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"You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I THIRST FOR YOU, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you."   Psalm 63:1-5

I used to work on my cousin's farm when I was a teenager and young adult.  I loved working on his farm.  I loved working with the cows and repairing fences.  I loved cutting and bailing hay.  I loved plowing the fields, planting seeds, and harvesting crops.  I remember the cotton fields.  My brother and I would put on backpack sprayers and walk back and forth spraying the weeds in the cotton fields.  It was hard work.  But...I would keep my eyes on that bright orange cooler sitting on the tailgate of my truck, and that would help me to press on with my work.  As I would get hot and tire, I knew I could count on that cold, cold water in that bright orange cooler!  It was refreshing!  I don't know how to explain it, but water never tasted so good as the water from that bright orange cooler in the middle of the cotton fields.  I think it was because I longed for it.

I love what David says in Psalm 63.  He says of God, "I seek you."  He says, "I THIRST FOR YOU."  David was overwhelmed by God's presence in his life.  He was overwhelmed by God's love, God's grace, and God's mercy.  David says, "Your love is better than life."  David was so overwhelmed by God's presence in his life that he couldn't help but tell others about Him.  He says, "My lips will glorify you; with singing lips my mouth will praise you."  I wonder today, do we seek God the way David did?  Do we long for God the way David did?  Do we THIRST for God the way David did?  If we are truly seeking Him, truly THIRSTING for Him, truly overwhelmed by His presence, then we will praise Him among the nations.  With singing lips our mouths will praise Him and tell others about His great love, grace, and mercy.  My prayer is that today, I will seek God and long for God...even more so that when I was in that cotton field seeking that bright orange cooler and longing for the water in that bright orange cooler.  Lord, I need You today!  Lord, I long for You today!  Lord, I THIRST for You today!  I know that You and You alone can satisfy my every desire.  I trust You.  Fill me with Your presence, and help me to overflow with praise and thanksgiving.  Amen.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter remind us, "Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."  The Bible is clear: Satan is our enemy, and he is going to come hard after us.  He wants to "steal and kill and destroy" us.  He is roaring like a lion, "looking for someone to devour," and he is not picky; he'll take you, me, or anyone else he can get.

Nowhere in the Bible is life promised to be easy; nowhere in the Bible is life promised to unfold just as we plan for it to unfold.  As a matter of fact, life is difficult.  Life is filled with ups and downs, lefts and rights, straightaways and curves.  It is very easy to get tired in this life.  It is very easy to get discouraged in this life.  It is very easy to grow weary and lose heart...in yourself and in others.  I believe one of our enemy's greatest weapons is hopelessness.  Satan wants us to feel hopeless...in our relationship with God, in our relationship with one another, in our homes, in our workplaces.  Hopelessness can often lead to deep depression.  Depression is described as "a sunken place, lower than the surrounding surface."  Depression in psychiatric terms is "a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal where sadness is greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason."  Let's be clear: hopelessness is dangerous, and depression is dangerous.  When we are hopeless and falling into depression, the enemy is driving us to a place where he wants us...a place of loneliness.  When a lion attacks an animal, it naturally tries to separate the animal from the herd, usually a younger or a weaker animal; then the lion will pounce on it, sinking its teeth and claws deep into the animal's body.  Never forget that Satan is the enemy, and he is described as a roaring lion; he is described as one who wants to steal and kill and destroy.  When you are in the pit of hopelessness or depression, you need help.  You need to know that you are not alone.  You need to look to the Lord.  Hebrews 12:2-3 says, "...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scoring its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary or lose heart."  Yes, this life is sometimes very hard.  Yes, this life is sometimes very cruel.  And yes, we can sometimes grow weary and lose heart...because of our own actions or the actions of others.  However, when you are weary and losing heart you can fix your eyes on Jesus.  You can fix your mind on Jesus, and He will give you peace.  He will give you strength.  He will rescue you from the pit of hopelessness and depression.  Cry out to Him.  Hold on to Him.  Jesus is real, and Jesus is available...no matter who you are or where you are.  Jesus is... 

"I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving."   Psalm 69:30

Yesterday my older brother John celebrated his birthday, and today my mom celebrates her birthday.  I can honestly say that I am blessed beyond measure when I think about how God blessed me with this family.  My dad loved my mom; my mom loved my dad.  My parents loved us, their children.  And I truly believe God's blessings flowed because my mom and dad loved God.  It's amazing when you think about it.  God loved us FIRST (1 John 4:19).  God loved us even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  God loved us so much that He gave us Jesus (John 3:16).  We can know and rely on God's love and then live in that love with one another (1 John 4:16).  Today I praise  and thank God for my family...all of them (so many more not pictured above).  But today, I also celebrate.  Happy birthday, John!  You have been a rock for our family, and I love you.  Happy birthday, Mom!  You have been a rock for our family, and I love you.  I pray that God will continue to use you both as rocks for our family for many more years!  Amen!