God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security, Revisited – Part One

The power of God’s Word– the power of Truth–renewed my mind (Romans 12:2) after a long season of severe depression. Although I had known the Lord for many years, I did not have the habit of meditating on His Word all day long. This post and the next show how God changed that, and how easily He can do the same for you.

This is a reprinting from October 1, 2020, nearly four years ago.  Through all this time, meditating on God’s Word has kept me free from depression. For sure, there have been emotional dips and seasons of feeling discouraged and afraid. But every time I returned to the habit of pondering the truths of God’s Word all day long, God gave me “again a settled place of quiet and safety.” (Jeremiah 15:19, AMPC). He has a settled place of quiet and safety for you, too.

Part One covers these topics:

  • God’s weapons for spiritual warfare.
  • Why these particular verses?
  • Why in this particular order?
  • How to use the key word sentences.
  • Why meditate?
  • Why memorize?

God’s weapons for spiritual warfare.  According to Webster’s online dictionary, https://webster-dictionary.org/definition/arsenal, an arsenal is a “military structure where arms and ammunition and other military equipment are stored and training is given in the use of arms.”

God’s Word contains every truth a child of God needs for victory in this world, and His Word trains us how to use those truths. His Word is a weapon, and it is also a place of training. His Word is an arsenal.

Diligently studying His Word equips you to “put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11, NIV) The Word teaches you how to put on and use the pieces of spiritual armor God has prepared for us that include truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and “the sword the Spirit wields, which is the Word God.” (Ephesians 6:17, AMPC).

Image result for free picture of peaceWhy these particular verses? The verses given here are a fundamental part of the arsenal of God’s Word because they will help you fight for peace and for confidence that God loves you and will always take care of you. We all need peace, every day, and we all need confidence that God is with us and will take care of us.  These verses will help build that peace and that confidence. I discovered these verses as I searched the Word for healing from depression and for courage to face my everyday life.

Why in this particular order? When I began studying the Word for myself in my areas of personal need, I started studying verses about fear. However, I soon discovered that studying about peace helped more. While I studied, I selected the verse that seemed most comforting and meditated on that verse, phrase by phrase, all day long, until I nearly memorized it, which often took days. When I realized I was memorizing almost by accident as I meditated, I decided to try a bit harder and intentionally memorize the verses.

So, while memorizing the current verse, I kept studying, searching for Scriptures in my areas of need. Once I had a verse memorized, I went on to the next Scripture I had found during study time. Soon, I had a long chain of Scriptures I could play in my mind when negative thoughts and feelings threatened to steal my peace. But I forgot them when I did not have my list with me or when I could not take time to read it, for example, when driving.  What to do?

How to use the key word sentences.  As I kept trying to remember the list of verses, I saw that the key word or thought in each verse formed a sentence.  Look at the sample below. The left column gives the Scripture reference, and the right column gives the key word or thought of that Scripture. If you read straight down the right column, you will see that the key words form sentences, which are themselves comforting truths. For example, “Peace never fails to return to the secret place.” That thought reassures us that we can always find peace when we stay in the secret place.

 How to Use Key Word Sentences

Scripture Key Word Sentences
Isaiah 26:3 Peace
Hebrews 13:5 never fails
Isaiah 30:15 to return
Psalm 91 to the secret place.

On the “Books and More” tab of this website you will find a printable document called “God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security.”  This list contains four sets of verses. Please do not be intimidated!  Take it one verse at a time, at your own pace. Although I suggest you for sure do the first two sets, you do not have to do them all. You might find Holy Spirit leading you to a different chain of Scriptures or adding to these. Let Him lead you. He knows exactly what you need. (Psalm 139)

Why meditate? We know we are to think about and meditate on God’s Word all day, every day. God tells us to meditate, in Deuteronomy 11:18-21, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1, Proverbs 4:20-23, and Philippians 4:8. Meditation is good for us  and can be health to our bodies if we are diligent with it. (Proverbs 4:23). Thinking about God’s Word throughout the day helps keep us far from sin and close to Him in our thoughts and actions. Hearing, and believing, God’s Word will change the way we think, feel, and live.

Image result for free picture of flaming arrowsWhy memorize? As described earlier, as you meditate on a verse or passage, you are more than halfway to memorizing it anyway. Having what God’s Word says about life’s situations available in your memory is powerful. I compare God’s Word in your mind to having a huge bodyguard with you 24/7. If you have planted the Word in your mind, then Holy Spirit, like the perfect Guardian and Protector He is, will bring the Scripture you need to your conscious mind in each situation you face. The Word keeps the enemy out of your mind. He may shoot flaming arrows of thoughts, but even the worst of his “lie arrows” bounce off the shield of Truth and do you no harm.

As I described above, if you take one verse a day phrase by phrase, going over each phrase many times during that day, you will nearly have it memorized. If it is not fixed in memory during that day, focus on that verse another day. Memorizing God’s Word weaves it into the fabric of our very being so that it guides our actions. A child who has been told often enough to “Say thank you” finally starts doing so automatically. Hiding God’s Word in our heart works the same way. It helps keep us acting as God wants. Hiding His Word in our heart keeps us from sin (Psalm 119:11).

In Part Two, we will consider how using the Amplified Classic Bible can enhance your meditation and how God’s Word works to change your heart.

God notices you – always! – Revisited

Note: Dear friend, this blog post is a repeat from September 29, 2020. With all that is happening in our world right now, it is a reminder that I personally need.

Image result for Jacob Ladder to Heaven“Behold, I am with you and will keep [careful watch over you and guard] you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this [promised] land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15 (AMPC) – Part of God’s promise to Jacob, when he left his father Isaac’s house.

“Behold, I am with you.”  I stepped out of the front door of my daughter’s house, noticing that her key chain had a heft mine did not. Cool air caressed my face, and I inhaled deeply, relishing the crispness of it, and hoping the chilly days of February would extend well into the springtime.

I climbed into my daughter’s SUV and put my purse, thermos of water, and two napkins (which my grandsons would put in their laps to, somewhat, catch cracker crumbs from their after-school, on-the-road snack) in the passenger seat, my usual weekday routine. As I backed up and drove down the neighborhood street under the oaks that nearly met overhead. I started repeating the phrases of Genesis 28:15, my current meditation verse.

Father, that phrase ‘Behold, I am with you’, starts with ‘Behold’, which means to pay attention to something, to stop and take notice, like when the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. You really want me to stop and realize You are with me, don’t You?”

Tears moistened my eyes. My throat tightened. “Thank You, Father that You know how I feel. You know I still feel so small and unimportant and so guilty sometimes that I wasted two years being so depressed and fearful. I am so, so grateful that You are healing the depression as You give me the strength to keep my mind on You and Your Word all day.

And to know, to have You say to my mind almost audibly through that verse, that You are right here with me in this car, that You are here with me in all my failures and fears, well, Father, it is more than I can understand but I thank You so much for letting me feel Your presence. Thank You, Father, thank You. If You are with me, everything will be okay. Help me remember that.”

Image result for free picture of street with brown trees and grass“I will keep watch over you with care.” I turned left on Stassney, then right on Manchaca, heading toward school, driving through streets surrounded by faded brown winter trees and grass and a low, gray sky above. Leaving the heater gave the air inside the car a pleasant, brisk bite.

And the thought, Father, that You keep watch over me, why that is a military term, isn’t it? You want me to think of You like a soldier standing guard through the night and the day, purposefully focused on keeping that which he is guarding safe from all harm. And You say you keep watch over me with care, which means diligently, paying attention to each detail. And it is You, You, Lord, Who made and sustains the entire universe, You are the One who is keeping watch over every detail of my days, every day. That is just too wonderful for me to understand, Lord.”

“I will take notice of you wherever you may go.” The familiar road dipped down then up then turned left in a slow arc as I drove by offices and stores. Excitement and pleasure built, as it always did, when I was about to see my grandsons.

Image result for free picture of parent and child in woods“Lord, there is something about that phrase “take notice of you.” I know it means to pay special attention to, or to be interested in, and the dictionary said it means ‘to observe with special attention.” Father, the picture that comes to mind each time with that phrase is of a parent noticing the tiny things her child is doing and how much that little child wants the parent to notice them, to pay attention to them, to help build a block tower or to take a walk in the park to find roly-polies and pinecones.

I guess that’s why that phrase means so much to me, Lord. You know the hurts of the past that You are still healing. You know I felt unnoticed and unimportant growing up. I did not feel loved, even though I was. And You know how the enemy has used those same lies for all my life to torment me, to steal good things from my life and to get me depressed and discouraged so often through the years.

