What is God telling you to do?

Image result for free Picture of Heaven. Size: 179 x 98. Source: getwallpapers.comThis title sounds arrogant, I know, but I pray you keep reading. Although not a “famous” Bible teacher or speaker, I have followed Jesus whole-heartedly for 41 years. I do know when Holy Spirit moves on my heart, and He did just that about writing this message.

What is this message about? For more than two years I have listened to what God is saying through modern-day prophets. If you do not believe in modern-day prophets, please keep reading. This pamphlet summarizes some of what God is currently saying through His prophets and some essential facts about our present world that God has revealed. However, you likely have not heard these things if you have been listening to mainstream media.

Please, even if you do not keep reading, work hard on drawing closer to God and hearing Him better – NOW.

Table of Contents

  1. Why listen to prophets?
  2. What are prophets saying right now?
  3. What mainstream media is not telling you and why.
  4. Who to listen to for the truth and how to catch up fast.
  5. What you need to be doing for God – NOW!
  6. Do you think prophets, miracles, speaking in tongues, etc. are not for today?
  7. Be encouraged!

Image result for free clip art of listening ear[1]       Why listen to prophets? Below are two simple reasons to listen to God’s modern-day prophets.

[A] God warns of coming judgement so people may change their behavior and avoid judgement. Amos 3:7 in the Amplified Bible says “Surely the Lord God does nothing [a]Without revealing His secret plan [of the judgment to come] To His servants the prophets.” The footnote for that verse explains: “God has always warned of coming judgment in order that people may choose to change their behavior and avoid it. (emphasis added). He warned Noah of the coming flood (Gen 6:13ff); Abraham and Lot of the future destruction of Sodom (Gen 18:17; 19:14); Joseph of the seven-year famine (Gen 41:30); Moses of the ten plagues on Egypt (Ex 7:1ff); and Jonah of the destruction of Nineveh (Jon 1:2; 3:4). . . Various prophets were told in advance about the captivities of the chosen people, and they came to pass because the warnings were disregarded. . . Jonah announced the destruction of Nineveh, but judgment was postponed following repentance. . . “

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is still merciful, kind, loving, and gracious. He still warns of coming judgement so we can change and avoid that judgement.

[B] Believing in God’s prophets brings success. 2 Chronicles 2:20 says:

20 Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” (NLT) (Emphasis added)

Image result for Free Clip Art Have Faith in god. Size: 150 x 110. Source: quotesgram.com2 Chronicles 2:20 in the NIV says “Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 2 Chronicles 2 tells about a time when God’s people had good reason to be discouraged: they faced a vast army. God told them not to be afraid because the battle was His, and the next day He told, Jehoshaphat to encourage the people by telling them to have faith in God and to believe His prophets. Then Jehoshaphat ordered singers to go before the Israelites and praise God. And that was when God caused the enemy to destroy each other. The Israelites were victorious, and all they did was praise and sing to the Lord.

Even so today, without hope for a good future we get discouraged and stop pressing hard after God. Today, just as in Bible times, having faith in God and believing His prophets encourages us and gives us the strength to keep following God rather than standing still or retreating in fear and discouragement.

Image result for Free clip Art a Time For season. Size: 127 x 110. Source: clipartstation.comAn essential point about God’s ways, His timing, and so-called false prophets. You may have heard some prophets labelled “false” because they predicted President Donald J. Trump would serve two terms and SO FAR that has not happened.  Beloved, consider this: some things that prophets in the Bible foretold STILL have not happened. That does not mean prophets in the Bible were false prophets. Rather, it just shows that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). As 2 Peter 3:8 reminds us, “. . . do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (NIV) Also, remember that God—not us—has set “a time for everything.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV).

[2]       What are God’s prophets saying right now? This is just a short list.

  • NOW is the time to focus on your personal relationship with God.
  • Our real President, President Donald J. Trump, will be reseated and will serve two terms. He is God’s instrument for this time in history.
  • The greatest awakening and revival there has ever been is starting. Holy Spirit will be poured out on people with such power that they will fall to their knees and cry out for God right where they are—–in parks, schools, businesses, and without sermons or messages.
  • Churches that have not welcomed the presence of God will not be part of this awakening.
  • Many spiritual leaders in high positions will be revealed as enemies of God and will be removed from their positions and ministries. This has already begun.
  • Evil will be exposed and judged world-wide, greater than you can imagine. God has allowed evil to increase—for a time—so that it would become even more obvious and more people would open their eyes and see their need for Him.
  • Image result for free picture of falling off fenceNo more fence-sitting. Jesus clearly said in Luke 11:23: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (NIV).  The Message translation says “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.” If you support those who approve murdering babies, like Biden, you are opposing God. And if you fail to support those who are trying to stop abortion, you are the enemy, according to Luke 11:23. What else does your failure to “gather with” God allow? All manner of evil that the left and globalists approve of and promote, like homosexuality, pedophelia, human sex trafficking, drugs, violence and the list goes on.
  • Do you think they are not involved in these things? Would they tell you if they were, or would they hide it and call what is evil good and what is good evil (Isaiah 5:20)? Who do you think motivates them to say that we are being hateful if we do not accept homosexuality? Satan himself. Who and what helps them conceal their sins? Satan, our silence and our failure to act for God. What happened to those who failed to stop Hitler from taking Jews to concentration camps? Think about it.
  • Joshua 24:15 says you must choose whether you will serve God or the enemy. For too many years God’s church has overlooked and accepted sin and tried to remain neutral. There is no neutral ground. You are either with Him or against Him.

Image result for Free Picture of stacks of Money and Gold. Size: 190 x 204. Source: dreamstime.com[3]       What mainstream media is not telling you. A handful of incredibly wealthy people are working to shrink the population of the world so they can have it all for themselves. This is the deep state Marxist group that controls nations and political leaders, that is using the coronavirus for their evil purposes, and that tried to steal the 2020 election—which is NOT over yet! They gave “free” vaccines to African countries and those vaccines made the recipients sterile. These same ones have held back cures for the coronavirus while millions died.

  • Yes, covid is real and people have died from it, but why did nobody die of the regular flu since covid began? Why were cures held back? Why were churches considered non-essential during the lock-down when venues with far more contact were left alone?
  • Image result for Free picture of COVID Masks. Size: 77 x 100. Source: www.indulgexpress.comWhy did they say covid was spread by contact and then change their minds and say only masks worked? This covid and mask farce is a trial run, to see how much government control people will tolerate. The ultimate goal is socialist communism which always destroys nations. Consider the millions who died under Stalin and Hitler and other communist regimes.
  • These wealthy globalists control mainstream media, they seek to destroy all who oppose them, and they de-platform and cancel those who speak out. Is that not communism?
  • They seek to destroy America through the hatred and lies of BLM, Antifa, critical race theory, the LGBT agenda and more. Do you know the truth about these?
  • Why did they do nothing to stop the violence in the summer of 2020 and then give federal money in 2021 to mayors who had defunded their own police? Why did mainstream media fail to condemn the violence of 2020 but spread the lie that President Donald John Trump and his supporters instigated the takeover of the Capitol? Why did mainstream media not report that Capitol police were sent home before the “riot” began? Why did they not show video of Capitol police removing barricades, opening doors, and ushering people into the Capitol?
  • Image result for Free Picture of Jail. Size: 164 x 102. Source: getwallpapers.comThousands of illegal aliens, drug and human traffickers and other criminals are being allowed into our country since President Trump’s immigration policies were changed and the wall he had nearly completed along our southern border was not finished. Mainstream media fails to report this.
  • These are but a few of the many things the left and the media are actively covering up while manufacturing lies about anyone who dares oppose the evil going on in the world. Recently, Biden accused Facebook of killing people because Facebook did not censor comments about covid that the White House considers “misinformation.” The White House is urging social media platforms to censor those with opposing views.
  • The two people sitting in the White House and many other leaders are puppets of the deep state and will soon be removed from office and President Donald J. Trump will be restored to the seat for which he was elected in 2020.

