Sow & Gather

Psalms

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 16:11a

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11 NASB

Can We Schedule Divine Assignments?

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather Can-We-Schedule-Divine-Assignments #newyear #newbeginnings

“Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”  Psalm 95:6-7 NIV

Technology has permeated almost every function of daily living, but thankfully, spiral bound, daily planners with tabbed monthly spreads and daily plan sheets are still available. For those folks who love to make lists (like me) and who like to see their life in big square blocks, the planner is a gift. To some the idea of carrying around a planner and writing every detail and task for each day is a nightmare!   

Whether you are one of those who live to organize on paper or via technology, there is a sense of starting fresh each new year. It is exciting and scary to wonder what the year will hold but the truth is our sovereign God already knows. Those blank pages have already been filled with divine assignments, trials and testing, growth, discipleship, seasons of pain, and seasons of joy.

Thankfully, God does not literally fill in our pages but only allows us to see what we need to see when we are ready to see it. If we knew the plan ahead of time, we would try to reorganize it another way or manipulate it to fit our needs and wants. 

The problem is we don’t always see God working in our lives because we have already filled each day of each month with empty, busy things. We have become the authors of our own story. 

The Psalmist says, “Let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” It is a position of humility that says that there is nothing we can do apart from our Lord. When we bow down, we are to confess our sinfulness and dependence on Him. As someone who can organize one's life down to each hour, dependence can be substituted for self-dependence and not God dependence. Many times the will of self becomes more important than submitting to the will of God.   

Our plans and our desires need to be laid at the foot of the cross. We need to pray that we would “Delight ourselves in the Lord and that He will give us the desires of our heart.” Psalm 37:4 Our desires and our plans need to line up with the ones He has created for us. Only God can course-correct in our hearts to help us delight in what He delights in. 

My new planner is a tool to help me stay organized, but it is also an open book with blank spaces ready and waiting for God to write His assignments. This year my desire is to recognize and praise the God on whom I’m dependent: more God, less self. 

Happy 2017 and Happy Organizing!

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 95, John 3:16–21

Action Item |

Have you already filled your year with empty, busy things? Pray that God will change your desires, your plans to line up with His, and that this year may be full of His divine assignments.

Prayer |

Dear Father, please forgive me when I am dependent on myself and try to control the world around me. Give me Your desires and Your ways so I may walk in obedience to Your will. Amen. 

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

How Can We Sing a New Song?

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #newbeginnings #freshstart He Put A New Song In My Mouth A Song of Praise To Our God Psalm 40:30a

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a  (NASB) 

What a beautiful song of David Psalm 40 is! What amazing imagery of the God who is my Lord. I am completely helpless to even understand my sin and, yet, He tenderly draws me and convicts me of the error in my decisions.   

God's love is so amazing! 

He doesn't need me. He is not incomplete without me. But, I am desperately in need of Him and I am unable to save myself. Pride lurks in my mind tempting me to play a comparison game where I believe I'm better than others. In reality, my thoughts stray and race headlong in a direction opposed to God. I'm a part of humanity and because of that, I don't measure up to God's standard any better than any other person despite what I might portray on Facebook. 

Acknowledging my need and my state as David did in this Psalm, I cry out and plead with God. I know that I am completely at His mercy as to whether or not He will choose to save me. And in verse 1 we see the astounding truth about our Holy, merciful, and gracious God. 

God takes the initiative and bows down to us. 

The Hebrew word indicates that God bends down to us just like you might if you were helping a child. He is the same God who spoke the world into existence from nothing. By His breath He placed every star in the sky and named them. He told the ocean where it's boundaries were and carved the mountains out with His hand. He bent down. He bent so low! He became man and died for me while I was still unaware of my need for Him. He provided my way of rescue.   

Why would God do this? 

He wanted to put a new song in my mouth that would praise Him. A song that David says will cause many people to see and trust in the Lord. Sometimes I think I do things to save myself but that's a lie. I don't have that kind of power.  God, however, does have that power. That's the song I want to sing because it shows my friends that He is capable of saving me and that no one is beyond His power's reach. You, too, can have a new song - one filled with His praise.  Cry out to Him and He will bend to you. 

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 51; Psalm 139:23-24 

Action Item |

Pray to God that He will show you areas in your life that need to be corrected. Ask Him to help you recognize how He met your need and to fill your heart with concern for others that need Him. 