Thank You, Father, that Your Word, Your truth, is changing my heart at the root level as I keep thinking about Your truths, over and over a hundred times a day even with the same truth, like now, that You, You, Lord up in heaven, are noticing me, right now, this very moment. And that what I am doing—this ordinary, mundane thing—is precious in Your sight. You are noticing how I have prepared the little snack the boys love, You notice how I love the cool weather You’ve given, You notice that I am trying to memorize Your Word, You notice that I am trying with all my heart to please You and do what You want all day long.

Image result for free picture of daytime skyYou notice me, Lord! Help me never take that for granted.  You notice when I feel I have failed, and the truth of Your wonderful Word tells me that Your love for me is as high as the heavens are above the earth, that Your love has separated my sins—and that includes my failures—as far as the east is from the west. Your Word tells me that You do all that because You love me and have compassion on me like a father loves and pities his children, and that You have imprinted on Your heart that I am just dust, a frail human being.  Thank you, Father, for those comforting truths in Psalm 103.

Thank You, Father, thank You. To know that You notice each thing I do, that You observe me with special attention is comforting. It gives me strength to keep going and to trust that You will continue the healing.”

“. . . and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I told you.”  I parked on the street bordering the school, along with other parents and grandparents, then walked up the sloping hill to the school entrance, slowly to avoid getting too short of breath. Sitting on the bench encircling a grandfather oak, waiting for the bell, I saw Ansel, head swiveling as he walked out, third behind his teacher. He broke out of line, said something to her, then, as she saw me, she nodded to him, bumped fists, and he ran toward me, backpack wobbling from side to side, his face lit up.

“Nana!”, he yelled. “I knew you were coming!”

We waited on Ben’s class, then the three of us walked to the car. As we drove home, I listened to their brotherly chatter in the back seat. I also listened to what Holy Spirit whispered in my heart as I repeated the last phrase of Genesis 28:15-16.

“Thank You, Lord.” I silently prayed as Ansel asked Ben if he had seen the new swings on the playground,  “Thank You that I know You will finish the good work of healing You have started in me. Thank You that I know You will be with me every moment, just as You are right now.”

A personal request

Dear, dear reader, I wish I could adequately explain what a difference keeping God’s Word in my mind has made for me. The scene described above happened years ago now, when I had just started the habit of studying the Word of God, diligently, in my areas of personal need and meditating upon and memorizing the verses Holy Spirit showed me. During the months of doing that, God healed deep depression and fear. Counseling and medicine had helped, but life remained a daily misery until God’s Word began its healing work.

And the healing came, hour by hour, day by day, week upon week, as I kept studying and meditating all day long on God’s truths about peace and His loving provision and other healing truths. The truth of God did its work as I drove to work, got groceries, spent time with my family, and most of all when I was home, alone with God, facing the struggle of reclaiming the happy and productive life depression had stolen for two years.

It is worth noting that meditating on God’s Word has kept me free from depression for nearly four years now. There have been brief times of discouragement and moments of despair when the path led through dark valleys and over mountains that looked impossible. But as I tried, no matter how feebly, to think on God’s Word, His Word never once failed to comfort and deliver.

God’s Word will heal your life. Your problem may not be depression and anxiety, but whatever it is, God’s Word will heal your heart and your life. I beg you to start the habit of constant, all-day and night meditation upon verses from the Bible that address your needs.

Usually, a piece of writing seems to end itself. But I only know how to end this one by pleading, once again: Please make getting God’s Word into your heart a daily priority.  God’s Word will make your heart whole and sound. God’s Words truly are “ . . . life to those that find them, healing and health to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4:22, AMPC.

The next two blog posts, “God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security – Revisited – Parts One and Two”  give a list of Scriptures that will lead you toward peace and explain more about how the Word works in your heart. Image result for free picture of bible study

 

 

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (Philemon 25)

 

 

Opportunities for great joy

In the early hours. . . I squinted, then squinted harder at the glowing red numerals. Four o’clock. Not drowsy at all. No chance of going back to sleep.

“Well, Father, You say in Ecclesiastes 5 that dreams come when there are many cares. I think it was some kind of dream that woke me up.”

I reached out for my phone and opened my audio copy of the Bible, knowing I needed to hear some psalms. For the next two hours, I lay in the dark, moving the heating pad from neck to back to ankle.

“Thank You, Father, that I can listen to psalms with my whole heart and make those words my own prayer. Thank You for all the reassurances of Your love for me and all the reminders of Your power for those You love.

Father, I cannot fix everything that has happened these last two weeks. I know the enemy seeks to push me into worry and fear and then depression. So I am casting all my cares on you. I will stay alert and resist him (I Peter 5).

Satan, I command you to get behind me and flee away! It is written that if I submit myself to God and resist you, you must flee (James 4:7) and I am submitting myself to God, trusting in Him and following Him with my whole heart.

I praise You, Father, that You are in me and You are greater than the evil one (I John 4:4). I praise You that all things are in Your hand, that You busy yourself with the details of the lives of those who live in right standing with you (Psalm 37:23). I thank You that You are my strength, my personal bravery and my invincible army! (Habakkuk 3:19).”

With that I got out of bed and began the day.

How to Fight Discouragement | Kelly LangstonEveryone is having “troubles, trials, distresses and frustrations.” (John 16:33) Revivals are breaking out across the country as God’s Great Awakening continues. God is exposing evil throughout the world. And the devil–“filled with fury because he knows his time is short” (Revelations 12:12)—is doing all he can to torment believers. You are not alone!

What to do “when we face trials of many kinds”? I know your tale of worries and woes is much like mine. Yet, the Word gives us light for our next steps and the path ahead (Psalm 119:105). So, what does God tell us to do when seemingly surrounded by troubles that seem to have no solution?

[1] Actively consider it all joy.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4, NIV)

The New Living translation says: “Consider it an opportunity for great joy. . . “  Although that is not how my feelings initially react when hard things happen, thinking on this Scripture stirs my faith and lets me say “God, I trust You in this. I choose to believe that You will use this for ultimate good.” Whenever I take that simple step, God’s peace starts bubbling up from inside. Obedience brings blessing (Deuteronomy 30:2).

So, I pray: “Father, I know this is an opportunity for spiritual growth. I thank You for the faith You have given me and for loving me enough to help me grow. Help me have the attitude You want me to have about it all.”

Image result for PUBLIC DOMAIN PICGTUR OF PRAYING HANDS[2] Present your specific requests to God.  Philippians 4:6-7 gives specific instructions not only about difficulties but about how to live every day. God says—in everything–rather than worry, to pray specifically, giving thanks to Him as we pray.  Then we will have His peace, which will protect our hearts and minds.

6 Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (AMPC)

So, I pray:

I present this situation to You, Lord. I thank You for the good things in this situation and I thank You for all the countless blessings Your pour on me every day. Thank You for salvation, for Your presence, for food to eat and clothes to wear, for the health You give me. Thank You that as I hope confidently in You, and keep my mind fixed on you, You will “guard and keep me in perfect and constant peace.” (Isaiah 26:3).

Image result for PUBLIC DOMAIN PICGTUR OF THE BIBLE[3] Remind yourself about some basic truths from God’s Word —meditate on the Word. God is very clear: meditating on His Word leads to prosperity and success. Yes, it can be hard to keep your mind on God and His Word when the distresses of life cascade one after another or when an affliction continues on and on, but consider these two passages:

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8, NIV, emphasis added)

And. . .

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.  But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-2, NLT, emphasis added).

God’s Word covers every situation you will face. Meditating on the Word is one of the best ways to obey Philippians 4:4-8 and fix your mind on good things.

So, I pray:

Father, I know You are working everything out for good (Romans 8:28). I know You will never fail me or leave me helpless in any way so I am comforted and I am encouraged and I say “with confidence, ‘The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT) I know that You have good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11) I know that You have put understanding and joy in my path and I will find them as I keep walking (Psalm 97:11). I know that You draw near to me whenever I draw near to You (I John 4:16).

Oh Father! Help me not lose heart, because I know You are working in my heart and that these troubles are light and temporary compared to the eternal things You have prepared for me. Help me fix my mind on unseen things, which are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

It helps immeasurably if you have the Word “hidden in your heart.” The verses you know will come to mind, like water gurgling up out of desert sand. For a deeper discussion of this topic, see the booklet “Diligent Meditation” on the Books and More page of this website.

[4] “Trust in the Lord and do good.”  Psalm 37:3 tells us: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.”  When hard times come, we are not to sit down and worry and give in to fear and dread. Actively trust God and go on with the next thing that needs to be done in your life. Seek out something good you can do for someone. Keep living the godly life God has called you to live. Trust God and do good.