I have learned all this and much more by listening to God’s prophets. They have been telling truth about things like the fraudulent election and covid long before mainstream media, which only in recent weeks has begun reporting a tiny bit of truth.

Image result for Free picture Of phone and laptop. Size: 161 x 107. Source: pxhere.com[4] Who to listen to for the truth and how to catch up fast: First, stop listening to all mainstream media. Get your news from sources like these listed below.

JUST FOLLOWING THESE THREE SOURCES WILL HELP YOU CATCH UP FAST. I recommend following them regularly, and following those on the list below whenever you can.

  • Intercessors for America – An on-line community of believers interceding for our nation. If you sign up, you will receive brief summaries of current events and the chance to agree with others in prayer.
  • Elijah list – elijahlist.com Daily strengthening, encouragement, and comfort through prophetic words, messages, and prophecies.
  • Elijah streams – elijahstreams.com – Sixty-minute program with in-depth interviews with prophets, with prophetic words and teachings.
  • Praying citizen – prayingcitizen.com –current events, from a godly perspective, why they matter and how to pray.
  • Other conservative news sources like Epoch Times.
  • Listening to a radio station that plays worship music will do much to lift your spirits Try air1.com.

 Prophets to listen to: You will find most of these prophets on the platforms listed above but they also have their own websites and/or churches. You can follow them on You Tube, Facebook, etc. as well.

  • Dutch Sheets – www.dutchsheets.org
  • Hank Kunneman -www.lohchurch.org
  • Kent Christmas -www.kentchristmas.org and www.regenerationnashville.org
  • Mario Murillo – www.mariomurillo.org
  • Johnny Enlow – restore7.com and often on Elijah Streams
  • Lance Wallnau – lancewallnau.com
  • Tim Sheets – timsheets.org
  • Amanda Grace – often on Elijah Streams

[5]       What to do for God NOW.

[1]        Image result for free picture of praying personFirst, focus on growing closer to Him and hearing Him better as your number one priority

[2]        Stop listening to mainstream media and start listening to media who present the news from God’s perspective, the sources listed in Section 5 “Who to follow and how to catch up fast”.

[3]        Pray specifically for what you learn as you start listening to the prophets and media that give God’s perspective.

[4]        Join in on a prayer call.  Intercessors for America is a good place to start.

[5]        Get involved. Ask God what to do and He will show you. You can start by sharing with others what you learn once you start listening to godly media and the prophets. God may be calling you to run for political office or support a godly candidate who is. I am writing this pamphlet in response to Holy Spirit’s prompting. This is one thing God has shown me to do.

[6]     Image result for Free picture Of Phone. Size: 127 x 88. Source: www.theverge.com   Call your senators and representatives and state your support for godly issues and your opposition against evil. When they make good decisions or statements, call and thank them. They do pay attention to their constituents. We have the power to vote them in again or vote them out.

[6]       Image result for free picture of small church modernIf you think prophets, miracles, speaking in tongues, etc. are not for today. . . Space does not permit a Biblical exposition showing that the whole gospel is for today, so please just listen to what I have personally experienced. Although I did not know Jesus until age 29, I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and knew nothing of the gifts of the Spirit and Pentecostal ways except that the “weird” church in town did “weird” things like raising their hands in worship and falling on the floor. A few months after salvation, I began speaking and praying in tongues and have not stopped for 41 years. It strengthens my spirit, assures me I am praying according to God’s will when I do not know what to pray, and brings peace.

As for other aspects of Pentecost, I have been healed, have been “slain in the spirit” (when you simply fall on the floor because the presence of God is so overwhelming), had someone fall on the floor when I was praying for her, have heard countless messages of encouragement through words of prophecy given during church services, and have given encouraging words myself, and have consistently felt the near tangible presence of God during Pentecostal worship and praise.

I could go on but I will just say please give God a chance and see a Pentecostal service. The Lord of Hosts church pastored by Hank Kunneman; Regeneration Nashville, pastored by Kent Christmas; and Oasis Church in Middletown, Ohio, pastored by Tim Sheets, are superb places to start. You have so much to gain and nothing to lose!

[7]       Be encouraged! God IS doing mighty things! But unless you have been listening to God’s prophets you likely have become discouraged and possibly even thought things were out of God’s control. Beloved, our God reigns. Period. Nothing has EVER taken Him by surprise, He makes no mistakes, and He cannot lie. God has already started radically changing this world, and you must get ready NOW if you want to be part of this greatest awakening ever.

See the source image

Woo hoo and go God! Go Body of Christ! We have the victory! “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4, NIV)  HOOAH!

 

 

Note: This message will soon be available as a pamphlet on the Books and More page of this website so you can print it and share it. Or, if you are mad, you can have the satisfaction of ripping it up. Regardless, thank you for listening and please:  focus on drawing closer to God – now! Grace to you and may God speed!

Freda Farmer
www.wordsofhopeandhealing.com

 

Am I consistently joyful in my walk? Part Two of Two

Image result for free picture of walking with jesusLast week as we considered how to consistently “maintain a joyful Christian walk”, an investigation sparked by Andrew Murray’s jewel “The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer”, we covered points one through 9 in the outline below. This week we will finish with points 10 through 15.  I pray these words help you draw closer to the One who loves us so, so, so very much.

  1. Practicing His presence.
  2. “As you do not know the path of the wind. . . “(Ecclesiastes 11:5)
  3. The message of the hummingbird.
  4. Drawing nearer to God includes pulling away from the world and self.
  5. Steps to wholeness of healing, which is this joy of depending only on Him.
  6. STEP ONE:
  7. “But I am already living a holy life”, my flesh says.
  8. More pruning produces more fruit.
  9. Too straight and too hard?
  10. Are You my vital necessity, Lord?
  11. Am I (still not yet) a slave to righteousness which leads to holiness?
  12. STEP TWO
  13. STEP THREE
  14. ONE LAST “STEP”
  15. I know You will guide me, Lord.

Image result for Free Picture of Bread and Water. Size: 158 x 105. Source: thecatholicspirit.com[9]       Are You my vital necessity, Lord? Jeremiah 2­9 is a letter God wrote through Jeremiah to the captives exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem because of their wickedness and unrepentant idol worship. In the first nine verses, God told the captive Israelites to settle down and work for the good of the place they lived (Babylon) because “its welfare will determine your welfare.” (V. 7b, NLT). God told them they would stay in Babylon 70 years, which was until their punishment was completed. (Notice how God is taking care of them, even while they are being punished, by telling them how to have a better life.)  In verse 10, God promises that after 70 years He would return them to Jerusalem and “do for you all the good things I have promised.” (v. 10b).

And then comes the well-known verse, Jeremiah 29:11:

11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. (NIV)

Let’s look closely at verses 12 through 14.

12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.

13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (emphasis added)

14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.”

Image result for free clip art of the plans i have for youGod reassures His rebellious people that He has good plans for them, and that their final outcome will be one where they love Him whole-heartedly and find Him as well as enjoy freedom again. I think God gave them this encouragement because He knew it would take some of them the whole 70 years to seek Him whole-heartedly. Verses 12-14 concern the “then” time or “in those days,” meaning when the captives are returned to Jerusalem. God says “in those days” His people will pray and He will hear, and when they seek Him as their VITAL necessity and seek Him with ALL their heart, they will find Him and He will bring them back to Jerusalem.

Perhaps the lesson for me, regarding spiritual growth, is that when my life includes putting other things before God—which is idol worship—I will get my consequences, as the Israelite captives did. And I will live with my consequences until God’s righteous judgement on my sin of putting things above Him is completed. And then, after I have learned my lesson through the harsh, but righteous circumstances of my sin, I will then be free FINALLY to seek God, inquire for God, and require God [as a vital necessity] and search for Him with my WHOLE heart. And then—when I truly have no other gods before Him—then is when I will find God and He will return me to my own Jerusalem, my own fortified city where God dwells and truly reigns, my own life where I have the light of peace in my heart.

