The Writing on the Wall

One of my earliest memories of learning to spell was in an outdoor classroom, with a picnic table as my desk and my big sister as my teacher. The chalky white letters were sprawled across the yellow siding at the back corner of our house as she wrote the word “sweat,” which I pronounced “sweet” and was corrected. My first lesson was in interpreting the English language.

Such a small thing, but unforgettable even after all these years. Life’s lessons come in all sizes; some are more obvious than others. God used a few small words written on the palace wall to teach a big lesson to a king.

Daniel is called to interpret what the fingers of a mysterious hand had just written on the plaster in the king’s palace as he drank from gold and silver vessels that had been taken from the temple and worshipped the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone (Daniel 5:1-5, ESV).

The king of Babylon, before Belshazzar, was Nebuchadnezzar, who had been prideful, and brought to his knees by an all-powerful God. He was only restored when he lifted his eyes to heaven and praised the One True God (Daniel 5:28-34, ESV Emphasis mine). Belshazzar did not learn anything from his predecessor. Instead, he lifted himself up against God by using sacred vessels for an idolatrous feast. 

The king and his wise men knew the Aramaic words MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN as forms of weights, decreasing from a mina to a shekel and a half-shekel. They could read them, but they didn’t know their significance to the king. The ESV Study Bible denotes that when you read the words as verbs and add different vowels to the consonants, the sequence becomes numbered, numbered, weighed, and divided.

Daniel’s divine interpretation informed the king that the Lord had brought Belshazzar’s kingdom to an end because he was weighed in the balance and found wanting (Daniel 5:26-27, ESV). In essence, the king put creation before the Creator, praising and worshiping them as idols instead of God.

We also see this as a warning in Paul’s writing. God’s wrath was righteously revealed because people ignored the truth about the One True God and turned to idolatry and false beliefs. Three times Paul says God gave them up to their sinful desires due to idolatry, the refusal to make God the center of all existence. He handed them over to suffer the consequences of their sins. (Romans 1:24-26, ESV, NLT).

When we put anything other than God at the center of our lives, we risk the consequences of our sins. God alone deserves human praise. Creation cannot save us; only Christ can. We are cleansed by the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7, ESV). Only God protects us from evil (2 Thes. 3:3, ESV). God alone rules the world (Ps. 89:11, ESV). Things are neither good nor bad typically, but we must be careful of our intent and usage of an object and not depend on it instead of God. Paul explains more than once that just because something is not against the law doesn’t mean it is excellent and helpful. Not everything is beneficial (I Cor. 6:12;10:23, ESV).

Paul knows that demons delight in worshiping any ‘god’ but the One True God, and he takes particular interest in idolatry (I Cor. 10:19-20, ESV). The devil can make us think there is no harm in some of our practices, but we are on treacherous ground when we trust anything other than Jesus Christ.

The author of Psalm 1:3 describes two kinds of people and two ways to live. The righteous are like trees planted near a stream, bearing fruit every season. The wicked are like chaff, tossed away by the wind with no benefit. God grows oaks of righteousness to display His glory (Is. 61:3, MSG). They stand firm and mighty. The faithful are eager to please God.

But what about those who have one foot in the Jesus camp and the other in the world, not ready to commit everything to Christ? For this, we can turn to Christ’s Edict letter to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3. An uncommitted church rebuked for being spiritually blind, bankrupt, naked, and lukewarm. Christ uses the term lukewarm because that is something they would understand.

The church was in the center of the metropolis, including Colossae, famous for its cold, refreshing springs, and Hierapolis, equally renowned for its hot springs. When the water reached Laodicea, it was neither hot nor cold but lukewarm and smelly. Their indecisive commitment to Jesus was sickening to Him (Rev. 3:15-16, NLT).

The people of Laodicea were proud of their self-sufficiency. Christ gives them a chance to see their sins and repent; the consequence of their rebellion is that He will spit them out of His mouth. But those who conquer will dine with Christ and sit with Him on His throne (Rev. 3:15-22, NLT).