Prayer |

Oh God, thank you so much for having mercy on me and being gracious to me. Help me, Lord, to be merciful and gracious to those who need You. Help me to be authentic in my speech and in my living that others might see Your ability to change them. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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How Can I Learn To Dwell Well?

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather How Can I Learn To Dwell Well? #newbeginnings

How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:1-2 NIV

Have you got all your home improvement projects on the list for 2017? Is it time for new paint, new furniture, or a few fresh throw pillows? I don't care much for decorating, which can become a problem when I'm frustrated with my home. There are times when I feel like I can't "dwell well" in my house.  

I tell myself if I'm not feeling relaxed and comfortable at home it must be because something needs to be "fixed" or re-arranged at the house. Sometimes that is the case. Removing clutter and unused items from where we dwell can help us free up mental space as well as space in our house. One of my goals for the New Year is to remove one box per week of unused items from my home. The box can be big or small. It's a matter of tackling the beast of stuff. In my mind, getting rid of things will help me "dwell well." 

Here's the deal, I know that getting rid of unwanted/unused items is a good thing. But, I also know it is not the best way for me to "dwell well."  I need to do some spiritual cleaning out and re-focusing. 

You see, where we dwell is more than where we reside. Where we dwell has as much to do with our thoughts, focus, and passion as the address on the mailbox. King David, who wrote many of the Psalms, spent a lot of time dwelling in caves and living on the road. For years he was hunted by a jealous king who did not like that David found favor with man and God. Kind David's focus on dwelling was all about where God dwelt. David yearned to be with God and to be in God's presence. David knew that if he was in the presence of God, he would "dwell well." 

This year, will you join me in the practice of yearning to be in the presence of God?  

Will you commit to shake off the old, worn, or even unused parts of your heart and spirit and focus on dwelling with God?  

No longer do we need to travel to the tent or tabernacle to dwell with God. He is with us always.  

Dig Deeper|

Psalm 84; Ephesians 3:14-21

Action Item |

Donate one gently used item that you no longer use. Spend five minutes meditating on the word "Dwell." 

Prayer |

Dear Most Gracious Lord, how lovely is Your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, to dwell with You. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Amen. 

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

What is Lighting Your Path This Year?

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
Thy Word Is A Lamp Unto My Feet #sowandgather #newyear #pslam

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 KJV

Psalms is a beautiful collection of songs or poems speaking directly and capturing the heart- thoughts of the Old Testament people of the time. They are songs of praise and songs of sadness. The Psalms were written by several authors, so you are able to read and feel the different emotions felt by the different authors. For the month of January, the contributors of Sow & Gather are drawing inspiration from the book of Psalms.

Music transcends all generations. Many of the songs we hear in Christian music today are taken straight from verses in the Bible.  Many of the songs that I grew up singing in church were taken straight from the Scriptures.  I didn’t realize at the time that I was actually singing God’s Word!  What makes music special is how a particularly meaningful song takes you back to a memory of a time or place. It’s as if you’re transported to that moment and time stands still. 

I can remember growing up before Christian music became popular, listening to Amy Grant sing the words to “Thy Word.” For all the years that I have belted out that song, I never gave much thought to the actual lyrics or how it ties back to the actual verse in Psalm 119:105.  

This particular chapter is the longest in the entire Bible. What is unique about the chapter is that it is a poem about God’s law. Now, I don’t know about you, but singing about rules and ordinances is not my idea of poetic beauty. However, when you listen to the words of the entire chapter you understand that this is not merely a list of rules to follow, but it is a beautiful tribute to God and His protection over us as His people. 

Psalm 119 verse 105 describes how God’s instructions are a lamp shining on our feet, helping us as we navigate various daily decisions. His word is our flashlight guiding us down life’s path, and without Him we would be wandering around in total darkness, unable to find our way.  We would be lost. 

Like the lyrics in the song Thy Word by Amy Grant, “When I feel afraid, and think I've lost my way. Still, You're there right beside me. Nothing will I fear As long as You are near; Please be near me to the end.” With God as our guide, lighting our path through His word, we have nothing to fear because He will be walking right beside us. 

Dig Deeper |

Proverbs 6:23; Psalms 27:1; 1 Corinthians 4:5;  

Action Item |

Listen to the song, Thy Word, and think about how God’s word is your light.        

Prayer |

Dear God, thank You for Your Words of truth that help to keep us grounded and moving in Your direction for our lives. Thank You for lighting our path and keeping us safe. We have nothing to fear because You are walking beside us each and every day. AMEN.