I believe this process of sin-captivity-judgement-restoration applies to any scale of time, from our ‘little” failures that take us away from God part of the day to on-going, unrecognized and/or unconfessed sin that steals our closeness and our peace for many months or years.

Image result for free picture of slave to righteousness[10]     Am I (still not yet) a slave to righteousness which leads to holiness? (Romans 6:19-23) God makes it clear that “when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16, NIV). So as long as we serve and obey our own flesh or the enemy, we are enslaved by our flesh or the enemy. The consequences of our voluntary enslavement is that the enemy takes us “captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:16, NIV), and we are unable to “maintain a joyful Christian walk in God’s way”, which is a symptom of the diseased condition of our heart. I have to ask myself, “Is my heart still not totally submitted to obedience to God?”  Am I carried away to Babylon sometimes, made captive and my will controlled by the cruel enemy, because I still sometimes “offer myself’ to sin?

Perhaps we weak humans simply do not truly learn what seeking God whole-heartedly and with our whole heart is, i.e., as if our life depends on it, until we are in desperate circumstances.

First by force, then by choice? This is why I say God blessed me with depression–it forced me to keep my mind on Him and His Word constantly. My case is not as extreme but it reminds me of the book “Shadowlands.”  When his new wife had cancer, C. S. Lewis was so driven to constant prayer that he said prayer was all he could do and that he had to pray to survive.

Image result for Baby Leaning On JesusPerhaps, after circumstances force us to lean constantly on God, the next quality of character to be developed is to choose this constant leaning, even when we feel we can manage “without thinking about God while we visit with family, spend an afternoon at a museum, etc.  I ask myself, “Freda, is that not self-confidence and self-sufficiency?” This voluntary constant leaning Andrew Murray speaks of costs “self-will, self-pleasure and self-confidence.”  I do have to give up all of self if I am to give all my heart to God.

Although I have lately been spending more time in prayer and Bible study and meditating more consistently during waking hours, trying to grow closer, I sense that asking God to “heal me” in this way is a definite, concrete step, much like the very first time you tithe and must trust that God will meet your needs that month though it looks impossible if you give Him ten percent.

I am certain God will help me in this. As He promises in Romans 6, if I offer myself continually to Him to obey Him, I will be a “slave to righteousness”, which means I will be under the control of righteousness.

16 Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God

17 But thank God, though you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient with all your heart to the standard of teaching in which you were instructed and to which you were committed.

18 And having been set free from sin, you have become the servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action). (Romans 6:16-18, AMPC)

Image result for Free Picture of Sitting with Jesus. Size: 86 x 107. Source: www.pinterest.com.mx[11]     STEP TWO: The second step is to “look to Him as your only help.” (p. 84) We must say, like the lame man at Bethesda “I have no one to put me into the pool” (John 5:7). We must know that there is no help for us here on earth. We must confess our weakness and “know there is no hope for you unless Christ in His mercy heals you.” I think that is something else I must say to the Lord and keep on saying. I do understand that every good thing comes from Him, as James 1 says, and that even our desire to please Him, comes from Him working in us as Philippians 2:13 tells us.

[12]     STEP THREE: The third step is to respond in faith. As the lame man at Bethesda believed Jesus and obeyed and walked, so too must we believe that there is “truth and power in Christ’s word.” (p. 85) “If we fix our gaze on Christ. . . we will have courage to obey.” (p. 85) Yes, I must believe that even I, with all my weaknesses, I can walk in the way God intended. I can exercise my faith which is “. . . being sure of what we hope for and sure of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) and I can, like Abraham, believe “. . . in the God who brings the dead back to life and Who creates new things out of nothing.” (Romans 4:17, NLT)

Image result for free picture of rain on fields[13]     ONE LAST “STEP”. Andrew Murray then wisely warns about forming false expectations, to not, for example, expect “to be all at once be proficient in prayer or any part of the Christian life.” He concludes the chapter by saying that, like learning anything, we must start at the beginning, but we must start. I will heed this warning because, as a perfectionist in some areas, I can expect too much of myself and get discouraged. I will take the attitude of James 5:7 and be patient as God works in my heart. I can wait “. . . for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.” (NIV)

[14]     I know You will guide me, Lord.  Thank You, Lord, for the grace I feel to yield and not struggle with the idea of this greater pruning of self. But I do need Your clear guidance, Lord. I will meditate on and pray Psalm 25 with greater intensity, and I will declare it.

You know, Lord, in this matter of living my whole life for You, in the past I have been too zealous in some ways, like staying up too late reading the Word, sitting at the desk too long when I need to go exercise, or depriving myself of so many pleasures that I became resentful and frustrated with the lifestyle I created for myself in trying to put You first.

I know I need adequate rest and exercise and time with family and friends. And I have learned it is essential to invest at least a bit of time regularly in keeping my home and surroundings tidy. But, Father, what about “leisure time”? Lord, I do not want to spend too much time on that but neither do I want to become unbalanced and eventually frustrate myself and cause discouragement.

Image result for free picture of praying handsI paused, but only a moment before a clear thought came. “I can spend time praying in the Spirit for direction about this.” I have learned recently (although I think I knew it in years earlier and ‘forgot’ it) that when I faithfully set aside time each day to pray in tongues about something specific, He answers clearly.

“Yes! Lord! I know You will answer!”

And, another thought came then, one I was not so excited about.

“Lord, is the healthier diet You recently led me to part of all of this? I have fallen away from it lately. Is this part of the things that seem “too hard and too straight”? Well, I will include prayer and prayer in tongues about that, too. As Paul said in I Corinthians 14:15, “I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand.” (NIV)

“Father, You know this will be a new and exciting adventure. Thank You for leading me to that book through my friend. Something has not seemed quite right between us for a while, and I think it is what I have heard some Bible teachers and preachers say, that You sometimes pull away so that we will press on further and follow You into new places.

Dearest Father, with the psalmist in Psalm 27:4, I say:

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.

Yes, Lord! Keep me close while I grow!

 Note: For more about “Standing Strong Like the Hummingbird,”see the May 9, 2020, blog post. May our loving Father grant both of us grace to stand strong and to move forward with Him in our personal growth. Amen and so be it, Lord Jesus!

Image result for Walking with Jesus Quotes

Am I consistently joyful in my walk? Part One of Two

Image result for Free Picture of Walking with Jesus. Size: 124 x 100. Source: www.fanpop.comThis week we will cover Parts One through Nine of the points listed  below  as we consider how to consistently “maintain a joyful Christian walk”, an investigation sparked by Andrew Murray’s jewel of a book “The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer.” Let us commit this study to God and ask for His wisdom. Let us ask with faith, knowing He will give it, for we know He is good and only good and that He delights in giving good things to His children (James 1:5-8, Luke 11:11-13). I pray that pondering Andrew Murray’s teaching convicts, comforts, and spurs you on to greater commitment to our loving Father, as it did me. May your deepening commitment enable you to feel His loving embrace ever more clearly in your daily walk. Here are the headings of this two-part series.

  1. Practicing His presence.
  2. “As you do not know the path of the wind. . . “(Ecclesiastes 11:5)
  3. The message of the hummingbird.
  4. Drawing nearer to God includes pulling away from the world and self.
  5. Steps to wholeness of healing, which is this joy of depending only on Him.
  6. STEP ONE
  7. “But I am already living a holy life”, my flesh says.
  8. More pruning produces more fruit.
  9. Too straight and too hard?
  10. Are You my vital necessity, Lord?
  11. Am I (still not yet) a slave to righteousness which leads to holiness?
  12. STEP TWO
  13. STEP THREE
  14. ONE LAST “STEP”
  15. I know You will guide me, Lord.

Image result for free picture of tree branches in wind 

[1]       Practicing His presence.   “Father, I love this new habit You led me to, this just sitting with You a while before starting morning devotions. Thank You for guiding me.” I sipped the chamomile fast, so it would help with breathing, and gently moved the rocker, peering into soft morning light, grateful three-story units to the east blocked the direct morning sun. The window framed soft green, intertwined crape myrtle branches in shadow, like a private, secluded forest.

