Life-Changing Words

Our world is desperately seeking answers to the problems we face. Many words are spoken — in our government centers, through media and social media, and in private conversations — that offer ideas and plans for addressing them. The words take on many tones and remind me of a common hymn that describes the content of God’s Word, the Bible: Beautiful words. Wonderful words. Life-giving words. Faith-building words. Loving words. Inviting words. Hope-giving life. Words of good news. Saving words.

Sadly, most individuals and governments have rejected God’s words and are looking for “better” answers. But the Bible is the best place look for answers because most of the problems we face in life and society are spiritual problems. Selfishness, greed, lust, envy, and pride are more than character flaws; they are evidence of spiritual death, separation from God.

When we are engaged in a relationship with God, listening to His words, we have the power to love and value people as He does. Our interactions offer genuine concern, generosity, graciousness, and self-sacrifice. We serve as His representative and bring Him glory by demonstrating how He intended for people to interact with Him, each other, and our planet. Living out His words solves spiritual problems and leads to far more life.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word. (Psalm 119:9, NIV)

There is great benefit to remaining faithful to the path God has marked as pure. We see God more clearly when our hearts and minds are not tainted by sin and evil (Matthew 5:8). I think of innocent children who see right and wrong in areas where adults struggle. As we live according to His Word, we experience life as He intended it to be. We avoid many spiritual problems and enjoy far more life.

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:10-11, NIV)

Anyone who watches spy movies knows that written instructions or codes can be damaged, lost, or stolen by the enemy. But what you memorize can be held securely and accessed easily. Similarly, memorizing God’s Word enables us to easily access it and have greater confidence that our decisions are consistent with His desires. We can access far more life easily and often when His words are stored in our mind.

Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. (Psalm 119:12, NIV)

We can take in God’s words with two attitudes: a desire to change them or a desire to be changed by them. When we find ideas in the Bible we dislike, we may want to reinterpret them to fit what makes us comfortable. Or dismiss them as antiquated or irrelevant. But far more life is willing to be changed by God’s Word. It is willing to research and understand what God is saying and the heart behind it. When we do this, we naturally praise Him for His wisdom, insight, and perfect love. We desire to learn more of His words because they become priceless treasures that lead us to far more life.

With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. (Psalm 119:13, NIV)

God’s words are too good to keep to ourselves! As family and friends wrestle with hard life circumstances, God’s words can strengthen and bless them. When we feel stuck, His words to offer a path forward. His words offer hope, peace, enlightenment, correction, and far more life — all the things we need! We should not be surprised when our experiences prove His words are true. Or when we become eager to share what we learn from His with others.

I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. (Psalm 119:14, NIV)

The words of instruction God gives us are priceless treasures. They are the secrets we need to live the best life possible. They enable us to become the best version of ourselves, the most like Him. It is easy to complain about the restrictions He communicates. It is popular to dismiss His standards as outdated or narrow-minded. But deep-seated joy — one evidence of far more life — is found when we live out God’s words.

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. (Psalm 119:15, NIV)

God’s words can be hard to accept. We may have to think about them a while before we can appreciate them or put them into practice. Sometimes they are surprising and we have to wrestle through questions and doubts. Sometimes they are the opposite of what we want to be true. Sometimes we want proof that they lead to far more life. But I have found that seeking to understand God’s ways eventually leads to accepting them as the best. That should not be a surprise since He is our all-knowing Creator!

I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (Psalm 119:16, NIV)

The psalmist does not feel obligated to study God’s words; he delights in them. When we delight in something we are eager to experience more of it. The more we value God’s words, the more we will turn to them for encouragement, wisdom, and perspective. And as we put His words into practice and see the positive effects, we will value them more. As God’s powerful words change our lives, we want to share far more life with others.

