April 23, 2017

Who Am I

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Over time You’ve healed so much in me, and I am living proof
That although my darkest hour had come
Your light could still shine through

Though at times it’s just enough to cast a shadow on the wall
I am grateful that You’ve shined Your light on me at all

Who am I, that You would love me so gently
Who am I, that You would recognize my name
Who am I, that You would speak to me so softly
Conversation with the Lord Most High…who am I

Oh, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see”
And the more I sing that sweet old song, the more I understand
That I do not comprehend this love that’s coming from Your hand

Grace, grace; God’s grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace; God’s great grace
Grace that is greater than all my sin

Lord, Who am I, who am I
Lord Who am I, who am I

Point Of Grace
written by Nathan and Christy Nockels

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In Jeremiah 31:3 we hear God tell us of His love.

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore with lovingingkindness I have drawn you.

We also are reminded of God’s love in Psalm 36.

How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!
The children of men take refuge
and put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.

As well as in 1 John 4:9-10.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us,
that God sent His only Son into the world,
so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Oh, the incomparable, unconditional, amazing LOVE that God has for us!  Throughout the Scriptures we are reminded over and over of God’s love for us!

And, in spite of our actions at times, God is always faithful and keeps His promises. Whether we ever believe them or not. Think about the children of Israel…they knew of God’s promise to lead them, protect them, guide them, feed them, guard them. But they were so often disobedient to His simple commands.  As such, because of His compassionate and abiding love for them, God had to help them to learn…as He will with us, too.

You must carefully follow every command I am giving you today,
so that you may live and increase,
and may enter and take possession of the land the Lord swore to your fathers.
Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey
these 40 years in the wilderness,
so that He might humble you and test you
to know what was in your heart,
whether or not you would keep His commands.
Deuteronomy 8:1 and 2

“As we hear and believe all that God tells us—as we intentionally think these truths and begin to act accordingly—He unfolds the true personality He designed us to be.”

ChristLife, Mrs. Ruth Myers, page 60

(Oh! Don’t you just love that!)  And so we learn more of the Truth as we begin to believe what God says about us. And as we trust Him and take Him at His Word, we will begin to be freed from lies and misconceptions we have held in our hearts.

But the fact remains that we need to be diligent in reminding ourselves constantly of these Truths and promises.  One would think that, with all the many, many, many examples and proofs that God so graciously shows us about how very much He loves us, we would be convinced.  However God is equally as patient with us as He loves us. The negative images that we have allowed into our hearts can be replaced by the Truth of just “Who we ARE” in Christ.  But it takes work and effort on our part. Thankfully, we are not left to do this on our own. God can and will help us through His Holy Spirit! Remember to pray, pray, pray!

Friends, I hope that the beautiful lyrics of this song can be a tool for you to use to pray and sing your heart out to God. Your heavenly Father has MUCH to say to you…MUCH to remind you of…MUCH healing and deliverance and blessing to give to you as you seek Him!

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Romans 15:4 ~ Hope

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{This final week of 2015 we will be re-visiting some of my personal favorite themes on which our wonderful writers have shared with us throughout this past year.  I hope that you (as I was, too!) will be encouraged and reminded of God’s faithfulness and loving care through their inspired words.}

For whatever was written in former days
was written for our instruction,
that through endurance
and through the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have hope.
Romans 15:4 ESV

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This week, here on the Seeking Him devotional blog, we have begun a mini-series on the subject of HOPE.  Our devotional writers have brought light to the verse highlighted above truly bringing us ‘the encouragement of the Scriptures.’  Here are a few of their thoughts….

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In Positive Attitude, Tina wrote about a woman in the Old Testament who had great hope…

“God gave hope to Hannah.  Hannah was barren.  She went to the temple and prayed for God to take away her shame.  When the prophet, Eli saw her praying, he thought that she was drunk instead and questioned to her. When she explained she was praying for what she requested of the Lord yearly, Eli sent her on her way, asking God to grant her request.  And God did.  She gave birth to a son, Samuel, whom she dedicated to the Lord.  She was also blessed with other sons and daughters for her faithfulness. (Click here to read this account.)

God still shows up in this way today…There is power in prayer and belief.  Within these lies our hope.”