[2]       “As you do not know the path of the wind. . . “(Ecclesiastes 11:5)  The morning Texas wind shoved larger branches to the right, pinning them there, while slender stems at the ends traced quavering circles in the air. As abruptly as it had begun, the wind stopped. Branches snapped back and stood straight, stretching leafy arms toward their Creator.

“Yes, Lord, I remember when I learned that verse, “As you do not know the path of the wind or how the body is formed in the wind, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5, NIV). It was more than thirty years ago, when Sharon was in elementary school and I was a new believer. I was walking from the bus stop to the office on a cold, gusty February morning, holding an index card as I walked, memorizing the Word. I remember the wind blasted my coat open at that very moment, reminding me that You were with me. That one touch of Your love warmed me the whole day. Hmm.  So sweet, so sweet. . . Thank You, dear Father. Memories of Your Word speaking to me are truly are “sweeter than honey”, as You say in Psalm 119.

Lord, I could not then and I cannot now know which way the wind will turn, and I do not understand Your work or Your ways, but I do love Psalm 25, how the whole psalm is a plea for You to teach the psalmist Your ways and show him how to live. I especially like that short verse, verse 25, “Show me Your ways, Lord; teach me Your paths.” (AMPC).  I am glad it is taking so long to memorize. That’s making me think deeply about each phrase.

Image result for free picture of hummingbird[3] The message of the hummingbird.  “Oooh!” I breathed as I saw a hummingbird hover beside the fuschia flowers of the crape myrtle ten yards from my second-floor window.

“I have never seen one this high up. Thank You Lord!” Before the hummingbird darted away, another treasured memory drifted into thought.

“I remember how, when depression was at its worst, You gave the person praying with me visions of hummingbirds and a rhema word that I must feed on the nectar of Your Word as a hummingbird feeds on flower nectar. That so much confirmed how You had led me to meditate constantly, day and night, on Your Word. And that constant meditation healed the depression and fear and has kept me free.

“Yes,” I thought, “that is part of drawing closer, when God lets events force us to return our mind to Him as often as hummingbirds return for nectar. That pulling away from anything else but dependence on Him must be an essential part of drawing nearer.”

[4] Drawing nearer to God includes pulling away from the world and self.  I have been pondering a chapter in Andrew Murray’s sterling book “The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer.”  He says “Your inability to maintain a joyful Christian walk in God’s way is a sign of disease.” (p. 84). That sentence grabbed my attention. By grace alone, I maintain joy and victory more consistently now than before, but not always.

I have learned to fight my way back to emotional balance and joy, rather than just avoiding depression.  But Andrew Murray’s book explains my “remaining disease of self” is the cause of emotional imbalance and negative emotions that still happen sometimes. Andrew Murray talks about this disease of the self that is so hard to be free from. The chapter “Will You Be Made Whole?” outlines God’s way for healing us of self so we can walk as He intends, with consistent joy and “heavenly power beyond anything we could dare to imagine or hope for.” (p. 81).

Image result for free picture of doctor and patientMurray notes that a doctor heals by making the patient independent of the doctor. Our Great Physician’s aim is to heal by bringing “. . . us into such dependence upon himself that we will not be able to live a moment without Him.” (p. 82). We live frail Christian lives because we do not appropriate Divine truth for our own selves.

“As long as we expect Christ to continually do something for us in single acts of grace, trusting Him from time to time to give us only that which will last a little while, we cannot be restored to perfect health. But when we grasp the fact that we need Him moment by moment in our lives in utter dependence upon His strength and provision, then the life of Christ becomes the health of our soul.” (p. 82)

[5]       Steps to wholeness of healing, which is this joy of depending only on Him. Murray outlines three steps to being made whole: telling God we want to be made whole, looking to Him as our only help, and responding in faith.

[6]       STEP ONE: To achieve this condition where “the life of Christ becomes the health of our soul”, Murray explains, Christ first asks us, as He did the man at Bethesda (John 5:2-9), “Do you want to get well?” And we must tell Him we want to be made well.  Some will not admit we are sick and others will not believe Christ can make us fully whole.

“At the root of it all [this not admitting our sickness and our unbelief] is the fear of self-denial and the sacrifice that will be required. People are not willing to entirely give up self-will, self-confidence, and self-pleasing (emphasis added). The walk in Christ that makes us like Christ is too straight and too hard (emphasis added). They do not want to be made whole. . . . If you are willing to be made whole, you must confess clearly, “Lord, at any price, I will!” (p. 84)

Image result for free picture of pruning grape vine[7]       But I am already living a holy life”, my flesh says. Each round of trials-wobbling-rebalancing these many months has shaken off more self-confidence, more of the flesh, and more of the world. My walk has become more narrow regarding what I do, read and listen to. I also am better now at forgiving and forgetting because they now feel like the poison they are (whereas for years before they stayed buried, unaware, deep in my heart). This narrowing of our daily life is part of the pruning Jesus describes in John 15:2. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (NIV)” Andrew Murray explains that of all fruit-bearing vines, the grapevine most needs pruning. Pruning cuts away not only dead branches but good, fruit-bearing branches because those branches use sap, and more sap must be channeled into producing fruit, rather than merely sustaining branches.

[8]       More pruning produces more fruit. And now? Now I think God is calling me to sacrifice some good things in favor of better things, lovingly pruning good wood so that more of my life’s energy will, like sap, will go into producing fruit for the kingdom. I believe that includes more prayer and Bible study and more time invested in others rather than self-indulgences, self-pleasures or self-will.

Image result for free picture of narrow mountain path[9]       Too straight and too hard? I am thinking deeply about Andrew Murray’s observation that entirely giving up  our “walk after the course of this world” can seem “too straight and too hard  because it includes giving up “self-will, self-confidence, and self-pleasing.” Suppose, for example, we forego R-rated movies because God shows us those are no longer acceptable. Suppose our path then narrows to only movies with no violence or obscenities. Would our path to greater closeness seem “too straight and too hard” if it means many evenings of foregoing all “entertainment” so as to make more time for Bible study and prayer or acts of service or a higher quality of family evenings?

More than four years ago, when God first showed me it was necessary to keep my mind on the Word all day, I recall thinking “I can’t live like Joyce Meyer and other Bible teachers say they do. I can’t think about the Word ALL day.” At that point, I do not think I wanted to either, although I thought I loved God with all my heart back then. Perhaps I did to the fullest extent I could, BUT He was not yet my “vital necessity,” not until desperation forced me to meditate constantly, just like I had heard.

Is God showing me that He is still not truly my vital necessity, that I still depend on and/or love my own self and worldly things more than Him? Part Two explores this question.

Think you are walking well–Part Two (or. . . Been through the wringer lately?)

Image result for free picture of wringer washing machineThose wringer washing machines. With some memories, you know precisely where you were and how old you were. With other memories, time wears away precise location and time, while intensifying details   At some point in my latter preschool days, I saw either my Mother or an aunt using a wringer washer. She fed a towel into the wringer and, curiously, it emerged from the tiny gap between the two wringer arms not only flat but stiff, so stiff that it stood up like crumpled cardboard when it fell into the catch bucket on the floor. Going through that wringer surely changed that towel!

Developmental discipline? These last few weeks, life felt like going through a wringer washing machine over and over. I got another degree from UTD, the University of Trials and Discipline! I have written about trials, and I know the basic facts:

  • Trials are good for us, and
  • we have them because of the world, our flesh, the devil, and God’s loving discipline, which can be instructive or corrective.

The wringer experience taught me much about another aspect of God’s loving discipline, developmental discipline. By that I mean when God prunes us so that we may be even more fruitful (John 15:2-6).

I thought I was handling life, by God’s grace, fairly well through the many cycles of trials God and I had walked through since He healed depression and fear. But God used the hardships of the last few weeks to wring out more of self-confidence and to provoke me into growth, like an eagle removes the feathers from the nest to urge the eaglets to move to the edge and learn to fly. What happened? God caused me to become aggressive in spiritual matters.

