I didn’t feel like being grateful

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Gray skies. Size: 139 x 104. Source: www.imageafter.comI didn’t feel like being grateful. My right foot began to throb as I depressed the brake, waiting at the light. I ran my thumbs over the smooth curve of the steering wheel, impatient.

“I am so tired of all these physical problems!” I moaned to myself. “Is part of the foot pain coming from the low back, like that one doctor said? Or is it something else? And if it is, how am I supposed to pay for the decompression treatments he said would likely help?”

The gray, overcast day reflected my mood. For days, impenetrable murk had hidden the shape of God’s vault of blue heaven above. Instead of feeling lifted up and free upon stepping outside, oppressive gray clouds weighed heavily on the mind, closing you in, stealing the chance for an upward, hope-giving glance at that inverted bowl of blue and the majestic mountains of white clouds.

Across the intersection, I saw a gray-haired man in a wheelchair, also waiting for the light. Time flashed back thirty years, to one of those moments that, when you experience it, you know you will always remember.

Pin on Graphic Design Art FashionThirty years ago I had been driving home from my secretarial job where I sat outside the door of a sarcastic, mean, and hyper-critical boss. I was feeling sorry for myself, dreading sitting down with the bills when I got home where I would have to stretch my single-parent income beyond belief, and angry that my daughter, at age 15, worked at McDonald’s so she could have extras like magazines, make-up to experiment with and an occasional movie. There, bumping along on the side of the road, in the uneven dirt, was a young man in a wheelchair. There were no feet propped on the footplates of the wheelchair.

Instantly a saying from Al-Anon days came to mind. “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” That day, through tears, I had counted my blessings, literally, all the way home.

Now, as I sat at the light, looking at that old man in the wheelchair, recalling the lesson God had written on my heart so long ago, I knew something was really wrong. I still did not feel like being grateful, even after such a direct message from God.

Why was I floundering? The immediate reason for my sour mood was that I was returning from the gym, to which I had driven for the swim which aways eases my back. But three minutes in, they closed the pool for chemical rebalancing. The light changed. I resumed my fuming.

“I have to exercise more than anyone else I know and I still have so many physical problems. That is not fair!”

As I pulled into the parking lot, light finally penetrated my darkness.

“Lord, You promise to work good out of everything so I am going to see what lessons You have for me in this experience. I am going to get good out of this. Please help me get my attitude right, Lord! I am sorry but I am really mad about everything!”

I inhaled deeply as I walked toward the stairs, enjoying the smell of the drizzle that was starting and the slight chill in the air that gets pleasantly into your bones, so refreshing after months of sticky heat. As I unlocked the door, insights flooded in. I was reminded of the series of blog posts I had just finished on Isaiah 30, which teaches that all the time we have turned away from God He is eagerly waiting, looking and longing to be gracious to us (Isaiah 30:18) and that He fights our enemies for us when we return to resting and depending on Him.

Sun in the Sky with Clouds Picture | Free Photograph | Photos Public DomainLike a pouting little child stamping her foot, I had, finally, looked up at my Heavenly Father and raised my arms to Him. And, like the father of the prodigal who was eagerly watching for his son to return, God ran.

The blessings of insights from God. How blessed we are that God invites us to talk things over with Him. In Isaiah 1:18 He says:

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. (AMPC.)” And James 4:8-11 tells us “Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up. (NIV)

Prayerfully I reviewed what had gotten me into such a vile state of “unworthy and unwarranted suspicions regarding God’s faithfulness.” (Jeremiah 15:19, AMPC). For days, I had tried to be grateful, to just talk with Jesus about the problems, ignore those fickle old feelings and just move forward. For days I had been unable to feel His presence and His peace. So, despite strong effort, worry, fear, anger and resentment settled into my heart.

Animals Eating Grapes listOh, those foxes, those little foxes! [My heart was touched and I fervently sang to Him my desire] Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom.” (Solomon 2:15, AMPC). When I look back now, now that I have, by grace, regained peace, the problems that made me stumble seem so little. I am sure you could write a similar list. Mine was ongoing and worsening back problems; no funds to cover the treatment that might help; ongoing and worsening foot problems related to that; the need for minor foot surgery in two weeks, surgery that would further complicate all the back problems when I could not exercise for a while afterwards; having to wait three weeks for insurance to cover new eyeglasses; worsening eye pain and strain each day, not knowing if that was caused by the need for new glasses or cataracts or dry eye, the expensive remedy for which insurance also did not cover.

It seemed that everything I use each day, to just live and to write, which is a great joy, was falling apart. Another contributing factor to self-pity and irritability was the lingering week-long cold.

“Why couldn’t I be grateful for all God had done?” I asked myself as I reviewed the blessings God had showered on me this week: stopping the blood thinner, which had caused much fatigue for an entire year; getting me unstuck after weeks of struggling with a hard chapter in the next book; and showing how to modify some daily activities so as to help with feet and back issues.

Besides all of that, there were the huge, huge blessings that are a part of daily life: salvation, a close relationship with Him, some of my family being saved and faith to believe for the others; living close to family; living in America; money for all my needs and many of my wants; deliverance from depression; training in keeping emotions stable; and the knowledge of how to return to God when I sin and/or bad things happen.

God’s deliverance. So, here is what I told myself to do.

Where Do You Begin? | Steve Dieringer[1] Ask God to forgive me for my wrong attitudes and complaining and ingratitude. Two verses I greatly value are: 1 John 1:9, which says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)” So simple. So necessary. The second is Proverbs 28:13 which teaches us that “Whoever conceals their sin does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” In doing that, we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and He will lift us up in due time, as He promises in Peter 5:6-7.

Confessing our sin is doing what James 4:7-10 commands us:

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

[2] Make up my mind to God thanks for everything I can think of, no matter how I feel, and to praise Him. I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV) Psalm 100:4 tells us to approach God with thanksgiving and praise in our hearts. Consider this quotation from Debbie Przybylski on www.crosswalk.com.

God inhabits our praise. The word “inhabit” or “enthrone” (yashab) means to judge in ambush. When we praise God, He will seat himself right in the middle of our lives and judge the enemies that are surrounding us. The Japanese translation of Psalm 22:3 is: “When you praise God He brings a big chair and sits there.” Think about that! God is seated in the center of your life. The enemy cannot dethrone you because God cannot be overthrown!” https://rb.gy/fz4791

Heart,hands,sunset,beach,public domain - free image from needpix.com[3] Ask God to impress the lesson of this painful experience deeply on my heart. Psalm 103:18 in the AMPC has a vital lesson for me. Verse 17 says that “. . . from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him. . . “(NIV) The thought continues in verse 18: “to such as keep His covenant—hearing, receiving, loving and obeying it; and to those who [earnestly] remember His commands to do them [imprinting them on their hearts] (emphasis added). To me this verse says that when we earnestly, whole-heartedly, lovingly obey the Lord we imprint, or write, His word on our heart. This is part of the new covenant we now have through Jesus that God explains in the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews 10:16 God says “I will imprint My laws upon their hearts, and I will inscribe them on their minds (on their inmost thoughts and understanding.)” (AMPC)

Taken together, these verses reassure me (and, oh how I need that reassurance!) that as I follow God’s commands God imprints them, like a brand, on my heart and mind. This is part of how He works in my heart to give me godly desires and enables me to live a holy life (Philippians 2:13). He is changing my nature so that I want to love and serve Him even more.

