By Lance Mayes
The first two verses in Psalm 105 encourage us to give thanks and sing praises to God and let the whole world know the wonderful things God does.
Thanks, praise and Good News. We can do that!
It is easy for us to give thanks and praise to God when things are going well: the birth of a healthy baby, a good doctor’s report, getting a driver’s license, winning a game against your biggest rival. It is much more difficult when things are not going so well: a miscarriage, the cancer is back, failing the driver’s test, losing the big game.
It is good to stop and reflect when things are great and when things are bad. Make a list, write it down and thank God. In The 5 Minute Journal gratitude is defined as “the feeling that embodies the word ‘Thank you’. It is the unexpected reward of a kind deed that is magically produced by your brain. It is the cute, tingly feeling in your body that makes you smile at strangers.” Thank God for the day God has created for you. Thank God for every beat of your heart and breath you take. Thank God for the good and the bad (James 1:2-4).
Most of the time when we think about singing praises to God, we think of Sunday morning worship. It is good to be with other Christians and raise our voices in praise as one. It is good to listen to and enjoy a concert of praise and be spurred to join in their worship of God. It is also good to have private times of praise. You see a beautiful sunrise and speak a word of praise to God. You hear the story of your neighbor that their grandchild is getting the mental health help they need and you whisper a song of praise in your heart to God.
Sharing the Good News. Telling others about the wonderful things God is doing in your life and in the lives of others. What story is in your heart that is just waiting to get out? Please share! Tell your family and your friends. Tell your neighbors and coworkers. Tell your church community and your acquaintances. Write your story and post on a blog or on Facebook. Record your story on video for Youtube.* We all have so much we can tell about the wonderful things God does.
*We encourage you to record your story and we want to help. We can help you by posting on the Woodland Blog and/or in our print publications like our missions newsletter “Harvest Tree.” We can also record your story on video.
By Ed Twedt
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
What a beautiful psalm. It divides easily into three parts. Verses 1 through 4 are about community, verses 5 through 21 are about the individual, and verses 22 through 29 are about the worshipping community. The psalm also uses the personal name of God (YHWH) 28 times within its brief 29 verses, a strong reminder of who is the central focus in this psalm. In each of the first four verses we are reminded that God’s “steadfast love endures forever.” As if that isn’t enough reminding, the psalm ends with that same reminder. God’s “steadfast love endures forever.” Could any words more powerfully point us to the culmination of the season of Lent? Perhaps the most powerful message of all is found in verse 22 in the beginning of the worshipping community section. There we read of the stone which the builders rejected becoming the chief cornerstone. This passage is frequently repeated in the New Testament, for example, Matthew 21:42, Acts 4:11, and 1 Peter 2:7, all references to the Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder this beautiful psalm fits so beautifully into the Lenten season.
As I read this psalm I can’t help but think of how similar Advent and Lent are. They are both anticipatory, they are both filled with sorrow and joy, and they both point us to our Lord and Savior. Now we look back at them with the eyes of hindsight, but we still can feel the enormous strength and encouragement they bring to us. Just as we looked forward to the coming of our Lord into human history as a little baby, now we look forward to His coming to us, our risen Lord. So with all the darkness that one might suppose is found in the season of Lent, we know there is light, God’s light. Thus it is that the psalmist tells us, “O give thanks to YHWH for he is good.”
By Lori Tyler
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
One summer my family and I lived in Northern Ireland. We stayed at a retreat center on the cliffs of the Irish Sea. You could see the hills of Scotland from the bluff.
One day we were invited to go coast steering. Basically, coast steering is navigating the coastline from the water in a wetsuit. Ask anyone who knows me well, and they will tell you I do not like to be in deep waters. I do not care for the beach or like to even get my feet wet in the ocean. So as fun as this sounded to some, it seemed like a really bad idea to me. However, my 10 and 12-year-old boys were anxious to give it a try. And how can a mom stay behind while her husband and boys were making lasting memories? Of course I felt like I needed to be a part of it.
Once we arrived at the waters and were all suited up, it was time to begin our trek. Even though it was the month of July, the water was freezing. Right off the bat I regretted my decision and was extremely uncomfortable. Oh, the things a mom will do for her children! The rocks were rugged, the water was cold, and the dark clouds blanketed the sky. I can remember being very frightened.
Our guide led us to our first cliff from which we would jump. I have no idea how people find this fun, but I did at least complete one jump into the icy waters. Due to the wind, the waters were unusually rough. One wave came in and knocked my husband and me to the rock, pulling us out to sea. The guide had to reach out and help bring us back to shallow waters.
Other than being miserable the entire time, the main reason I will never do this again is because I feared my sons being pulled out to sea. I realized that if this were to happen to the boys, there was no way my husband and I could reach them in time. In our desperation we could not have helped.
This experience reminds me of the many times in my life I have needed help. Sometimes it’s because of my own sin; other times it is because of uncontrollable circumstances. In my desperation, I reached out to God because only He could offer a solution.
During our swim I just wanted to give up and get out of the water. Isn’t this true in the trials of our life? Instead of giving up, we can cry out for divine help and expect God to answer. He is our Redeemer and Savior.
Lent is all about the redemption of God. We all need to be redeemed and rescued from the icy waters. What do you need to be rescued from today?
God hears our cries and delights in answering. Listen and respond with thanksgiving and shouts of joy.
By Bridgette Langford
It is so easy to get sucked into the world around us. There is a certain routine that life has. We often forget to stop and thank the Lord for the extra boost of energy and the strength to accomplish the daily task when we feel like giving up. Just as the Psalmist writes “you hold my eyelids open,” I know I have been in that situation with my daily routine of being a wife and grad student.
I am guilty of not taking the time to stop and thank the Lord for the extra push. I believe the Lord does this sometimes without us even asking, because he knows us inside and out. Just as he knows how much we can handle, he will provide the strength needed to finish the project that is set in front of us. With God we can overcome all things.
As we are reflecting on what the Lord has done for us it is important for us to thank him for his faithfulness in providing the strength and encouragement we need for our daily life, even when we feel like we do not deserve it. Today thank the Lord for his influence in your life. Thank him for paying the ultimate price so you don’t have to suffer the way he did. Thank him for loving you.