Monday, July 8, 2013

Bold with Strength of Soul

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

Psalm 138:1-3(NKJV)
I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
2 I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.

We are looking at the verse of the day from Bible Gateway. Today it happens to be from Psalm 138. They actually only used verse 2 but I wanted to see it in context so I pulled verses 1 and 3 as well. 

I will praise You with my whole heart. This Psalm is attributed to David who has written a considerable number of Psalms. He says in Psalm 86:11"Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."  
Actually in Ezekiel 11:19 God promises to give His people and undivided heart. 
"I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them aheart of flesh."

David made an effort put his whole heart into the worship and praise of God. I think he also tried very hard to put his whole life in alignment with God's ways. 

He goes on to say that before the gods I will sing praises to you. Who might the gods be? Are their gods in our life before whom we like David could model a life of devotion and praise? According to the Reformation Study Bible, "The Hebrew word ’elohim (“gods”) is used of human judges in Ex. 21:6; 22:8, 9"  In David's case it might have been neighboring kings or the high leaders of the land. Who are the movers and shakers in and around your life. Who are the people who make things happen? It is before those people we must acknowledge the work of God's hand in our lives. David sang and thanked God publicly not just in his private chambers. Daniel prayed openly even though an edict had been issued outlawing praying to any other god than the king. He still prayed three times a day with his window open. It did get him thrown into the lions den. In his case God shut the mouths of the lions and king and kingdom were moved to acknowledge God. His buddies Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego made a similar stand. I love what they tell the king in Daniel 3:18 " If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

There are things that I believe that God is able to do in my life but even if he doesn't I still choose to believe and follow Him with my whole heart. I am grateful for the people he has put around me and the blessings they each bring into my life. When I pray asking God to provide it generally does not come with a poof with a pile of gold or a money tree in the back yard. His answers come with inspiration and with ideas, and with strength of spirit and courage to take steps of faith, and often the sacrifice, kindness and generosity of others who help us along the way. I in turn must be the hands and feet that bring God's provision also to others as I see them taking positive steps of faith. I believe the law of reciprocity or sowing and reaping is happening all around us all the time. The things we plant will grow up. So it is important to make sure we are planting good things. If I sow good things into the lives of others, others will sow good things into my life. I must be planting good things in my own life as well. 

I noticed in verse 2 that is says I will worship towards your holy temple. I think we can get the mistaken notion that we must be in the church to worship. When our entire life should be an offering of worship. God is not a building, or temple made of human hands. John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” When we decide to acknowledge the work of God in our lives and to live lives of gratitude and to be those who impart His grace and kindness. Our life becomes one of continual praise and worship before Him. We do not need a building because the spiritual house He is building is made up of living stones. Each person who chooses to follow Him becomes one of those living stones in a house that is alive with possibility as we work together to magnify His kingdom principles.  

I like this last part because I have seen it happen again recently in my own life. "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul."
I have been seeking the Lord for a new dream and new vision, for the direction of my life. Sometimes we hold so tightly to old dreams that we can't receive the new one that God has for us. God has done a work of healing in my life allowing me to put to rest some old dreams that had long ago died but that I was knowingly and unknowingly still hanging on to. 
In letting go there is a feeling of being a drift, and out of control. In that place I have put my trust in the Lord to help me sort out my possible options. One day He helped me see an idea and gave me the strength of soul to begin to pursue it. As I have shared this idea, I have found favor in that people around me have affirmed it. "Yes, Margot that sounds like a right path for you." I have been blessed by those who would stand with me and help me. I am tremendously grateful for their kindness and sacrifice to help move me towards creating that new dream and making it a reality.  I realize that there is a long journey before me to get from the idea to the reality. You lay the rails in the direction you want to go and then let gravity take over and move you along the path of least resistance toward your desired destination. Right now I'm busy preparing for laying the rails. I've learned to apply the process of how I create works of art to my own life. It always starts with a glimmer of an idea. I think that is the spark that comes from God. From there we must work out the details to make it become something that others can also experience. Along the way, I'm not just doing it alone but I am in close communication with the Lord every step of the way. I have developed a life set apart unto Him and that life spills out into everything that I am and everything that I set my hand to do. 

I pray with in it you will find the little nugget that you need, the glimmer or the spark that God intends for you to move you along on your own journey. That you will look around and find gratitude in your heart and a song of praise for God's goodness in your life, even if there is work yet to do. I pray that God will answer your prayers and make you bold and give you strength of soul. 


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