about.  On our travels we visited many sites that included castles or fortresses. They were always found at the highest point in the city and that high place was usually made of rock. Structurally sound, impenetrable, unmovable rock. A perfect place to build a place of safety.

A good example of a fortress built on a rock is the Zenobia's Castle in Deir Ez Zour (Palmyra), Syria. The ancient city of Palmyra is built on a plain with the fortress itself built on a high mound of solid rock. An access road to the top of the rock was carved out of the side of the hill and  a bridge was built to reach the entrance. The gates were even offset to prevent the use of a battering ram to sedge this stronghold. Once at the top of the rock it was possible to see in every direction. This fortress on flat land alone would have offered protection to its occupants but the rock underneth raising it up into the air made it an extraordinary place of refuge.

With this picture of a ROCK firmly etched in my mind I now understand the references to God being a Rock. Samuel states that  "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior--from violent men you save me." [2 Samuel 22:2-3] Samuel's ROCK was a place of great security. 

The Psalmist repeats over and over Samuel's description of a rock being a safe place from the enemy. Then, in Psalms 40 he adds the idea of God actually setting our feet on that ROCK, placing us out of harm's way.

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." ~Psalm 40:2

God provided a firm place to stand but the actual standing will depend on us. We will need to choose to do it. In Matthew, Jesus ends a long message on Christian Living with these words-- "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."  [7:25]  Whether a house or a person, a firm foundation is essential for standing strong and the words of Jesus provide that very solid, safe, secure place for us to live.  But take heed lest we forget, building or standing on a foundation other than the ROCK will always lead to disaster and ruin.  We will find ourselves overcome by disaster.

"But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." ~Matthew 7:26-27

Maybe this blog should just be named Want a Good Life then Know the Word of God. Each time I write I tend to focus on the how important it is to know God's word.  Each day, I find that my life does depend on God's word for everything. It brings discernment, pleasure, understanding, encouragement and insight. I can't think of an instance when God's word does not apply to what I am doing or thinking. It guides my actions and checks my thoughts. It is always with me and never fails me. And every day I discover a little more about who God is. Yes, The Lord is my ROCK, my firm foundation. He has provided a place of safety and I plan to keep my feet and head and heart securely fixed on it.

"For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights."
~2 Samuel 22:32-34

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Traveler

While I was out running some errands particularly rainy day in February, my journey took me across the Mojave River. Usually ‘river’ is a broad statement when it comes to describing this particular tributary but that day, this normally dry stretch of sand was flowing from bank to bank with rushing waters from storm runoff. It was an amazing and unexpected sight.

I find when I travel it’s the unexpected sights or happenings that leave me with the biggest impact. I may have spent hours pouring over travel guides and looking at web pages to plan out the trip and the must see sights and sounds of my destination but its the unplanned events that I remember the most. And this is also what sets the trip apart from the preparation.

Let me explain. When I am looking forward to a trip I generally study everything I can get my hands on to get ready. I will look at maps and pictures to get my bearings. Read travel logues and stories about the area. Find out about its history. Search out places to see, find out what regional food to try and become familiar with the customs of the locale. I may even learn a few words of the language spoken there before I set out.

I love this part-- the planning out my adventure, learning the ins and outs of the location I will be visiting. To me the anticipation is at least half of the trip but unless I set out on the journey I will not have any experience to go with my knowledge of that place. I would miss out on the true sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the trip. And found among the expected I will always find the surprising and unanticipated. Little blessings placed right where I would notice. Things like an eagle flying away with his fresh catch in his talons from a harbor in Washington, the eerie sound of the evening call to prayer in Damascus, the smell of carni asada cooking on an open grill at the taco stand in Mexico, the sight of gold flakes drifting in the air at a Buddhist temple in Thailand or the taste of handmade pralines brought from a shop in New Orleans where I had stopped just to ask directions would have been missed if I had opted to stay home and just been satisfied with the knowledge of the areas I planned to visit.

Some people follow this same method in their journey through life. They have the knowledge of God. They have studied the Guide, listened to the stories of other people’s experiences and they have even received advice and instruction from the Experts but they haven’t quite ventured out to experience it for themselves. They play it safe and settle for the awareness of God but never make his acquaintance.

It’s such a shame really. In Psalms 84:5 it says,

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

The word blessed is actually more accurately translated happy and

pilgrimage would translate any long journey, esp. one undertaken as a quest or for a dedicated purpose-

so this verse in the PSV (Patty Schell Version) would state--

Happy are those whose strength is in God, who have set their hearts on a quest to seek God. Psalm 84:5

And the really cool thing is in Jeremiah 29:13 (The Message) it says,

"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."

Now, that’s the kind of journey I want to be on. One that includes the best tour guide ever AND won’t leave me disappointed to boot. How about you? No matter the circumstances of the journey the trip will be worth it because of the personal experience you will receive when you travel with God. Knowledge never trumps experience and in order to share in the adventure you first must put your foot on the path. It’s where the miracles happen.