Verse 14 of Psalm 103 is also instructive in this matter. It says that God understands exactly how we are made. “For He knows our frame; He [earnestly] remembers and imprints on His heart] that we are dust.” (AMPC). This says to me that if God imprints on His heart how much we need His compassion, we should imprint what He wants us to do on our hearts. If He loves us so much, how can we not respond appropriately? Selah. See what Holy Spirit tells you about these two verses. And all of Psalm 103.

When is the Best Time to Prune Fruit Trees and How Do You Do It?[4] Thank Him for His loving discipline (Hebrews 12). In times of trial, whether we are partly the cause or not, it is well worth taking time to ponder the truths of Hebrews 12:1-13 and John 15:1-17. God uses hardships to train us, for our good, so that we may share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10b). He trims or removes from our lives the things that bear no fruit and He also works with the things that do bear fruit so that those things may bear even more fruit (John 15). Clearly, some of my branches needed to be cut off and thrown away. However, God was lovingly working with my heart so that the faith, hope, trust, and self-control I had would increase.

Two thoughts to keep in mind. So dear friend and fellow oh so human human being, here are two thoughts that I pray will ease your heart as they do mine.

One, God knows exactly how you feel and has deep compassion on your fleshly tendencies whether you are a new believer or 50 years old in the Lord. He included many stories in the Bible about mature saints who yielded to complaints, worries, and fears. And He included how He loved and worked with them every time when they sought Him. Consider the failings of Moses, Elijah, David, and Jonah, just for starters.

And two, God is not mad at you for automatic, instinctive reactions of your flesh. Pinch my arm and my flesh reacts with physical pain. Pinch my circumstances and my flesh reacts with negative emotion. It is a trap of the enemy to feel guilty about such feelings and let them continue, subconsciously feeling we have failed Him and He must be mad at us.

father-comforts-son – Hurt2Healing MagazineEven when we, being so very human, let wrong thoughts stay in our heart, God is not mad at us any more than a parent is mad with children who react in childish ways. He just longs to lift us up and restore us to His side. Think of how often He forgave the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness and then when they lived in the land He had promised.
When you see a little child stumble and fall and you hear that piercing wail of distress you want to pick up that child, hold him close and tell him everything will be alright. You feel that child’s pain. That is compassion.

How much more does God feel compassion for us when we stumble? In Isaiah 49, God says His love for us, and His consciousness of us, is greater than that of a mother with a tiny infant. In Isaiah 49:16 God says “See I have engraved you on the palm of my hands;” (NIV)
Beloved one, “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” (Psalm 145:8, AMPC). To be filled with something is to have no room for anything else. Do a word study on God’s compassion.

No matter what is happening in your life, no matter how your feelings have reacted, humbly present yourself to God. He will lift you up “. . . for He is good; for His mercy and lovingkindness endure forever.” (Psalm 118:1b and 29b, NIV) Every verse in Psalm 136 repeats that statement. Think about why God did that. He did that for you.

God will always raise you up, to make you more than you can be, because He loves you. Ponder that as you listen to “You Raise Me Up”.


Be as the birds

Fields of White Avalanche Lilies bloom in late July along the trail in ...The lilies that live in the field,
the birds that fly through the air,
They blossom, they soar and they sing,
in freedom, unburdened by care,
for God did not give them a spirit of fear
Save only to flee when danger is near.

The rest of the time, like a child, they just live,
waiting, depending, to see what God gives.
They grow and they sing, just happy to be,
to be what God made them, joyful and free.

Can you, oh my soul, not be as the birds?
Can you not believe the truth you have heard?
Your Father has told you that He will provide.
Your Father has told you He’s right by your side.
Your Father has shown you He protects from all harm.
Your Father has shown you the strength of His arm.
Your Father has opened the eyes of your heart.
Your Father has shown you the thing that’s your part.

Image result for publiic domain p;icture of child with sparrow

Your part, oh frail soul, is to be as the birds,
just living, no fretting, no worry, no care,
for the Great One Who made you
Is mindful you’re dust
and He only requires that you love Him and trust.

Yes, serve Him, adore Him, flood your mind with His truth.
Through serving He’ll lead you just as He led Ruth.
When you yield and you love Him and make Him your Lord,
He’ll bind your heart to Him with strong and great cords.

Then, safe in His shelter, ‘neath almighty strong wings
you’ll abide in His peace, whatever life brings.
So be as the birds, my dearest blessed friend.
Cast all your care. All worry will end.

Eagles nets art – Destiny Eastgate Ministries

God earnestly waits – Conclusion (Part 9)

The Power of God - YouTube

Isaiah 30:30-33 And the Lord shall cause His glorious voice to be heard and the descending blow of His arm to be seen, coming down with indignant anger and with the flame of a devouring fire, amid crashing blast and cloudburst, tempest, and hailstones.

31 At the voice of the Lord the Assyrians will be stricken with dismay and terror, when He smites them with His rod.

32 And every passing stroke of the staff of punishment and doom which the Lord lays upon them shall be to the sound of [Israel’s] timbrels and lyres, when in battle He attacks [Assyria] with swinging and menacing arms.

33 For Topheth [a place of burning and abomination] has already been laid out and long ago prepared; yes, for the [Assyrian] king and [the god] Molech it has been made ready, its pyre made deep and large, with fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, kindles it. (AMPC)

In Parts One through Eight, we:

  • examined the context and main points of Isaiah 30,
  • discussed the subtle ways the enemy of our souls deceives us into devoting our hearts to idols, rather than the one true God,
  • saw God explain to Israel how their rebellion against His ways would cause calamity,
  • examined verse 18, which described how God earnestly, eagerly waits and longs for us to return to Him and that, while He waits, He is getting ready to show us mercy and loving-kindness when we return to Him, and
  • explored some of the unbelievable things God is earnestly longing to do for us when we return to Him, and
  • considered the unimaginable power of God and how He fights for us.

In Part Nine, we will conclude this series with further exploration of the power of God as He fights for us.

Isaiah 30:30 And the LORD shall cause His glorious voice to be heard and the descending blow of His arm to be seen, coming down with indignant anger and with the flame of a devouring fire, amid crashing blast and cloudburst, tempest and hailstones. (AMPC). In this verse, God continues painting for us a vivid picture of how powerful He is and how angry He is at our enemies, just as we saw in Isaiah 30:27-28. As He continues His description, He turns our attention to how terrified the enemy will be when they hear His voice and see His mighty arm. They will catch a glimpse of our God Who is a consuming fire and they will hear His voice thunder.

Lightning Storm Clouds from the sky image - Free stock photo - Public ...Throughout the Bible, God’s presence is associated with thunder. Job 40:9 asks “Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His?” Think of God’s appearances to Israel in the desert. For example, in Exodus 19:16, after Moses had in obedience to God’s instructions consecrated the people, “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.” Slowly read Psalm 29 for another description of the power of God’s voice.

And it is not only His voice that God promised would terrify the enemies of Israel when they returned to depending on Him to save them.  Their enemies would see His arm coming down and it would be with flames of fire, in the middle of “cloudburst, tempest, and hailstones.”

Have you ever been caught outside in a heavy, heavy downpour of rain? Have you ever been in or seen a raging, violent storm at sea or been in an open area when big hail started falling from the sky? There is no place to run, is there? No place to find shelter. That is the condition in which our enemies find themselves when we depend upon God to fight for us. And they will be terrified, overwhelmed by fear.

