Applying Psalm 9

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An elder at church read over Psalm 9 with us last Sunday.  He specifically focused on verses 1 and 2:

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

He proceeded to pull out what he felt were the most important points from these two verses:

  1. Be thankful

Verse 1 says: “I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart.”  There are always things to be thankful for: God’s love, Jesus’ sacrifice, and salvation.  These things, among others, will never change no matter what situation you are in.  No matter what trial you are enduring, there is always something to be thankful for.  If you look really hard, you can always find a blessing even in the hardship.

       2. Choose joy

Verse 2 says: “I will be glad and rejoice in you.”  It doesn’t say that we always have to rejoice about our circumstances but that we should be rejoicing in Christ.  We will always have Christ therefore we should always have joy, no matter our circumstances.

       3. Praise God always

Verse 2 continues into: “I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.”  We should always be praising God for the ways He is blessing us and the things He is doing in our life.  We should be praising Him for who He is; this may involve praising Him for specific attributes: His love, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His faithfulness, etc.

He asked us how differently our lives would look if we applied these three things to our life.  How much brighter would we shine?  How much more pleasant and God-honoring would our attitudes become?  I aim to try to apply these to three things to the way I think instead of letting negativity cloud my attitude and actions.

Our Perceptions

 

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“Look Miss Addi!  A unicorn!!”  The three year old little girl cried excitedly as she held up an acorn for me to see.

“A paterkiller, Miss Addi!  A paterkiller!”

Our perception of something is not always true or even realistic.  We may see something one way but that doesn’t make it right.  I’m often misinformed about the big picture of life.  Something happens and I complain to God that He’s giving me more than I can handle.  That there’s no way He’s working this out for good.

But just because I say my life is “bad” doesn’t make it so.

Just because I can’t see good doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”  Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that our hearts and our views on life often don’t coincide with God’s plan: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

Psalm 27:13-14 says: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lordbe strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  I went to a nursing home last night with a good friend of mine to pass out valentines to the residents.  One of the ladies there wanted us to sit down and talk with her for a bit.  She offered us so much wisdom.  One of the things she said was: “God will always answer.  He may not give you the answer you want.  But He will always answer.”  We perceive one thing as what’s best for us but God knows what is truly for our good.  

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Even when life is hard and some trial seems to crush us, we are told that these troubles will lead to an eternal glory that will far surpass any pain or hardship we may have had to endure.  

God’s Word is our guidebook, teaching us how to approach each situation.  Just like I teach the girls I watch the right words for acorns and caterpillars, the Bible shows us that God’s ways truly are best even though we may not perceive them that way.

 

Selfishness

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I love kids, and I’ve been a babysitter/nanny for years.  Believe me, I have plenty of cute and funny stories and most of them have some sort of lesson behind them.

*that’s not a picture of any of the girls I’ve watched but it was SOOO cute so I couldn’t resist posting it 🙂

I nannied for a year for one family with three girls.  I worked a lot of hours a week–sometimes as much as 50.  I often started at 7 o’clock in the morning so I didn’t always have time to eat breakfast before I had to leave for work.  I usually would make a smoothie to bring with me for when I got hungry.  Well, one morning, the youngest girl (who was then 2) and I were going to run some errands.  I set my smoothie on the counter and went into the laundry room to start a load before we left.

I came back out a minute later to find a guilty looking little girl holding an empty cup.  She held it out to me and said, “I was thirsty, Miss Addi.”  I couldn’t help but laugh with that cute face and those puppy dog eyes she was so good at giving.

I think that’s exactly what we do whenever we’re selfish.  We focus on our wants, our hungers, our desires instead of other’s.  We forget that our selfishness can actually hurt the other person (i.e. my empty stomach :p).  We’re so intent on what we want or what we think we need that we forget to look into the other person’s interests.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Sometimes we’re so focused on ourselves that we forget that other people have wants and desires too.

Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”  Put others before yourself.  Selflessness can be shown in little things and sometimes in big things.  That could mean giving up the best seat or the last piece of dessert.  Maybe it means investing time into helping someone with something when you’d rather be watching your favorite show.

Selfishness is a heart issue that often is hard for us to see.  We don’t realize what we’re doing.  1 Corinthians 13:5 says of love that, “it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”  Did you see that?  Love is not self-seeking.

Let’s love others by putting them first and seeking their interests BEFORE our own.

How to Love People You Don’t Like

 

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This was a topic we discussed on Sunday night at my church’s YA Bible study.  You know who I’m talking about.  Maybe it’s someone who’s loud, obnoxious personality GETS ON YOUR NERVES.  Or a know-it-all who drives you crazy.  Or someone who annoys you because they have yet to learn how to be quiet.  I’m sure we can all think of someone who we have trouble liking.  Some of us have many.

The first thing we talked about at Bible study was prayer.  Pray for this person that drives you crazy.  Pray that God would bless this person and draw them to Himself.  And also pray that God would change your heart towards them.

Next, find something positive about this person.  Instead of focusing on the negatives, find something they do well.  Maybe they’re louder than you’d like but they’re also the best at reaching out to new people or making sure everyone feels included.  Maybe they seem cocky but they’re also super intelligent.  They’re always at least one thing to find, sometimes more than one.

Also, don’t forget, Christ forgave us when we were His enemy.  Ephesians 4:32 reminds us: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Christ forgave us for so much more than we will ever have to forgive someone else.  He pours out unconditional love, and we are told to do the same.  Matthew 18:23-35 reminds us of the unmerciful servant: “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.   As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him.   Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’  The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.  But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.  He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.  His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’  But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.  Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’  In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”  Don’t be like the unmerciful servant who focuses on what is owed instead of all that has been forgiven.

Lastly, I thought of one thing after Bible study.  I’m sure I annoy some people and drive them crazy.  If I want love to still be poured out towards me even though they may find it hard to like me, I need to do the same for those I find it hard to like.