In Hope Waits, Ahmee shared that having hope means we wait…

“Waiting goes hand in hand with hope.

Sometimes it’s a matter of seconds…sometimes it’s a matter of years.  Hope can be lost.  Hope can be found.  We can temporarily lose sight of the hope that we hold.  Hope is something that we have to focus on; something that is actually intentional.  Hope helps you keep a smile on your face when it’s raining.  Hope is a matter of perspective, but also, knowing that we are loved by the Creator of the world who only wants good for us.  With God, the hope we have has a real chance of actualizing.  Otherwise, we are just wishing for good things to happen.

God has promised us many things in His Word, and because of this it is possible for us to have hope.”

In Spiritual Hope, Ann reminded us of the hope that the Word of God gives us…

“The Word of God always gives comfort and strength.
The Word of God is an oasis of hope.

Believing the Word of God and living by it takes us from the arena of hope into faith.

And hope maketh not ashamed
because the love of God
is shed abroad in our hearts
by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Romans 5:5

That means hope never disappoints. The reason it does not disappoint is that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Hope is one of the three creative principles of the human spirit. They are also abiding principles.

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Meaning that when all else fails, these three principles will remain and not pass away.  They are given to us and are in our spirits.  We are to choose to act on faith, to always be hopeful towards God, and to walk in love.”

In Circle of Hope, Cynda gave us a great example of how biblical hope works…

Scripture
Purpose = Instruction
Result = Hope

“The purpose of Scripture is our instruction.  The Scriptures encourage us to persevere, to endure.  They offer us comfort and give us hope. Psalm 119 reiterates how closely hope is tied to the instruction of Scripture. Look at the following verses:

Do not snatch Your Word of truth from me,
for Your regulations are my only hope.
verse 43 NLT

You are my Refuge and my Shield;
Your Word is my source of hope.
verse 114 NLT

This is the circle of hope—the more we seek God through His Word…the stronger our hope becomes; the stronger our hope…the more we seek God.  This serves us well in times of trouble.  Instead of being filled with despair, we can remember the nature of God and be filled with hope.”

Fear Not, My Child

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In myself I’ve failed the Lord
Then was afraid to try once more
That fire in my soul had fled
That’s when Jesus came and said

My spirit gives the strength you need
To raise you up and to succeed
And for vision in the night
To you, I’ll give these words of light

Fear not, my child
I’m with you always
I feel every pain
And every tear I see

Fear not, my child
I’m going to be with you always
I know how to take care of
What belongs to me

He said, My child, don’t look behind
Discouragement is all you’ll find
Don’t watch the waves that roll the sea
But just focus your eyes on Me

And I will make you strong and then
Your shattered courage I will mend
And if you fall and should get hurt
Remember these eternal words

Helen Baylor
written by Carman Licciardello with Kim Boyce
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There are more than 100 records in the Bible where God spoke these words of comfort and encouragement—“Do not fear…” and “Fear not….”  A clear statement of His heart towards His people, wouldn’t you say?  But being fearful (afraid, worried, scared) is a temptation that almost everyone falls into at one time or another.  For some of us it takes determined effort to cling to God’s promises that He will always be with us and that He will take care of us.  Me…I find myself falling into this category.  Anyone else?

But we DO have God’s promises…so knowing the Truth, and acting on it, is critical to dealing with our fears and worries.  And we DO know where to find the Truth—in the Bible.  Below are just a very few…oh, there are SO many…Scriptures to hold in our minds and our hearts. Perhaps you could write them out on index cards and keep them where you can find them easily—in your Bible, or on your desk, perhaps tacked up where you can see them easily.  The point is to be reminded and to be encouraged and to ‘fear not.’

Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone.
Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
and He delivers them.
Psalm 34:7

So don’t be afraid;
you are worth more than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:31

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don’t be troubled or afraid.
John 14:27

This is My command—be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.
Psalm 56:3

In God, whose Word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 56:4

He will cover you with His feathers.
He will shelter you with His wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Psalms 91:4-8

They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
Psalm 112:7

David, who God called ‘a man after My own heart,’ dealt with much temptation to fear throughout his life.  But David was sure that his LORD was always with him, even when he was (actually) alone.  Listen to his confession of trust and confidence in his Lord:

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread?
The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes,
came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me, [even then] in this will I be confident.
For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter;
in the secret place of His tent will He hide me; He will set me high upon a rock.
And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies round about me;
in His tent I will offer sacrifices and shouting of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
[What, what would have become of me] had I not believed
that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!
Wait and hope for and expect the Lord;
be brave and of good courage
and let your heart be stout and enduring.
Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

Excerpts from Psalm 27

May we each also confess, as David did, that ‘the Lord IS my Light and my Salvation…the Refuge and Stronghold of my life’.   May we also be assured that ‘my heart shall NOT fear…and in this will I be confident’.  May we ‘offer sacrifices and shouting of joy…and sing praises to the Lord’.   I pray for each of you that you, too, will ‘wait and hope for and expect the Lord; that you will be brave and of good courage…and that your heart will be enduring’.

And that you will know that this is God’s heart toward you…

Fear not, my child
I’m going to be with you always
I know how to take care of
What belongs to me

El Shaddai

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

El Shaddai, El Shaddai
El-Elyon na Adonai
Age to age You’re still the same
By the power of the Name
El Shaddai, El Shaddai
Erkamka na Adonai
We will praise and lift You high, El Shaddai

Through Your love and through the ram
You saved the son of Abraham
Through the power of Your hand
Turned the sea into dry land
To the outcast on her knees
You were the God who really sees
And by Your might
You set Your children free

Through the years You made it clear
That the time of Christ was near
Though the people failed to see
What Messiah ought to be
Though Your Word contained the plan
They just could not understand
Your most awesome work was done
Through the frailty of Your Son

Michael Card
written along with John Thompson

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We are most identified by characteristics and names that identify who we are.  For example, who I am—Coleen—can be described in many ways: wife, mom, tata (grandmother), daughter, sister, friend, worshipper, singer, baker, writer, pray-er, crafter, lover, listener, etc.  But The Great I AM has described Himself throughout the Scriptures with many names—Yahweh (YHWH), ELohim, Adonai, LORD, Jehovah, JAH, EL Shaddai….  I believe He has used these (and additional) names to graciously help us to understand more of His character.  The Great I AM makes Himself known to us through the words of His Word, as well as through His Creation, through His Spirit, through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, through the words of the prophets—in oh so many ways!

One of my most favorite characteristics of I AM is that He IS God AlmightyEl Shaddai.  Hearing this name brings comfort and peace to my heart!  The fact and truth that Almighty God/El Shaddai loves me (and you, too!) and perfectly provides His care, provision, protection, supply of my (your!) needs is so thrilling to my soul!  The most common understanding of the title El Shaddai is “God Who is Almighty.”  There are 48 times in the Scriptures where God calls Himself by the name El Shaddai.  Let’s look at just a couple of these records.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old,
the Lord appeared to him and said,
I AM the Almighty God <El Shaddai>;
walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect.
Genesis 17:1

This is the very first record in the Scriptures where I AM identifies Himself in this way.  God Almighty/El Shaddai was about to reveal to Abram a part of the covenant He was making with him.  And this is where He promises the 99 year old Abram that he and his 90 year old wife, Sarai, would be having a son!!!  This is such a beautiful record!  (You can read the complete record here.)  Only El Shaddai could have made an eternal covenant such as this.  Only El Shaddai could have made a deadened womb to nurture life and bring forth a baby.  Only El Shaddai — God Almighty!

Another occurrence where the Great I AM is called by the title El Shaddai is in Psalm 91.  The psalmist declares,

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty <El Shaddai>.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my Refuge and my Fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalms 91: 1-2

Perhaps you, too, rejoice in your heart of hearts that El Shaddai, Who is the Great I AMloves and cares for you in the very same ways He has always cared for His people.  He is God and He does not change.

Would you share here in the comments below about this characteristic (or a different one) of the Great I AM that is important to you?  I would love to hear about it! 