[31] At the voice of the LORD the Assyrians will be stricken with dismay and terror, when He smites them with His rod. In pondering Exodus 14, which tells how God delivered Israel by parting the Red Sea and then closing it up again to destroy the pursing army of Egypt, I often wondered how wide the pathway through the sea was. No one knows for sure but I believe God made it so that everyone who walked through that path was close enough to see the water, maybe even feel the spray from it, so that they would deeply experience the awe and wonder of what God was doing for them.

I also pondered how close the Egyptians got to where the Israelites stood safely on the other side. I think it is possible God let the first chariots of the Egyptian army get close enough so that the Israelites would have seen the snarling mouths of the soldiers and would have heard their threatening shouts. They would have heard the horses snort, and the chariot wheels rumbling. I believe God wanted Israel to see the fierceness of their enemy the moment before He utterly destroyed them in an instant. “So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. [32] Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses. (Exodus 14:30-31, NKJV).

And every passing stroke of the staff of punishment and doom which the LORD lays upon them shall be to the sound of [Israel’s] timbrels and lyres, when in battle He attacks [Assyria] with swinging and menacing arms.” Notice that God promises that Israel will rejoice and celebrate while God is fighting for them. The Israelites understood what it was like to celebrate a great victory. Through Isaiah, God was speaking to His chosen people who would have heard the story of the Red Sea. It is mentioned in Psalms at least 11 times, and the psalms were their hymnal. So when God tells His people they will celebrate while He destroys their enemy, perhaps they thought of the spontaneous song of Moses in Exodus 15:1-18 and of how Miriam then led the women in singing and dancing (Exodus 15:20-21).

For us today, whenever God has delivered us from the snares of the enemy, be it only a day or a few hours that we failed to depend on God first or be it months or years, meditating upon the song of Moses, with deep sincerity and much joy, would be an appropriate way to honor God and celebrate with Him. He rejoices over each of our victories, big and little, our whole life through just as a father rejoices over each step his little child takes just as much as when that child takes the step of graduating from school. Our Father is a good, good, good father. Let’s remember to thank Him and take time to rejoice with Him.

Two People Having Coffee High-Res Stock Photo - Getty ImagesCelebrating with loved ones is particularly meaningful, leaving lingering, pleasant memories. I can still smell the rich aroma of the coffeehouse that my daughter and son-in-law took me to when we celebrated my graduation. I can still see their smiling faces looking at me across the tiny table. They took time out of their daily life to celebrate with me.

[33] For Topheth [a place of burning and abomination] has already been laid out and long ago prepared; yes, for the [Assyrian] king and [the god] Molech it has been made ready, its pyre made deep and large, with fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, kindles it. “Tophet was a valley near Jerusalem, where fires were continually burning to destroy things that were hurtful and offensive “(Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary). This was where the idolatrous Jews practiced child sacrifice—which is still being done today but called abortion rather than the murder of one’s own child, which is what it is.

As recorded in 2 Kings 23:10, when King Josiah was purging the land of idol worship “He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Vallen of Ben Hinnom, so no one could us it to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire to Molech.” (NIV) The Benson Commentary states that in order to make the place “as despicable and abominable as possible [Josiah] ordered the filth of the city and dead carcasses to be thrown there, and made it a common burying place.” Fires were kept burning there to “consume dead bodies, bones, and such sordid things.”

Think about it. The entire time God had this utter destruction, this complete annihilation and consignment to the vilest place, prepared for the Assyrian army. The utter and final destruction of Satan and all his demons is just as certain and just as prepared. Even so, God has victory prepared for you and for me over those enemies of our souls.

As believers living in this world in a human body, we will all face trials and temptations of all kinds. But God has given us power over the enemy, as Jesus says in Luke 10:19.

“Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]’ and nothing shall in any way harm you.” (AMPC)

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus spoke to His followers at length, as recorded in John 14, 15 and 16. He concluded His discourse by saying:

STATEMENT OF FAITH - The JourneyI have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; 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.” (AMPC)

We do well to consider this passage at length and to keep it and this concluding exhortation by Jesus in mind when we are tempted to dishonor God by failing to regard Him as our only hope of safety.

“The LORD of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety], and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread [lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him.” (Isaiah 8:13, AMPC)

Mentoring - Contenders Discipleship InitiativeSharing a personal application: Just as Israel turned to Egypt for help, when I was severely depressed a few years ago I turned to worldly methods first, rather than God. I was as rebellious as Israel. For years, God had been telling me through Bible teachers to dig deeper into, to meditate on and to speak His Word all day long, to the point of what many call extremism. For years, teachers and preachers who had overcome great personal problems stirred my spirit. I felt God’s anointing for me on their teaching. And they all stressed depending on God’s Word FIRST. They talked little if any about psychology.

I remember thinking that was God’s path for me, too, but I also remember thinking that speaking and thinking about the Word all day might interfere with daily life. I already thought about God more than most, I pridefully thought, and I followed good spiritual disciplines. So, I only half-heartedly tried to obey. Over the years, each time depression resurfaced I felt that with enough teaching and Christian self-help books I could get a grip on my life.

Undepressed. Isaiah 30 is the basis for the book “Undepressed: How God’s Word Heals Your Heart When Nothing Else Can”, available on the Books and More page of this website. This true story shows how relying on God and His Word first, rather than methods of the world, healed deep depression when nothing else worked.

Isaiah 30:18 was one of the first verses God used to start healing severe depression in 2018. At that time, I had slipped into depending mainly and primarily on worldly methods, rather than God and the truths of His Word.  Oh yes, I tried to follow the suggestions of Christian books and teachers and pastors. I lived the best Christian life I could and tried nearly everything. Then I reached my breaking point and took an antidepressant. The medication helped, as did group and individual therapy. However, true healing and lasting freedom came only when I began using God’s Word like the medicine it truly is to renew my mind.

How to take God’s Word like medicine. I strongly urge you to read the excellent very short book “God’s Medicine Bottle” by Derek Prince (available in book form at www.derekprince.com and as a podcast at God’s Medicine Bottle | Podcast Series | Derek Prince Ministries.)   “God’s Medicine Bottle” and Joyce Meyer’s repeated teachings on the same subject convinced me to finally start applying His Word like medicine to my particular emotional needs.

Derek Prince focuses on Proverbs 4:20-23 and explains what diligent Bible study really is and that it really is God’s medicine for us.  Joyce Meyer also stresses that you must study, meditate and apply Scriptures that address your individual needs. She says “Personal victory over personal problems comes from personal time with God.” Only renewing your mind and breaking down the specific strongholds of lies you personally have believed will heal your heart. And the only way to do that is with God’s Word.

Bible study The Message Religious text - Designs Png Bible png download ...While I was struggling so desperately with depression, unfortunately, my actions said I doubted God’s Word would heal my heart. When I finally did begin studying His Word for healing, at first I still tried to get it second hand by diligently studying the teaching of others.  It was only when I sat down alone with God, my Bible and a concordance and began diligent study as well as meditation on God’s truths about fear, peace, and His great love for me personally that healing began.

I had to persist. However, from the first sessions of diligent Bible study and constant meditation on the Word, healing began. And it came with joy.  I personally experienced the process we have studied in Isaiah 30.

God is earnestly, eagerly, expecting, looking and longing to help you with whatever problems you face. Won’t you submit to His ways? You will encounter His mercy and lovingkindness all along the path of your healing and help.