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Can you Count the Sheep? - Finding Peace

PeaceMarci AnthonyComment
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture Psalm #sowandgather

Know that the Lord is God, it is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3 (NIV)

Do you ever have problems sleeping? If you’re like me, you dread going to sleep. It’s not that I’m not exhausted by the day’s hectic schedule; it’s that when I try to fall asleep it seems to take me forever. I lie in bed while random thoughts swirl through my head. Most nights I try to stay up as long as possible so that I’m so tired that I just fall into bed. But, what usually happens is that I fall asleep on a chair or couch and end up waking up at some random hour with a huge pain in my back or neck.  

Sometimes I try to go to bed earlier so that in theory I will get more sleep, but that normally backfires and I wake up at 3:00 AM wide awake. What happened to the days when I couldn’t wait to fall asleep and I would rest peacefully and soundly until 9 or 10 AM the next morning? Now I’m lucky if I get 6 hours of sleep a night.  

The main problem that I have when trying to go to sleep is quieting the random thoughts that go through my head. I wish I could say that these thoughts were positive, but usually nighttime is when the negative, restless thoughts wander in circles like vultures above my head.  

The other day I was talking with my mom on the phone about my lack of sleep and she suggested I try counting sheep. I paused on the line and then replied sarcastically, “Mom, I’m not 10 years old.” She laughed and said, “No, what I mean is get out your Bible before bed and start looking at all the times where sheep are mentioned.” My mom always has an underlying message in her meaning so I asked her to elaborate. 

The word sheep is found over 500 times in the Bible, so counting them would make you rather exhausted, it’s true. But the real reason to dwell on the word sheep is to remind us that we are all sheep.  God is our Shepherd. We don’t have to worry or obsess over life’s problems because He is our guide.  Psalm 100:3 says, “Know that the Lord is God.” If we recognize that God is Lord of all and is in control, we have no reason to fear sleep or anything else. The next part of the verse says, “It is he who made us, we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Four times God puts his mark on us in this verse, “He made us, we are His, we are His people, and we are His sheep.” God has branded us as His sheep.  The next time you have trouble with sleep, remember to open your Bible and count the sheep!

Dig Deeper |

Luke 12:32; Psalm 23

Action Item |

If you have trouble sleeping, try reciting a verse that brings comfort before bed.  Next, offer that verse as a prayer to God and as you pray take some deep breaths and allow calm and relaxation to take over.    

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for watching over me while I sleep. You are the great Shepherd.  Remove any worries and insecurities that may enter my thoughts during the night and allow me to rest peacefully.

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 71:8

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 69:17

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 139:13-14

scripture memory, MothersMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I  will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.   Psalms 139:13-14

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Share your thoughts or prayers on the scripture by clicking the Comment button at the top of the post.

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 147:4

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 139:12

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Advent 2015: Christ Is A Life-Bringing Wind

Advent 2015Marci Anthony2 Comments
hope-advent-2015-lead-me-in-your-truth-sowandgather

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I will wait all the day long. Psalm 25:5  (NASB)

Dear Friends,

For the next four weeks, the contributors at Sow & Gather will be celebrating Advent, a practice often observed in the liturgical church. Advent means the arrival of a notable person. Since our lives are lived between the events of Christ's birth and His coming again, the writing will be focused on these two occurrences. We will spotlight four aspects: 

  • Week 1:  Hope that creates anticipation at Jesus Christ's birth and His second coming;
  • Week 2:  Peace secured at these events that brings rest;
  • Week 3:  Joy that cannot be lost, and
  • Week 4:  Love that will not fail. How should Christ's birth compel us to live knowing He will return?

We hope you will join us each week to prepare your heart as we enter into the Christmas season. Below you will find the first of a series of three on hope.

February. A deep winter month for Arkansas and as much as I enjoyed the snow we received, I always looked with anticipation towards March. For February with its stiff yellow-brown grass and trees that looked like a standing pile of sticks only spoke of death. But March, yes, March had a different voice. It brought a beautiful, spring zephyr (a soft, gentle wind) that would blow across the fields whispering with the hope of renewed life. Zings of energy would pulse through me as excitement built because I knew what was coming. An explosion of green that captured the eye and had a story to tell.

Every day I journeyed up the rolling hills at our home in the Ozarks. As I peeked out across the sprawling terrain, I looked with hope for the first signs of vibrant green. Haunting questions of doubt would enter my mind. Would those trees bud again? Would the grass sprout and grow?

