Not To Us

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1, NIV)

God, who deserves to receive praise and honor? Not us, but You. You alone are loving and faithful. The only reason we can love is because You have shown us what love is. You alone keep Your promises. Always. You alone carry out what You have said will happen. Perfectly. We may have good intentions, but we fail. Our plans get pushed aside by circumstances beyond our control. Only You can always follow through on what You have agreed to do. People may see bits of Your image in us, but we do not deserve their praise. We glorify You, the One who deserves all praise.

Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. (Psalm 115:2, NIV)

Father in Heaven, people question what they cannot see and understand. Although we cannot see You, we know where You are. Although we do not understand Your ways, we know You are trustworthy and good. We know You are not under our control; You will do what You decide is best. And You know that better than we do! In their ignorance of You, people may try to hold us responsible for Your action or inaction. But You are not at our beck and call; You show yourself when You are ready. We eagerly anticipate You. We rest in You. We wait for You.

But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. (Psalm 115:4-8, NIV)

God, You are so different from the man-made gods throughout history. You are alive and powerful. We are thankful to be made in Your image. We are grateful to have access to Your power through The Holy Spirit. You have given us life! You have given us so much more! You deserve our trust, our allegiance, our reverence.

You who fear him, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield. The Lord remembers us and will bless us…he will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike. (Psalm 115:11-13, NIV)

We stand in awe of you, Lord, our helper and protector. We are thankful to receive Your blessing and to be remembered by You. You do not favor the great and disregard the small. Rather You care for and bless all who are Yours. Not because we deserve it, but because You are the Lord! We trust You; You have proven Yourself faithful over and over. You are good to us. We have no reason to doubt or fear because of You.

May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 115:14-15, NIV)

All good things come from You, Lord. Everything we have is a gift from you. Because of You, we are prosperous. Regardless of our circumstances, You fill us with joy, peace, love, purpose, and satisfaction. And You let our children experience it, too. When we are blessed by our Creator, we are blessed indeed! Having made us, You know exactly what we need. We cannot turn anywhere else and expect to receive what You offer. How wonderful it is to be under the care and protection of the all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God!

The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind. (Psalm 115:16, NIV)

You have created a home for Yourself and given us a home, too. The heavens are full of Your glory and we marvel at them. The earth is also full of Your glory and we marvel at it, too. Although we are imperfect, You have made us stewards of this amazing earth. You have instructed us to care for it, subdue it, and fill it with people made in Your image. What an honor it is to care for Your creation! We can see so much of Your character on the earth: creativity, humor, nobility, power, beauty, complexity, order, whimsy, gentleness, and more. We can discover You anew as we gain understanding of each aspect of earth. Thank you for proclaiming Yourself to us through our temporary home. Thank you that one day You will invite us to live in Your home for eternity.

It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 115:17-18, NIV)

We are among the few who will praise you, Father. We know You and recognize Your worthiness. We believe You and see Your hand clearly through all of creation. We recognize You in our souls. While we have breath and life on this earth, Father, we will praise You. We know others will not, but we will! You have given us life. You have given us a voice. We will use them to honor and praise you. We will not be silenced, now or at any time throughout eternity. Today and forever we will praise You! So be it. Amen.

Sisters,
What aspect of God’s character do others see in you? Do you give Him credit?
Are you comforted or concerned that God does as He pleases? Do you trust Him to always know and do what is best? Why or why not?
How have you experienced God’s help and protection?
Are you flourishing? Do you focus more on your spiritual or material blessings?
If you are alive in Christ, praise the Lord! He has given you far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso
Photo credit: Jenjoe Marsh

Far More Thriving

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12, NIV)

What a great verse for this week! As we are surrounded by uncertainty and drastic changes in our lifestyles due to the invasion of the coronavirus, we can put this instruction into practice immediately. These three qualities are crucial to experiencing far more life in the moments of our day and thriving through this season.