Sisters,
What problems are heavy on your heart? Where do you turn for solutions?
Can you recognize the spiritual root of the problems around you?
What value do you place on God’s Word? Does that agree with the value Psalm 119 describes?
Do you more often desire to change or be changed by God’s Word? What barriers do you face to being changed? What increases your willingness to be changed?
Choose a Bible verse to meditate on and memorize so you far more life is hidden in your heart!
-Shari



Refreshment

My husband and I recently took a vacation. After several challenging months, we were not seeking a grand adventure — just physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional refreshment.

Merriam-Webster offers several meanings for the word refresh, including: to restore strength and animation to (revive); to freshen up (renovate); to restore or maintain by renewing supply (replenish). Revive. Renovate. Replenish.

Vacation can offer refreshment. So can a special occasion. A change of scenery may revive our enthusiasm. A change of routine may renovate our mindset. A break from daily responsibilities may replenish our motivation. Sometimes we have to work hard to prepare for refreshment; the investment is worthwhile if it allows us to be completely immersed in the refreshing experience.

But vacations and special celebrations are inadequate refreshment. They are too short and infrequent to carry us through the whole year. Just like we cannot eat only a few days of the year and be healthy, we cannot run ourselves ragged most of the time and rely on an occasional day to revive, replenish, and renovate us. Instead, God has instructed us to build refreshment into our lives.

Remember the Sabbath (seventh) day to keep it holy (set apart, dedicated to God).  (Exodus 20:8, AMP)

God not only gave a frequency for refreshment — every seventh day plus some holidays (Leviticus 23) — but also told us how to rest — setting apart the day for Him. He instructed the Israelites to refrain from work, giving their bodies a break. He also told them to refresh their mind and spirit by remembering, worshiping, and honoring Him. God knew we needed to regularly engage in these practices to find far more life.

Over time, the Jewish leaders added rules to define acceptable and unacceptable Sabbath activities. These rules became burdensome for the people and hindered their rest. When Jesus walked the earth, He declared:

…The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27, NIV)

God instituted a day of rest to bless us, not burden us. We have freedom to decide what will help us rest and connect with God. For many, one Sabbath component is time with a church family, engaging in group worship and receiving Biblical instruction. For many the Sabbath also includes time in nature, exercise, rest, interaction with family or friends, a special meal, hobbies, or entertainment.

Sometimes it is good to ask ourselves if our Sabbath practices are truly refreshing. Do they revive our body? Revive our mind? Replenish our spirit? If not, we are wise to consider what WOULD lead to true refreshment and make changes.

But we do not have to run on empty the other six days of the week. God offers to revive, renovate, and replenish our heart, soul, mind, and strength every day!

He refreshes my soul… (Psalm 23:3, NIV)

We need spiritual refreshment and there is no better place to turn for that than the One who created our soul. We live in a world that is spiritually darkened; the light of God’s Word, His truth, and His promises restore our strength so we can keep living righteously and purposefully. Far more life is found as we read and meditate on His Word, the Bible, every day to drink in His refreshment.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. (Jeremiah 31:25, NIV)

The context of this is God providing hope to His people. They were living in an oppressive environment, surrounded by people who did not honor God or value His ways. It was exhausting to remain faithful to God. God reminded Jeremiah that He saw their struggle and would provide all they needed to remain faithful as long as they demonstrated a willingness to follow Him. Far more life calls out to God daily for a replenished heart, body, and mind to live righteously.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7, NIV)

Our minds are susceptible to Satan’s lies about what is good, sensible, right, reasonable, or deserved. Our thinking is renovated and our spiritual vision is replenished when we look to God’s commands and instructions for guidance. Far more life finds refreshment in following God’s principles, believing our All-Knowing Father is wise, loving, and trustworthy.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.  (Acts 3:19, NIV)

When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins, they are wiped out. That is the ultimate refreshment! But as time goes on and we realize we will continue to sin, our refreshment may diminish. Repentance — making the choice to turn away from sin and turn to God — is a lifelong refreshing process. Every time we repent we are reminded of our position in Christ. We grow in far more life as we become aware of sins and repent; the grace flowing to our Spirits is replenished and we are refreshed.