Image result for free picture of defensive boxerAggressive in spiritual matters?  By that, I mean to confront and battle against the works of the devil rather than having a defensive attitude. Meditating on God’s Word healed deep-rooted depression and fear, but in that season of healing and maturing I was usually in a defensive posture.

Yes, we are to seek God as our refuge and hide in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 91). However, after God’s season of heart healing, He is calling me to learn to operate consciously, deliberately as the spiritual warrior He made us all to be.  From our abiding place under the sheltering Shadow of His wings, we must learn to fight aggressively, to advance and occupy the territory God has promised us as our individual destiny, our own promised land!

Fighting aggressively? By fighting aggressively, I mean:

  • to pray and trust God for discernment when I am being attacked (as opposed to when I just need to gird up my loins for things of daily life, like regular exercise, eating and sleeping healthfully, working to regain my good attitude, etc.)
  • to confidently declare, out loud, my God-given authority over Satan,
  • to bind the works of darkness and loose the things of His kingdom,
  • to wield my sword of the Spirit, to fight back by speaking Bible truths that apply to the need of the moment,
  • then to go on with the next thing to be done that day, actively praising God, actively meditating on His Word, and keeping my mind fixed on God and good things (Philippians 4:8),
  • and when not under attack, which is most of the time, to use the same spiritual weapons to take back stolen territory and to take new territory.

Image result for free picture of headacheThis most recent wringing out experience. While going through this latest wringer experience, I struggled and seemed to sink deeper each day into the mire of negative thoughts and feelings. The day that I, by God’s grace, stood up and fought, I felt nearly as bad as when deeply depressed more than two years earlier. It felt like something pressing down on my mind and on my head physically, from the outside. The burden of oppression had become that heavy. I could not think clearly enough to repeat my verses. Negative thoughts and feelings flooded in and stayed, no matter what I tried. I believe the attack had affected my brain chemistry at that point.

I knew, from much experience with depression, that our own negative thoughts and feelings can cause that feeling of heaviness and utter discouragement, but I also knew that sometimes that feeling comes from an attack of Satan.

Two days earlier and each day since, I had prayed, “Lord, I think this current struggle with negative thoughts and feelings and discouragement and all that old mess involves a chemical imbalance in my brain. I cannot seem to think clearly and I cannot remember to keep thinking on the Word. This is a legitimate real need I cannot fix for myself and I am asking for healing on the authority of the Word and by right of necessity as You say in Lamentations 3:25. I have tried for three days, Lord, and I cannot keep my mind on the Word. I truly need You, Lord. Please help me!”

Image result for free picture of worn out gym bagI awoke that Saturday with heavier than ever depressing thoughts, having slept very late again as I had been doing due to increasing fatigue. Skipping gym several days had caused much stiffness so, after my best, although weak, effort with devotions, I packed my gym bag and walked to the car, carrying my frayed bunch of papers on which I had typed and hand-written my personalized arsenal of Scriptures.

I kept trying to use the Word and to say it out loud. On the way to the car, I repeated out loud, to myself, Lamentations 3:19-23.

(19) O Lord] remember [earnestly] my affliction and my misery, my wandering and my outcast state, the wormwood and the gall. (20) My soul has them continually in remembrance and is bowed down within me. (21)  But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation:

 (22) It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.”

Then I said out loud as I drove, praying the Word back to God. Lord it has truly been hard lately and I do ask You to earnestly think about this. I have been thinking about how hard things are and my soul has been cast down. But this I recall and therefore I have hope and expectation. “It is because of the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed.  Great and abundant is Your faithfulness.” Then I began repeating those two phrases over and over. “It is because of the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed.  Great and abundant is Your faithfulness. . . ”

As I kept driving and speaking those two verses out loud, I began thinking about God’s faithfulness. Into my mind popped a verse I had memorized early in this latest discipline process, several days earlier when I could still think a bit clearly.

Image result for free picture of grazing sheep“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed. (Psalm 37:3, AMPC)

Now, as I drove down Interstate 90, I said, out loud, “Lord, Your faithfulness is truly abundant. You are taking care of all my needs so well, just like always. I am being fed and You say truly I shall be fed. I trust that verse, Lord, even though I do not feel like it right now. I am sorry, Lord. ‘I believe. Help my unbelief!  (Mark 9:24, NIV)’. And forgive my weaknesses.”

Persisting in speaking the Word and meditating. I walked into the gym carrying my stack of verses in my free hand, checked in, then went to the weight room and put my verses on the edge of the weight rack, resuming my recitation of Lamentations 3:19-26 with verses 24-26. As I stretched, I had to keep looking at the paper, which was frustrating. I had thoroughly memorized the passage weeks ago.

Image result for free picture of bible(24) The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore, will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.

(25) 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].

(26) It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.

I repeated those three verses over and over as I lifted weights for 30 minutes, carrying the stack of papers with me from the free weights to the weight benches to the Precor machines.

A desperate plea. As I finished the last of the weights, I put Psalm 9:10 on top of the stack of weights and read.

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]. (AMPC)

Silently, as I walked upstairs to the stationary bicycles, I said “Yes, Lord, I do seek You, and in fact I really require You. Oh, Father! Let me not be presumptuous, but respectfully, I say You have to help because I truly cannot fix this by myself. I know You will help with this because I cannot go on without You healing this, and I cannot do it myself.”

Divine serendipity. Upstairs, as I pedaled, I skimmed through a book I studied during the depression season—“Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life” by Jasmin Lee Cori, MS, LPC). She explained that after trauma, certain circumstances can trigger thoughts and feelings that accompanied the original trauma. When that happens, the person may experience the same thoughts and feelings all over again. When triggered like that into “trauma thinking”, you often feel helpless and hopeless because that is how trauma feels—helpless and hopeless.

I paused my feet a moment and stared straight ahead as truth well up from within. “I had indeed lost hope the last several days, perhaps even before that.” I was shocked.

Image result for free clip art of no“No!” I thought immediately and indignantly and loudly. “That is NOT true at all! I do have hope because I know what God has done before, for me and others and everything recorded in the Bible and more! I know God works. Absolutely no situation is too hard for Him. I do have hope! I do trust Him! I do have faith in Him, great faith! The lying, thieving enemy must have blinded my mind and my heart for a while. I do have hope and lots of it!

All the while, as I finished cycling, and then as I walked out to my car, palpable relief started. The feeling of something heavy on top of my head began to lessen.

“That is why I felt so bad! Isn’t it, Lord? I had lost hope again, just as I lost hope when I was so deeply depressed. Sometime these last few days, I stopped believing I would ever feel right and balanced and normal again. No wonder life had become such a dread and drudgery each day. No wonder I felt so bad and the fatigue was like walking through molasses. Thank You for Your grace in not letting it get any worse.”

As I drove home, I talked to God non-stop, “Oh Father! Forgive me! I did not realize I had been doubting You! You have always, always, always met my needs, all my life so faithfully, just like You provided for the Israelites over and over and over again, in spite of their sin and weaknesses.  You have done the same for me. You have poured out so many blessings. You have picked me up so many times after failures and problems and hurts and everything else we’ve been through together.

I admit it still feels impossible for You to once again fix my mind and my feelings because this time it is so messed up. I cannot get the wonderful things You taught me to do before to work this time, but I do trust You! I do have hope in You! I do have confidence in You! You are indeed good and merciful and kind and loving and faithful. . . “

Image result for free piture of god gives liigghtGod gives light to fight (Isaiah 30:26). Back at home, I tossed my gym bag in the corner and flopped into the rocker, staring blankly out the window. Then I found myself saying, as I had said a few times in the previous two or so days, only this time with strength: “Satan, I am submitting myself to God, and the Word says if I do that and resist you, that God will restore me after I have suffered a little while (I Peter 5:6-11). Well, I am resisting you and doing my part of this verse so you have to flee! In the name of Jesus, I plead the Blood of the Lamb over my mind and my life. I take authority over you and command you to leave!”