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Almighty God,  El Shaddai, we praise You and thank You and love You with our whole hearts!   You always show Yourself mighty on behalf of Your children!  You are our Refuge and our Fortress—our God in Whom we trust!   May we always be cognizant of Who You are…the Great I AM.  May we be excited to read of and to remember Your awesome acts and works that are recorded in the Scriptures.  May they ever and always encourage us to never doubt You, El Shaddai—You never change!  ‘Erkamka na, Adonai!’  Praying in Your Son, Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Erkamka na, Adonai! ~ translated~ I love You, Lord!

Turkey Tortilla Soup

A fitting final recipe contribution, I think.  When looking back through the past three years of healthy but oh-so-yummy recipes I’ve had the joy to blog here on At Home with GCH, soup recipes seemed to be my most often written.  (Makes sense, since my husband Robert loves soup more than anything!)  If you would like to review any of the others, just type ‘SoupPalooza’ into our search bar on the GCH homepage.

Now this recipe is one I have never made…but I know that many of you are fans of Chicken Tortilla Soup.   I switched it up  because I had a nice batch of homemade turkey stock…and some leftover turkey, too.  (This recipe could just as easily be made with traditional chicken and chicken broth or stock.)  And for those of you who like things spicy…simply add the whole can of chipotle in adobo sauce or a little finely-diced jalapeno tossed in when sauteeing the veggies.  Enjoy!

tkytortillasoup

Turkey Tortilla Soup

2 T olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 or 2 stalks celery, diced
1 red AND 1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, small dice
3 T chopped garlic
1 to 2 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped (from a can)*
1 can chunky-diced tomatoes, 28 ounces
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced green chiles
5 cups turkey stock (homemade, or boxed)
2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
2 cans black beans
2-3 cups shredded leftover turkey
garnishes:
2 cups corn tortilla chips, broken up into large pieces
1 cup shredded Monterey or pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 red raw onion, chopped
1 ripe avocado, diced and dressed with the juice of 1/2 lemon

  • heat the olive oil in a medium stockpot over medium heat
  • add the onion, celery, zucchini, and diced peppers; cook, stirring occasionally ‘til softened and just beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes
  • add the chopped garlic, and seasonings, and cook for an additional 1 minute, stirring constantly
  • stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, green chiles, and stock; scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any cooked-on bits
  • bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, ‘til the broth has reduced by about a third…20 to 30 minutes
  • add in the corn, beans, and shredded turkey; continue to gently simmer ‘til heated through
  • carefully taste and add s&p if needed
  • turn heat off, and let sit for 15 minutes or so; prep garnishes while you wait
  • serve soup with garnishes alongside

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God loves you!  ♥  (Don’t ever forget that!)

♥  coleen

Hebrews 13:15 ~ A Sacrifice of Praise

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{This final week of 2015 we will be re-visiting some of my personal favorite themes on which our wonderful writers have shared with us throughout this past year.  I hope that you (as I was, too!) will be encouraged and reminded of God’s faithfulness and loving care through their inspired words.}

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times
offer up to God a sacrifice of praise,
which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge
and confess and glorify His name.

Hebrews 13:15

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Oh, what encouragement I have received this week as I’ve read daily through the Seeking Him devotional!  (You, too?)  Ann, Ahmee, Clella, Cynda, and Tina have each written devotionals reminding me of the importance of offering my praise—a sacrifice of praise—to our wonderful Father God and drawing me closer to the One Who I do seek to praise and glorify!

In The Fruit Of Lips, Cynda took a good in-depth look at just what a ‘sacrifice of praise’ is and asked a really good question…along with a few answers she found.

“But why are we compelled (Hebrews 13:15) to do it ‘constantly and at all times’?  Here are just a few of the reasons I found:

  • it glorifies God and pleases Him
  • (because of) His enduring love and goodness
  • because Jesus did
  • it is our shared inheritance

But, I think my favorite reason for giving thanks is to tell others and remind myself of all He has done in my life.“

Then, Ann gave us some great reasons in Praise At All Times just WHY we praise God—

  • for what He has done (Psalm 9:11)
  • a four-fold reason— because we are “…a chosen people, a loyal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God….” (1 Peter 2:9)
  • and, as a commandment (Psalm 63:7)

She wrote, “So we are all to praise God; let us make a choice of doing so in the morning …in the afternoon …and in the evening time!”