Below is a link to an encouraging post about Elisabeth Elliot, the well-known Christian missionary and author whose missionary husband was martyred. When Elisabeth “. . . didn’t know which way to turn or what to do next. Elisabeth kept re-committing herself to trusting Christ, then she got busy doing the next right thing she knew that the Lord commanded in Scripture. Elisabeth didn’t let go and let God; she trusted Jesus and did good like Psalm 37:3 teaches. Her faith in Christ was active, not passive.” (For the entire post see Do the Next Thing: Elisabeth Elliot – Words of Hope (wohbm.org)

What if we are confused and do not know what is the next right thing?” God promises to direct our steps in life (Proverbs 3:5-6) if we trust in Him with all our heart. That includes times when our personal world seems to fall apart. He also promises to give us wisdom if we ask with faith (James 1:5-8). Another verse I lean hard on when I am confused about anything – what steps to take, which task to do first this day—is Proverbs 16:3: “Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.” (AMPC)

You know what a relief it is when someone strong takes a heavy package out of your hands. You lean forward, release your grip and suddenly the weight is gone. God promises: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:1, NIV). When I ask God, sincerely, to have His way with whatever it is, big or little, He promises to make my thoughts “become agreeable to His will” and to establish my plans.

Sheep Grazing in the Mountains at Sunset | Best Pictures in the World[5] Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture while you are doing the next right thing. I like how Joyce Meyer summed up this part of the verse. She says be bold enough to trust God and enjoy your life WHILE He solves your problems. As the years, and trials, go by (and they both do, you know) I am learning to let go of worry before I see solutions and enjoy the blessings that are right in front of me. Each trouble I go through teaches me more about God’s faithfulness and His loving kindnesses.

I implore you: prayerfully study Psalm 37. It is filled with reassurances about God’s faithfulness to help and deliver the righteous “because they take refuge in Him. (Psalm 37:40, NIV)

So what were my problems? Here is a brief account of experiences that led me to ask three questions.

Within Our Grasp | Jesus christ images, Pictures of jesus christ ...Opportunity to trust #l. Upon Whom am I really leaning?   When my car’s “Check Engine” light came on, I took it in for an oil change, which makes that light go off unless there is something else wrong. That shop (not my regular one) said the car needed struts and a UV joint. For $2100. But, they had a six months, same as cash program. I gulped, took the opportunity to witness to the young man and drove down the road to my regular car shop. There, the estimate was $1500 – but no payment plan. I took that chance to, as I have before, thank the young man at my regular shop for being honest, went home and prayed. And looked at my stash of cash and the savings account.

I could pay for the repairs but it would nearly wipe out my stash of cash and the savings, both carefully accumulated twenty dollars at a time, for years. I thanked God for the wisdom to have been saving regularly and for the honest car repair shop and asked Him to help me not worry.

What I learned (again) regarding financial troubles: I did not realize I was trusting in the money I had saved, rather than trusting God. As long as I had that stash of cash I felt I could make it a few weeks, if financial catastrophe happened. While it wise to have savings, I am to lean on God for all my needs, finances included. Because I am so very human, I often do not see that I am leaning on something, or someone, until that thing or person is removed. The problem with the car led me to start writing about these trials.

Opportunity to trust #2: Can I trust God when the enemy strikes my flesh? The next day, I woke up with a painful rash around my nose, where the CPAP mask sits. I also had a painful rash at the corners of my mouth. It hurt to even open my mouth. And the burning on the bottoms of my feet, long-standing, off and on, was nearly unbearable. All this on top of the usual aches and pains and other physical challenges so many older people have.

Mercifully, I obtained an appointment with a dermatologist the next day. He quickly diagnosed all three issues and gave prescriptions. It was a blessing that the other two rashes finally led me to see a dermatologist because I had struggled with the feet issue for many months, thinking it could not be athlete’s foot because there were no blisters or redness, as my father had had.  The face rashes cleared almost immediately but addressing the feet issue has required much time and energy and money – treating all shoes and socks, new shoes, special washing instructions for laundry and the feet, and on and on it seems.

Opportunity to trust #3: Can I trust God when the enemy hurts my loved ones? Just as I was beginning to feel more stable, one of my loved ones passed out, had to have CPR and spent four hours in the ER getting stabilized and receiving three units of blood. Doctors are now trying to find the cause. The next day I learned another of my loved ones is facing a job change and drastic cut in pay.

I have worked on this blog post since the problem with the car. Blessed I am to have instructions from God on what to do right in my hands. I know God loves my loved ones far, far, far more than I ever can, and I know He is working all things together for good. I know He is loving in all that He does. I know His mercies are new every morning. I know there is nothing too hard for God. I know God is good and His mercy and loving kindness never, never, no never end.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.  (Psalm 136:1-3, NIV)

Christian, know that God understands when things fall apart and you do, too. He does not get angry or criticize. Rather, He is “close to the brokenhearted.” His compassions are new every morning. He has the utmost tenderness toward you. “Great and abundant is His stability and faithfulness.” Meditate on Lamentations 3:18-26.

Jesus hugging lamb, so precious. Prophetic art. | Jesus christ images ...

How many roses has God given you?

His love gifts are everywhere. Predawn coolness filled the room. I closed my eyes, relishing the feel of it on the bare skin of my arms. I pressed my palms around the mug of tea just the right temperature for sipping. Inhaling the cool air deep into my lungs, I put the tea on the window ledge and picked up the pencil, ready to continue my journaling with the Lord. My eyes paused, finally, on the profusion of pink roses swaying just outside my window. That’s when conviction came, that piercing within as you realize you have hurt someone you love most dearly,

“Oh, Father! I am so, so sorry! Forgive me! I remember the thrill of first seeing that this wild rose bush had climbed all the way to my second-floor window, letting me see two roses while sitting in this very chair. That delight lasted for days. Looking at them with gratitude was a thing between us, just You and me, throughout the day. And look at how many more roses You have caused to grow and blossom! Just look at them! Oh, when was the last time I thanked You for these beautiful flowers!”

How often do I take His specially chosen love gifts for granted?  That morning, I counted 22 roses in bloom or in bud. When had I begun taking this precious gift from God for granted? How would a human husband feel if his wife plunked the carefully chosen bouquet of her favorite flowers in a corner and never looked at them again? How many times the past few weeks since the roses began blooming had God nudged me to stop and sit down with Him and just thank Him, to just spend a few minutes specifically thanking Him for those roses?

It is fitting and appropriate to give thanks, to praise and to worship the Lord. The Bible is filled with verses telling us to give our thanks and our praise and our worship to God.  I Thessalonians 5:18 says: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)

Why? It is appropriate.

 Rejoice in the Lord, O you [uncompromisingly] righteous [you upright in right standing with God]; for praise is becoming and appropriate for those who are upright [in heart]. (Psalm 33:1, AMPC, emphasis added)

Why is it appropriate? One of many reasons is because “God is good and His love endures forever”!   This fact is so vital for us to keep in mind that God repeats it multiple times in the Word, especially in Psalms. He even included an entire psalm that repeats this teaching. The phrase “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever” appears in each of the 26 verses of Psalm 136. Selah!

God delights in our praise and thanksgiving and worship. It pleases me greatly that praising God, thanking Him, and obeying Him whole-heartedly are gifts I can give to Him, little of course and by no means anywhere near what He deserves. However, when I keep Him first in my heart and love Him with all my heart, I know that gives Him delight

The Lord takes pleasure in those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy and loving-kindness.  (Psalm 147:11, AMPC)

Being ungrateful is spiritually dangerous. When I complain—about anything—I open a door to the enemy. I am making a way for him to steal, kill and destroy the good things God has prepared for me, including an intimate relationship with Him.

God hates complaining. Read Psalm 78 slowly and prayerfully. Do you see how many times God was merciful and forgave Israel and did not destroy them? But do you see that eventually they got what their actions deserved?

Why do we become ungrateful? We get distracted by many things, our own desires, someone else’s agenda, and the ways of this dark world. This world is filled with “troubles, trials, distress and frustrations.” Just before Calvary, Jesus lovingly told His disciples that they would have “troubles, trials, distress and frustration” in this world. But He also told them “but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (John 16:33b, AMPC, emphasis added)

God understands and “imprints on His heart” that we are just frail human beings (Psalm 103) so He always, always, always provides a way to escape from temptations. That includes those that come from within our desperately wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9)  as well as those that come from living in this world. Paul told us:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

Praising and giving thanks protects me. When I consciously, purposefully, tell God “Thank You” for the little things that are right in front of me – a Bible to study, food to eat, a home to live in – I begin feeling gratitude, peace and hope. Expressing thanks to my heavenly Father helps me think about His great love toward me and about Who He is. How can I fear or complain when I am pondering the fact that the One Who holds the world in His loving hands dearly, dearly loves me? Like all His commands, the command to give God thanks is good for us.