I got up, opened the door, yelled “Leave!” and slammed the door. Then I sat down in the rocker and began telling God every good thing I knew about Him and thanking Him for everything I could think of, over and over, and I prayed in the tongues when my mind snagged and I could not think. Each time I prayed in tongues a few moments, another of God’s innumerable good qualities came to mind.

After a long time, I noticed I felt better. I just sat quietly, silently this time, just telling God thank You and loving Him – and letting Him love me.

Image result for free picture of hard workIT WAS HARD TO PERSIST!  Dear friend, I want you to know that in those moments—as I drove to the gym and kept trying to repeat the Word, and especially right before the fog started to lift after I was home again, it took so much effort to speak the Word out loud and to try and believe.  I honestly did not think I could do it. It must have been simply, purely God’s loving grace that enabled me to keep speaking and to think clearly enough to perceive God speaking to my spirit, telling me what to say and do.

For days before that, I had often flopped on the couch, trying to pray, trying to repeat the Word—I had really tried—but my resources had become depleted and I don’t think I made a sincere, all-out effort.

However, that Saturday, I remember deciding when I left for the gym: “I am going to struggle, I am going to fight to believe, one minute at a time, just like when the depression was so bad. I am going to choose to believe, God will help me, He promises . . . ”

The importance of memorizing, meditating, and speaking the Word. This certainly reinforces that I must continue memorizing the Word! It also reminds me it is essential to repeat the Word over and over and over, constantly, hundreds of times, to get the Word memorized and to let it root down deep into your spirit, into the bedrock of your inmost being. When the Word has filtered down into your spirit and subconscious mind, to the root level of what you truly believe, from there God will work. (Romans 12:2, Proverbs 4:23, Luke 6:45)

Constant repetition, often over a period of days, is necessary to hide the Word in your heart (Proverbs 119:11). It is also necessary to constantly repeat the Word, for minutes, hours or even days when you are under attack, even though it feels nothing is happening. This constant repetition is one way of obeying God’s command to meditate on His Word from the time we wake up to when we fall asleep (Deuteronomy 6:7) and to think about His Word “day and night” (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2).

Joyce Meyer tells the story of a man who was having a terrible time with his thoughts, though he kept repeating the Word. Just when he considered giving up, God let the man see that every time he spoke the Word, a sword came out of his mouth. And so, he persisted speaking the Word, with renewed faith, until breakthrough came.

Image result for free picture of ripe pomegranate treeThe good fruit of all that struggle. About four hours ago, I left for the gym, desperately praying and quoting the Word. Nothing changed externally, not one thing, but now? Now, I feel life is on track again. Inside, I am totally different. Furthermore, I am outlining this blog post even though writing was impossible all last week.

To sum up:  Through permitting life to back me into a corner and wring out more of that toxic self-confidence, God has trained me to be more aggressive spiritually,

  • To take new ground and regain lost ground,
  • To fight back when under attack rather than being passive and retreating,
  • To intensify my work in memorizing Scripture in my areas of need and the needs of others,
  • To speak the Word out loud more often than before and,
  • To pray in tongues more often than before.

I will write more about these things as I study more–and no doubt, spin around on the potter’s wheel some more! (Jeremiah 18)

It has been a week and a half since that wonderfully awful Saturday, when I outlined this blog post. The days have been busy but productive in many ways. I finished this and other pieces of writing, the peace God gave that day has only deepened, and He is solidifying the lessons I learned. I am grateful!

Others are being wrung out, too—for their good! Two friends had similar experiences about the same time, and perhaps you have, too. In the middle of the world’s craziness in this summer of 2021, God is teaching His children about spiritual warfare. I think God is awakening many in the Body of Christ to explosive spiritual growth, which is part of the great awakening He has begun in our nation and our world.

Image result for free picture of niagra falls We will see outpourings of His Spirit such as has never been seen before, as God causes “justice to roll on like a river, and righteousness as a never-failing stream.” (Amos 5:24)

Are you in step with what God is doing and getting ready to do in America and our world? I encourage you to listen to three short podcasts by Dutch Sheets. They are another confirmation about God urging us toward more spiritual power.  Go to www.givehim15.com and see the three podcasts entitled “Releasing the Roar (June 15, 2021) and “Lions, to Your Feet” (June 16, 2021) and “Turn It Up” (June 17, 2021).

See the source imageFight for your families and loved ones! Dear friend, I think God is telling us what He told the Israelites through Nehemiah when the former slaves were rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. How we live as believers powerfully affects our family and everyone with whom we come in contact. The more light we shine into the world, the more we help those around us, so:

“Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:14b, NLT)

And, as the AMPC phrases it:

Do not be afraid of the enemy; [earnestly] remember the Lord and imprint Him [on your minds], great and terrible, and [take from Him courage to] fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes. (AMPC) (emphasis added)

Is there any motivation greater? We may, if sore pressed, give up when we are the only ones endangered, but when our loved ones are threatened, as they are now by things we see happening, let us be like “a bear robbed of her cubs” (Proverbs 17:12, NIV).

Let love motivate you!Many waters cannot quench love; waters cannot sweep it away.” (Song of Solomon 8:7, NIV).  We have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, (Romans 5:5), and we have God Himself living in us and working in us (John 14:23, I Corinthians 3:16, Philippians 2:13).  We have all we need to fight, for ourselves, for all our loved ones, and the world! Beloved, let us stand up and fight! Let us press on to maturity ((Hebrews 6:1-3) so that God may shine more of His light through us into the darkness of this world.

If Jesus lives in us, then, beloved, by and in and through Jesus, we also ARE the light of the world (John 8:12). We have within us, because of God in us, the truth and power and the Word of God that overcomes all darkness (John 1:5).  So, I say, with Dutch and Tim Sheets:

  • let us release the roar,
    • let us stand to our feet, and
      • let us turn up the power of God in us!

See the source image

Those old wringer washing machines

Image result for free picture of wringer washing machineDear friend–a quick note to say I will have a post next week.  I have been working on one for many days now, and I believe it will bless you.

The last few weeks have felt like going through one of those old wringer washing machines, over and over. I imagine you can relate to that because we know Satan is very busy right now BUT WE KNOW GOD IS IN CONTROL AND IS WORKING ALL THINGS OUT FOR OUR GOOD!  Hang in there! Hold on to your hope! Keep proclaiming and believing the Word and watch out for special signs of His love for you. He never, no never, no never fails us in any way! (Hebrews 13:5, AMPC)

So, until next week – Woo hoo and GO GOD!

 

 

Do you think you are walking well? Part one of two

Image result for free picture of jesus holding childEarly morning whispers. “If you think you are leaning well, take heed lest you start standing up straight.” I lay in bed, aware Holy Spirit was speaking. It was one of those mornings of getting straight out of bed and sitting at the computer—no splash of water in the face, no cup of tea, not even a moment of “formal” devotional time. I sensed God was saying something important.

I looked up the verse I knew Holy Spirit had used to make a little joke, I knew it was a HUGE teaching for me. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12, NIV). In this verse, God lovingly warns against pride – because when we get prideful, about anything, a fall is coming. Proverbs 16:18 warns “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (NIV).

Image result for Jesus Holding Face of ChildWriters know that the less words used, the clearer the message. Mark Twain said, “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.” Nevertheless, whenever I talk about staying in victory through leaning on Him, I preface my comments with some “extra” words, which are – even the leaning is BY GRACE ALONE. Why? I have (by grace alone!!!) learned the danger of thinking that walking well with the Lord comes by my effort. Here are four Bible-based reasons I know this is true.

[1] All we have comes from God. Romans 11:36 tells us “For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory” (NLT). When King David was offering to God the treasures he had accumulated for building the temple. David blessed and adored the Lord before all the people. He acknowledged God’s greatness and God’s ownership of the heavens and earth:

Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand are power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (I Chronicles 29:13-14, NIV)

God repeats this truth often in His Word. Obviously, He wants it imprinted on our hearts. I believe He does that because it helps shield us against pride. James 1:17 tells us:

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation, became His prized possession. (NLT)”

Image result for free picture of close to jesusAnd Ephesians 2:8-9 declares: “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (NLT)

[2] Only God can change the heart. You have likely heard Jeremiah 17:9, which says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? (AMPC)” The KJV says “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

So, who can understand the human heart? In I Chronicles 28:9 God says He understands the heart and the mind and every thought we have. In light of the natural state of our heart, how good it is that God promises a new heart!

