June 17. Daniel 9:1-23

June 17. Daniel 9:1-23

Daniel has got to be one of my very favorite heroes of the faith. Let’s just review what happened to him. He was most likely a wealthy teen living in Jerusalem when the Babylonians conquered. He was one of the captives that made the long trek to Babylon, leaving family and home far behind. There are some hints in scripture that he may also have been castrated and therefore unable to marry and have a family. Life was not good for Daniel. It was traumatic and horrifying and he must have dealt with intense grief at all his losses.

And yet he stayed loyal to the God who allowed these atrocities to happen to him. Right from his introduction to the royal court where he and other bright young men were being “reprogrammed” in Babylonian ways, he stood up for his beliefs with integrity and a remarkable polite firmness. He prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem. Even when he knew full well that he might be thrown into a lions’ den. Which, of course, he was. He sat with hungry lions all night perfectly safe because God shut their mouths and he walked out of that den untouched and unscathed. He saw visions that made him faint dead away. He talked with angels.

So. When Daniel records a prayer, we should listen. It was not a short prayer. It was a pleading prayer complete with sackcloth and ashes. It went on and on as Daniel begged God to restore Jerusalem to His people. I love that Daniel is humble when he prays. I love the way He worships God and praises His attributes. I love that Daniel is persistent in his prayers. I often give up waaaay too soon instead of coming to the Lord again and again, asking for greater understanding and sharing my heart with Him! Let’s pray persistently and with humility, remembering to honor God for Who He is as we pray …

My verse: Daniel 9:18 “O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.”

My response: There’s an amazing humility here! Daniel has faithfully served You, Lord, all his life in a foreign land as a captive. Yet, he comes as a representative of all Israel. He doesn’t claim any merit or deservedness at all. He simply asks for mercy. Beautiful in its importunity, this prayer wholly relies on Your kindness, Lord, and not on any works that anyone should boast. Teach me, Lord, to pray with that kind of respect for You and acknowledgement of Your mercy.

June 16. Isaiah 55

June 16. Isaiah 55

Isaiah had a special calling from God to speak to God’s people about their lack of love and devotion to Him. When Isaiah wrote, the Kingdom of Israel had already been conquered and it looked like the Kingdom of Judah was going to fall to the same fate unless its people turned back to the God who loved them. There are some dark chapters in this book, as Isaiah proclaims judgment on Judah for its rebellion against God. Church tradition tells us that Isaiah’s message was not appreciated and that he is the one referred to in Hebrews 11:37, as one who was “sawed in half” as punishment for speaking out against those who lived wickedly, hurting so many others. So, Isaiah spoke out at great cost what God spoke into him to say.

Isaiah turns from the bleakness of lives lived far from the good life God laid out for them to prophecies of the Messiah in chapters 49-53. Some of the most amazing prophecies in the entire Bible are found here, as God allowed Isaiah to see ahead of time Jesus’ coming and His death and resurrection. Isaiah tells us clearly that salvation is coming, despite the stubbornness of God’s people. I hope this was a comfort to him if he really was eventually sawed in half! Did he grasp that his death would not be the end of his story? I hope so.

When we get to our chapter, Isaiah is focused on God’s love for all people and His rich invitation to come to Him and receive welcome and nourishment and God’s patient and enduring love. It’s an amazing testament to the infinite patience of God, who had spelled out how to live right and then watched His people mess up over and over again, refusing what was good and choosing what would only hurt them. I can’t wait to hear what verse you chose, friend. They are all so rich with blessing and meaning!

My verse: Isaiah 55:3 “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.”