Like gifts from a child. One of the first gifts a child gives is the head of a flower plucked from the back yard and lovingly presented in a chubby fist. Like the little drummer boy “I have no gift that’s fit to lay before a King” but I can give Him the very best of my heart. I can give Him my gratitude and my conscious awareness of Him. I can just sit down with Him and say,

“I love You Father! Thank You for those roses! Thank You for teaching me from Your Word. Thank You for leading me to have a closer relationship with You. It is so good to just sit in Your presence, Father. I love the peace I feel when my mind is on You.

Help me remember, please, to stop the busyness of my hands and sit down with You. Thank You that I feel Your love when I do that. Show me how to please You more, Lord.  Show me how You want me to live every hour of every day You give me on this earth. I love You Lord, I just love You. . . “

A stained white garment

A Communal Communion | Pictures of jesus christ, Communion, Jesus picturesStained, again. “Oh, no! Not again!”

As I closed my Bible and put it on the side table next to the rocker by the window,  I looked down at the little spatters of burgundy on my favorite white everyday top. I must have, once again, held the tiny communion cup too close when I’d opened it.

There have been seasons in my life where I take communion at home with the Lord every morning. For years, I used grape juice and bread or crackers, but a few months ago I purchased a box of pre-filled communion cups and wafers, like those used in many, perhaps most, churches. The plastic lid covering those cups is hard to remove.

In other seasons of life, I have taken communion at home as the Lord leads like, for example, when I am deeply convicted of sinning against the Lord or another person in some way, like this morning or when I want to commemorate or  celebrate something with the Lord.

God cares very much about celebrating important things by doing something concrete, like the Lord’s Supper and meeting with Him at church on the Sabbbath day. Consider also the feasts, the festivals, all the altars He commanded to be built in the Old Testament. And how about the twelve stones taken out of the river bed of the Jordan to celebrate the miraculous crossing of the river described in Joshua 4:1-11?

God’s ways to deal with sin. I hasten to say that this is my personal habit, something Holy Spirit has put on my heart to do after I heard about it from others. There is no verse in the Bible that tells us we must take the Lord’s Supper each time we are convicted of sin. The blood Jesus shed on the cross paid the full price for sin once and for all. By faith in His sacrifice my sins are forgiven and forgotten by God. The practice of bringing a sacrifice for sin to the temple was for God’s people before Jesus came.

Then Jesus came to earth and fulfilled the Law with His life, and His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus made the way for us to be cleansed of sin and to have eternal life.

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” John 3:16, (AMPC, emphasis added.)

After Calvary, the age in which we now live, the God-prescribed way for believers in Jesus to be cleansed from sin as we go about our daily life is found in 1 John 1:9. God promises us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)

5 Reasons to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for LaundryGetting those stains out. So what happened to my favorite everyday top? I remembered a household tip learned when I was a secretary for the Sheriff’s Office. Once when a deputy—wearing a snowy white uniform shirt—was fixing a jammed stapler he somehow got blood on his sleeve. Another deputy retrieved hydrogen peroxide from the clinic, poured a bit on each spot and rubbed. As she kept rubbing the liquid into the fabric, the hydrogen peroxide foamed away the blood stain. Completely.

I see several spiritual lessons in that process.

[1] Sin is an unavoidable part of being human, just as accidents are. In Romans 7:14-25 the Apostle Paul describes his struggle with sin. If you have never studied this passage, read it over first in the NIV or the NLT, then do a thorough study. In this passage Paul explains that, although he wants with all his heart to do what is right,  his human, sinful nature always fights against that. Yet Paul rejoices that God, through Jesus, delivers him. Paul says,

“(v. 21) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. (22) I love God’s law with all my heart (23) but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. (24) Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (25) ‘Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: in my mind I really want to obey God’s law but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (NLT)”

I clearly remember the relief I felt the day I first understood the next verse, Romans 8:1.

“Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation [no adjudging guilty of wrong] for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1, AMPC, emphasis added).

 God does not condemn me for how my human nature reacts any more than He condemns me for how my physical flesh reacts when I fall and scrape my knee.

[2] God has prepared the way to deal with all our sins. When we genuinely repent and turn away from our sins and toward God, our sins are blotted out (Acts 3:19). We are born again, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3:1-21. Then, as we live this new life of serving God, as we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. How does that happen? As we saw earlier, when we confess our sins to God He forgives us. Look at this section of First John, which the NIV labels “Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness.”

(5) This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. (6) If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.

(8) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us form all unrighteousness. (10) If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.” (NIV, emphasis added)

General Ledger No. 1 Gold - NYPL's Public Domain Archive Public Domain ...[3] It is best to confess our sin immediately. Perhaps you have heard “It is best to keep short accounts with the Lord.” This pearl of wisdom comes from the Word. Leviticus 5:5 tells us “When you become  aware of your guilt in any of these ways, you must confess your sin.” (NLT)  Psalm 32:3 shows what happens when we refuse to confess our sin. “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.”(NLT)

If I had let that blouse with the grape juice stain sit in the laundry basket for a few days, it likely would not have come out. I had to interrupt what I had planned to do, find the prescribed cleaning agent, then take time to follow the prescribed procedure.

[4] We must be ever vigilant against sin. Whenever I wear my white blouse, I am extra careful about possible spills or stains and I glance down at it several times a day to be sure it remains unstained.

Once God cleans us up, He changes our basic habits and attitudes. He gives us a new nature, a new garment so to speak as He covers our sin with His righteousness. In the Bible, garment is a “symbol of covering, evil or righteous, defiled or beautiful.” (Interpreting the Symbols and Types, Kevin J. Conner, p. 144)

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10, NIV, emphasis added)

Once we are robed in His righteousness, we must watch daily to keep our garments clean, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12).

And look at what Jesus promises in Revelations 3:5:

“The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and His angels. (NIV)”

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, recorded his musings upon the purpose of life. He told us to keep ourselves pure, to keep our garments white.  In Chapter Nine, after Solomon concludes that good and evil, death and life happen to everyone, he says it is best to go ahead and live your life. “There is hope only for the living. . . ‘It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!” (Ecclesiastes 9:4, NLT). Then Solomon continues:

“Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart [if you are righteous, wise, and in the hands of God]; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments be always white [with purity], and let your head not lack [the] oil of gladness]. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-8, AMPC, emphasis added).

In Verse 10, Solomon counsels: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (NIV).

That says to me that I am to live my life, with joy, keeping my heart pure before God by living in the light that comes from understanding the Word of God. I am to keep my heart clean before God by confessing any sin as soon as I am aware of it.

Washing with the water of the Word works. After rubbing out those stains on my blouse, I laid it across the back of the couch to dry out before putting it in the laundry basket. When I got back from errands, I picked up the blouse. I looked at every inch and could find no trace of stain. It was completely white. Consider these verses.

(25) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her, (26) So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, (27) That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. (Ephesians 5:25-27, AMPC, emphasis added).

            Selah, oh my soul, selah! God loves me so much that He compares me to His bride. God has made the way—despite my frail human flesh—for me to be holy and without blame in His eyes. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14, KJV).

Everything We Need, Part Two

Jesus and NicodemusReview of Part One: In Part One, we looked at the first three verses of the first chapter of Second Peter. We learned that, through having a personal relationship with Jesus, God has already provided everything we need for life and for that life to be godly. In Part Two, we see how He does that and how we are to respond.

His exceedingly great promises.  First, go back and re-read the first three verses of 2 Peter chapter one. Then read verse 4:

(4) By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape (by flight) from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed) and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature. (AMPC)”

In this verse Peter tells us that the cause of the moral decay filling the world is lust and greed. However, we can flee away from that and share in God’s divine nature through the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives. God has given us His very great promises because of His glory and His goodness. Look closely at the first three phrases in the next verse, verse 5.

(v. 5) For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop. . . 

That phrase “For this very reason” points back to verse 4. Peter says that because of the great promises God has given us, we must make every effort, which means be diligent, to add godly qualities to our faith. Then Peter lists seven qualities that we can – and are supposed to — develop in ourselves. We develop these by God’s grace of course, but it requires our effort or it will not happen.

To reiterate, Peter says God has given us all that we need to live a godly life and the way to live that godly life is to flee the world’s corruption by participating in the nature of God. We do that by diligently exercising our faith and continually growing in Jesus, which means developing godly qualities.