He leads the humble in what is right, and the humble He teaches His way.  All the paths of the Lord are mercy and steadfast love, even truth and faithfulness are they for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. (Psalm 25:9-10, AMPC, emphasis added)

You will find His mercy and steadfast love every step of the way as you reach toward Him. And you will find Him faithful and true as, in proportion to, you keep His covenant and His testimonies.

 Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You. (Psalm 33:22, AMPC)

light, forest, away, path, trees, autumn, green, leaves, fall foliage ...

Are you praying for Israel?

Graafix!: wallpaper flags of IsraelAre  you praying for Israel? There has never been a time in recent history when Israel needs prayer more than now. The enemy of our souls may try to tell you that your prayers do not matter, that you are just an ordinary person and that you do not know how to pray or that you are ignorant about Israel or that one more prayer from an average believer will not matter.  Lies lies lies!

God hears every prayer and believers are commanded to pray for Israel. See Psalm 126, especially verse 6 through 9.

 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.”For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.

Another verse to imprint on your heart is Genesis 12:3: I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth   will be blessed through you.”

How to pray? Again, I suggest you follow Intercessors for America.  Today’s News – Intercessors for America (ifapray.org)

And join the Jerusalem Prayer team.  Home – Jerusalem Prayer Team

Watch what you are watching. I urge you not to watch mainstream media or social media. The enemy seeks to plant fear as well as to discord. We need to be informed but we do not need to be terrorized by images of what the terrorists did. Stay in peace. Fear never comes from God. 

However, do listen to conservative, Christian media outlets. The best I know of is Victory News and Flashpoint. The Jerusalem Prayer Team is another excellent source of God’s truth about what is happening in Israel.

Victory News – VICTORY Original Programming (govictory.com)

FlashPoint – Hosted by Gene Bailey (govictory.com)

God prophesied this. On the Flashpoint Israel War special podcast from October 9 you will learn that God prophesied what is happening now. That should give you comfort and reassurance that our almighty, all-powerful Father is still on His throne and will always, always, always be.

FlashPoint: Israel War Special (October 9th 2023) – FlashPoint (govictory.com)

How else can I help? Two specific things to do are:

[1] Call your senators and representatives. Call the Capital switchboard 1-202-224-3121 to connect with your senators and congressional representatives. Tell them America must support Israel NOW. Tell them we want our borders secure NOW. Your calls, letters and emails do make a difference. They know you voted them in and can vote them out.

[2] Give to Israel. I have given to Jerusalem Prayer Team.  www.jerusalemprayerteam.org. I am confident the money will go for Israel. You can hear an interview with Dr. Mike Evans, founder of this organization and world-renowned expert on Israel, on the October 10 Flashpoint podcast “Prepare for Change” at this link. Listen at about minute 43, then go back and watch the entire podcast.

FlashPoint: Prepare for Change! (October 10th 2023) – FlashPoint (govictory.com)

Your prayers and support matter. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 126:6-9.


P R A Y F O R I S R A E L ! ! !

Friend, everyone needs to be praying for Israel!  For a Biblical view of what is happening and the history behind Gaza from a Biblical perspective see Victory News for October 9, 2023 (the 4 p.m. podcast.) Below is the link. The brief and spot-on summary begins at about minute 23.

Programs – VICTORY (govictory.com)

Tonight, at 8 p.m., there will be a Flashpoint special.  Here is the link to Flashpoint.

FlashPoint – Hosted by Gene Bailey (govictory.com)

Intercessors for America  is posting updates. You can go there and add your prayer (at the end of the text) and you can click to indicate that you have prayed. GOD HEARS OUR EVERY PRAYER!!!

Today’s News – Intercessors for America (ifapray.org)

 P R A Y   F O R   I S R A E L !!!


New book available for you

Image result for public domain picture of bookstoreBy God’s grace, there is a new book available on the Books and More page of this website – Undepressed: How God’s Word Can Heal Your Heart.

Undepressed is the true story of how studying and meditating on God’s Word healed life-long depression, when nothing else worked. This full-length novel interweaves narrative with explanation of principles found in Isaiah 30, as well as many other Bible truths.

Isaiah 30 teaches that we rebel against God when we love or rely on anything more than Him. Eventually, the very thing we lean on starts destroying us.  However, God eagerly watches and waits for us, longing to be good to us. God will answer us when we return to Him, and He will give us joy as we fight together to destroy our enemies.

Each chapter of Undepressed begins with a summary page, in quick-scan format, highlighting the main story points covered in that chapter as well as the Biblical truths illustrated.

Not just enough – The Distinct DotThis book shows you how to use God’s Word to heal your heart, regardless of your problem, and walk closer to Him. My sincere prayer is that God uses it to speak to you, personally, in the ways only He knows you need.  Friend, He really, really loves you!


Many sparrows

Tree Sparrow Passer Montanus Free Stock Photo - Public Domain PicturesEarly morning thoughts. I took a sip of tea, leaned forward and opened the blinds behind the desk. There, in the yellow halo of light from the blazing security light affixed to the wall, three small gray and brown sparrows perched in the entwining branches of the crepe myrtle trees screening the window of my second floor condo. Two had their heads tucked under their wings, demonstrating all the flexibility usually attributed to those of the feline persuasion. The third miniature beauty was occupied with his morning ablutions, pecking his tiny beak atop, behind and under his uplifted snippet of a wing.

Beyond and to the sides of this sparrow’s bedroom of light there in the tree branches, darkness was still really dark, stirring, as it always did, tender memories of high school mornings when my father, who arose at five to go to the rock mine, sometimes woke me when I had a paper due or needed an extra hour of piano practice.

“How can that be so many decades ago now?” I wondered. “Thank You, Lord, for those two Scriptures yesterday, that one in Isaiah and in Psalms”.

 Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you. (Isaiah 46:4, AMPC)

 I will come in the strength and with the mighty acts of the Lord God; I will mention and praise Your righteousness, even Yours alone.

O God, You have taught me from my youth, and hitherto have I declared Your wondrous works.

 Yes, even when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not, [but keep me alive] until I have declared Your mighty strength to [this] generation, and Your might and power to all that are to come. (Psalm 71:16-18, AMPC)

File:Alarm Clocks 20101105.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsCoping with problems. I had recently started going to bed earlier so that I could get up earlier for the specific purpose of dividing up time spent sitting at the computer, part of ongoing efforts to keep on with the work of writing despite the recent barrage of age-related challenges like eye strain, stiff joints, fatigue, and on and on.

But today, looking at the sparrows I am richly blessed as the word of God comes to mind, as always bringing truth and therefore peace. The truth is that I am exceedingly blessed, in countless ways. Having a home, food, a car, the freedoms of living in America are things I try to remember to thank God for daily. But I also thank Him for the health He has given and for the wisdom He gives in how to keep going, and even laugh, in spite of the problems associated with old age and white hairs.

So, this morning as I look at the sparrows, I think:

“Finally, I get it Lord . . . there are many sparrows. Many. And I am worth more than many of them, You said. As they simply perch and sleep, and awake and happily chirp the day awake they do not worry how they will do their job of finding food. If one of them is a little older and is feeling stiff, they do not worry.

Two days later. . . I was having a great day, with an unusually long stretch of time to write since it was not only a rest day from exercise but also a day with few other chores to do as well. Most of the morning, I spent happily combining ten or so separate files into one, closing in on the process of getting the book “Undepressed” ready to put on the website, hopefully by the end of this month.