“And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!” Psalms 84:6-7 (The Message)

"God in full view." Now, that's an amazing sight!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thristy? Open Wide and Drink In...

"...Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."
John 7:37

While in Oklahoma City this month, I passed by Lake Hefner, a very large body covering 2500 surface acres within the city limits. The view from the freeway made this California girl feel as though she was near the ocean. It has a nice sized marina and storage yard for sail boats but as far as I could see even though it was a very beautiful Sunday afternoon in October there were no boats on the lake. It wasn't until a few days later while walking along its shore that I would spot the problem.  Oklahoma experienced a severe drought with summer temperatures soaring to over 100 degrees for days on end. No break for a summer rain to refresh the land. Just searing heat and cloudless skies. Crops and cattle suffered. Trees died and their water reserves began to dry up. Lake Hefner got so low that boats could not be launched into its waters and the ones moored in the marina were all askew and sitting in the mud, useless and unable to move.
A good, long, soaking rain is what Oklahoma would need to make the pasture lands and trees grow again.  Rain is what they would need to refill the reservoirs and reestablish the places that once provided recreation and relaxation  We do not often think that 'rain' may be just what we need for rejuvenation and peace as we go through life at its hectic pace.

The subject of rain presents itself a few times in the Bible.  Most of us are very familiar with the rain of Noah's day, a ferocious destroyer of man and beast. We have also sung the Sunday School song that's lyrics talk of rain being a true test of 'good building' methods when it comes to where a wise man should to place his house-- on rock or sand. But there is one mention of rain that we should not overlook when it comes to our lives.

In Deuteronomy 32, it says, "Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants."  [1, 2] What a beautiful picture of spring rain falling on plants waiting to drink in its life giving moisture.  God is instructing us to Listen...to the words of my mouth" and drink them in expectantly to grow and live.

Isaiah 55 even presents us with a promise from God about his words he rains down on us-
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." [10-11]

Growing and flourishing, provision and satisfaction. God's word does its job and we can count on it.

Our part- Drink his word in like "abundant rain on tender plants". This reminds me of rainy days when my girls were small. When we heard that first pitter patter, we would run outside singing a song that went, " If rain drops were gum drop and lemon drops, oh, what a world this would be. I'd stand outside with my mouth open wide..." Then, we would turn our faces up to the sky with open mouths and catch the rain drops giggling all the while.

God tells at the beginning of Isaiah 55, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters...".  It goes on to say don't waste our time and money on what doesn't satisfy. "Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you..."  and that he has thought great thoughts about us. Greater than we can ever imagine. And he ends by promising, "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." [1, 3, 13] Yep, there IS something very sweet when God rains his Word on us. Don't let a 'drought' take over your life leaving you withered and dried up.  Rather, open your mouth wide and drink in, absorb, savor and enjoy the Word and all the goodness it has to offer.

"...but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:14

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Off to the Promised Land

"Ok. OK... Its time. I have been sitting on this way too long but I must start somewhere." --Isn't that how any journey begins-with a starting point? A jumping off point, a place of departure. Well, this is it. This journey like all lessons God has planned out for me will prove to be quite the adventure. You see, I'm heading out to make my way to the "Promised Land".

You may be scratching your head wondering what in the world I am talking about. Historically, the Promised Land is found in the Middle East. No, I'm not off to Israel but I am looking to discover that place flowing with 'milk and honey' in my own life. The truth is, I've been working on this for some time. A few years back, I started to pray to have a desire for the things of God. I wanted to have a better understanding of what the Bible had to say about how to live. I wanted to know the God I had learned about in Sunday school in a way that was real. And God in His faithful way started to lead me on a journey that would leave me wanting more each step of the way.

Recently, I heard a quote by CS Lewis that said this:

"The more we let God take over, the more truly ourselves we become--because he made us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself to his personality that I begin to have a real personality of my own."

I believe this quote speaks of the 'Hebrews 12:1' lesson of "...Throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us” in order to become the people that God intended. "Everything that hinders"  is anything that keeps from focusing on God and his ways. Each of us has our own list of things, some very good,  that we carry. They demand our attention  preventing us from fully centering our hearts on God and his plan for us.

This whole idea  of 'throwing off everything that hinders' reminds me of our own American pioneers who set our to the "promised land" of the West. Their desire for a more abundant life called them to the Frontier so they packed their wagons full of their belongings hauling them along to their new lives. The problem was they soon found that the weigh of their possessions would become a hindrance to the success of their journey and the trail would become littered with castoffs once thought of as necessities.

In order for us to travel into our own Promised Land it may require us to do some offloading of things that belong to us as well. In Priscilla Shirer’s book One in a Million, she gives a list of things that will be evident in our lives if we are living abundantly. Things like sensing and acknowledging God’s continual presence (Psalms 139:7-10); being led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14) and showing evidence of conformity to Christ’s image (Romans 8:29). Anything that is keeping us from experiencing these attributes in our lives must be thrown off so that we can be the people God designed us to be.

