Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Psalm 103:1
Everyone has a different idea of happiness. The inspirational speaker and writer Dale Carnegie once wrote: “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” But the Bible teaches that happiness comes from being happy with who God is.
- Deuteronomy 33:29 says, “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help.”
- Psalm 144:15 says, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!”
- Psalm 146:5 says, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help.”
- Proverbs 16:20 says, “Whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”
Whose definition of happiness are you going to follow—Dale’s or God’s? God has made us with great gifts, He has cleansed us with the blood of Christ, and He wants to use us. He doesn’t want us being unhappy with ourselves, but all true happiness comes—not from ourselves—but from Him.
Those who look to Him are radiant.
We are called to a settled happiness in the Lord whose joy is our strength. Amy Carmichael
Psalm 103 • Bless the Lord, O My Soul
I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered. Ezekiel 34:12
In the open sea, a rescuer positioned her kayak to assist panicked swimmers competing in a triathlon. “Don’t grab the middle of the boat!” she called to swimmers, knowing such a move would capsize her craft. Instead, she directed weary swimmers to the bow, or front, of the kayak. There they could grab a loop, allowing the safety kayaker to help rescue them.
Whenever life or people threaten to pull us under, as believers in Jesus, we know we have a Rescuer. “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep . . . . I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered” (Ezekiel 34:11–12).
This was the prophet Ezekiel’s assurance to God’s people when they were in exile. Their leaders had neglected and exploited them, plundering their lives and caring “for themselves rather than for [God’s] flock” (v. 8). As a result, the people “were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them” (v. 6).
But “I will rescue my flock,” declared the Lord (v. 10), and His promise still holds.
What do we need to do? Hold fast to almighty God and His promises. “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them,” He says (v. 11). That’s a saving promise worth holding tightly.
Reflect & Pray
When you feel panicked, what’s your typical reaction? What problem can you release today as you reach instead for God?
Our rescuing God, when life makes me panic, encourage me to turn from the rolling waves and always reach for You.
In 538 B.C. the Israelites returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. However, they encountered many adversaries who tried to prevent them from succeeding (Ezra 4:1-5). Discouragement set in, and eventually they were forced to stop working. God told their leader, Zerubbabel, how to proceed: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zech. 4:6). We would be wise to follow that counsel.
Like the Israelites, we may be under pressure and unsure how to keep going. When we encounter obstacles, our tendency is to figure out the solution for ourselves, but this attitude isn’t right. Having an independent spirit may be prevalent and admired today, but it’s not how the Bible tells us to live. Instead, we are to be characterized by dependence on the Holy Spirit—giving up control and letting Him direct our actions will result in doing God’s work His way. Our life won’t be free of trouble, but we’ll experience many victories through the Lord.
When we’re depending upon the Holy Spirit, here’s what becomes evident: Without God, we would fail, and our constant companions would be worry and distress. But with Him, we receive true wisdom and divine power. Then, peace and joy accompany us—even amidst hardship (Gal. 5:22-23).
“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)
The very first command given to Adam and Eve was “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). This might seem to imply there had been a previous population (so-called “pre-adamites”), but the word “replenish” (Hebrew male) means simply “fill.” Actually, in the King James Old Testament, it is translated by the Old English word “replenish” only seven times, whereas it is translated “fill,” “filled,” or “full” some 250 times. The precise meaning is “fill.”
Even today, with our so-called “population explosion,” the earth is far from being filled with people. One thinks of our vast deserts and inaccessible mountain ranges, plus the frozen wastes of Antarctica, for example. It may, however, once have been filled in the much more habitable world before the Flood, but it also was “filled with violence through them” (Genesis 6:11, 13). This, in fact, was the very reason God sent the great Flood to “destroy them with the earth.”
The time is coming, however, as seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic vision as interpreted by Daniel the prophet, when a great stone—representing the future kingdom of God—will have “filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35). Then the great doxology of the psalmist will be reality: “And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen” (Psalm 72:19).
The prophet Isaiah also spoke of this time: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). The later prophet Habakkuk in our text beautifully echoed these words of Isaiah. HMM