Clella shared a wonderful translation of Hebrews 13:15 with us in Proclaim Allegiance To His Name.  She wrote,

“The New Living Translation says it this way:

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus
a continual sacrifice of praise to God,
proclaiming our allegiance to His Name.

The phase ‘proclaiming our allegiance to His Name’ popped out at me.  It sounded so different than the other translations that refer to ‘the fruit of lips that confess His Name.’  I just had to do a little research to understand what this verse is really saying.

– to “confess” God’s Name is to declare, state, acknowledge His Name
– to “proclaim allegiance” is to announce publicly, or to declare something one considers important with due emphasis, which in this case would be one’s loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior.”

In Verbal Sacrifice, Ahmee brought us back to the central element in Hebrews 13:15 of ‘sacrifice.’  She reminded us of reasons we have to offer our sacrifice of praise.

“Those days when you don’t feel like giving praise are the days when praise is a sacrifice. When we praise God even in our less-than-favorable moments we are saying to Him — and those around us —

  • God is our God
  • we trust Him with our lives
  • we trust in Someone bigger than us
  • we have the Almighty on our side to fight for us”

And in Giving Thanks, Tina encouraged us to remember how abundantly blessed we are here in the USA.

“The Pilgrims were so grateful to have a land to call their own and the freedom to worship God. After such a hard crossing and a hard harvest, they decided to celebrate and praise God for what they had. Let us do the same. Continuous praise should be on our lips and in our thoughts.

Who I Am

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

This is one thing I really struggle with.  Let’s just say self-confidence and self-esteem are not among my strong suits. (Not to be confused with pride, which I often have WAY too much of).  As I was looking back through my old blogs, I noticed a recurring theme: blogs about who, and Whose, I am.  I confess, it is an ongoing struggle, especially now as I have joined the 50+ club.  But the words in the blog below still hold true. When doubts creep in and self worth crumbles, it is because I have forgotten who and Whose I am.  In the song “I Am New” by Jason Gray, it says…

“Forgiven, beloved, hidden in Christ
Made in the image of the Giver of Life
Righteous and holy, reborn and remade
Accepted and worthy…”

This is my new name. This is who I am—I belong to Him. Sometimes I just need to be reminded once again of who I am. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 HCSB states:

…beloved by the Lord, because God
from the beginning chose you for salvation
through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth…

I am beloved by the Lord…chosen from the beginning…filled by the Spirit…and am continually being transformed.  This is who the Bible says I am.  So, what do I need to do?  As Blanca sings, I need to believe who I am and Whose I am.

Turning down
Tuning out
Every single word
That caused me pain
Unashamed
And unafraid
‘Cause I believe You mean it when You say

Here are just a few of the things that the Scriptures tell us…

  • Colossians 3:12 AMP says I am “well-beloved [by God Himself,”
  • 1 John 3:12 NASB tells us “now we are children of God,”
  • Zephaniah 3:17 NIV states “The Lord your God is with you…He will take great delight in you; He will rejoice over you with singing.”
  • Isaiah 49:16a AMP reminds us “Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands.”

As I wrote above, the words in the blog that follows still hold true. When doubts creep in and self-worth crumbles, it is because I have forgotten who I am and Whose I am.

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Another voice, another choice
To listen to words somebody said
Another day, I replay
One too many doubts inside my head

Am I strong…beautiful
Am I good enough
Do I belong
After all that I’ve said and done
Is it real when I feel
I don’t measure up
Am I loved

I’m running to the One who knows me
Who made every part of me in His hands
I’m holding to the One who holds me
‘Cause I know whose I am, I know who I am
I am sure I am Yours

Turning down, tuning out
Every single word
That caused me pain
Unashamed, and unafraid
‘Cause I believe You mean it when You say

I am strong…beautiful
I am good enough
I belong
After all
‘Cause of what You’ve done
This is real what I feel
No one made it up
I am loved

I am sure I am Yours
I know who I am
I am sure I am Yours

Fearfully, wonderfully, perfectly
You have made me

I’m running to the One who knows me
I’m holding to the One who holds me

  Blanca
Written by Blanca Callahan / Seth Mosley / Mia Fieldes

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For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.
Psalms 139:13-14 HCSB

Another voice, another choice
To listen to words somebody said
Another day, I replay
One too many doubts inside my head

Am I strong…beautiful
Am I good enough
Do I belong
After all that I’ve said and done
Is it real
When I feel I don’t measure up
Am I loved?”