My response: Lord, give me ears that are wide open, eager to hear You speak. Help me to listen and follow the path that leads to abundant life. Thank You for an everlasting, unfailing love that has me resting secure and so so grateful this morning …

June 15. Psalm 100

June 15. Psalm 100

Such a simple psalm. Only five verses. However, Such Verses!! What a call to worship and adore. I love this psalm. Let’s unpack its message verse by verse and apply it to our daily lives.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! When was the last time you got LOUD with your praise? Perhaps that’s not your style. That’s okay. However, I love the passion in this verse. We should be filled to the top and overflowing with HUGE JOY that we have a God who gave us life and who loves us. It’s okay to shout with joy, y’all. 😊 Maybe we should do a little dance while we are at it. Our God is not a solemn stickler for quiet, although there is certainly a time to be silent before Him. Evidently, according to Psalm 100:1, there’s also a time to be LOUD.

Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. I could spend a long time listing the reasons we worship the Lord with gladness and joy: forgiveness of sins, fresh new starts, a love that is everlasting, a God who counts the very hairs on our heads because He is that interested in us …

Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. We are to actively proclaim that our God IS God – the God of Heaven and earth. We need to out-loud speak that as we pray sometimes, along with a humble acknowledgement of Who is the Shepherd. Hint: Not Us. We are sheep, in need of guidance.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. We are called in verse 4 to not only praise God for Who He is, but also offer thanksgiving for all He has done for us and given to us. Do I thank God enough for all the everyday blessings? I need to do this more.


For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
I could spend a long time meditating on this. God is good, even if the world right now is not. We who know Him and who have asked Him to be our Savior, get to be loved … forever. As a grandmother now, this last part reverberates with me. I can pray for my grands and their grandchildren, should the Lord tarry, that they would also come to know Him, for His faithfulness continues to all generations.

My verse: Psalm 100:3 “Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

My response: Such profound words. The truth is, Lord, that You made us. Rightfully, we are Yours. You are the shepherd and we’re the sheep. That’s the reality. Once we accept that this is true and acknowledge who is rightfully in charge … all else falls into place and there is JOY!

June 14. Psalm 91

June 14. Psalm 91

Today, we get to explore the psalm that holds our key verse at Sweet Selah Ministries. We chose Psalm 91:4 to describe our mission and vision from the Word of God: “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” It’s why our logo has a big and feathery feather covering our name and it’s why you find a bitty bird happily perched on the “a” in Selah! Our desire is that we would take the time to know God and love Him more and more. When we spend time with God, we discover that He does, indeed, cover us with His protection. He is the only safe place. He welcomes us to nestle in and be with Him–that close. We learn who He is from His Word, and that is clear from the last part of the verse where we are reminded of His faithful promises that literally protect us and arm us against the enemy of our souls. We love this verse!

Psalm 91 is challenging, though, isn’t it? Not everyone escapes disaster, do they? Even those who follow Christ and have the right to “nestle close” are sometimes tortured, sometimes flattened by illness or other disasters. We don’t get a magic pass against the trials of this world. In fact, Jesus basically told us to expect trouble in John 16:33! So, what do these verses mean? Well, they mean that ultimately, nothing can permanently get us. No disease is fatal because we live eternally. No disaster can squash us because this short little life here is but a blink of an eye compared to eternity with Him. We can rest safely under His wings, asking for protection, and trusting that no matter what happens, ultimately we are safe. He has numbered our days and will call us home how He chooses. We can live in the peace and trust of that thought. I can’t wait to hear how God spoke to you through this psalm!

My verse: Psalm 91:14 “The LORD says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my Name.”

My response: As I pondered this verse, I found these truths and laid them out numerically:

  1. This is a great promise from You, directly. “The LORD says …”
  2. Sometimes troubles come. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need rescue. Therefore, I shouldn’t be shocked by trouble. Instead, I should wait with the hope of rescue. You will rescue.
  3. Who do You rescue? The one who LOVES you!! Not the one who performs great deeds of valor for You – the one who loves you. I do love You, Lord. Help me to love You more.
  4. You are my protection even in my times of trouble.
  5. Who do you protect? Those who TRUST in Your Name.

Jesus. I whisper Your Name right now and I am filled with joy and awe.

