After a recent move, Mabel’s seven-year-old son, Ryan, fussed as he prepared to attend a summer camp at his new school. Mabel encouraged him, assuring him that she understood change was hard. But one morning, Ryan’s out-of-character grumpiness seemed excessive. With compassion, Mabel asked, “What’s bothering you, Son?”
Staring out of the window, Ryan shrugged. “I don’t know, Mom. I just have too many feelings.”
Mabel’s heart ached as she comforted him. Desperate for a way to help him, she shared that the move was hard for her too. She assured Ryan that God would stay close, that He knows everything, even when they couldn’t understand or voice their frustrations. “Let’s set up a visit with your friends before school starts,” she said. They made plans, grateful that God understands even when His children have “too many feelings.”
The writer of Psalm 147 experienced overwhelming emotions throughout his faith journey and recognized the benefits of praising the all-knowing Maker and Sustainer of all, the Healer of physical and emotional wounds (vv. 1–6). He praised God for the ways He provides and “delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (v. 11).
When we’re struggling to make sense of our ever-changing emotions, we don’t have to feel alone or discouraged. We can rest in the unconditional love and unlimited understanding of our unchanging God.
During his 1962 visit to Mexico, Bill Ashe helped fix windmill hand pumps at an orphanage. Fifteen years later, inspired by a deep desire to serve God by helping provide clean water to villages in need, he founded a nonprofit organization. He said, “God awoke me to ‘make the most of the time’ by finding others with a desire to bring safe drinking water to the rural poor.” Later, having learned about the global need for safe water through the requests of thousands of pastors and evangelists from over 100 countries, Bill invited others to join the ministry’s efforts.
God welcomes us to team up to serve with Him and others in various ways. When the people of Corinth argued over which teachers they preferred, the apostle Paul affirmed his role as a servant of Christ and a teammate of Apollos, fully dependent on God for spiritual growth (1 Corinthians 3:1-7). He reminds us that all work has God-given value (v. 8). Acknowledging the privilege of working with others while serving the Lord, Paul encourages us to build each other up as God transforms us in love (v. 9).
Though our mighty Father doesn’t need our help to accomplish His great works, He equips us and invites us to partner with Him.
My anger percolated when a woman mistreated, blamed, and gossiped about me. I wanted everyone to know what she’d done—wanted her to suffer as I’d suffered because of her behavior. I steamed with resentment until a headache pierced my temples. But as I began praying for my pain to go away, the Holy Spirit convicted me. How could I plot revenge while begging God for relief? If I believed the Lord would care for me, why wouldn’t I trust Him to handle this situation? Knowing that people who are hurting often hurt other people, I asked God to help me forgive the woman and work toward reconciliation.
The psalmist David understood the difficulty of trusting God while enduring unfair treatment. Though David did his best to be a loving servant, King Saul succumbed to jealousy and wanted to murder him (1 Samuel 24:1-2). David suffered while God worked things out and prepared him to take the throne, but still he chose to honor God instead of seeking revenge (vv. 3-7). He did his part to reconcile with Saul and left the results in God’s hands (vv. 8-22)
When it feels like people get away with wrongdoing, we struggle with the injustice. But with God’s mercy at work on our hearts and the hearts of others, we can forgive as He’s forgiven us and receive the blessings He’s prepared for us.
A severe thunderstorm passed through our town, leaving high humidity and dark skies in its wake. I took our dog, Callie, for an evening stroll. The mounting challenges of our cross-country move grew heavier on my mind. Frustrated by the countless ways things had strayed so far from our high hopes and expectations, I slowed to let Callie sniff the grass. I listened to the creek that runs beside our house. Tiny lights flashed on and off while hovering over the patches of wildflowers climbing up the creek’s bank. Fireflies.
The Lord wrapped me in peace as I watched the blinking lights cutting through the darkness. I thought of the psalmist David singing, “You,
Whether we’re enduring the unpredictable storms in life or enjoying the stillness after the rains have passed, the peace of God’s constant presence lights our way through the darkness. Our living God will always be our strength, our refuge, our sustainer, and our deliverer.
The Holy Oak stood next to Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in New Jersey for more than 600 years until it had to be removed. At its prime, the twisting branches spanned high and wide. Cool breezes rustled its green leaves and acorns. The sun peeked through wind-blown gaps, creating dancing glimmers of light in the shade below its canopy. But beneath the ground’s surface lay its true magnificence—its root system. An oak’s main root grows vertically, securing a reliable supply of nourishment. From that taproot, a mass of roots spreads horizontally to supply the tree with a lifetime of moisture and nutrients. This intricate root system often grows more massive than the tree it supports and serves as a lifeline and an anchor for stabilizing the trunk.