Sometimes we can’t read the writing on the wall; even if we do, we can’t understand its significance to our lives, falsely believing we can have both God and our worldly idols. If this is the case, it may be time to re-evaluate our priorities and find where our dependence and trust lie, so we aren’t in danger of being spit out by the One True God, Jesus Christ.

May we take this opportunity to ask God to show us anything in our lives that we are placing our trust in instead of Him, then repent and ask for His help to cleanse our lives of them so that Christ can take His rightful place at the center of our hearts. You may have to sweat to get there, but the rewards are sweet once you do.

The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world (I John 4:4, ESV).

Accidental Billionaire

Are you familiar with the clothing brand Patagonia? I had heard of it but didn’t know much about it or the owner until recently. Yvon Chouinard founded the company in 1973, but not intentionally. He doesn’t like to be called a businessman. He was an avid rock climber and environmental activist who began making climbing spikes for himself and his friends. Many stories are circulating about him right now, so if you are interested in learning more about him or his business, it is easy to find. Here is a link to one of them, where I retrieved some information for this blog.

He went from metal spikes into outdoor clothing with great success. He always gave back part of his millions of dollars in profits to charities throughout the company’s history to combat climate change. But he has been making the headlines the last few months because he recently gave the company away, with exceptional circumstances.

He created a charitable trust and a partnership with a non-profit that will receive all the future profits, over a million a year, to be exact, to help combat climate change and protect undeveloped land. It is almost unheard of that anyone would give away their fortune these days and take measures to ensure future profits are secure for a cause instead of leaving them to his family. They didn’t want it either.

I don’t know much about him or his beliefs, but this reminded me of the story about the rich young man who met Jesus and asked what he could do to inherit eternal life. Jesus recites many commandments and tells him he will inherit the kingdom if he does well. The rich man confirms that he has kept all of them. From the human perspective, his answer is believable. But the man went away sorrowfully when Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor. Jesus pointed out that the rich man lacked that one thing. He had replaced trust in God and treasure in heaven with earthly riches (Mark 10:17-31, ESV).

This does not mean everyone must sell all they have to follow Jesus and inherit the kingdom. Instead, our hearts must be focused on God, and everything we own must be surrendered to Him and handled properly as a good steward of the gifts God has given us. Everything we have is God’s. He generously entrusted them to us. It is our responsibility to honor Him with everything.

The man was sad, but he didn’t repent or make changes. He just left Jesus’ side to keep his earthly possessions intact. Jesus describes how difficult it is for those with material possessions to enter the kingdom of God because it reinforces self-sufficiency instead of dependency on God. They are relying on themselves, which is a dangerous stance to take. He is opposed to submitting to God’s will. Anyone who trusts in riches as an idolatrous replacement for God cannot enter the kingdom of God.

The camel fitting through the eye of a needle stresses that it is humanly impossible, but with God, anything is possible (Mark 10:27, ESV Emphasis mine). I am so glad my salvation and entry into heaven don’t depend on my efforts and ability to achieve it. I’m putting my money on Christ, and hopefully, the owner of Patagonia is too.

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf” (Hebrews 6:19-20, ESV).

Love In Action

“Your actions speak so loud; I can’t hear what you say.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever been in a relationship where this quote fits the situation perfectly? I hope you haven’t, but unfortunately, most of us have probably experienced this on some level with someone we thought loved us.

We often long for someone to love us better than they can. That doesn’t excuse abusive behavior, so for the sake of this message, let’s put that aside for the moment, even though this quote takes me back to that place.

“We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:19, ESV). To understand love in its true sense, we must turn to Jesus’ actions on the cross. This is the ultimate form of love shown to us when we least deserve it. This is quite the opposite of the quote above. Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, ESV). Love is a gift from God proven supremely on the cross (Rom. 5:8, ESV). Love is a choice. How well we love depends mainly on our relationship with Christ, who models love for us.