Bumper Crop

Today’s Musing is from Marlene McKenna.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. —Romans 15:13 NIV

Romans 15:13 has warmed me through many spiritual winters. Each time, God extends the roots of hope deeper into my heart, bearing fruit that is brighter and taller than the previous spring. This year, He has produced a bumper crop of beauty and healing that stands as tall as the tulips in my neighborhood that proudly flaunt their colors as they sway in the cool breeze and bring joy to all who pass by.

This “winter” was triggered by an overflowing plate of responsibility. The final straw was putting our house up for sale. The realtor’s checklist in hand, I tackled each to-do on the list with fervor until late one evening. Then I lost it.

“Why aren’t you helping me?” I asked my husband. “I still have to mop the floors, and I can’t until you vacuum. You said you would help. Don’t offer if you don’t mean it!”

“Uh. I was going to vacuum in the morning. The floor doesn’t have to be mopped tonight.” Apparently, my husband didn’t want a ride on my crazy train.

What a novel idea. It’s good enough, and it really doesn’t matter. Why am I doing this to myself? I found out the next morning.

My Bible was open to Romans as I digested the reality of a vow I had made as a young adult. “I will never be rejected again.” Six little words that have swung me around by my hair and slammed me into a wall many times. My compulsion for perfection is paralyzing, not to mention, impossible! Yet, like an abusive spouse, it rages and beats me up with “have-to’s”: You have to be a perfect friend. You have to be a perfect spouse. You have to be a perfect mother. You have to check everything off the list. You can’t make a mistake. And, the real kicker—you have to be a perfect Christian. This, my friend, is not a hopeful, peaceful, or joyful way to live. In fact, it’s hellish.

After confessing the sin in my heart that was disguising itself as self-protection, God reminded me of His promise in Romans. “I am the God of hope. I will fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Me, not in yourself or your abilities or your goodness. I desire for you to overflow with hope by the power of My Spirit because I love you—not because you are perfect, but because you are My child. You don’t have to earn My love because you can never lose it.”

This promise is so beautiful! But I have to sadly admit, I put a star by the verse, closed my Bible and went about my day without truly understanding how profound it was. That evening, I went to Bible study, and the leader read a snippet from David Jeremiah’s book, Forward: Discovering God’s Presence and Purpose in Your Tomorrow. He suggests inserting your name into Romans 15:13. (Go ahead and try it now.) Mine looked like this: May the God of hope fill Marlene with all joy and peace as she trusts in Him so that Marlene may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. The next day, I opened a “random” devotional, and there at the bottom of the page was God’s promise—Romans 15:13. Later, it popped up on a website. Okay, Lord. I hear You! He was offering me a bouquet of hope. Not only certain expectation, but a confidence that the rug would never be pulled out from under me again. (That is an exact explanation in Strong’s dictionary for one of the Hebrew words for trust.) What a relief! [Whew!]

Since that day, I have rested in God’s promise. I am trusting Him to give me rest—and trusting Him because joy and peace are my inheritance as a child of God. I know I won’t always do it perfectly [Ha!], but His hope is poured into my heart and will produce fruit.

Just like those flowers I enjoy in my neighborhood that were planted on purpose (most likely caged in chicken wire so squirrels couldn’t dig them up), God’s Word needs to be planted on purpose too (and caged in chicken wire so it won’t be stolen)! These life-giving verses, captured and buried deep in our hearts will foster faith and bring joy and peace—to you and to all who happen to pass by.

Lord, You are the God of Hope! Fill me with joy and peace as I trust in You. Give me faith to trust You, Lord! Create in me a heart that overflows with hope by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Marlene is a wife, mom, and empty nester. Her passion is writing, but she also enjoys golf, travel, and walks on the beach. She loves teaching a discipleship class and longs for all her sisters-in-the-Lord to find freedom in Christ.

God is gracious,
Marlene

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision
To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

 Mission
To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Week Three Introduction video

It's time to look at Week Three. Pour yourself a cup of somethin' and curl up in your favorite chair and listen as Sharon shares the highlights of the week ahead. We are SO glad you are here and that you decided to join this study!