What qualities should we pursue? Verses 5 through 7 list the godly qualities Peter says we can develop. We are to add to our faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. Putting each phrase on a separate line makes the process of how to acquire these qualities easier to see.

 “For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort

  • in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy),
  • and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),
  • And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control,
  • and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance),
  • and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),
  • And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection,
  • and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.”

 The process of developing godly qualities. Do you see the pattern? As we exercise, or use, one quality, we develop another godly quality, another attribute of the divine nature. “In exercising _________ develop ________.”

Image result for public domain picture of mans strong armsWhen we obey God and exercise, or use, the small bit of spiritual muscle we have, God develops that muscle. As that particular spiritual muscle develops—in response to our using it–the spiritual muscles and tendons around it also grow and another good quality starts to grow. And on and gloriously on!

A good comparison is physical exercise. Let’s say I’m a high school gym student. The coach says he is sure I have potential as a distance runner. I have faith in him, so I add to my faith in what the coach told me by starting with what I have. I diligently, industriously, start running every day. As I continue exercising my faith in what the coach told me, I develop strength, in general, in several body systems and muscles. As I continue running daily, my legs become stronger. I see (or the coach tells me) I must also do strength training to develop my quadriceps muscles so my knees will stay strong. I do that and next the coach assigns exercises to strengthen my hips and on and on until I have a well-trained runner’s physique.

Or consider someone who wants to have strong arms. I start with biceps exercises and those biceps muscles grow as I diligently work out, week by week. While I am developing my biceps, the triceps are also affected. Next I add triceps exercises. Next come the shoulders. And on and on until all muscle groups are strong.

Why do we need to develop these godly qualities? The answer is simple: these qualities will keep us from being idle or unfruitful, both of which are dangerous spiritual conditions. Look at verse 8.

(8) For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Notice we must develop these godly qualities and then keep on developing them. These qualities must “increasingly abound.” God puts a stern warning in Verse 9 for those who do not keep growing.

(v. 9) For whoever lacks these qualities is blind [spiritually shortsighted] seeing only what is near to him and has become oblivious [to the fact that] he was cleansed from his old sins.”

Do you remember how many times in the Old Testament God had to punish the Israelites because they lost sight of what He had done for them, could not see clearly Who He was and turned to their old ways of living?

Remember that God has already made the way for each of us to develop these qualities. God equips us for everything we need to live a godly life. If we fail to develop spiritually, we harm ourselves. Greatly. We remain spiritual infants, weak creatures and easy prey for the enemy of our souls. Our spiritual infancy requires that someone else carry us, feed us, and put up with our immature behavior.

Do you want to avoid stumbling and falling?  God gives us a priceless promise in verse 10. He says if we work diligently to develop those godly qualities, we will never stumble or fall.

(v. 10)  “Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall” (emphasis added).  (The NLT says “fall away.”)

Paradox Principles: The Stumbling Man

That “because of this” at the start of verse 10 connects this verse to those that came before. Because of the great potential that awaits us in God’s promises, we should be eager to do what God says and work diligently to develop God-like qualities. God does not promise a life free of problems, in fact Jesus says quite the opposite in John 16:33. However, God does promise we will be able to keep walking safely with Him. And it will be with joy and all the other results of having an intimate relationship with Jesus (Galations 5:22-23).

(v 11.) “Thus there will be richly and abundantly provided for you entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

The Enduring Word Commentary has this note about 2 Peter 1:11: “Peter here reminded his readers of the great reward of a calling and election made sure. They would enter heaven gloriously, not as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:15.)”  Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and meditate on that warning.

Be stirred up. Friend, may we be reminded about these things and stirred up “by way of remembrance”, as Peter wanted us to be. Peter said, “I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle (tent, body) to stir you up by way of remembrance.” (2 Peter 1:12, AMPC).  May we diligently exercise our faith so we may become strong and develop every godly quality.

Godly qualities will save us from the darkness of our present world. And we will shine like stars in that darkness. As the apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:14-16:

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves].

That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (fault-less, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world. ( AMPC)

Stars - Long Exposure 4k Public Domain Video - YouTube

 

Everything we need

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3, NIV, 1984)

For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).  (2 Peter 1:3, AMPC)

We already have everything we need for. . . . I watched Lily closely. She had just started her morning catly ablutions, thoroughly licking one slender paw, rubbing it over and over the right side of her face, then more licking and more rubbing until that side of her face was satisfactory, then repeating the process on the left. Next came her shoulders, then tummy which required an awkward posture and finally her hind parts, rear leg straight up in the air in the most undignified way.

“Hmmm, Lord,” I reflected, “You have given my little Lily and all cats everything they need for life, everything they need to take care of themselves. Either their mother, instincts or both teach them to keep themselves clean, to hunt and eat food, to socialize, to reproduce and to raise their young. I know that their grooming keeps their coat healthy by distributing oils, removes dirt and pests, calms them down and, if necessary, cools them. You’ve given them everything they need for life . . . ”

I paused a beat, then smiled.

“. . . just like You have given us everything we need for life and godliness through Your very great and precious promises. Let me see, where was that verse? I still remember the jolt of power in those words the first time I understood them. . .”

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3, NIV, 1984)

Background of our text: First Peter was written by Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus, to a group of Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Peter urged them to remember what Jesus did for them and he encouraged them to live holy lives. He gave instructions for living a holy life in a sinful world. Second Peter was written to the same group of Christians who were then in “danger being confused by false teachers. Peter reminds the Christians that the best way to resist false teachers is to grow in the knowledge and practice of the Christian faith.” (NIV 1984, Introduction to 2 Peter.)

The headings in the 1984 NIV show that Second Peter covers these topics:

  • Making One’s Calling and Election Sure (the section we will focus upon),
  • Prophecy of Scripture,
  • False Teachers and Their Destruction, and
  • the Day of the Lord.

Old stuff | Old keys, Vintage keys, Old fashioned keyKey point: It is just as important to live a holy life today as it was for believers sixty years or so after the death of Jesus, when this book of the Bible was written. The way to live a holy life remains the same. Furthermore, verse 9 contains the clear warning: if we do not have the qualities listed in verses 4 through 7, we are short-sighted spiritually and have forgotten what Jesus has done for us. But if we develop those qualities, we “will never fall. . . and will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (v. 10-11, NIV)

Our text, 2 Peter 1:1-12.  Take time now to read the first chapter of Second Peter, then re-read verses 1-12 slowly. Here is a summary of what I believe Peter is saying in verses 1-3.

(Verse 1). I, Peter, am a servant and special messenger of Jesus, and I am writing to believers, those “of like precious faith.”

(Verse 2) I say to you believers “May you have even more grace and peace, which you will be able to obtain through knowing Jesus, which means to know Jesus fully, personally, precisely and correctly  .. .

(Verse 3) . . .  because through knowing Jesus we will find the power God has already given us for living a godly life.

"We are all just walking each other home." (With images) | Pictures of ...In other words, God has put abundant grace and peace and total provision for a godly life in the pathway of knowing Jesus, of being one with Him. And knowing Jesus means knowing Him “fully, personally, precisely, and correctly.”

A more detailed look at verses 1-3. Let’s turn to the Amplified Classic Bible (AMPC) for a deeper look at these verses.

1. “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle (special messenger) of Jesus Christ to those who have received (obtained an equal privilege of ) like precious faith with ourselves in and through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:”

First, Peter reminds his readers that he is a disciple of Jesus and also an apostle. Peter says he is writing to fellow believers. He tells them that, as believers, they share the same privilege of having faith like his if they live in right standing (righteousness) with God. They have that privilege because of the right standing Jesus had with God the Father.

2. “May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” What a prayer!

Grace and peace. Most of us have heard that grace means God’s unmerited favor, a truth we need to be ever mindful of. But how often have you considered what God means when He says peace?  Look at what the phrases in the AMPC tell us peace is:

  • perfect well-being,
  • all necessary good,
  • all spiritual prosperity, and
  • freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts

Notice God says perfect, or complete, well-being. Webster’s 1828 online dictionary says wellbeing means welfare, happiness, prosperity. Peace also means we will have “all necessary good.” Remember that God promises in Psalm 84:11 that He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly (KJV). This peace God is talking about also includes having all we need to be spiritually prosperous or successful. Lastly God’s peace means we can be free from fears and agitating feelings and conflicts. As someone prone to insecurity and anxiety, I especially treasure that fact.

. . . be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. And how do we get that grace and peace? The NIV says “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”. Gotquestions.org says the following about knowing Jesus.