Like the mighty oak, most of our life-giving growth occurs beneath the surface. When Jesus explained the parable of the sower to His disciples, He emphasized the importance of being firmly planted in a personal relationship with the Father. As we grow in the knowledge of God as revealed through the Scriptures, our faith roots are sustained by His Spirit. God helps His followers thrive through everchanging circumstances, trials, persecution, and worry (Matthew 13:18-23).
Our loving Father nourishes our hearts with His Word. As His Spirit transforms our character, He makes sure the fruit of our deep-rooted faith becomes evident to people around us.
When the schoolyear began, fourteen-year-old C.J. would hop off the bus every afternoon and dance down his driveway. His mom recorded and shared videos of C.J.’s afterschool boogie time. He danced because he enjoyed life and “making people happy” with every move. One day, two garbage collectors took time out of their busy work schedule to stomp, spin, and sway with the young boy who inspires others to dance with him. This trio demonstrates the power of sincere and infectious joy.
The writer of Psalm 149 describes the original source of enduring and unconditional joy—God. The psalmist encourages God’s people to join together and “sing to the
Our adoring Father created us and sustains the universe. He delights in us just because we are His beloved children. He designed us, knows us, and invites us into a personal relationship with Him. What an honor! Our loving and living God is our reason for everlasting joy. We can rejoice in the gift of His constant presence and be grateful for every day our Maker has given us.
After astronauts set the Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, more than half a billion people heard Neil Armstrong’s voice transmitted from 240,000 miles away from Earth. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he said as he became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. Other space travelers followed, including the commander of the last Apollo mission, Gene Cernan. “There I was, and there you are, the Earth—dynamic, overwhelming, and I felt . . . it was just too beautiful to happen by accident,” Cernan said, “There has to be somebody bigger than you and bigger than me.” Even from their unique view in deep space, these men understood their smallness in comparison to the vastness of the universe.
The prophet Jeremiah also considered the immensity of God as Creator and Sustainer of the earth and beyond. The Maker of all promised to reveal Himself intimately as He offered His people love, forgiveness, and hope (Jeremiah 31:33–34). Jeremiah affirms God’s enormity as He who “appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night” (v. 35). Our Creator and Lord Almighty will reign above all as He works to redeem all of His people (vv. 36–37).
We’ll never finish exploring the immeasurable vastness of the heavens and depths of the earth’s foundations. But we can stand in awe at the complexity of the universe and trust the maker of the moon—and everything else.
Years ago, my four-year-old son gave me a framed wooden heart mounted on a metal plate with the word forever painted in its center. “I love you forever, Mommy,” he said.
I thanked him with a hug. “I love you more.”
That priceless gift still assures me of my son’s never-ending love. On tough days, God uses that sweet present to comfort and encourage me as He affirms I’m deeply loved.
The frame also reminds me of the gift of God’s everlasting love, as expressed throughout His Word and confirmed by His Spirit. We can trust God’s unchanging goodness and sing grateful praises that confirm His enduring love, as the psalmist does (Psalm 136:1). We can exalt the Lord as greater than and above all (vv. 2–3), as we reflect on His endless wonders and unlimited understanding (v. 4). The God who loves us forever is the conscious and caring Maker of the heavens and earth, who maintains control of time itself (vv. 5–9).
We can rejoice because the everlasting love the psalmist sang about is the same continuing love our all-powerful Creator and Sustainer pours into the lives of His children today. No matter what we’re facing, the One who made us and remains with us strengthens us by asserting He loves us unconditionally and completely. Thank You, Lord, for the countless reminders of Your endless and life-transforming love!
When the alarm on Shelley’s phone goes off every day at 3:16 in the afternoon, she takes a praise break. She thanks God and acknowledges His goodness. Although she communicates with God throughout the day, Shelley loves to take this break in her schedule because it helps her celebrate her intimate relationship with Him.
Inspired by her joyful devotion, I decided to set a specific time each day to thank Christ for His sacrifice on the cross and to pray for those who have yet to be saved. I wonder what it would be like if all believers in Jesus stopped to praise Him in their own way and pray for others every day.
The image of a beautiful wave of worship rolling to the ends of the earth resounds in the words of Psalm 67. The psalmist pleads for God’s grace, proclaiming his desire to make the Lord’s name great in all the nations (vv. 1-2). He sings, “May the peoples praise You, God; may all the peoples praise You” (v. 3). He celebrates God’s sovereign rule and faithful guidance (v. 4). As a living testimony of the Lord’s great love and abundant blessings, the psalmist leads God’s people into jubilant praise (vv. 5–6).
God’s continued faithfulness toward His beloved children inspires us to acknowledge Him. As we do, others can join us in trusting Him, revering Him, following Him, and acclaiming Him as Lord.