Be joyful in hope. We hope for things that we want to happen in the future. But we can choose HOW we wait: impatiently, filled with worry, pessimisticly, even joyfully. It’s easy to be joyful in hope when we anticipate positive events: starting a new adventure, marrying someone we love, or welcoming a baby, for example. But there are other times when we don’t know exactly what is coming and whether it will be good or bad. I used to beg God when big unknowns loomed, “If you just tell me WHEN I’ll know what’s going to happen, then I will be able to wait patiently and joyfully.” Fortunately, God knew my heart better than I did; I would NOT have been satisfied for long with a partial answer! I was impatient in hope. Maybe you are, too. Or anxious in hope. Or fearful in hope. Far more life can be joyful in hope because it knows The One who orchestrates the future. Our hope lies not in the answer, but in the Answerer. We know He is good, and loving, and perfect. So we can wait joyfully, because whatever is coming is something He has approved that will arrive in His perfect timing. It will ultimately be good and allow us to thrive!

He works out everything to fit his plan and purpose. (Ephesians 1:11, NIRV)

Be patient in affliction. Our lives on earth are filled with challenges and difficulty. Sometimes it feels like we have barely escaped one when the next one hits, like waves in the ocean that just keep crashing into us. At other times our troubles continue for a long time, longer than we think we can endure. I once waited 15 months for a diagnosis to a health problem. It was hard to face the symptoms day after day without any understanding of what was happening inside my body. There was nothing I could do to speed up the process; I felt like I was living in limbo, stuck somewhere between my familiar life and some new unknown life. Clinging to God got me through those challenging days, weeks, and months. He helped me be content in doing all I could and waiting patiently for the doctors to figure it out. Far more life can be patient in affliction because it knows The One who sees the end. We can trust God to give us all we need for as long as we need it, regardless of our circumstances. He has promised this and we can be confident that He will keep His word. We can patiently endure the storms, knowing He is in it with us. And He is never caught off-guard or under-prepared. He has an abundant supply of everything we need and shares it with His children generously so we can thrive.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, NIV)

Be faithful in prayer. A popular movie scenario involves cutting off communication between the main character and their people at the time of crisis. The hero or heroine has to get out of the tough situation on their own. Praise God that is never a real-life situation for His children; nothing can sever our communication with the God who created all and knows all! Prayer enables us to beg for help as well as voice our biggest fears, deepest concerns, and wildest dreams. We never have to watch our words with God; He knows what we are thinking and feeling before we even have a chance to say it, so we will never shock Him. Far more life recognizes the importance of talking through everything with the One who knows us best. Prayer can reveal our hidden motives and illuminate our situation with God’s purifying light. So many times I have resisted prayer. Or started the conversation with God seeking to justify myself yet walked away having overcome my sin, fear, pride or short-sightedness. Telling God what I am thinking and feeling — both the good and bad — is a vital part of our relationship with Him. I admit, my prayers often start as a one-sided monologue. But once my words are spent, my mind becomes calm, my heart opens, and I am ready to yield my perspective and adopt God’s. Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings to mind a Bible verse I have memorized or read, other times song lyrics remind me of His truth, or I may recall a point from my pastor’s message that provides a practical answer. As I am faithful to talk to God through prayer, He is faithful to draw me back to far more life. Always. Regardless of what is happening around me, I can thrive.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)

Joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Faithful in prayer. All bring far more life. They empower us to remain in close fellowship with God, even when we must practice social distancing from others. When far more life fills our hearts and minds, we can thrive in any circumstance!

Sisters,
Are you pulling away from God or drawing closer to Him during this time of change and uncertainty?
What helps you remember and believe that God is your hope?
What helps you patiently trust that God can and will meet all your needs?
What helps you pray faithfully, sharing the good and bad, looking to Him for clarity and course correction?
I am praying that you experience countless moments of far more life this week as you hope, trust, and pray!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: Jenjoe Marsh