We are broken and messed up in the love department. God redeems us and makes our hearts capable of loving and being loved. There is hope in the healing. “Perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18, ESV). Our trust and obedience to God come through love; we can love each other better when we get our priorities right.

Paul says that without love, we are just a noisy gong (I Cor. 13:1, ESV). The Emerson quote may be related to this verse. We can’t expect the kind of love the depths of our souls long for to come from anyone except God. God is the only one capable of filling that size crevice in our lives. But once Christ is our first love, we have hope of experiencing the mutual love of Christ within our relationships, the way God designed and commanded. Love is a gift to be received and a command to be given (Mark 12:28-31; Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18.34, ESV). Jesus takes it further and says we are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44, ESV).

But this kind of love is only possible with Christ at the center of our hearts. That is the closest we come to experiencing that kind of love on this Earth, to experience the type of love Jesus showed us at the cross. It is like a rare gem and the exquisite perfume found in the alabaster box, a symbol of Jesus’ body that was broken and the blood poured out for us. The woman was ridiculed for anointing Jesus with it (Matt. 26:7, ESV). To assume a servant’s position is ultimate love, and Jesus was our best teacher.

The Bible supplies a filter for love in I Cor. 13:4-8. I recommend reading it often. Just as our gifts are meant to be used on Earth, love is meant to be shared while we await Jesus’ return. Vertically, towards God in complete abandonment. Horizontally, towards others to help each other grow in grace. May we shine brightly into the lives of others who need a glimmer of hope; it may be the only reflection of Jesus they see today. There is hope for everyone.

“Anyone who does not have love does not know God, because God is love” (I John 4:8, ESV).

Jesus Sighed

The greatness of God is in the everyday little things we sometimes miss because we are waiting for Him to do something big in our lives. One thing that stood out in my study of Elijah’s life was that God is primarily found in a humble heart’s gentle whispering and quietness. Our small, faithful steps lead to great miracles through our obedience. The notes in the ESV Study Bible for I Kings 17:13-16, where God uses Elijah to perform a miracle for the widow, say that faith is the step between promise and assurance. We may only see the solution once we take the first step of faith.

We can sometimes allow our fear to keep us from stepping out in faith; I know I have been guilty of that. But I began to realize that every hero in the Bible is a regular person, just like you and me, fears and all. You might say that heroes are everyday people with courage. They fear, but they don’t let it stop them. God supplies the courage in their obedience.

Hebrews 11 lists the heroes of faith. If we re-read each of their stories, the common denominator is faith in God, even if it initially took some convincing. They did not start with confidence but were tested, and their faith grew. Under God’s instructions, Joshua led a group of people around Jericho until the walls fell. Do you think they understood the purpose of circling it in that precise manner or just trusted God with the outcome?

And what about Moses? He did not want to be God’s mouthpiece. He pleaded for God not to send him because he was not a man of eloquent speech. God allowed his brother Aaron to speak for him, but he still sent Moses (Ex. 4:10-11, ESV).

We can see through the Gospels that the twelve disciples did not have it all together from the beginning and did not always understand what Jesus was doing. We are given stories showing their unbelief in many situations, even after Jesus performed miracles. In the Gospel of Mark, he records at least two times that Jesus sighed because of the suspicions and hardheartedness of people due to the Fall. In one instance, Jesus looked to heaven and sighed as He healed a deaf man (Mark 7:34, ESV). And again, when the Pharisees demanded a sign, he sighed deeply in His spirit (Mark 8:12, ESV). I can only imagine how many times I make Jesus sigh. But as with the disciples in those days, Jesus continually teaches me to trust Him more, strengthening my faith through tests and trials. We must go through the valley to get to the mountaintop. But, oh, the view once we arrive! In my experience, I appreciate the mountaintops more after going through some valleys.

When the father of a boy possessed with an unclean spirit said to Jesus, “if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22, ESV). Jesus replied, “If I can! All things are possible for one who believes” (9:23, Emphasis mine). The boy’s father then asks Jesus to give him a heart that believes more firmly, “help my unbelief” (9:24, ESV).