“When people speak of “knowing” Jesus, they refer to having a relationship with Him. Being a Christian is more than knowing about Jesus; being a Christian is knowing Him personally. Jesus spoke of the need to know the Savior when He prayed, “This is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.” (John 17:3).

The AMPC expands upon what a relationship with Jesus looks like with the following words “in [the full, personal, precise and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”  You no doubt have some people you know a little bit, but not fully. We are to have a full, complete relationship with Jesus, holding nothing of ourselves back from our wonderful Savior Who held nothing of Himself back from us. The next word, personal, speaks of our private life, what we do and with whom, and how we feel.

Precise and correct are the next two words used to describe what our relationship with Jesus should be. Precise refers to how detailed or specific something is whereas correct means being right or lining up with a standard.  To me, these two words mean we are to take great care about the details of our relationship with Jesus and that our relationship should be based on the truths of God’s Word.

Consider the religious leaders in the time of Jesus. They were precise in their attitude about man’s relationship with God, having rules about the little details of life such as how many steps they could walk on the Sabbath, but they were not correct, because as Jesus explained, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27, NIV)

Verse 3. “For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that are [requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).” 

The first word in this verse—for—is not in the NIV nor the King James. These connecting words in the AMPC help me see cause and effect and connections between ideas. That “for” in verse 3 tells me that verse 3 explains verse 2.  In verse 3, Peter says God’s grace and peace will be multiplied in us as we walk with Jesus because God has already put everything we need for living a godly life in the pathway of knowing Jesus.

Crowns – Royal ExhibitionsGod, in His divine power, has already bestowed, or given, us everything we need for our life and for that life to be godly.  Bestow means to give something to someone or present it to them. A queen could bestow knighthood on a man but if that man did nothing with it, what then? You can place a bowl of food in front of someone, but if they do not eat, what good does your bestowing food on them do?

A theme I see repeated throughout the Bible is that believers are to act like believers in our daily life. If we have faith but do not do anything with it, our faith is dead. James 2:14-26 gives clear teaching on the necessity to put shoes to our faith. Notice especially verses 17–“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”– and verse 26 — “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” ( NIV).

Another theme present throughout the Bible is God’s charge to us to pursue continual spiritual growth. We are to follow Paul’s example and press on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1-3). God tells us to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11), which means we are to take action regarding something He has already provided. We are to clothe ourselves with humility (Colossians 3:12), pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and on and on we could go with things God tells us to do.

How has God given us all we need for life and godliness? Look at the second half of verse 3. “Through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). God has already given us all that we need and the way to get that is through that full, personal relationship with Jesus. As we come to know Him, we perceive His glory, His true nature, not what others may have told us or what we thought. We also come to understand (at least a tiny bit) how wonderful He is. Awareness of these truths will draw us, or call us, to Him as surely as flowers seek the sunlight.

A Wife Who PraysA question to ponder: God has given animals, including my Lily cat, the means to take care of themselves. What would happen if Lily did not eat the food I put in her dish, or if she did not groom herself? Please show me, my beloved Heavenly Father, how to perceive and fully use all that You have bestowed upon me for living a life pleasing to You. Amen.

Part Two: In Part Two we will start with 2 Peter1:4.

By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed) and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.” (AMPC, emphasis added.)

Read the entire first chapter of Second Peter, again, and see what Holy Spirit shows you the second time through.

Do you know what happens when you love God?

Image result for free clip art of CAUSE AND EFFECTPlease note: This is a reprint from April 8, 2021.Life has been blessed – and busy!

The “if-then” nature of God’s promises. While studying Psalm 91, God has taught me much about the “if-then” nature of His promises. I am very grateful! In all the years I have studied the Bible (and I feel I have only begun understanding how to study this last year) I do not recall being so aware of how often if-then, because, for, therefore, thus, and similar words appear. Perhaps that is because two years mired in the muddy pit of depression imprinted a zeal to understand what God wants me to do so that I can remain safe in “the secret place of the Most High.”

As we conclude our exploration of Psalm 91, let’s review what we learned about the “if-thens”, when we began this study of what is often called “the soldier’s psalm.”

The “if-thens” of Psalm 91. A clear example of how God rewards us for seeking Him is found in Psalm 91. The AMPC has this footnote for Psalm 91: “The rich promises of this whole chapter are dependent upon one’s meeting exactly the conditions of these first two verses.”  Here are the “thens” that follow verses 1 and 2, along with the “becauses” in verses 9 through 16, (using the 1965 Amplified Bible) :

IF I dwell in the secret place AND SAY God is my refuge AND TRUST in Him (verses 1 and 2)

  • THEN God will “deliver me from every trap” (NLT),
  • THEN He will cover me,
  • THEN His “faithful promises will be my armor and protection”,
  • THEN I will not be afraid of anything evil, at any time,
  • THEN “No evil will touch me” (NLT) though people fall all around me. (phrases in parentheses are from the NLT)

. . . the “because” point the way to promises, too . . .

  • BECAUSE I make God my refuge and dwelling place (which repeats verses 1 and 2), “no evil will conquer me”, (NLT) and that is true because “He will order His angels to protect me wherever I go” (NLT)

(and finally, verses 14-16):

  • BECAUSE I love God and trust in His nature, He will rescue me, protect me, answer me, honor me, give me a long life, and show me His salvation, which includes deliverance, as well as redemption from sin through the blood of Jesus.

Image result for free clip art of GODS PROMISESPsalm 91: 14 through 16–eight thundering “I wills! Eight powerful “I will” promises conclude Psalm 91.

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no never] 15. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Let’s look at these promises once more, in list form:

(Because he has set his love upon Me, THEREFORE:

  • I will deliver him,
  • I will set him on high,
  • because He knows and understands My name
  • I will answer him when he calls on me,
  • I will be with him in trouble,
  • I will deliver him,
  • I will honor him,
  • I will satisfy him with long life, and
  • I will show him My salvation.

Image result for FREE PICTURE of sun moon and starsWhen we set our love on God. Notice that these eight promises apply to us when we set our love upon God. I see God’s fairness in Verse 14 in that when we set our love on Him, he sets us on high. How do I “set my love” on someone? “To set” means to put something in a specific place or position, like setting a book on the table. I like what Webster’s 1828 online dictionary says, “To put, place, or fix in any situation. God set the sun, moon and stars in the firmament.” That means something is permanently fixed and secured in a particular place. And that is how we are to love God—permanently and unshakably. If we do that, God promises to deliver us, which Webster’s 1828 defines as “to free or to release, as from a restraint; to set at liberty, as from captivity” and also “to rescue or to save.” The enemy of our souls always intends us deadly harm, but we have the promise of Almighty God that He will deliver us IF we meet His conditions.

Image result for FREE PICTURE OF HIGH GROUNDIf we set our love on God, God will deliver us and “set us on high.” It is good to be on high ground during a battle, and we know this life on earth is a battle! “Setting on high” also implies being lifted up from having fallen down or being in a low position. Job 5:9-16 lists a few of the kind things God does, one of which is “The lowly He sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” (V. 11, NIV). God will keep us fixed and secured in a high, or safe, place.

Stand in awe of the Word. I think a word of loving caution is needed here. I do not pretend to know exactly how God works, but I do know He tells us to study His word diligently, 2 Timothy 2:15 clearly instructs us to “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly] handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” That includes understanding the context of a verse upon which you are relying. I have heard and read many instances, as I am sure you have, where a verse is obviously used incorrectly. However, we all need to be on guard against mishandling the Word in subtle ways. I have done this in the past, but by God’s grace, I now work diligently to ensure I handle His Word correctly.

Image result for FREE PICTURE of bibleSearching out context helps prevent such subtle as well as obvious errors. At a minimum, I read a few verses before and after. Preferably, I read the entire chapter and peruse an outline of the book of the Bible in which the verse is located. This does take extra time and effort, but it is a safeguard for us. Below is a link to an excellent article about handling the Word of God correctly at knowableword.com The Dangerous Consequences of Ignoring Context (knowableword.com)

Because we know and understand what God is like. . . “Because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never]. (Psalm 91:14b, AMPC)

The AMPC translation of verse 14-b teaches us what it means to “know and understand” God’s name, which means His nature or what He is like. The phrases in brackets state “has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no never.” So as we personally experience God’s mercy, His love and His kindness, we will be able to truly trust and rely on him because we will know—through our experiencing it—that God will never, no never, no never forsake us. (Now is a good time to meditate afresh on Hebrews 13:5-6 in the AMPC)

Image result for free picture of sick woman in bedI may have heard that someone with whom I have a casual acquaintance (let’s call her Sandy) is a kind person, but when Sandy brings soup and other food and medicine to my house when I have the flu, I know—through personal knowledge and experience—that Sandy is kind.

