Focused Forward

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of spending a few days with my daughter-in-law and son after the birth of their second child, a precious baby boy —Charles Walker.  His big sister, Emma, has a WHOLE 14 months on him!  Needless to say, my daughter-in-law has her hands full. She and my son were definitely sleep deprived and in need of some strength. And with no immediate relief in the future (and least for the next few years). Quite frankly, by the time I left to head home, I was pretty sapped myself. How easy it is to forget the energy it takes to care for two little ones under the age of 14 months. Grandmama loved every minute of my time spent with Emma and Charles, and helping to cook and clean, but I was worn out! But I also knew rest and a quiet house were in my future.

Sometimes life is like that —it just saps our strength. In times like these it’s hard to think beyond the moment (and that can be a good thing, but that’s for another post). There are times when life gets so full and busy that it feels as if things are swirling around us like a tornado. Perhaps you’re in a situation where you’re in need of a break! Just a few hours of sleep, an energy boost, just something to give you a little more strength. Emotions take over and you’re on that roller coaster. Perhaps you find yourself weighed down and weary by an ongoing situation in life, one that just won’t seem to quit. You’re having trouble moving forward, you’re stuck in a rut, and came seem to find your way out. This will definitely sap your strength and steal your joy! Let’s spend some time today in Psalm 84. There are some great lessons we can glean from this passage when our strength is sapped and we find ourselves stuck—unable to move forward!

Get Real: Focused Forward —A Lesson from Psalm 84

Take a moment to read through Psalm 84.

I love Psalm 84:7, “they go from strength to strength…”

Psalm 84 is one of the psalms of ascent in the Bible. It was sung or prayed as the Israelites would travel up to Jerusalem, once a year, to worship the Lord in the temple.

What do you think it mean to “go from strength to strength”?  As you ponder this question, read through the following passages and answer the accompanying questions and see if they give you further insight.

According to Psalm 84:1-2, what is the psalmist’s desire as he begins this his journey?

Read through Psalm 84:1-7 once again. What are they focused upon?

According to Psalm 84:5 and Psalm 81:1, where do God’s people find their strength for the long journey?

As they make their long, weary journey toward Jerusalem, they are focused on the joys and pleasures they will find once they enter the temple, the place of His presence, and spend time worshipping Him. This anticipation is what gives them strength for their journey. It is not found in their own power or abilities, but by focusing the One who is the reason for their journey. And the joy and rest they will find once they get to their destination. This is a powerful picture for us as we go through trials, hardships, difficulties and the inconveniences in life. Where is our focus? Are we relying upon our own strength and abilities, or have we cast our all upon the Lord Jesus. Are we resting in His strength and power? The Israelites have acknowledged that their strength comes from God alone. He is the Source and the Sustainer.  As believers, God’s presence indwells us through His Holy Spirit, and we have access to Him whenever we need.  We are the temple and no longer need to make that trek, a few times a year, to enter the presence of the Lord.

How does  1 Corinthians 3:16 encourage you in this area?

According to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, how are we made strong? Where should we go to find strength?

I love the encouragement I find in Hebrews 4:16!  It’s all about moving forward when I’m stuck in a rut or my strength is sapped and I find myself on that emotional roller coaster:

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. —Hebrews 4:16

With confidence we can draw near!  I don’t have to wonder if I’ll find help and God will renew my strength, I can be confident and sure of it. For me, many times just getting quiet and still with the Word of God, is a huge energy booster! Remember with Hebrews 4:12 confirms for us:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. —Hebrews 4:12

Living and active — those are words that speak of life, energy, power and strength!

We are sustained when we are weary, and given the strength and ability to continue because of God’s grace and presence in our lives. My favorite definition for the word grace in Scriptures is this one from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: God’s divine influence upon our hearts that is then reflected in our lives. It is His strength we are drawing upon. Every weakness and each wearying trial gives us another opportunity to experience God’s presence and power in our lives in a new way. We are stripped of reliance upon self and given the opportunity to rely upon the One, who not only spoke all things into existence, but holds them together and sustains them by His power. (Colossians 1:15-17).  Like the psalmist in our opening passage, look to the Lord and His strength, anticipate the joy, peace, contentment and power you will find in His glorious presence. Let Him be your focus and all else will fade in comparison. One way we can find ourselves experiencing God’s presence in our lives is through praise. Close today by praising God for who He is! Ascribe to Him the glory and greatness due His name. Sing His praises! Pray His Word back to Him and you will find yourself renewed in His strength!

This was a great reminder and encouragement for me this week. I took some time to stop and get still before the Lord. I opened up His Word. I picked up my Bible, instead of my iPad or phone to read the Word. I love technology and the resources they put at my fingertips to access any time. But there are days when I just need to hold the Word in my hands, to feel the worn leather cover and read through pages of Scripture that have been marked-up and are tear-stained, evidence of the power of God’s Word in my life through the years. It’s a great reminder of the power of God’s Word in my life and of His continuing presence and promises as I focus forward and find my strength in Him.

Close today by reading Psalm 61 and praying it back to the Lord.

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©2015 Susan Cady, susancady.com

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Susan Cady

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