At one, I took an hour’s rest, flat on the bed, part of my self-imposed health habits that help greatly. After a bite of lunch and a quick quiet time, I was debating whether to continue work on compiling files or to return to work on the new book about becoming a believer when a text pinged.

“We have noticed suspicious activity on your account. If you did not authorize the following transaction, text N to this number. . . “

Well, that led to four more text messages, with waits in between each, and then the text “Your debit card has been cancelled due to fraudulent activity. Please see your financial institution or call this number for a new card. . . “


“Just when things are going so well, just when I have some extra time, just when I was in such a good mood. . . “ began the silent fuming.

But, by grace, not for long.

“I am sorry, Lord. Thank You for catching this attempt at fraud.  Thank you that they only got one hundred dollars before the fraud protection system stopped it. Help me redeem this time, Lord. Let there be someone at the credit union that I can witness to. Help me have a good attitude.”

Well, there just was no chance to witness to anyone. I got a new card, was given the phone number to call and dispute the fraudulent charges, and advised, which I already knew, that any automatic payments that had been set up on the old card would have to be re-established.

I walked back out into the Texas sun, still highly irked at the loss in time and the loss of the good mood. I had so much I wanted to get done today!

But, as I pulled back into the parking lot and walked to my unit, I realized it had only taken an hour. The credit union was less than two miles from my home, there had been only a short line, and I could probably have the money taken by fraud restored.

How He takes care of sparrows. That’s when I remembered this blog post I had started a couple of days before, and I thought.

“Lord, part of the way you take care of the billions of sparrows in Your world is through protecting them from harm, just like You protected me from financial harm. And those sparrows do not worry or fret about cats or birds of prey or other dangers, once they are passed.”

Ambulance Free Stock Photo - Public Domain PicturesI sat back down at my desk and thought about the day and other blessings and protections. I had been up at five to drive someone I love to the hospital for a procedure, where all turned out to be fine, a blessing to that person and to me. On the way home, I had been passed on the interstate by two fire engines and an ambulance, on their way I soon saw as I creeped along in the backed-up traffic, to a bad car accident. Had I not had to wait an hour at the hospital while the check-in snafu got untangled before I left, I might have been in that accident.

“Father, like a child fussing because his papa will not let him cross the street when cars are coming or a child throwing a tantrum because she cannot have a cookie thirty minutes before dinner, I have whined and been mad about delays today. And all the while You have been protecting me. Forgive me, Lord, and show me how to be more grateful for all the hours and hours of time You give me every day and all the blessings You constantly pour out.

 Help me truly consider the lilies and the sparrows. Give me the heart of a trusting, non-complaining and grateful child.”

Biblical basis. As ever, I cannot seem to write short blog posts! In looking up the well-known sparrows reference I found that Jesus used the metaphor of sparrows and another time He used ravens and lilies to tell us not to worry. Most of Mattthew 10 contains the instructions of Jesus to His disciples when He was sending them out to minister. He warns them that they will be persecuted and tells them not to worry because they are “worth more than many sparrows” and God cares for every single sparrow.

In Luke 12, Jesus was addressing not only His twelve disciples but a large crowd as well.

22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Garden Of White Lilies Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

As Halley’s Bible Handbook notes “Jesus had favorite sayings that He repeated again and again. One of them was about God’s unfailing care for and guidance of His people.” (p. 669).

How gracious God is to bring His Word to our minds again and again, and again, and just when we need it, just as He provides food each day for every sparrow. And part of His daily manna this day, this hour, for this all-too-human human being is this verse:

Casting the whole of your care

…….[all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns,

………once and for all] on Him,


…….He cares for you affectionately and

……………..cares about you watchfully. (I Peter 5:7, AMPC) (emphasis added)

Lord, please keep reminding Your silly child that I am worth more than many sparrows and that You are watching over me, affectionately, every moment of every day!

Sparrow Sunset Line Photograph by Ericamaxine Price

God earnestly waits – Part Eight

What Does The Bible Say About Hell? – 3rd Day Diet27 Behold, the Name of the Lord comes from afar, burning with His anger, and in thick, rising smoke. His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue is like a consuming fire.

28 And His breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches even to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction; and a bridle that causes them to err will be in the jaws of the people.

29 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart as when one marches in procession with a flute to go to the temple on the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. (Isaiah 30:27-29, AMPC)

In Parts One through Seven, we:

  • examined the context and main points of Isaiah 30,
  • discussed the subtle ways the enemy of our souls deceives us into devoting our hearts to idols, rather than the one true God,
  • saw God explain to Israel how their rebellion against His ways would cause calamity,
  • examined verse 18, which described how God earnestly, eagerly waits and longs for us to return to Him and that, while He waits, He is getting ready to show us mercy and loving-kindness when we return to Him, and
  • explored some of the unbelievable things God is earnestly longing to do for us when we return to Him.

In Part Eight, we will consider the unimaginable power of God and how He fights for us.

Isaiah 30:27-33 is the last part of Isaiah’s discourse in this chapter. In these verses, Isaiah reassures Israel that the destruction of Assyria is coming soon. These verses are part of the main message of the entire chapter. These verses show that “the Jews and Israelites had no need to flee to Egypt for help against the Assyrians, to the neglect of their duty toward God, since God was perfectly sufficient to defend them, and had determined to destroy the Assyrians.” — Vitringa. (www.biblehub/commentaries.com)

27 Behold, the Name of the Lord comes from afar burning with His anger, and in thick, rising smoke. His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue is like a consuming fire. This section of verses (Isaiah 30:27-33) begins with the word “Behold” which means pay attention to what is about to be said.

God Himself. And what does the next phrase, “The name of the Lord”, mean?  A footnote in the AMPC says “the revelation of the power and glory of God.” Bible Hub says it means the Lord Himself. That is the interpretation that speaks most powerfully to me. This is a topic I want to study further but, for now, it emphasizes for me the fact that God is personally, one on one, intimately involved with people. The words “God Himself” are used by Abraham in Genesis 22:8 when “Abraham said, My son, God Himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering” and in Genesis 48:15 by Jacob when he “blessed Joseph and said, God [Himself], before Whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac lived and walked habitually, God [Himself], Who has [been my Shepherd and has led and] fed me from the time I came into being until this day. . . ”

The Circle Of Life – Train Of ThoughtsGod used these words, I believe for emphasis, when He spoke through Isaiah in Isaiah 45:18 and said ‘For thus says the Lord—Who created the heavens, God Himself, Who formed the earth and made it, Who established it and did not create it to be a worthless waste; He formed it to be inhabited-I am the Lord, and there is no one else.”

To study other instances where “God Himself” is used, search BibleGateway or another online Bible website, with parenthesis around “God Himself.” Some of these instances where the phrase “God Himself” is used refer to the holy covenant God Himself made with His people (Luke 1:72), creation (John 1:1), and the fact that God makes His eternal power and divinity clearly known to mankind through the things that are created so that people are without excuse (Romans 1:15-20). Furthermore, Ephesians 3:19, Colossians 3:12 and Hebrews 13:5 all clearly show how personally God is involved in developing and maintaining our closeness to Him, in other words how personally God is involved in our battles. We could say “Behold! God Himself comes from afar. . . ‘.