Jesus expressed emotions because He was fully human. As God, He sincerely wanted His people to believe and trust Him without requiring a sign every time. We often get caught up in figuring out what God is doing, and we forget that it is the being that matters. Being with God is what He wants most from us. As we crave time with God, wherever we are, whatever circumstance we are in, we can experience peace because the Great I AM is with us.                                                                                                                                                                                   

The speed bumps in life force us to slow down, pay attention, and appreciate what God is doing in our lives right now. We can also be so caught up in doing things for God that we can miss the importance of being with God. Each moment of every day is a gift, don’t waste it worrying about what will happen tomorrow. I am the one who needs this advice the most. Some days my longing to serve in other ways and figure out where God is leading me in the future may be keeping me from serving where I am today; in those times, I may miss the blessings right in front of me. I know you have probably heard the phrase ‘bloom where you are planted’ before,but I think it is worth repeating as a reminder and a prayer. Our faith is shown in our actions, but we won’t know what to do if we are not intentionally making time to be with God.

Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27, ESV Emphasis mine).

The Source of the Pain

A few years ago, I decided to drive to Angel Fire, NM, for a hot air balloon festival because riding in a hot air balloon was on my bucket list. Now mind you, I have always been afraid of heights. But I didn’t let that stop me. At least not this time. As a photographer, capturing images of God’s landscape from the air was the most appealing aspect of the adventure. I chose Angel Fire because of the name and didn’t let it deter me that I had a long drive ahead. I selected my route carefully to make stopping points of great interest.

Little did I know that I would experience excruciating pain on this trip (of course, it takes a backseat, hands down, to the tragic accident in northern California, but that’s a tale for another day for those of you who haven’t already heard it).

When I arrived, weary from my travels, I took some Aleve and went to bed. I had never taken Aleve before, but I had picked it up for the trip and stuck it in my travel bag. The following day, bright and early, I headed out for my usual run. I quickly learned about the altitude in New Mexico and returned to the cabin. I noticed that I had gotten some unusual red spots on my face, but I didn’t put too much thought into it before heading off for breakfast.

The spots and my aches seemed to worsen, so I returned to my cabin to take more Aleve and lay down. To spare you the details, let’s put this phrase on repeat….repeat…repeat…over the course of the next few days until the inside of my mouth was so sore, I could hardly eat or drink, my body had gotten the same red blotches as my face, and my lips were slightly swollen and tingling.

You may be ahead of me at this point and have realized that I am allergic to Aleve. On the other hand, I did not figure that out until a year later when I retook it because my doctor diagnosed it as a strange virus and bug bites.

I did not know that these painkillers were the source of the pain. I kept returning to it and repeating the same patterns. I think this is symbolic of our sinful ways. We can keep returning to unhealthy relationships or sinful behaviors to fill the gaps in our past pains when we don’t realize they are causing it and only making it worse. When we don’t know Christ as the answer, we search for the wrong things. It can be as painful as hives in your mouth, if not more.  

Only One person can fill those gaps and help us heal: Jesus Christ. When we choose Him over our sinful behaviors and stay rooted and grounded in His love, He can help take away the pain of our past. “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor” (Prov. 21:21, ESV).

The Bible says if we know the truth of Christ and then still return to our sinful patterns, we are even worse off. Peter quotes Proverbs to give us a vivid image of what that is like, “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire’ ” (2 Peter 26:21-22, ESV). This likely refers to those who appear to be Christians but were never truly regenerated. God promises that a person who truly knows Him is saved by His grace, never to fall away.

Once we know Christ as our Savior, and He redeems us from our sinful behaviors, we won’t want to return. There may still be temptations, but God helps us overcome them (I Cor. 10:13, ESV). The key ingredients to knowing what God wants for us are to be still, listen, ask Him, and meditate on and read His Word daily. Then and only then will we stop returning to the source of our pain and receive God’s grace and healing.