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27, NIV)

Image result for Jesus Holding Face of ChildHow blessed we are that God not only tells us how to get a new heart but also a new mind. In Romans 12:2 He spells out:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

[ 3] Even our desire to please God comes from Him. When a crowd was arguing that Jesus could not really be the Bread of Life because they knew His father, Joseph, and mother, Mary, Jesus replied:

Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End” (John 6:44-46, The Message).

Image result for free picture of leaning on jesusI Corinthians 1:30 firmly declares who is responsible when we finally think and when we finally live right. Everything that we have – right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start – comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. (The Message).” That is crystal clear!

[4] We are truly only humble servants. Could it be any clearer than what God says in Philippians 2:12-13, that it is God working in us that causes us to want to do His will and live so that we fulfill His purpose in our life? Spending some time prayerfully pondering Paul’s words in verses 12 and 13 using the Amplified version is beneficial here. Notice that Paul urges his readers to have an attitude of reverence and awe BECAUSE it is God who is working in them, giving them the power and desire to follow Him. Here is the AMPC translation:

(12)“Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). (13) [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” (Emphasis added)

Image result for free picture of jesus holding childThus, therefore, consequently, because of the truths we just saw, for those infallible reasons in the Word of our awesome, compassionate and gracious God–we can have TOTAL confidence and faith and trust in God to keep us close IF we do our part by seeking Him. Why? Because being close to God requires that we live like Jesus, to the best of our ability, and God promises to never forsake those who base their requests for legitimate needs on His Word. We obviously need God’s help to live like Jesus. Consider these three verses.

[A] “Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.” (I John 2:6, NIV)

[B] “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him. (I John 5:14-15, NIV)

Image result for free picture of leaning on jesus[C] 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 by right of their necessity.] (Emphasis added)(Psalm 9:10, AMPC)

  • So, we are asking for something we know is God’s will (living like Jesus) because He tells us to do it, (1 John 2:6)
  • It is a genuine need (we can do nothing righteous in our own effort (Isaiah 64:6), and
  • We are basing our request on the authority of God’s Word (Psalm 9:10).

In sum, we are seeking to live as Jesus did, because God told us to, which is “the authority of His Word”, and our need for His help in doing that gives us the “right of necessity.”

Notice that this works for those who are seeking God. In the AMPC, the word “seek” often includes the phrases “inquire of and for and require”. This obviously means people who are desperately seeking God, people who have learned, by experience, what Jesus taught in John 6:36, that “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life (NV).”

Image result for free picture of leaning on jesusTwo powerful psalms to pray. Have you heard the verse, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”? This is part of the psalm wherein David confesses his sin with Bathsheba and then sincerely, with his whole heart, repents. All of us have sinned and “. . . we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23, NLT). This psalm should catapult us all into humility, the only right attitude to have about living this life of leaning on Him alone.

Another comforting, reassuring psalm about asking God to keep us close is Psalm 25. I have pondered this psalm every morning for weeks now and never fail to be reassured that God is and will continue to guide me, with all my human failings, into the paths He has chosen for me. How beautiful are these words to the thirsty heart:

Image result for free picture of jesus holding child[9] He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.

[10] All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant.

[11] For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

[12} Who then is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.” (NIV)

One final thought. If you are leaning so hard you think you might fall over, you are probably walking well, for God has said—for our comfort, for our encouragement, dear friend:

My grace is all you need, for My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT)

Therefore, let us say, with Paul,

So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am [truly] strong [able, powerful in divine strength.]” (2 Corinthians 12:10, AMPC)

And, lest you think I sound overly confident about not being overly confident, next week’s blog post will indicate quite the contrary, dear friend and fellow pilgrim!

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Can you give God each hour?

Image result for free picture of woman sleeping in bedroomWhen you (think you) lose some hours. “Oh!!” I groaned. Ten a.m. I had fallen back asleep, though I had planned to be at my desk by eight and stay till noon, for four uninterrupted hours of writing before the day fogged my brain. As I lay there, I became aware my back felt better.


“Hmm, Lord. Maybe I needed the extra rest?” While washing my face, feeding Lily, eating breakfast, and tidying up, I talked silently with the Lord.

Father, I give this day to You, although it is not going as planned. Help me stay with You this next hour as we tidy up and do our little walk. . . “ After the walk, “Father, I give these next two hours to You as we write.” After that, “Father, I give these next few hours to You as we get groceries, then pick up the boys and play with them.”

How did the day turn out? Wonderfully blessed! I got some writing done, and errands, and then, because I had decided to make the afternoon especially special for the boys, after pickup from school we curled up together on the bed and watched “The Lorax” on my laptop, then played Chinese checkers until Papa picked them up. Then, I devoted the three hours of evening to God, as we ate dinner, had devotionals and then some down time before bed.

Changing habits of the heart is hard. Plenty of my days do not feel as organized and purposeful as the one I just described, but by God’s grace, I am learning to better redeem the hours of my days. Ephesians 5:16-17 tells us to “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, (16) making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. “(NIV)

Image result for free picture of being in loveGod keeps us in peace when our mind is stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV)–when we are stuck, fixed, infatuated with, embedded, smitten with, and preoccupied with Him. Initially, I became absorbed with keeping my mind on God – and off me and my troubles!– when God began healing depression more than two years ago. By His grace, I learned to take God’s Word like the medicine it is and meditate, speak and think about His truths all day, deliberately, until it became a habit. (This is the foundation of the book about depression on which I am working and for which I ask you to pray.)

Even so, sometimes discouragement, hopelessness, and feelings of worthlessness attacked, as did fear that depression and anxiety would ensnare me yet again. One day, while fighting those feelings through reading my Bible, an idea up: I can give each hour to God. I stared out the window and prayerfully pondered.

When I’m struggling, like now, I can focus on one hour at a time, like the “one day at a time” AA and Al-Anon slogan. I can get through anything for an hour if I consciously lean on and think about God and His Word.”

Image result for Free picture of Clock. Size: 188 x 105. Source: wallpaper.wikiAdvancing the Kingdom each hour. As a retiree, I was especially susceptible to feeling my life was unimportant, even though I knew better. But that day, I told myself:

Right here, alone in my house or as I run errands, I can do something that advances the Kingdom of God. I can praise and thank and worship God, I can write (my individual place of service for the Lord), I can pray for others, I can text or call someone, I can work God into the brief comments I exchange with the grocery store checker – AND IT ALL COUNTS FOR THE KINGDOM!!!”

Each hour of each life is cherished by God. The feeling that such things do not really “count” is just lies from the enemy! God is with us always (Hebrews 13:5. Every day (and that includes each hour!) has been ordained by God (Psalm 139:16). And Psalm 37:23 says:

Image result for free pictures of god watching usThe steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies himself with his every step]. (AMPC)

God says He is immersed in and focused upon every step the righteous take.

Each word of our adoration and praise and trust is attractive, or comely, to God, it blesses Him, and advances His Kingdom. God tells us in Psalm 147, which is a jubilant hymn of gratitude and praise, to: Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God, for He is gracious and lovely; praise is becoming and appropriate.”

When David says in Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” he is showing us that when we praise God we bless God, and we actually do good for God. We make Him happy. Now, that is something to think about!

And Psalm 34:3 says: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” So when we praise the Lord, when we talk about His goodness, when we speak highly of the nature of God, we are magnify or increase the Kingdom. And that applies when we are alone and praising Him as much as when we are with others.

We can ALL give God each hour. No matter your situation, nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) and we can purposefully give God each hour of our day. No matter how (apparently) limited or how busy your life may be–whether you are retired, living alone and struggling with health issues, a mom with four kids under five, a CEO, college student, a devoted dad working two jobs–you can give God each hour.