. . . comes from afar, burning with His anger, and in thick, rising smoke. His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue is like a consuming fire. These verses remind me of Psalm 18, where from His temple (“from afar”), God heard David’s cry and responded. David sang the words of Psalm 18 to the Lord when God “had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul” (2 Samuel 22:1, NIV). David had done nothing to cause that desperate situation whereas in Isaiah 30, Israel had engaged in blatant idolatry. Notice, though, that in both instances God’s anger is described in the same way. God is burning with anger, smoke comes from Him, and consuming fire comes from His mouth. He is “full of indignation”, in other words, He is as mad as He can get. A simple definition of indignation is “anger aroused by something unjust, unworthy or mean” (Merriam -Webster).

Father protecting his child | Father art, Jesus pictures, Photo ...God is furious when His children are hurt. Think how you feel when your loved one is treated cruelly. Multiply that by a million and you have a faint glimmer of understanding. In Psalm 18, earth trembles and mountains shake because God is angry at the enemy. Such is the power of this One who fights for us when we return to Him. Even when you disobey, even when you fail to regard God “as holy and honor His holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety] (Isaiah 8:13a, AMPC), God is filled with wrath – because it is part of His nature. God hates sin and the destruction it brings whether His children are being attacked because of what we did or whether we are innocent of any guilt or iniquity.

.  .  .  And His breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches even to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction; and a bridle that causes them to err will be in the jaws of the people. Wilson’s Dictionary of Bible Types (p. 81) states that in 2 Samuel 22:1 (which is the same as Psalm 18:15) “the wrath of God is compared to His breath. No special effort is required to breathe. Wrath is a natural attribute of God which is continually manifested against sin and sinners.” When we are angry, we breath more deeply and stronger. Obviously, in this verse God’s breath is strong and deep.

Stormy Sea Wallpapers - Top Free Stormy Sea Backgrounds - WallpaperAccessLook at how David describes how angry God is when God comes to fight for him. “The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the mountains laid bare, at Your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from Your nostrils.” (Psalm 18:15, NIV). Job 4:9 says that “those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of His anger they perish.” (NIV)

 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart as when one marches in procession with a flute to go to the temple on the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. While God is fighting for us, He wants us to have joy and peace. Think of how many times in the Bible we are told to rejoice, think how often God reassures us of His love toward us and how many times He describes His power and the certain defeat and ultimate doom of the enemy and all evil. Think of what He did when He sent His Son, when God Himself came to earth, and showed us it is possible to be fully human and live a fully holy, victorious life because of His Spirit living within us.

#Exodus #Mojżesz #Izraelski | Biblia imagen, Biblia, Biblia hebreaSome commentaries suggest that Isaiah 30:28 refers to the feast of unleavened bread, or Passover, because it was the only feast that began with a night celebration. Some also suggest that Passover was the most important of Jewish feasts. I believe that fits here because I believe God was wanting to give us a picture of how intensely joyful He wants to help us be while He fights for us once we return to trusting Him completely. As you likely know, the Passover feast commemorates Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

Think how joyful the whole nation of Israel was when they celebrated Passover. People would have journeyed from the country districts to Jerusalem, often “headed by a piper or a band of pipers. (The Pulpit Commentary.) Imagine their joy as they anticipated several days of celebration. Imagine their delight at having a time of celebration and leisure while in the company of friends and neighbors as they traveled along together.

God Himself fights for us. Our loving Father’s intimate, detailed involvement in our lives is unmistakably demonstrated, for you and for me, throughout the Bible. However, the last half of Isaiah 30 focuses on these facts:

  • God is intimately involved in our battles.
  • God has prepared the way for us to have peace and joy in the midst of our battles, and
  • God has already won all our battles.

[1] God is intimately involved in our battles   I believe that throughout each day, whenever my foot is about to step into a snare, God wants me to remember that He Himself is fighting for me in that moment, just as much as He fought for His children in the Bible. He wants me to consciously remember, and ponder, that the battle is His, the victory has already been won and He will keep me in His perfect peace to the degree that I keep my mind fixed on Him.

Burlington officers who drank confiscated beer suspended without payThis applies whether it is one of the all too frequent pop-up battles of everyday living—the boss criticizes, a large bill arrives, traffic gets snarled—or a long-standing battle where you have to fight weeks, months or years, like an addiction, climbing out of debt, or believing for salvation of loved ones.

[2] God has prepared the way for us to have peace and joy in the midst of our battles. God wants us to stay in peace and joy, every hour of every battle, no matter how long it lasts. He wants us to have the same attitude, and spirit, that Jesus did as He lived His daily life. He wants us to “be of good cheer”, to “take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted” (John 16:33 AMPC).

[3] God has already won all our battles – that same powerful God is fighting for us. Because God never changes, has no favorites and occupies Himself with the details of the righteous person’s life, throughout each hour of every day of our life, the same God who fought for His children in the Bible is fighting for us, in the same way, with the same passionate love and power. He cares about every hour of our life and He has the power to defeat the enemy at every turn so that we can have the abundant life He died to give us. BUT so long as we disobey with, for example, idolatry, doubt and unbelief, He must wait for us to return to our rightful relationship with Him. Remember verse 18 of Isaiah 30?

Idolatry, faith, and trust. Pondering Isiah 30 has given fresh understanding of what idolatry is and what faith and trust are. To me, idolatry is another word for my behavior whenever I lack faith and fail to truly trust God, with genuine confidence. 

Every day of my life, emotions will surge up when I face troubles, short-term and long-term troubles. I will at times wrestle with doubt and fear and other negative feelings. That happens because I am human. But God earnestly imprints the fact of my humanity on His heart (Psalm 103) and has made abundant provision for me to not yield to fear, anger, lust, envy, etc.

God’s provision is to trust Him and obey Him, staying in right relationship with Him. . .
so that
…… He—God Himself—can
………through His Spirit working in my spirit-
……………fight for me  and
………………….keep me in His perfect peace.

Hoe overleef je je eerste jaar... - HanzeMagThrough His Spirit, He has come to live in me, so I have access to all that I need, and He has given me His Word as a shield and a weapon. If I love and serve Him whole-heartedly, with all my strength and soul and might, He declares me righteous, or in right standing, with Him and He helps me resist and overcome the enemy and live a holy life as well as a peaceful, joyful one.

 A powerful reminder. A friend pointed me to following diamond of a verse a few months ago. It fits with the main message of Isaiah 30.

The Lord of hosts–regard Him as holy and honor His holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety], and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread [lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him]. (Isaiah 8:13, AMPC)

Hear the lesson of this verse and take it to heart, oh my soul:

I honor God when I think of Him as my only chance of being protected. I offend God when I fear man or anything of this world and doubt God. He is worthy of my praise. He is worthy of my active, enthusiastic, and passionate trust. He is faithful!

Beautiful Landscape of Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado image ...


Why do I need more gratitude??!!

Image result for public domain picture of CAR AIR CONDITIONERFrustrations of daily life. I stared out the car window at the intersection twenty feet away. The Texas sun glared off each windshield and every piece of chrome on the cars passing by. Although the air conditioner blew blessedly cool air on my face, I could mentally feel the already blistering heat. Ten forty-five. I had planned to be back home seated at the computer by now.

I had driven by this in-and-out vehicle inspection site, one a half miles from my home, earlier but had passed it by because of the long line. Then I had driven two miles to another shop that the internet said did inspections. However, a sign just above the bays where you drive your car in for an oil change said “Sorry, but we no longer do state vehicle inspections.” I had backed up in a corner in their little parking lot, out of the way and, trying not to be mad, looked up “car inspections near me.”