Perhaps one reason God tells us to consider ourselves blessed when we have trials (James 1) is because trials give us chances to experience God’s love and faithfulness. After we have walked through a few trials and seen God deliver us, we can have the confident hope and expectation of the writer of Lamentations. In the first part of Chapter 3, he remembers all his afflictions, the “wormwood and the gall” (AMPC) but in Verse 21 he remembers something that gives him hope and expectation—which is that “Because of the LORD”s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. (NIV)”

Image result for free picture of sunrise

We will have all we need. The other six “I wills” cover everything we need in this earthly life. If we set our love on God and come to know Him through experiencing His love and mercy, God says:

  • I will answer him when he calls upon Me;
  • I will be with him in trouble;
  • I will deliver him and
  • I will honor him.
  • I will satisfy him with long life,
  • and I will show him My salvation. (Psalm 91:15-16, AMPC) (Besides the theological definition of “deliverance from the power and penalty of sin.” salvation also means “saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.” (www.dictionary.com).

In these promises I hear God’s thundering voice, but I also hear Him gently, quietly, pleading with us, urging us to set our love on Him, to put Him first. Why? Because He loves us and knows what is good for us. Oh, how great the love of God! Dare we offer Him anything less than total, passionate, faithful love, obedience, and devotion?

Look how Matthew Henry talks about these promises :

Whatever happens, nothing shall hurt the believer; though trouble and affliction befall, it shall come, not for his hurt, but for good, though for the present it be not joyous but grievous. Those who rightly know God, will set their love upon him. They by prayer constantly call upon him. His promise is, that he will in due time deliver the believer out of trouble, and in the mean time be with him in trouble.

The Lord will manage all his worldly concerns, and preserve his life on earth, so long as it shall be good for him. For encouragement in this he looks unto Jesus. He shall live long enough; till he has done the work he was sent into this world for, and is ready for heaven. Who would wish to live a day longer than God has some work to do, either by him or upon him?

Image result for free picture of heavenA man may die young, yet be satisfied with living. But a wicked man is not satisfied even with long life. At length the believer’s conflict ends; he has done for ever with trouble, sin, and temptation.” (from the Matthew Henry commentary on Psalm 91:9-16 at www.biblehub.com

Is it any wonder that so many of us memorize all of Psalm 91? Selah, selah, selah!

 

 

 

Do I really need God?

Image result for public domain picture of white cats pawsHow much do I depend on God? Eyes closed. I’m snug and warm under the covers. The blanket edge flops  over most of my face. On my cheek comes a velvety soft fluttering, a tap tap tap, tappity tap, tappity tap. Lily, my sweet cat, is waking me a bit early. I turn on my back and she climbs on my chest. Nothing happens, so she administers more tappity tapping. After a few ear rubs she jumps to the floor, but not for long. In thirty seconds, she again sits on my chest, tappity tapping my cheek.

Then I was out of bed, heading to the bathroom, getting a drink of water, washing my face, getting dressed, walking to the kitchen, putting on water for tea. Through all of that, Lily was right there within three feet, looking at me with her beautiful eyes, intently watching my every move. The moment I reached for a can of cat food, she meowed and ran back to the bedroom, to sit in front of her two white feeding bowls. Focused and persistent she was.

Why? Lily needs me, for her very life. I am essential to her, a vital necessity. Without me, she has no food and no water.

Do I need God like I need breath? The Word is filled with verses where God tells us to seek Him with all our heart.  In his farewell address before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, Moses warned that they would be scattered and many of them destroyed if they worshipped idols. But Moses told them that even from that place of idol worshipping they could still be saved if they sought God desperately. “But if from there you will seek (inquire for and require as necessity) the Lord your God, you will find Him if you [truly] seek Him with all your heart [and mind] and soul and life. (emphasis added, Deuteronomy 4:29, AMPC).

Lamentations 3:25 instructs us that “The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word.] (AMPC, emphasis added)

This verse tells me that I am to wait for God with hope and expectation. It also tells me that my need gives me the right to ask God for help and that I can do so with confidence when my need is covered by the Word. And God promises to “supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”  (I Corinthians 4:19, NLT)

All I have to do is remember the many times God has come through for me and I can lean on God with confidence and trust Him while He works out my problems.  Ponder Psalm 9:10.

And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity].

hands, pray, prayer, praying hands, faith, folded, hope, meditation ...Do you see that God is telling us again that we can ask for God’s help based on the authority of the Word of God and that our need gives us the right to ask?

Being desperate for God is a blessing. It is good when God lets be aware that we have, in some way, turned our face away from the light of His truth. I have a built-in safeguard in that regard because all kinds of negative feelings start if I let my mind drift.

Despite the miraculous healing God did of life-long depression, it is still sometimes a struggle to maintain emotional balance. Through many failures, many times repeating the lesson, I have learned that I need God as I need breath. I learned that if I do not keep my mind on God and His Word all day long, that the enemy’s destructive lies can quickly flood my mind with darkness. My fleshly tendency is to feel afraid, to worry, and to grumble and complain, about the little as well as big “troubles, trials, distresses and frustrations.” Jesus warned us we will have in this world (John 16:33)

Free Images : landscape, tree, nature, path, grass, light, sky, night ...If I do not immediately reconnect with God and let the truth of His Word light the way for my next steps, I continue stumbling along in the dark, listening to the enemy’s taunts of doubt, fear, and hopelessness. With every step, it is harder to turn back to the light of God’s presence and the peace and joy He has stored up for me. My foot has been trapped in the snare.

I wish I could say this never happens anymore, but it still does because the enemy of our souls, satan, is exceedingly evil and cunning and always seeking to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

How has he attacked lately?  Like many fellow believers, I have struggled with several health problems for many months now, praying and believing for healing and doing all I can to improve my health. However, despite a good diet, medicine, exercise, and physical therapy (with God’s hand evident in each of these), it has become progressively difficult to keep writing. Problems with my back, neck, eyes and hands, energy and mental clarity – the very things I need to write – have continued for months now, one new difficulty after the other.

What to do when hope dies. Somewhere along the path of the last few weeks, I failed to keep hope alive. Subconsciously, I began to doubt that God would be able to keep me writing. This was layered of course over other ongoing burdens, like unsaved loved ones, bills, repeated plumbing problems, and of course the darkness of our present world we all are facing.  Every day, climbing out of the mire of negative thoughts grew harder. I grew irritable and short-tempered with traffic, neighbors and every little annoyance.

Fortunately, I kept seeking God, asking Him to guide me, show me what to do, and to restore my soul. I read and listened to Psalm 25 through Psalm 33 repeatedly. One morning I felt so desperate that I made repeating two passages of Scripture all day long my only goal.

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him.

Psalm 33:18-22 – Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness,

19 To deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.20 Our inner selves wait [earnestly] for the Lord; He is our Help and our Shield.

21 For in Him does our heart rejoice, because we have trusted (relied on and been confident) in His holy name.

22 Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You. (AMPC, emphasis added)

That day was, by grace, better and I kept persisting, being honest with God and leaning on Him for His strength because my strength was gone.

I must guard my expectations of how deliverance will come. I think I was expecting God to do as He has done countless times before, to open a passage of Scripture for me or let me hear a bit of music or catch sight of a bird or flower or hear an encouraging word and all of a sudden get my heart back in the right place.

Winding Path – Clean Public DomainBut this time, this time I think God was lovingly letting me develop more spiritual muscle. I have had to patiently plod along, one hard step at a time, one day after another, doing what I know to do, and reminding myself of all God’s previous deliverances (Psalm 107:43).

The following three passages of Scripture especially helped.

Philippians 4:4-7 – “wonder-working power.”

 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!

Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (AMPC)

This verse tells me to:

  • choose to be glad in the Lord,
  • think how to help others, and,
  • rather than upsetting myself with worry, to ask God specifically for what I need in every situation and to thank Him.

If I do that, He promises to keep me in peace and guard my heart. He will build a permanent fortress around my heart. That’s how carefully He will protect my heart.

Jeremiah 15:19 – blessedly firm conviction about doubting God.