I made the drive home, but not without considering selling my car and flying back. A shot of steroids from the clinic at the base of the mountain did the trick, and when I arrived home, I stopped taking the Aleve and returned to my ordinary painkillers. A year later, I found them in my travel bag at the same time as a toothache, and I popped a couple and went to bed….the next morning, ‘that strange virus and bug bites returned.’

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1, ESV. Emphasis mine).

Zealous For God

At the beginning of each year, I choose a word to focus on, or most of the time, the word finds me. What I mean is that I pray for God to show me what word I need to focus on that year, and when I think I know the word, I am surprised to find out I was wrong. God showed me a brand-new word I hadn’t even considered, which is what happened this year.

The word zealous has served me well this year as my desire for a more profound love for God has increased seven-fold and then some. I had no idea I had so much more room in my heart for Him, but I did and still do. It is a continual process of inviting God into my heart and asking Him to deepen my love for Him in ways I didn’t know were possible.

I began to think about the word zeal when studying the armor of God and seeing that God put on zeal as a cloak (Is. 59:17, ESV). I incorporated this into my daily prayers along with the armor as I fight spiritual warfare, not only for myself but for others. It is a necessary form of protection that arms me with the weapons I need for battle.

My zeal for God has increased, but it still does not come close to how much God loves me (and you).  Have you thought much about how much God loves you or asked God to show you the depth of His love? I did recently and was amazed at His answers.

The oceans are too shallow, the sky too narrow, the desert too small, and the universe is not vast enough. There is nothing on this earth that compares. The expanse of the heavens is more than you can imagine- but someday, you will understand. WOW!

Then I asked if there was something in the Bible God could point me to– “The Glory of the Lord filled the temple” (Ezekiel 43:5, ESV) came to mind, as well as “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29, ESV). These are glorious images of how God entirely and reverently fills space in ways we cannot fathom. God’s love for us is so deep and massive that it is hard to compare it to anything we can understand.

Paul gives a glimpse of it in Ephesians 3:16-19, “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through the Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Emphasis mine)

My zeal for God, on the other hand, is the size of Australia. Although it is the largest country by area, it in no way compares to the depth of God’s love for me (and you). And absolutely nothing can change that or separate God’s love from us. That is one of God’s sweet promises to His children.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39, ESV). (Emphasis mine)

Secret Sauce

Do you ever feel there is a secret sauce someone has not yet shared with you on navigating life and staying on the right track? Well, there is something, but it isn’t a secret. It’s laid out for us by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Among other instructions in His sermon, the word ‘seek’ has stuck out to me lately. Beginning in Matthew 6:33, Jesus says to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Most of us may leave it there and not read the next verse. (v 34) “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” The word ‘therefore’ is significant. It’s like a hinge. If we are searching for the right thing (God), there is no need to worry. God will provide. If we seek God today-there is no need to worry about tomorrow. Keeping ourselves on the right path is enough for today- it is hard work, and we don’t need to borrow trouble that hasn’t come yet.

How do we stay on the right path, you may ask? Jesus tells us that too. Ask, seek, knock (Matt. 7:7-11, ESV). Ask: He instructs his disciples to come to God in humility and awareness of their needs. When we are aware of our needs, it keeps our pride in check. Seek: we continually pursue God’s will in our prayers. Knock: is about perseverance. Just like the disciples, we are to pray confidently and persistently that God will supply whatever is best, according to His gracious will (ESV Study Bible notes).

Eventually, it leads to life on a narrow road that few can find (Matt. 7:13-14, ESV). But why is it so hard for most people to see it if it is not a secret? That is because we tend to give up too quickly. We seek the wrong things and don’t ask because of pride. Humility means we are aware of our needs and will ask and seek God above all else. When we learn to do this, all we need is added to us (Matt. 6:33, ESV). It is easy to take the road that leads to destruction. We can sometimes drive a steamroller through life, taking others down with us. The route we must learn to maneuver and continually look for is the narrow path that leads to life. We can do that by making better choices and taking control of our lives, with God’s help, instead of allowing others to control us.