“Ug!  I hate the internet! I said, my voice loud in the car’s interior.  “Why is it so hard to look up anything anymore!”

Image result for public domain picture of cell phone in handThe list of inspection sites on my phone showed a phone number and links to a website and directions but without clicking on the directions, there was no way to tell the address. The little map with pins on it did not have the streets labelled.

I could feel my breath getting shorter as the irritation rose. I could also feel a twinge of chest pain. That often happens lately when I start getting upset. I consider it my personal early warning system, an urgent message to calm down NOW and take things slower NOW.

(If you have chest pain, please see a doctor. I pay attention to chest pain but I can, with a fair degree of confidence, modify my behavior and wait for it to ease because I am under the care of a cardiologist who so advised me.)

So, trying to calm down I hit the directions button and followed the voice to the next site. I parked and walked to the door. Another “We no longer do vehicle inspections.” The thin skin over my elbow felt like it was roasting. Back in the car, one more sip of the iced water I carry with me all summer long, one more session with the phone, then one more site and one more sign.

“I give up.” I said and drove back to the original site close to my home.  Thankfully, there were only two cars in each of the two lanes ahead of me. I pulled in line and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, a man came to my window, took my payment, then said as he reached for the handle of the car door, “We’ll take it from here.”

Image result for PUBLIC DOMAIN PICTTURE OF clockThis was one of the speedy inspection stations/speedy oil change places and it looked, from driving by, that you sat in the car while the car was inspected or the oil was changed.  I had come here because I did not want to go to a service shop where you had to sit and sometimes wait an hour. That was hard on my touchy hip.

Stifling another deep sigh—it was not this young man’s fault and I was sure he saw disgruntled faces all day long—I asked “Where am I supposed to wait?”  I realized that sounded sarcastic.

He gestured to two picnic benches resting, barely, in the shade of a little Mexican restaurant, then pointed at the crew of men paving the section of asphalt driveway next to the inspection building.

“They are paving our spot.”

Too upset to immediately hear the sarcasm in my words and apologize for sounding upset, as I normally would have done, I nonetheless was aware I needed to do something.

“Thank you,” I said with a softer tone and an attempt at a smile. “I appreciate it.”

Forgive me, Father. I am listening now. I walked the twenty feet to the two picnic tables, grateful that the corner of one bench was still in a three-foot wide strip of shade before the advancing sun removed that one last bit of shadowed coolness in the entire block. The air was filled with the tantalizing smell of cooking beef.

“Okay, I said, “I’ll start the book I brought with me on do-it-yourself physical therapy for your knees.” But when I looked in my purse, I realized I had left the little book in the car.

Once again, I sighed. “Okay, Father. I realize You are trying to tell me something. I am sorry for getting so upset. I will just sit here and listen for what You want to say.”

I looked again at the intersection next to the inspection site, at the hot glare, the cars whizzing by, going in four directions. People out and about, many of whom would not have the luxury of going back home and staying inside, out of the heat, for the rest of the day.

Route Crew Photo - Getty ImagesThen I looked at the construction crew. Two men were using huge push brooms to smooth out the fresh asphalt. They all had long sleeve shirts and long pants on, a phenomenon I had thought peculiar when I first came to Texas ten years ago from Florida. I had learned since that people wear long sleeves because the Texas sun is more vicious than the Florida sun which passes through softening, highly humid air.

“How hot are they?” I wondered. “And they do this kind of work all day and all year long.”

There was a loud repeated thudding as some machine, just out of my sight, pounded away, breaking up a new section of pavement to be worked on, I presumed.

“And they have to listen to loud machinery all day long, too.’

“Freda, you need to be more grateful and stop complaining! What a wimp you can be! You are acting just like the Israelites complaining about sweet tasting manna.

“Expect trials to multiply.”  Then I thought of the devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon God had brought to my attention through a friend earlier that morning. When I got home, fifteen minutes later, I pulled out my well-worn copy of “Beside Still Waters” and turned to page two. It began:

Image result for PUBLIC DOMAIN PICTTURE OF OPEN BOOK IN LAP“God does not put heavy burdens on weak shoulders. God educates and tests our faith by trials that increase in proportion to our faith. God expects us to do adult work and to endure adult afflictions only after we have reached a mature status in Christ Jesus. Therefore, beloved, expect your trials to multiple as you proceed toward heaven.”

Spurgeon expounded on that theme, recalling that, in Abraham’s old age God had tested Abraham (Genesis 22:1).  Spurgeon warned “to never plan on a rest from trials this side of the grave.” He concluded by reminding us that we must stay in the fight and use our armor because we are in a war. We “must watch, pray and fight” and we must expect our “last battle to be the most difficult, for the enemy’s fiercest charge is reserved for the end of the day.”

Finally, deep understanding. This was a theme I had danced around in my solitary ponderings and in conversation with a friend who has also undergone a long string of troubles and trials, as I am sure you have also. But this time, on this pyretic morning in Texas, going about the routine of taking care of the ever-growing mound of small and trifling matters necessary to sustain life in our world, God gave the strength necessary to truly embrace this truth and accept it, rather than run from it as I had before.

Why I need to be more grateful. “Okay, Father. I see this clearly now. And I also see that You have all these last few months, with all these challenges, been equipping me with one of the best shields, that of developing a truly grateful heart.

You know when I first started consciously trying to be grateful, for the everyday little things right in front of me as well as for seemingly big things, it felt like just an exercise. I still had so much complaining going on inside at the same time I was saying ‘Thank You, Father, for this home, this furniture, all the food in my cabinets, the money that pays the bills, the dependable car I drive. . .’

But it has become more sincere and now I really mean it when I express my gratitude to You. You have renewed my heart.  Thank You, Father. I could not do it, no matter how hard I tried but You did.

And this is part of why You wrote Philippians 4:6-8 too, isn’t it, where You told us not to worry, to just ask You for what we need and to keep our minds fixed on good things.

 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.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

This thing about being grateful all day long is part of verse eight, part of the good things we are supposed to be thinking about, isn’t it Lord?

So, Father, I will think about good things today, I will think about all the wonderful things You are doing in my life and the lives of those I know and in this entire world. I will be grateful that I know You are all-powerful and also so very loving and merciful and that You help us in all our weaknesses and always will. I will strive to be more mindful of how great You are and how awesome it is that You take time to be involved in the details of my little life.  I will be grateful. for . .


God earnestly waits – Part seven

Isaiah 30:22-26.  Then you will defile your carved images overlaid with silver and your molten images plated with gold; you will cast them away as a filthy bloodstained cloth, and you will say to them, Be gone!

Image result for Public Domain picture of Abundant Fields. Size: 174 x 185. Source: www.thenextevolution.com23 Then will He give you rain for the seed with which you sow the soil, and bread grain from the produce of the ground, and it will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will feed in large pastures. 24 The oxen likewise and the young donkeys that till the ground will eat savory and salted fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and with fork.

25 And upon every high mountain and upon every high hill there will be brooks and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter [the day of the Lord], when the towers fall [and all His enemies are destroyed].

26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days [concentrated in one], in the day that the Lord binds up the hurt of His people, and heals their wound [inflicted by Him because of their sins].

 In Parts One through Six, we:

  • examined the context and main points of Isaiah 30,
  • discussed the subtle ways the enemy of our souls deceives us into devoting our hearts to idols, rather than the one true God,
  • saw God explain to Israel how their rebellion against His ways would cause calamity,
  • examined verse 18, which described how God earnestly, eagerly waits and longs for us to return to Him and that, while He waits, He is getting ready to show us mercy and loving-kindness when we return to Him., and
  • began looking at some of the unbelievable things God is earnestly longing to do for us when we return to Him.