Surely I am not the only one that can relate to these words!  Thoughts and questions just like these have played over and over in my head at least a thousand times (sometimes in just one day) but as I was listening to this song on the radio, the light bulb went on!  I have to know WHOSE I am before I will really understand WHO I am. Duh!  {Mental head slap here.}

As I looked through the many lists of Scriptures about ‘who I am’, I began to see ‘Whose I am’:

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:26 NLT

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, His own special people…
1 Peter 2:9 NKJV

…For our citizenship is in heaven…
Philippians 3:20a HCSB

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved…
Colossians 3:12a NASB

Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him]
1 John 4:4a AMP

I am a child of God!
I am His!
He chose me.
He created me.
And He holds me close.

…No one will snatch them out of My hand.
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all;
and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
John 10:28b-29

Since I belong to Christ, that means:

For you are all children of the light and of the day;
we don’t belong to darkness and night.
1 Thessalonians 5:5 NLT

Do you not know that your body is the temple
(the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you,
Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God?
1 Corinthians 6:19 AMP/1 Corinthians 3:16

Now you are the body of Christ and individual members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27 HCSB

…But I have called you friends…
John 15:15

For we are God’s masterpiece.
Ephesians 2:10a NLT

(Did you get that?  We are God’s masterpiece!)

A masterpiece is beautiful.  It is lovely.  It is treasured.  It is of immeasurable worth!  So that means God sees us as beautiful, lovely, treasured, and of immeasurable worth!

Knowing Whose I am gives me a sense of identity, of self confidence.

We are strong, we are good enough, we are loved!
{And I really need to remember that!}

Psalm 18:30 ~ God is a Shield and a Refuge

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{This final week of 2015 we will be re-visiting some of my personal favorite themes on which our wonderful writers have shared with us throughout this past year.  I hope that you (as I was, too!) will be encouraged and reminded of God’s faithfulness and loving care through their inspired words.}

As for God, His way is blameless.
The Word of the Lord is tested [it is perfect, it is faultless];
He is a Shield to all who take refuge in Him.
Psalm 18:30

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During this week, our devotional writers have greatly encouraged us as they shared their belief and trust that God is our Shield, protecting us and providing refuge for us.  My own heart was encouraged to remember that the Scriptures are God’s own words that bring us His promises.  Please click on each link to read each complete devotional; here are a few excerpts from their thoughts….

In Take Heed, Clella reminded us that we need to know and heed to God and His promises…

“…Because God’s way is perfect, and His word is flawless, and He has promised to protect His children, we need to take heed.  Yes, like David, we have enemies—whether in the physical or in the spiritual—who try to “entangle us with cords of death” (Psalms 18:4-5).  But if we take heed of God and His Word, He will ”avenge us, and save us from our enemies” (Psalms 18:47-48).  When we are faithfully in God’s Word, then we will know God and experience His deliverance….”

In Daddy’s Protection, Tina gave us the example of God’s love has protected us….

“Remember, as a child, how our dad was our hero?  How he could not do any wrong in our eyes?  Well, God wants us to love and trust Him like that…As we grew older our dads made mistakes, because they are human. They maybe did not show up at a ballgame, dance recital or have time to listen.  But I know Who does—God our Father.  He has time to listen to all of our issues.  He is always there….”

In God’s Pure Word, Ann shared the blessings and benefits of God’s Word…

“There are benefits and value to God’s Law and Word.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Psalm 19:8

The ‘precepts of the Lord’ are definite rules concerning righteous living that are a joy to the godly.  The ‘commands of the Lord’ are the authoritative source of guiding light for the faithful who seek His way…”

In There is Refuge in God’s Word, Ahmee pointed us to some important reminders of the refuge and warnings that God’s words can be for us…

“I know our verse (Psalm 18:30) is most likely referring to physical refuge—as in keeping you safe from bodily harm. But when I read it the first refuge I thought of was emotional refuge.  Life can be rough and it has this way of wearing you down, if you let it.  God’s Word does have a way of warning us about certain situations. However, whether we listen, or not, is up to us.  I think Proverbs is a really great book that lets us know “If this…then that”.  We can find refuge in the Lord’s words by avoiding these situations….”