It is also important not to follow the wrong people. That is why Jesus continues His sermon to warn about false prophets and even disciples in the church who are like wolves in sheep’s clothing, which we can recognize by their fruits. Not all who confess Jesus have a repentant heart (Matt. 7:15-23, ESV). Their life and the results of their influence will show if they are living for the kingdom. We must always read the Bible for ourselves and pray for discernment.

The way is narrow because Jesus is the only way. It is hard because we look for the approval of men instead of God. What we believe matters; whom we follow is crucial. That is why Jesus gives further instructions on building our lives on the rock and His Word, a foundation that stands the test of time and does not shift with culture (Matt. 7:24-27, ESV). Bottom line: just like the people of His day, we are either with Jesus or against Him. Our hope in Jesus is the secret sauce that leads us to continually ask, seek, knock, and stay on the narrow road that leads to eternal life. Don’t give up.

God-Honoring Choices

Sometimes we can’t see a better life for ourselves or know our self-worth isn’t in another person, especially one who does not have our best interest in mind. God always has our best interest at heart. He always wants the best for us—the very best is God Himself.

If we are hungry and only have cheesecake—we will eat cheesecake. Even if we know it isn’t as healthy for us and that it will go to our hips. But if we see it as our only choice, we will eat it. We may like cheesecake, but it is not sustainable or healthy.

Don’t settle for the cheesecake when God offers a whole banquet at the palace of a King.

The same goes for a significant purchase. Let’s say you are in the market for a new laptop. You won’t just buy the first one you see. You will research and get better informed of all your options and the specs. We need to be informed to make the best decisions.

Don’t settle for anything less than God’s best. In other words, don’t compromise integrity for momentary pleasure.

If we aren’t in God’s word, learning about God’s character and the truth of what Christ says about us and what He wants for us, we will make ill-informed decisions based on what is in front of us. It’s like being in a desert, and we will drink anything put in front of us to satisfy our thirst.

Friend, don’t drink the devil’s Kool-Aid. God offers living waters that have eternal refreshment for our souls. There are other options. We can make better life choices the way God intended for us. We can reach our highest potential with God’s help. Life-giving decisions are made in the light of God’s truth about us and who we are in Him as image-bearers.

I was once given an ultimatum to do what another person asked of me or lose him. I didn’t know leaving was the better choice. He said if I loved him, I would do what he asked. That isn’t love. I stuck it out because I thought I had to make it work. But it was unhealthy, and I was not honoring Christ with my life or body. It wasn’t until many dark days later and an eye-opening wake-up call that I realized God is always the better choice. Learning to put Christ first in my life comes with a freedom I do not take for granted. I thank God for rescuing me every day.

The Bible offers a filter to sift our relationships through to see if they are God-honoring:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends” (I Cor. 13:4-8, ESV, Emphasis mine).

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17, ESV, Emphasis mine).


I am aware of generational cycles that can destroy lives and lead to sin that we are sometimes unaware of. One of the things that I teach other women through the support group I lead is how to recognize the red flags of abuse and co-dependency in the hope of breaking those cycles. Yes, our bad choices play a part, but abuse is never the victim’s fault. When we are aware of the cycle, we can do something to change it.

Once we learn how to recognize these factors from our childhood, there are ways to break the cycle through repentance and prayer. I am reading a Bible plan entitled “Freedom for Ladies” (GJF Ministries, Jamye Lane) on the YouVersion Bible app, which is very timely and helpful. The logic can be applied to anyone, not just women. The plan outlines the steps in breaking off things from the family line and replacing it with blessings from God.

