Stop and Think

In my last post I spoke about the word “Selah,” as seen in the Hebrew Bible, and what it means to me.  Stop.  Wait.  Listen.  Think.

Here are some examples of the use of the word “Selah” in the Old Testament (all from the NLT version of the Bible).  Stop and think about what you just read each time you see the word “Selah.”

O LORD, I have so many enemies; so many are against me.  So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!”  Selah.  But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.  I cried out to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy mountain.  Selah. –Psalm 3:1-4

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Think about it overnight and remain silent.  Selah.  –Psalm 4:4

Who is the King of glory?  The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, invincible in battle.  Open up, ancient gates!  Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter.  Who is the King of glory?  The LORD of Heaven’s Armies–he is the King of glory.  Selah.  –Psalm 24:7-10

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.  Let the oceans roar and foam.  Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!  Selah.  –Psalms 46:1-3

Listen to my prayer, O God.  Pay attention to my plea.  For strangers are attacking me; violent people are trying to kill me.  They care nothing for God.  Selah.  But God is my helper.  The LORD keeps me alive!  Psalms 54:2-4

I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.  He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me.  Selah.  My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.  Psalms 57:2-3

O my people, trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.  Selah.  Psalm 62:8

Remember how short my life is, how empty and futile this human existence!  No one can live forever; all will die.  No one can escape the power of the grave.  Selah. Psalm 89:47-48

 

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Selah

There’s a word in the Hebrew Bible that is unknown.  Nobody knows what it means or really how it should be pronounced.  It occurs usually at the end of a verse, but not always.  In some places it comes in the middle of a sentence or verse.  See Psalms 55:19 and 57:3; and Habakkuk 3:3, 9, and 13.  There are many speculations about what it might mean.  Since the Psalms were set to music, it may be a musical or literary term.  Here are some of the ideas about its meaning:

  • “stop and listen”
  • “pause and think”
  • a break in the song
  • a change in rhythm, melody or instrumentation
  • “amen”
  • “forever”
  • “hang” (as in measuring an item’s weight)
  • “always”
  • a change of thought or theme
  • “lift up,” “exalt,” “cast up”
  • “loud,” “fortissimo” (cymbals please!)
  • voices hushed; musical interlude

It’s been used in modern applications, too, from Rastafarian to U2.  I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean, but I know what it means to me.

Selah.  Stop.  Think. Listen.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week as I’ve come across special verses and quotes (in any book) that are meaningful to me.  Usually I grab my notebook and write them down quickly and move on.  But God is saying “Selah” — stop and think about what you just read.  Listen to Me.  Wait.  Hang with Me a few more minutes.  Rest.  Selah.

Let’s do that this Easter week.  Let’s stop and think; wait and listen, be quiet, be still, and exalt Him.

Someone suggested this very useful idea:  spend a few moments each day just being still and quiet before God.  No thoughts (she said, when they come just flick them away like little boats down a river).  No prayers.  No reading.  Just be still.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  “Here I am Lord.”

When He speaks it may be in the form of an invitation.  If you are thinking, “I should be doing this,” or “I shouldn’t have said that,” just flick those thoughts away.  God’s voice will come in the way of an invitation — “Come away with Me and relax,” or “Don’t be afraid,” or perhaps a friend’s face will appear in your mind and you’ll know how to join God in loving them in some way.  We don’t initiate these invitations; God does.  And sometimes we hear nothing from Him at all; that’s OK too.  But it’s worth it to stop and sit quietly before Him, especially if you’re trying to make a decision or stressed about something.

Selah.  Stop.  Rest.  Relax.  Wait.  Be still.  Exalt.  Listen.  Pause.  Think.  Selah!

Broken and Irreversible

Today I’m sharing more great quotes from my journals.  See if any of these speak particularly to your life and situation today:

Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us.  It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into constructive thoughtfulness for the future.  Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.  Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands and step out into the invincible future with Him.  — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in.  Aim at Earth and you will get neither.  — C. S. Lewis

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.  — Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

To reach the point of Heaven we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it–but we must sail, and not drift, nor be at anchor.  — Oliver Wendell Holmes

Ring the bells that still can ring; forget your perfect offering.  There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.  –Leonard Cohen

God does not give us overcoming life; He gives life as we overcome.  The storm is the strength.  If there is no strain there is no strength.  Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy?  He cannot unless you will accept the strain.  Immediately you face the strain, you will get the strength.  — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Worship is giving God the best that He has given you.  Be careful what you do with the best you have.  Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love-gift.  Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship…It must be given back to Him so that He can make it a blessing to others.  — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust in them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through was a longing…For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we nave not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.  — C. S. Lewis

Trust

I have found a Christian author that seems to articulate so much that I have been thinking about lately.  He’s really focused on God as our sovereign ruler and King, ever present and powerful.  Here is an excerpt, including two scriptures and a quote from another author, followed by a prayer:

Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed Him as His counselor?  Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way?  Who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed Him the path of understanding?  — Isaiah 40:13-14 (NIV)

Who instructed God?  Whom did He consult?  think of what we’ve learned about the design of the human body–the amazing intricacy and efficiency of a single cell, the sheer magnitude of the connecting fibers between nerve cells in the brain.  Who could have served as the Lord’s consultant on a design task like that?  Could you or I?

It’s an absurd question, isn’t it?  Yet we continually want to be God’s adviser in His providential workings.  We continually want to tell Him how certain circumstances should be changed.  Or worse, we question God’s wisdom when we can’t understand what He’s doing.