Christmas Worship

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…And while they were there, the time came for her delivery,
and she gave birth to her Son, her Firstborn;
And she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger,
because there was no room or place for them in the inn.
And in that vicinity there were shepherds living [out under the open sky]
in the field, watching [in shifts] over their flock by night.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them,
and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them,
and they were terribly frightened.
But the angel said to them, do not be afraid; for behold,
I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.
For to you is born this day in the town of David
a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!
And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]:
you will find a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
Then suddenly there appeared with the angel
an army of the troops of heaven (a heavenly knighthood), praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest [heaven],
and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased .
When the angels went away from them into heaven,
the shepherds said one to another, let us go over to Bethlehem
and see this thing (saying) that has come to pass,
which the Lord has made known to us.
So they went with haste and [by searching] found Mary and Joseph,
and the Baby lying in a manger.
And when they saw it, they made known what had been told them
concerning this Child, and all who heard it were astounded
and marveled at what the shepherds told them.
But Mary was keeping within herself all these things (sayings),
weighing and pondering them in her heart.
and the shepherds returned,
Glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told them.
Luke 2:6-20

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Here on the GCH Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs blog there is nothing we love to do more than praise and worship our God!  (We know you each agree…and are most probably nodding your heads and voicing your ‘Amen!’)  And singing through seasonal songs of both traditional carols and contemporary Christian music is such a lovely, simple way to voice your praises.  Below is a wonderful collection of carols and choruses.

As you listen along, whether you are sitting quietly or wrapping those last few presents or gathered with your loved ones for a Christmas sing-a-long, may the words that you sing be a sweet, sweet sound to the ears of Almighty God.

From Clella, Cynda, Kim, Tina, and myself…
we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!  
God bless you and keep you!

(Christmas Version) Hallelujah

I’ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this—the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You’ll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged Cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

Cloverton
Original tune: Leonard Cohen
This version lyrics: Lance Stafford, Layne Stafford, Kirby LeMoine and Josh Svorinic
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HalleluJAH!  This phrase, which most often has been translated “Praise the Lord,” is found only a few times throughout all of the Bible.  We read it in the Book of Revelations, chapter 19, verses 1, 3, 4, 6.  As well as in the Psalms (#111, 112, 113, 117, 135, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150).  Many of us are familiar with Leonard Cohen’s classic original Hallelujah’.  But the words in that version, while though very stirring, pale in comparison, in my opinion, to the lyrics sung here by the Cloverton boys.   Cloverton’s rendition sings out the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel-God with us.   Truly, I would call it a modern-day Christmas carol.

It reminds me of another very popular musical piece—Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from The Messiah, his most well-known orchestral composition.  Now they differ greatly in style, of course…but are very similar in their lyrical content.   Point being, both of these songs were written to sing about the birth of Jesus and praises to  Almighty God, as well as give us, fellow singers and praisers, inspired songs to sing our praises.

In the account in the Gospel of Luke of the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, the angel and the ‘heavenly host’ similarly offered praise to God.

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 1:13 and 14

And upon returning from seeing the Baby and acknowledging the fulfillment of the angel’s words, the shepherds also worshipped and praised God.

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph.
And there was the Baby, lying in the manger.
After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened
and what the angel had said to them about this Child.
All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,
but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
The shepherds went back to their flocks,
glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.
It was just as the angel had told them.
verses 15-20

The birth of the Savior certainly was an occasion for much ‘Hallelujah-ing,’ wouldn’t you say?!  And there WAS much praise and glorifying of God!

May I encourage you to take time throughout the busyness and celebrations of this season to voice your praises and gratitude to Almighty God!  May each of us be found glorifying and praising God for His goodness and love to mankind.   It doesn’t matter whether it is in quiet meditation regarding how GOOD God is…or singing out our praise and worship through this gorgeous song…or praising God as we sing along with the carols and hymns of the season.

Just let ‘HalleluJAH‘be on your lips!