Our journey will evidentually lead us to the ultimate 'Promised Land' - Heaven. But in the meantime, God is transforming us into the likeness of his son, Jesus. (Philippians 3:20-21) He wants us to share in all the goodness He has to offer right now.  If you want to move forward in your journey to the 'Promised Land' here are some things you might consider doing:

  • Pray having faith God has the very best in mind for you-

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

  • Act knowing God has made a plan that will bring about the best possible life-
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind…To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:1, 21

  • Follow God to the way everlasting, to the abundant life – to the Promised Land. That’s where I’m headed. Hope you’ll join me.

"They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten."
Jeremiah 50:5

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't Overlook the Fine Print

Every day is full of lessons for life if you just keep your eyes open and for me, today was no exception. This morning while baking a cake for a friend, I was reminded how important it is to read and follow all the directions if I wanted the desirable outcome-something beautiful and fit for a celebration. In my case, I needed to look farther than just the basic directions listed on the back of the cake mix of add water, oil and eggs. I need to also read the fine print.  Since I live at an altitude above 3500 feet, for 'BEST results' I needed  to add a 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and increase the water to 1 1/4 cups otherwise I would end up with a crumbly, less than pleasing result. Not something I wanted to present to my friend.

  So, how does this particular lesson apply to life? Well, who doesn't want a desirable outcome in life's everyday situations but what guarantee do we have? Life seems so 'ify' at best. But listen to the Old Testament writer Isaiah has to say-- "This is what the LORD says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go..." [48:17]

That tiny word 'best' found in the passage seems too small to convey its true meaning-- of highest quality, excellence, or standing; most advantageous, suitable, or desirable; with the most advantage for success; most fully. So, what God is saying in Isaiah 48:17 is He knows the best way to live that will result in the the highest quality, most desirable and full life that doesn't 'crumble' under hardship but has the most advantage for success. What's more, He's willing to teach us how to do it. Why would we ever to settle for anything less? Yet, time-after-time we do settle for a 'crumbly' life.

In the same way I found the solution for crumbly cake, we can find the information we need if we just read the 'fine print' and put it to practice in our lives.  The 'fine print' in our case is the Bible.  It is a collection of the best quality, finest grade, most excellent and admirable Divinely inspired words printed out for us. The instructions found on its pages are meant to be put into practice so we can have the best life possible.

Timothy, a writer found in the New Testament, tells us that "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." [2 Timothy 3:16-17] The Word of God provides us with the information needed to create a successful outcome in our everyday lives.  Check the following  'fine print' found in Proverbs 4. It is full of instructions along with the promised 'best' results we can expect when we read and follow God's Wise Instructions--

Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching...    
  • Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live.
  • Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.
  • Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
  • love her, and she will watch over you.
  • Esteem her, and she will exalt you;
  • embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor
  • Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.

I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.

  • When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
  •  when you run, you will not stumble.
  • Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.
  • Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body.
  • Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

It is only by God's ways that we will ever find real fullness of life. God desires the best for us and when we follow the instructions found in the 'Fine Print' we can expect the results He promises every time. And who doesn't want a life that is beautiful and fit for celebration?

"Sing to him a new song... shout for joy.
For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does...
--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him..."
Psalm 33:3-4; Romans 10:12
photo by John Franklin

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Open Hands

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Psalms 68:19

Sometimes I feel like I am my own worst enemy. Well, maybe more specifically its my hand that is the trouble. You see, it has difficultly when it comes to surrendering my burdens. My heart may know that I need to allow God total access to my troubles but my hand keeps them tightly held in its grip. They’re my responsibly after all. If only I had made better choices. If only I had acted it differently. If only I had seen things more clearly. If only, If Only, IF ONLY… And as the if only’s resonate in my head, I hang on to my burdens and continue to carry them along firmly grasped in my hand.

Fortunately, this is not how God intended any of us to live. There is a way out and it’s literally at our fingertips. In Psalm 81:6 (NLT) it says,

"Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.

The Psalmist is speaking of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in this passage. We, too, have been delivered from a similar tyranny when we made the decision to follow Christ. We’ve been set free. Jesus unloaded that burden of sin from our shoulders and removed the heavy task of carrying our shame from our hands. He rescued us out of bondage to live in freedom. Galatians 5:1 tells us--

"It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

This verse urges us stand firm, to persevere, to persist in living free and never be burdened again by our fear, our shame or our shortcomings.

One of my friends pointed out this week that if our hands are full of burdens there will be no room in them to receive blessing. I think this is something to consider. In the New International version of the Bible Psalm 68:19 tells us "God our Savior... daily bears our burdens." but in the American King James its translated in a slightly different way--

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits..."

Daily He carries our burdens while daily loading us with His benefits. Empty your hands. Pry those fingers open if you need to. Let God take your burdens and get ready to receive all the blessings He'll put in their place. =)