June 13. Psalm 63

June 13. Psalm 63

This Psalm. It’s one of my personal favorites. I love that we are introduced to it with an explanation of when David wrote it. David wrote it not from a lush palace or even a happy field full of fluffy sheep. He wrote it in the wilderness of Judah. Charles Swindoll describes it like this: “Deep ravines slice through the landscape. Rocky terrain hinders smooth and quick travel. Barren slopes with scant vegetation warn those seeking life. … the wilderness of Judah has been virtually unchanged for thousands of years.” David was in a desolate place when he wrote this psalm. A place where finding water and food would be incredibly difficult.

I have had my own wilderness times, when everything felt hard, and hindrances surrounded me. This psalm has often brought me comfort and taught me much about how to handle hard times. David ran toward God in the wilderness, not away from Him. He earnestly sought God. He yearned for God and he remembered times of praise and worship in the temple. In a wilderness time, it’s harder to “feel” God’s presence. We are suffering and suffering hurts. So, like David, we need to earnestly seek God in those times and not give up just because we are parched, and God feels far away. Also like David, we need to praise God even when we feel emptied and hollowed. David declares his decision and choice to praise God all his life, whether it’s going well or going poorly. He imagines himself in verse 7 as a small one nestled under the big strong wing of God Almighty, and he clings with all his might to God’s big hand that David, in faith, believes is right there for him to hold. When I am in the wilderness, this psalm reminds me to choose faith and trust. This psalm helps me hold on tight to God’s ever-present hand, and to nestle close under His strong wings. I hope it has blessed you, too, as you have read it today.

My verse: Psalm 63:1 “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.”

My response: Oh, how David loved You! When he felt far away from You, he “earnestly searched” for You. He wanted to be close to You at all times. I want to love You more and more like that! I want to “sing for joy in the shadow of your wings” (vs 7) just like him. Because God? You are also my God!! How thankful I am for that.

Week Three Readings

It's almost time for Week Three, dear fellow study-ers of the Word. This is "transition week" as we leave the Old Testament and learn new lessons in the New Testament. We have some amazing passages to study this week. Keep on keeping on, dear one. May each day be one of discovery and delight.

June 12. Psalm 51

June 12. Psalm 51

David had broken some very big commandments. He’d lied. He’d committed adultery. He’d murdered. It doesn’t get much worse than that, does it? He had lived in that miserable place of remorse and hiding because of that sin and I suspect it was almost a relief when the prophet Nathan showed up and called him out on it. Finally, someone said the truth to the king. No more tippy toeing around it, pretending having Bathsheba as the newest queen was just your average acquisition of a bride. The servants might have kept their mouths shut in order to keep their jobs and not make the king angry, but Nathan worked for God. He cut through the morass of lies and deceit and told David point blank that he had sinned, and God was angry.

Ever been there? Ever been wracked with shame, trying to pretend you are a “good guy” when you know you did a terrible thing? I have. It’s an awful place to be! There is no peace in hiding sin and thinking you can hide from God. David’s psalm is an incredibly accurate picture of both the problem of hiding and the relief and freedom in “coming clean” from sin. It’s really a wonderful model of how we should confess sin and run to God asking for the forgiveness He offers so freely to all who come! It moves me every time I read it. It reminds me to run swiftly to God when I sin. There is no need to wallow!! That wastes time I could be spending in service to Him! I don’t ever want to put distance between me and my loving Father. Let’s keep short accounts, friends. Let’s run to Him right away with our shame and guilt and be washed clean, ready to serve Him clothed in His righteousness again.

My verse: Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”

My response: You are far from the prideful and self-sufficient, but so near to the broken-hearted! Lord, when I’ve sinned help me to swiftly come to You in full acknowledgement, helpless unless You restore me. How amazed I am that You always do restore a broken and repentant heart. “I need Thee, Oh I need Thee … every hour I need Thee …”