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14, NIV)

Once the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, refreshment is always available! He renovates our mind so we can see with His perspective. He revives our excitement about His plans and purposes for us. He replenishes our strength so we are ready to join His work. We do not have to wait for vacations or holidays — far more life offers refreshment every day!

Sisters,
When have you felt most refreshed?
Is your weekly Sabbath refreshing? If not, what do you need to change to make it so?
How do you connect with God for daily refreshment? What barriers do you face to deeper connection?
Engage in far more life today, seeking out God’s refreshment and enjoying His purposes for your day!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso
Photo by Ray Damaso

Glimpses of Majesty

Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. (Psalm 104:1, NIV)

Lord, this week I have been awed by the splendor and majesty of the earth You created. I know You are much greater than the wonders of this world reveal, but my limited mind has a hard time imagining the fullness of Your splendor and majesty. Will it be as colorful as a sunset sky? Will it smell as wonderful as a field of wildflowers? Will it be a booming voice or a peaceful whisper? Will it blow as a gentle breeze or a powerful wind? Will it taste better than the richest delicacy? Will it be an expansion of what is familiar to us or something completely different? Will we notice the details or be immersed in the grandeur? I look forward to the day I will see Your glory fully. For now, I am content to praise You for the glimpse of your splendor and majesty I catch around me.

He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment … But at your rebuke the waters fled … You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. (Psalm 104:5-9, NIV)

I have glimpsed the results of the watery garment You used to cover the earth and erase the wickedness of our ancestors. The lasting impact is sobering and beautiful. The results are easy to see but the enormity of the devastation is difficult to comprehend. So much life and death are represented in the colorful layers of sediment left behind. What we see today is so different from Your original creation, yet vital components remain the same. And even the post-disaster landscape brings You glory. Almighty God, You created the waters and rule over them. They serve Your dual purposes of giving life and carving out reminders of the damage caused by our sin. I praise You for the boundaries that only You can place and enforce on nature. Thank You for protecting us from its full power.

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate — bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts. (Psalm 104:14-15, NIV)

Although You are majestic and we are made from dust, You choose to provide all we need. You generously give more than food for our physical needs; You also supply beauty for our emotional needs. You made our bodies to be perfectly suited for the conditions on earth. Even though all of this will pass away and be remembered no more, You have made it a pleasant place for us to live temporarily. We catch a glimpse of what You will provide in heaven and praise You for the splendor and majesty of both our current and future homes!

How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all. (Psalm 104:24, NIV)

We are so proud of our inventions and accomplishments, but they do not compare to Your works, Lord! Anything we make is built with components You spoke into being from nothing. Our groundbreaking discoveries have been obvious to You for centuries. All that is beyond our scope of understanding is simple for You to understand. You are supremely wise. We praise You for giving us a glimpse of Your numerous and diverse works. May we praise You more with each new revelation of Your glory that enables us to your majesty and splendor!

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works — he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. (Psalm 104:31-32, NIV)

Your glory will endure forever, Lord, even after this world passes away. May Your works continue to bring You glory for all eternity. Thank You for allowing us to enjoy and experience parts of Your creation. We glimpse only a small portion of it in this life and look forward to seeing a fuller picture of Your majesty and splendor in heaven. Open our eyes to the aspects of Your character on display around us. May we always worship You rather than what You have created!