Hope bubbled up in me to meet every doubt. God can! Slowly, the vista changed daily. The trees that held not one leaf budded and grew hundreds. Grass that once was brown grew new life blanketing the hills. Day-by-day the differing hues of green were telling God's fascinating narrative of the life He brings out of what once was dead. 

On the side of that hill, as I stretched my arms high to praise God where only He could see, He taught me a very profound lesson. He taught me the truth of my salvation. He was the God who could awaken my dead places to sweet joyous new life. As He opened my eyes to His creation, He opened my heart to the possibilities of His redeeming power. 

There is hope.

Because Jesus was and is and is to come He can use me in spite of my past mistakes. He can cover me just as the grass blanketed the earth. I do not have to live in a spiritually dead February.  My life can speak of a zephyr of Christ that is the hope of abundant life.

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 25:1-10

Additional Liturgical Readings For The First Week of Advent |

Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

Action Item |

Do you doubt that God can use you in spite of your past? Ask God to show you how He is making you new and how He wants to use you as a story of His great power to save.

Prayer |

We praise You Lord for Your salvation. Thank You that when we wait on You, You reveal to us who You are. Open our eyes to the possibilities of Your great plan for us and how we can be a story that speaks to those around us of new life. Prepare our hearts as we look to the birth of Jesus and remind us of the significance of this event. In Jesus name, Amen.

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

This post is part of the "What Joy Is Mine - Monday Musings" Linkup and #RaRa Linkup at Purposeful Faith.





Give Thanks in Frustration

ThanksgivingMarci Anthony2 Comments
give-thanks-in-frustration-sowandgather.com

My go-to emotion is frustration. Problem at work – frustration; raising a teenager – frustration; disagreement with spouse – frustration; dirty house – frustration; eat the ice cream – frustration; don’t eat the ice cream – frustration.

Frustration is a vicious little merry-go-round of being upset or annoyed when I’m unable to control a situation or make a goal a reality. Frustration for me is a “disturbance in the force.” While I am not a Star Wars groupie, I’ve always loved how reaction to events caused the feeling of agitation or frustration in certain characters. Life, as they knew it, was out of balance.

Over the years I’ve learned that balance is everything. When one area of my life gets heavy and weighted down, that spinning merry-go-round starts to wobble and the longer and faster it spins, the more out of kilter life becomes. I’m currently in the middle of an out of kilter disturbance in the force. It’s been building for weeks, but somehow I missed the signs or ignored them altogether. If frustration is my go-to emotion, ignoring the frustration is my go-to response.

The more out of kilter, or the greater the disturbance in the force, the more frustrated I become. At some point, the intensity is so high, I have to decide: do I stay on this crazy ride or jump off?

Jump where?

Jump to Jesus. It seems so simple. He’s right there watching me spin around and around and around with His arms open wide, ready to catch me. He knows I have to make the jump. I’ll only jump when I accept that I was never in control and He was always in control.

I think of Moses and the beautiful, raw, heartfelt conversations he had with God in the desert. In Numbers 11 we see more than a glimpse of Moses’ frustration with the Israelites, their living conditions, and Moses’ responsibility. Moses was spinning really fast on that frustration merry-go-round. As frustrated as he was, he did jump off – Moses jumped to God. Moses laid out his frustrations and God answered with one of my favorite verses of scripture: “is my arm too short?” (Numbers 11:23) My translation of God’s reply – “don’t you know I’ve got this?”

No doubt, Moses had a lot more going on in his life than I have in mine. Yet, my frustrations are just as valid. And, my response is just as important. We read in Psalm 90 how Moses continued to give thanks, even in the days, months and years of frustrations. Making the jump is the scary part. Giving thanks should be easy.

Today I am thankful I have a job, thankful for the blessing of a child, thankful for the love of a spouse, thankful for a home to rest in, and thankful for abundant food to eat.

Continue to join us this month at Sow & Gather as we explore what it truly means to be thankful. Thankful in all situations.

Dig Deeper |

Numbers 11; Psalm 90

Action Item |

Commit right now to jump off whatever emotional merry-go-round you are on and do it.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, you know my heart. You know that I allow frustrations with uncontrollable outcomes to build up to the breaking point. Lord God, make me aware when this is happening. Help me to jump as many times as necessary until I learn to give you complete control. May I give thanks always. Amen.

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.