How fathomless the depths of God’s resources, wisdom and knowledge!  How unsearchable His decisions, and how mysterious His methods!  For who has ever understood the thoughts of the Lord, or has ever been His adviser?  Glory to Him forever!  — Romans 11:33-36 (Charles B. Williams Translation)

To this end may the following words from J. L. Dagg encourage us:

It should fill us with joy that infinite wisdom guides the affairs of the world.  Many of its events are shrouded in darkness and mystery, and inextricable confusion sometimes seems to reign.  Often wickedness prevails, and God seems to have forgotten the creatures that He has made.  Our own path through life is dark and devious, and beset with difficulties and dangers.  How full of consolation is the doctrine that infinite wisdom directs every event, brings…light out of darkness, and, to those who love God, causes all things, whatever be their present aspect and apparent tendency, to work together for good.  — Dagg, Manual of Theology, pg. 91.

So with joy and consolation let us stand in awe of the infinite wisdom of God manifested in creation, providence, and redemption.  But let’s do more.  One of the marks of a God-fearing person is to trust in the Lord:  “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love”  (Psalm 147:11).  To hope in His unfailing love is to trust Him.  As we stand in awe, let us trust Him, even when we don’t understand what He is doing.

O infinite God!  Who has understood Your mind or instructed You as Your counselor?  Before the universe was created it existed in all its intricate complexity in Your vast mind.  Even the tiny cells in our bodies testify to the sheer brilliance of Your creative genius.  But while we marvel at Your creation, we confess that we often wonder at Your providence.  Help us to learn that You ways truly are higher than our ways, and that You are always working for our good despite the many things we don’t understand.  May we fear You by trusting You.  And may we ever praise You through Jesus our Lord and Savior.  Amen –Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God, pg. 94-95

Are any of you struggling with life events right now?  Do you wonder how things could go so “wrong?”  If you are trusting Jesus for salvation, you need not fear.  God is sovereign and working all things together for good (Romans 8:28-29).  We don’t have to try to control, manipulate, worry, be anxious or force anything to happen.  It all comes together in His time and way, completely beyond our understanding, or weak efforts to control.  Wait and trust; watch and see what God will do!  Listen for His voice of calm, wisdom, instruction and assurance; trust Him, rather than trusting yourself.

Perfect Peace

Today I’m sharing more of my favorite quotes from my journal.  Some of the quotes contain my Word of the Year — Joy — but some don’t.  These words are uplifting, positive and true.

Hallelujah!  I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got — wherever good people gather, and in the congregation. God’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study–endless enjoyment!  — Psalm 111:1-2 (MSG)

You will keep him in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!  — Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

So turn to me and be helped — saved! — everyone, whoever and wherever you are.  I am GOD, the only God there is, the one and only.  — Isaiah 45:22 (MSG)

The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart.  — Psalm 19:8a (NLT)

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.  Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin.  — Romans 4:7-8 (NLT)

 

Shout for Joy!

I’m taking a short break again from the posts on Amsterdam, but never fear, I will return to them in a couple of weeks, because there’s much more to share!  I also have tons of great quotes in my journals that need to be shared, so here are some from my “Word of the Year” — “Joy.”

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn — shout for joy before the Lord, the King.  Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.  Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.  –Psalm 98:4-8 (NIV)

Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master.  –Matthew 25:21 (NLT)

The “stars that do shine” and the rest of creation around us have all been embraced by different groups as idols to worship.  After all, they are beautiful gifts from God.  But their beauty is only a shadow of His beauty.  If embracing them gives a certain joy, how much more joy would come from embracing Him!  –Michael Card, Joy in the Journey, 1/18

 

 

Darkness Light

There are so many great quotes in the various books I read, and today I’m sharing some of the best ones with you.  I hope these words encourage you today.

Of all the providential dealings of God toward me throughout the year, I must take my stand and testify that God’s way is right.  When things seem to go wrong with me, instead of believing they are going wrong, I stand upon the authority of God’s Word.  I decided long ago that instead of trusting my way, I will gladly trust blindly in the wisdom of God.  If I trust blindly in God’s wisdom, He will lead me by a way I know not.  He will guide in paths where I have not been before.  He will make darkness light before me and make crooked things straight, and will lead me through into His marvelous light.  God will lead me into a rich place and make me rich with treasures that can never die.  [spiritual treasures]  If I want my own way, God will let me go my way.  Many Christians do just that.  They insist on their plans and their ambitions and imperil everything because they lack the wisdom to know how to do it.  God’s way is the best way, because it is backed up by the infinite wisdom of God.  Gladly will I blindly trust God’s way instead of my own.  — A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 378

A man who is destitute knows how to pray.  He needs not an instructor.  His miseries indoctrinate him wonderfully in the art of prayer.  Let us know ourselves destitute that we might know how to pray.  –Stephen Marshall

It’s not our job to fix people; it’s our job to love them even while they are broken.  –Dave Willis

Winding this year down makes me pause to think and in my thinking I thank God that in His wisdom He has my best in mind for the longest period of time.  What God is doing in my life right now cannot be defined by the word now!  I have lived long enough to realize that God has all my tomorrows in mind when He is opening or closing a door now, today…O God, I stand between time and eternity.  The only thing linking these two in my life is Thee.  Thou hast my best interests in mind for the longest period of time.  I rejoice in this truth.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 377

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  My victory and honor come from God alone.  He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.  O my people, trust in Him at all times.  Pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.  –Psalm 62:5-8 [NLT]