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. (Psalm 104:33-34, NIV)

Father God, the least I can do is give You glory with my mind and my mouth. I want to be quick to give You credit for what You have created. I want to proclaim Your glory, Your creativity, and Your power at every opportunity. But I want to look deeper and get a glimpse of Your character through my experiences. Help me see Your love in action, Your patience on display, Your joy, Your faithfulness, Your goodness, and more! I want my thoughts to be joyful praises that are pleasing to You. Make me aware of situations where I can glimpse Your majesty and splendor so I can offer You the praise You deserve. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sisters,
What aspects of God’s splendor and majesty have you glimpsed?
What boundaries has God set to protect you? How do you respond to them?
What is your favorite way to praise God?
How can you make praise part of your daily life?
Celebrate far more life by turning glimpses of His splendor and majesty into praise!
-Shari

Psalm 92

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp. (Psalm 92:1-3, NIV)

Lord, thank You for this reminder that it is good to praise You. Music is not the only way to praise You, but it is definitely a helpful tool. The melody touches our emotions. The lyrics touch our minds. Combined they help our souls to connect with You at a deeper level. As we start the day, we praise You for loving us with a new beginning and refreshment. At the end of the day we praise You for carrying us through the challenges and blessing us with the joys we experienced. Whether the music of our praise is complex or simple, audible or internal, we are thankful to find far more life as we praise You.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts! (Psalm 92:4-5, NIV)

Seeing You in action makes us happy, Lord. When we witness Your work, our hearts fill with praise. We are eager to give You credit because it is clear that You alone deserve it. And when we need a reminder of You, Lord, all we have to do is look at nature. Your power is obvious in the power of nature. Your glory is revealed by the splendor of the heavens and the intricacies of each cell. Your creativity is evident in the diversity of animals, plants, and ecosystems on earth. Knowing that You brought each of them into being with a word causes us to marvel at Your intellect and knowledge. Your thoughts are so far beyond ours that there is no comparison. The most complicated discovery or invention of humanity is simple to You, yet You love us. Far more life is eager to see more of Your works, absorb more of Your thoughts, and grow in awe of You!

Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever. (Psalm 92:6-7, NIV)

Lord, we are so short-sighted! We see those who hate You prospering and we despair. We are tempted to believe the wisdom mankind offers instead of your timeless wisdom. Help us remember that this life, this earth, is just a blip in eternity. While others are puffed up by their own observations and interpretations about life, remind us to hold fast to Your eternal truth. Give us faith and grace to cling to Your Word, even when we do not fully understand it. Help us trust Your faithfulness more than human achievement. Open our eyes to the eternal perspective that accompanies far more life.

But you, Lord, are forever exalted. (Psalm 92:8, NIV)

All we know and experience here will pass away, Lord. We look forward to praising you forever, when Your Word and Your actions alone remain. When all eyes are open to the truth, we will joyfully praise You in gratitude and love.

For surely your enemies, Lord, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered. You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured on me. My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes. (Psalm 92:9-11, NIV)

We are thankful that all Your enemies — all our enemies — will be overcome one day, Lord. You will stand victorious while they fall. We look forward to the time when Your supremacy is evident to everyone and You bring unfailing righteousness and justice to earth. Those who have doubted You — and scorned Your children — will understand their error. Temptation and sin will perish. Doubt and fear will perish. Pride will perish. Death will perish. Only You and Your followers will remain. Give us grace to wait expectantly for that glorious day!

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” (Psalm 92:12-15, NIV)

Thank you for enabling us to flourish, even on this wicked earth. Regardless of our circumstances, we can grow and thrive spiritually as we draw nourishment from You, Lord. Your Spirit fills us and empowers us to bear Your fruit for the rest of our lives. Rather than growing weaker, we can grow stronger in You. Your light can shine brighter, even as our health fades. Age does not have to stiffen us, rather it can make us more flexible, more humble, more eager to become like You. Thank you for never turning away Your children, but always welcoming us. Thank you for being our righteous Rock. We praise You now and will continue to praise You forever. In the power of Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sisters,
What is your favorite way to praise God?
How have you seen God’s love and faithfulness in the past day?
Which of God’s works remind you to praise Him?
If you have fallen into a short-sighted perspective, confess it to God and ask for help to recognize His perspective.
Which of God’s enemies do you most look forward to Him defeating?
How is God helping you flourish today?
Walk in far more life today as you praise and glorify God with your life!
-Shari