In Part Seven, we will continue exploring those unbelievable things God longs to do for us.

Image result for public domain picture of idol22: “Then you will defile your carved images overlaid with silver and your molten images platted with gold; you will cast them away as a filthy bloodstained cloth, and you will say to them, Be gone!” Take a moment to consider how idols were made in those times. An image was carved of wood or molded of an inferior metal and then overlaid with costly gold or silver. Its outward appearance was beautiful and seemed of great price. But its real, internal hidden nature was worthless. Even so, things of this world are worthless. As the poem by C. T. Studd says, “Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” That is why 2 Corinthians 4:18 urges us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. “(NIV.)

Once God enables us to see Him and to hear His directions for living, we see our idols for the filthy things they are and we “cast them away.” Cast means to forcefully throw something far away. Think about casting out a fishing net or better than that, throwing a bag of garbage in the dumpster.

Image result for public domain picture of rain on field23a. “Then will He give you rain for the seed with which you sow the soil, and bread grain from the produce of the ground, and it will be rich and plentiful..” This verse is another of the “thens” or consequences of returning to God, resting in Him, and trusting confidently in Him (v. 15.) This verse is another of the ways God is “expecting, looking and longing” to be gracious to us.

When we are in right relationship with God, we are blessed in what we do. Read Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and see what awaits those who “fully obey” the Lord our God. This promise in Isaiah 30 is another instance of the principle we see in Deuteronomy 28. He blesses our life – He blesses our efforts (sends rain), makes those efforts accomplish their purpose (He makes our efforts supply our needs) and He does so richly, plentifully.

Image result for public domain picture of animals grazing23b-24. “. . . In that day your cattle will feed in large pastures. The oxen likewise and the young donkeys that till the ground will eat savory and salted fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. In verses 23, 25, and 26 where “the day” or “that day” are used, commentaries indicate that it means the day when “God will take severe vengeance upon the enemies of His people.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary). Matthew Henry thought that perhaps it meant the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, or the overthrow of the Roman Empire but that certainly the day of the Lord meant the ultimate destruction of Satan and his kingdom.

I believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, that is, I believe that everything described in the Bible actually happened or will actually happen. I also believe that God intended for us to apply the Bible to our individual lives and that part of that application is interpreting the Bible figuratively. For example, the Israelites did wander in the wilderness forty years but that wandering in the barren wilderness—when they could have been living in the blessings of the Promised Land– is also is a picture of us when we rebel against God by doubting Him. One passage can have many interpretations and applications.

Having explained that, I believe that the day in which these blessings will happen are–in addition to the interpretations suggested above–the day or time that we return to Him in quietness and trusting confidence (v. 15) and thus find strength.

All we need to work with. In Verses 23b-24, when God is talking about well-cared for cattle and oxen and donkeys, He is assuring us that when we return to trusting and obeying Him we will have an abundance of everything we need to work with. A large pasture means plenty of good grass for cattle. Oxen and donkeys tilling the sol need quality feed (“savory and salted fodder that had been winnowed with shovel and fork”) in order to have strong, powerful bodies for their work. To me, this says that we will have whatever we need to do our work, to live our life of loving service to God. We will have plenty of what we need and it will be of good quality. God is not stingy or cheap!

The Little Brook That Could Photograph by Hany J25. “And upon every high mountain and every high hill there will be brooks and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter [the day of the Lord], when the towers fall [and all His enemies are destroyed.]. Notice the “and”, which connects the blessings in Verse 25 with those that came before. And. . . in that day we will have all the water we need – everywhere we turn. Brooks and streams are both bodies of running water, but brooks are smaller, generally shorter and often found in rugged terrain. An area with brooks flowing through its nooks and crannies makes life far easier for humans and livestock alike than an area with only one stream, which is actually a small river. Water represents Holy Spirit, our Living Water (Jeremiah 2:13.) When we trust God, we have an abundance of Him to satisfy our thirst (1 Corinthians 12:13). We have an abundance of Him everywhere—even in the difficult to traverse places where refreshment seems unlikely, those nooks and crannies of everyday life and those painful, hard to get through moments. And we do not have to wat while we travel to get this water.

Remember the blog post of February 24, 2023, where we examined Psalm 95:11-12? “ Light is sown for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and strewn along their pathway, and joy for the upright in heart [the irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection] (AMPC).” Like the image of brooks in numerous spots in rugged terrain, Psalm 95:11-12 is another picture of how God daily prepares what we need, including long, satisfying drinks of Himself, all along the path we will take that day.

Verse 26a. Moreover, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days [concentrated in one].  According to Wilson’s Dictionary of Bible types (p. 290-291), the word light “is used in many ways in the Scripture. Sometimes. . . it refers to the Word of God, as in Psalm 119:105. . .” Sometimes it also “refers to the walk of the believer in which he serves the Lord in a Pine Trees Forest With Full Moon Stock Photo - Image of mountains ...godly way, and directs life according to the Word of God, as in 1 John 1:7).  In our verse, Isaiah 30:26, I believe light means God’s guidance for us when we are fully trusting and obeying Him. We see here that even in our dark times and situations, in the night seasons of our life, God will provide clear guidance for us because the light we have in our darkness (our moon in those times, so to speak) will be as bright as day. Furthermore, in the other times of our life, we will have guidance so clear that it will be like the sunshine of seven days concentrated into one. Now, that’s clear guidance!

Verse 26b. in the day that the Lord binds up the hurt of His people, and heals their wound [inflicted by Him because of their sins].  All these blessings from verse 20b through 26 will come upon us when God restores us to where we were before we turned away from Him to idols.  Binding up a wound reduces swelling, guards against infection and feels comforting. God comforts us when we turn to Him and He heals the wounds we brought on ourselves by our rebellion. This all-mighty, all-powerful God, this God our healer is the One Who looks and eagerly longs to be gracious to us while we stumble along in the darkness. What causes that darkness? It is  caused by our rebellion, our relying on the world, our refusal to return to Him, to rest in Him, and to quietly find our strength in trusting Him with confidence and expectation (Isaiah 30:15.)

Applying the Word.  Remember that this principle—that when we rebel against God He is watching and eagerly longing to be gracious to us—applies to every scale of time and to countless situations. When I spend the morning fretting about car repairs, God is all the while eagerly longing for me to return to fully trusting Him so that He can give me peace. When a prodigal pursues the world, for decades, God is all that time eagerly expecting, looking and longing to be gracious.

Sixty-Fifth Avenue: October 2010I believe that the eagerness of the father in the story of the prodigal son is what God feels for even “little” turnings away from Him. How would you feel if you were on a special vacation with your beloved adult children and they chose to spend half the day away from you. How would you feel if you were walking in the woods with your toddler who got mad because you would not let her pick poison ivy and refused to walk beside you? God watches over us and walks with us every moment of every day, and He just wants us to talk with Him and think about Him. He just wants us to love Him and share the moments of our life with Him. He is our loving, doting, compassionate, gracious, kind, caring, joyous, laughing Father. He is our joy, He is our strength, He is our peace. And He loves us and wants the best for us, the things that are truly best.

In Part Eight, we will learn about the power of God as He fights for us and the joy He promises while He does so.