Therefore thus says the Lord [to Jeremiah]: If you return [and give up this mistaken tone of distrust and despair], then I will give you again a settled place of quiet and safety, and you will be My minister;

and if you separate the precious from the vile [cleansing your own heart from unworthy and unwarranted suspicions concerning God’s faithfulness], you shall be My mouthpiece. (AMPC, emphasis added)

As He told Jeremiah, God clearly tells me that if I return to trust and hoping in Him that He will give me “again a settled place of quiet and safety” and I can go about my work of living for and serving God. Furthermore, the Lord clearly tells me that it is a vile thing to have “unworthy and unwarranted suspicions concerning God’s faithfulness.” He is lovingly but firmly rebuking me for doubting Him, just as the Israelites did in the wilderness over and over, despite all the times God had forgiven and rescued them. But the verse also shows me that it is precious to God when I trust Him and have faith in His faithfulness.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 – renewed hope and strength.

17 Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

The example of the prophet Habakkuk is a model of the right attitude to have while living in desperate times. Habakkuk said that no matter how hopeless circumstances look (v. 17) we can choose to be exceedingly glad in the Lord and to have an attitude of victory. Why? Because God IS our strength, God IS our bravery when we have none, and He IS our army that can never, never, no never be defeated. When we are weak and afraid, God Himself will be strong and brave in us. He Himself will fight our battles.

An Ode To The Magnificent Feet Of Mountain Goats | Gizmodo AustraliaDespite all life’s troubles, sufferings, and responsibilities, God gives us the ability to walk right through them all and to make spiritual progress because of and on top of the very troubles themselves. Just like a mountain goat moves forward in its daily travels across rugged terrain.

What are your troubles? Dear friend, on the authority of God’s Word I can tell you that if you are seeking God, He is right there with you (2 Chronicles 15:2). Your life may seem small and insignificant, like my quiet, retiree’s life does, and troubles may have nearly swamped your little boat, but the God Who made and controls the entire world loves you and His compassion for you is as high as the heavens are above the earth (Psalm 103).

He understands exactly what you are going through, He feels it with you, and He has prepared a way ahead of time for you to escape into His place of safety and peace and, yes, even rejoicing.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure. (I Corinthians 10:13, NLT, emphasis added.)

All that you have I have to do is wait, with confident expectation and loving obedience, on our all-mighty, forever loving God. He will renew your strength.

Image result for public domain picture of flying eagle over mountains28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding.

29 He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound].

30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted;

31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired (Isaiah 40:28-31, AMPC, emphasis added).

Did things get better? Outward circumstances have changed little but, by grace, I have a grip again (which is to say I have a grip on God’s hand. He never, no never, no never for one second let go of me). And you know, while I was writing this blog post for you, on a gray cloudy day, I felt the warmth of His touch on my heart again, after many days. As the song says, “Oh, how He loves you, oh how He loves me, oh how He loves you and me.”

Daddy’s Hand - Daily Devotions | CBN.com

 

 

 

You can do it!!!

Dreading your daily work. Well, Lord, I am going to try to sneak up on it, on this outlining I am dreading, sort of get into it before I have time to think about. So let’s do a short devotional time first thing this morning and a longer one later. I’ll just sit here with You, watching the sun coming up over the rooftops, just being with You, trying to cast this care upon You and leave it there because I know You care mightily about me and everything I do (I Peter 5:7). 

And, I do recall Proverbs 16:3, where You say:

Roll your works upon the Lord
[commit and trust them wholly to Him]
He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and]
so shall your plans be established and succeed.” (AMPC)Father, I do roll this writing thing all upon You and I trust You to do what Your Word says. Amen.

Divine little reminders. I stood up, walked over to the desk area and the big pad of paper on which I had outlined Chapter Four. By chance (ha!—see Ruth 2:3-4), I happened to glance at the little card taped to the top of the hutch cubby. Creased in half, with the edges partly rubbed off from having been carried inside my billfold for years, the front of the card was a picture of a glorious sunset over ocean, with Romans 11:36 at the bottom: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!” (NIV)

“Soli Deo gloria.” Tears came, those tender tears that always come when we are deeply aware that God is saying something to us.

Thank You, Father,” I murmured. Four times in the past few days I had read of people who used this motto specifically to dedicate their work to God: authors Jan Karon and Tracie Peterson and composers George Frideric Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach.

“Soli Deo gloria is the motto that grew out of the Protestant Reformation and was used on every composition by Johann Sebastian Bach. He affixed the initials SDG at the bottom of each manuscript to communicate the idea that it is God and God alone who is to receive the glory for the wonders of His work of creation and of redemption.” What Does “Soli Deo Gloria” Mean? (ligonier.org)

Loving Father Carrying His Child Stock Photos - FreeImages.comI finally heard what God was saying.   As I paused and just rested with God, I finally understood what I think God was saying to me through circumstances. I think God was reminding me that I had dedicated my life and my work to God and that I am doing all I can for Him, the best I can, so I can know that He IS indeed leading my steps. Furthermore, far from condemning my weaknesses, such as a tendency to dread hard things and to fret, God feels great compassion toward me and He will help me with my specific weaknesses , just as a father watches and knows just when his toddler needs to be picked up and carried.

Dear Father, I choose to believe and fix my thoughts on the truth that You are leading each step of my life, and that includes my work for You. I know You are in control of that as much as anything else in the world. And I know You will accomplish Your purposes in my life and my work for you as I simply do my little part and walk holy before You, with my whole heart.  And I know this applies to each minute and each aspect of my life, not only our writing.

What about your work and your life? Some of us can point to a specific task that is our work for God. For some seasons of life, however, our main work for God is more dispersed, like being a stay-at-home mom, working to support your family, or caring for a sick loved one.

Regardless, all of us have some specific gift we are to exercise.  And all of us are commanded to live our life for God, to be a living sacrifice for Him. That is the real day’s work for all of us. In Romans 12:1 Paul tells us: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (NIV).  And in Colossians 3;17 we hear “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

You can, this very day, live for God, whether the main work in your life is in an office, a factory, a home with children, a church, a rock mine, or living your life for God while residing in a retirement community. You can do the same even if you are in a season where you must rest and get well, or where everything is happening too fast. You can purposefully choose to give this day to God. You can choose to live it for Him and for His glory.

Public Domain Clip Art Image | Calendar | ID: 13924942213430 ...“The trouble with life is that it is so daily.” (Chuck Swindoll) I must remind myself often that the everyday tasks of daily life—making breakfast, fetching home the groceries, housecleaning, paying bills, getting the car repaired—are as much a part of my life for God as when I am privileged to be seated at my desk writing. I must remember that God cares about the minutes and hours of the activities of my daily living as much as when I am doing something specifically for Him.

For that reason, I periodically reread the small book “The Practice of the Presence of God”. Written by Brother Lawrence, this short volume shows us how to be aware of God’s loving presence during all the hours of daily life, simply by turning to God with a humble, thankful heart.

“You can do it!!! As I turned toward my desk with refreshed determination and confidence, I saw the Leggo cat note holder one of my grandsons had made me for Christmas. On it he had written “you can do it!!!”  Notice the three exclamation marks. When I opened his gift Christmas morning, I knew it would be one of the things that has a permanent place on my desk.

This precious gift is, I firmly believe, another Divine “happenstance.”  My frail heart needs encouragement constantly and my heavenly Father knows that. So, God moves me to meditate on the numberless verses in the Word that strengthen the weak heart, He sends encouragement every day, and He sends courage through little pats on the head, like seeing that worn-out card and Ansel’s note holder today. God reminds me, and you, that, in His strength – you can do it!!!

Father, I ask that You send special tokens of encouragement to Your children today, in whatever way touches each one most deeply. Let someone they thought takes them for granted say thank you in a notable way. Let them see their favorite bird as they walk in to the office one more time or, one more time, start on a messy house. Let the flaming crimson and gold of a sunset warm their heart. Let a sense of well-being blanket them as they sit down for their evening meal.

Although we live by faith, not feelings, bless them this day with the awareness that You are right there with them, that Your love for them is higher than the heavens are above this beautiful earth. Let them know that You take delight in their love for You, that You sing over them, that You have written their name on the palms of Your hands. Make Your face shine upon them and give them Your peace that is more than we can understand.  Let them know that You are with them when they are with You.

Open their eyes, Father, and let them see signs of Your love and Your specific encouragement for them. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

The message on the back of that card was:

Everything comes from God. He designed it, He created it, and He sustains it. There’s nothing that’s beyond His imagination. And He wants to pass that optimism on to us. When He gives us a job to do, He wants us to know that it’s not too big for us. He’ll enable us to do whatever He asks us to do. We can serve Him with confidence, knowing that He chose to put us into this situation because He knew that – with His strength – we could do it.

Friend, in God’s strength, you and I can do it!!!  If you have given your heart to Him, the same One Who tells the oceans where to stop is busying Himself with the details of your life. And He really, really loves you.

Waves on the seashore seascape image - Free stock photo - Public Domain ...