The morning I read the steps, I decided to use one of my favorite verses as the blessings from Scripture to pray over myself and my family. It is also one of my favorite songs, “The Blessing,” with the lyrics taken directly from the Bible. Aaron’s blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 is a priestly blessing showing God’s will to bless every Israelite. The ESV Study Bible denotes that this blessing engraved on a silver amulet is the earliest archaeological discovery, having the covenantal name of God (Yahweh), which was found in a Judean tomb dating back to the seventh or sixth century B.C.

(V24)“The Lord bless you and keep you; (v 25) the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; (V 26) the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Emphasis mine)

Let us look at the meaning of each verse: The Lord blesses us by giving good harvests, peace, children, and his own presence (Lev. 26:3-13). ‘Keep’ means to guard or protect. His face shine upon you in God’s presence, like sunshine (Ps. 19:1-11). A shining face is a smiling face, a pledge of God’s good favor (Ps. 80:3, 7, 19, ESV). The countenance is the expression on one’s face. The study Bible says that for God to lift his countenance involves treating people with favor. Peace or shalom means total well-being.

This led me to Daniel 9, which provides the same model of repentance and prayer along with this blessing. Daniel prayed a prayer of adoration, then a confession on behalf of himself and his people (9:4). Daniel asked God to show favor and make His face shine upon him and bring exile to an end. Not because of his righteousness but because of God’s commitment to glorify His own name (9:17). If we read further, Daniel received an answer from God through an angel named Gabriel. Still, I want us to pay attention to this: he confessed his sin and the sin of his people, presenting a plea to God and asking for His blessing.

This mirrors the steps in the plan first to praise God, then repent for the sins committed in our generation, then break them off our generation, in Jesus’ name, and next wash the generations on both sides of the family with the blood of Christ, as far back as the sin got in; close the doors in Jesus’ name. Take authority over the sin in Jesus’ name, and then bless yourself and the next generation with applicable biblical blessings. If you have anything in your family that needs to be broken off and replaced with a blessing, I encourage you to try it. Just as awareness is critical to change, Lane points out repentance is key to freedom.


According to the Oxford Dictionary, a lament is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. Synonyms include wail, moan, weeping, sobbing, or crying. One can also lament by passionately singing praises to God. We can turn to the Psalms for comfort in times of suffering and pain.

Many laments in the Psalms are prayers or hymns by David during times of desperate need, like Ps. 142, a prayer, or Ps. 57, a hymn of praise. Both are related to the same incident in I Samuel 22 when David hides from Saul in a cave. Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22 reflect a song of deliverance David sang when God saved him from Saul and all his enemies (ESV).

I don’t know about you, but I have done my share of lamenting in both desperate pleas and grateful praises to God. Sometimes I find myself face down on the floor, sobbing with a grateful heart for something God has shown me or helped me through. In all of David’s story and his pleas to God, we know he wasn’t perfect. He was a sinner, just like you and me. He made mistakes. But he learned how to put all his trust in God, look to Him for protection, and praise Him for all the times he rescued him. We can do the same thing.

Other times, like Ps. 139:23 and Ps. 19:14, we see David asking God to search his heart. This is a vital part of our relationship with God. In Luke 6:45, Jesus says, “the good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person produces evil, for out of the heart his mouth speaks.” How we live will manifest from what we treasure most. What is your heart’s desire? What are you treasuring in your life other than God? It takes time, but we can learn to want God over everything else. It is this type of intimate relationship that God wants with us; our part is to seek Him and the kingdom of God above all else (Matt. 6:33, ESV). Be still before God this week and ask Him to search your heart and reveal any areas you need to change or forgive someone.

You may be a person who speaks to God first thing in the morning, or you might say a prayer last thing before going to sleep at night. My challenge is that we all learn to think of Him in those times and between. The stuff in the middle of those can trip us up. Try to make it a point to thank Him or pause and pray, even for a moment, throughout your day and see how it affects your attitude and daily interaction with others. Not to mention how much closer your relationship will become with God as you begin to lean into Him more and more. God’s desire is you; our desires should be Him. Then we can experience wholeness, hope, and healing that only comes from Christ.