You may have to give Him segments of your day sometimes when you cannot stop to connect consciously with Him. If you have a job that almost literally leaves you no time to think until lunch or you have four straight hours of classes or you have little ones in your care, you can consciously at the start of your day, even if it is just a few words, give God the next four hours, the next portion of the day. Regardless, you can dedicate every activity of your day to God and include Him in it. If you are not free to speak out loud to Him, speak to Him silently in your heart; He knows your thoughts. (Psalm 139:5)

Image result for free picture of father walking toddlerGod promises to guide our steps. Ponder Psalm 25 over and over until your heart absorbs the same attitude—and confidence!–David had when he wrote this psalm. David depends on God and asks God to show him his ways, his paths, and the way chosen for him. David reminds himself that BECAUSE the Lord is “good and upright, therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.” (v.8 and 9, NIV) Clearly, if we are trying to please God with our daily life, He will guide us! Praying this psalm to God each morning never fails to encourage my soul.

Key Bible truths to cherish:

  • Each hour of my life is planned by God. (Psalm 139:16)
  • God is with me every moment of every hour of my life.(Hebrews 13:5)
  • I can honor God with this one hour. Even if all my plans and hopes for the day fall, I can honor God, in some way, in this one hour, and then the next, until I lie down and He blesses me with His sweet sleep (Psalm 127:2)
  • God sees me this moment, alone in my house (or wherever I am alone) and “I will walk within my house in my integrity and with a blameless heart.” (Psalm 101:2b, AMPC)

Image result for free picture of purposefulPurposefully giving God each day and each hour helps us be focused, thoughtful and wise in using time. It helps us “number our days aright” so that we can live wisely (“gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12, NIV). At the start of this writing, we read Ephesians 5:16-17. Ephesians 5:16-17 tells us to:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, (16) making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. (17) Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.“(NIV)

Verse 17 in the AMPC says:

Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”

Image result for free picture of grasping god's handTo me, this means we are not to be vague in our approach to daily life. In other words, we are to give purposeful thought regarding the best use of our time and we are to be aware of and work in line with (to “firmly grasp”) the things God wants to be done, or what His will is.

These verses appear in a passage the NIV labels “Living as Children of Light” (Ephesians 4:17-5:21). They are one of many passages where the New Testament instructs us to how to walk in the light. Walking in the light has many blessings, as I John 1:5-7 tells us:

(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 yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by 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. (NIV)”

Deliberately, consciously dedicating our time

to God is wise!

A sample prayer of dedication for each hour or segment of your day:

Dear loving Father, I thank You and praise You for all You are doing. I choose to purposefully give You this hour of our life together here on earth. I know You will guide me regarding what to do, as You promise in Psalm 25 because I am asking You to. I know You will also give me your strength, as You promise in Psalm 68:35. Thank You, Lord, for Your compassions, which are new every morning and which never fail, as You tell me in Lamentations 3:22. I love You and I trust You!

Pics I Trust in You Lord

Shhh, shhh. . . everything is okay


Image result for free picture of father hugging child(Chorus) I need to be still and let God love me.
I need to be still and let God love me.
When this old world starts to push and shove me
I need to be still and let God love me.

[1] I need to relax and let God take over,
I need to relax and let God take over.
He’ll take this load off my shoulders.
I need to relax and let God take over.

[2] When there’s trouble all around me
And my soul cries out for rest.
When I feel that I’m failing
Even though I’ve done my best.
When decisions get so heavy
And there are answers that I need,
I know it’s time to just be still, and let
God love me. . .

Chorus

(Recorded by B. J. Thomas, written by Archie P. Jordan and Naomil Martin Traducido.)

Music you can feel. I hit play, opened the frayed and yellowed drapes, and curled up in the chair. Three tall pines, in silent silhouette, stood sentinel against the night-time sky. I stared, unblinking, into the darkness. Then I heard the voice, that voice, murmuring, soothing, caressing, gently loosening the hurts and calming the fears, those hurts and fears I hid until my daughter was sweetly tucked into bed.

How, Lord? How am I going to do it? I can’t provide the video games and designer jeans her friends have, I can’t give her the love and influence of a father, I can’t. . . “ Tears finally fell then, as I felt, through the music and the voice, the heart of God join with mine.

The marriage had never been right, so there had never been gentle, tender embraces, those need-meeting, hurt-soothing encircling cuddles designed by God that let a woman feel, once again, small and cherished and safe, like a little girl nestled against her father’s broad chest, enveloped by strong, gentle arms. But in that music, in that voice, I felt the fiercely tender love of my Heavenly Father. As if I could feel His arms around me, I relaxed. I just relaxed and let God love me.

Image result for free picture of father hugging childWhen you just need a big hug. That was a night more than 30 years ago, and God has been hugging me in many different ways so faithfully all these years. We all long just to be held and comforted sometimes, if we are honest. Sometimes, the world pushes and shoves without letup. Or maybe we react to ordinary, daily life with unordinary, unreasonable feelings. It was both of those things for me just yesterday. My beloved Lily was sick, numerous calls failed to secure an appointment with a veterinarian because it was not an emergency, I felt drained and tired and irritable, damp weather soaked into my back and hips, the piece of writing I was working on would not come right after three days of revision and blah blah blah with fears and complaints and other very real problems I could not get off my mind. I kept trying to quote verses as I went about the tasks that (I thought) had to be done. Although I knew what I needed, I never actually sat down with my Bible and talked with God. I never actually got still and let God love me, not until time for evening devotions.

Take time to sit down with God. Then, finally, I sat in my rocker by the window and picked up my beloved Amplified Bible, the cordovan faux-leather covered one that had belonged to my Dad. As I re-read Psalm 25 through 34, which I have been doing for weeks now, two verses brought peace, that peace I had forfeited all day long because I had not set aside time to sit and be alone with God, and I had allowed fretting—rather than meditating—to occupy my thoughts.

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Psalm 32:10 says, “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts, relies on and confidently leans on the Lord shall be compassed about with mercy and with loving-kindness.” (AMPC)

Psalm 34:9 promises, “O fear the Lord, you His saints – revere and worship Him! For there is no want to those who truly revere and worship Him with godly fear.” (AMPC)

I circled those two verses with red ink and drew arrows to them, the only way to make them stand out on pages already marked with underlines, brackets, and parenthesis. Then I prayed, something like this:

Tell Him exactly how you feel. Oh Father, I do trust and rely on You, even though I do not feel that way right now and I am sorry for that. I do depend and lean on You with complete confidence because You have always, always, always taken care of me, just as You promise in Hebrews 13:5. And Psalm 32:10 says Your mercy and loving kindness will completely encircle me, so that means nothing can harm me. It is like Your arms really are around me. It is like You really are hugging me close and whispering, “Shhh, shhh. Everything is okay.” as we do when a child wails over a scraped knee.

And Psalm 34:9 promises I will not want for anything if I truly revere and worship You with godly fear. You know, Lord, I do from the bottom of my being honor and respect you, I appreciate You, I cherish You, I know You rule over all that is and was and is to come. And I know You know I am very mindful I am only a mist, a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14), and I am awed that You love me and sent Jesus to die for me so that I could have an abundant life with You here on earth and then spend eternity with You in heaven. And You know I do truly adore You, Father. You are my everything!

Image result for free picture of father hugging childLord Jesus, I know you don’t love me any less just because I am tired and I could not do the things I felt I should today, although my self-critical thoughts, and maybe the enemy, make me feel that way right now. I know You understand the frustration of living in a human body and dealing with silly, wrong-headed feelings we humans have sometimes, feelings like hopelessness and discouragement, even though we know better than to let feelings like that linger and pollute our heart.

So, Father, I will think about these two promises as I go to bed—that your mercy and loving kindness will completely encircle me and that I will lack nothing. I don’t FEEL like that right now because I fretted most of the day, and, as You tell us in Psalm 37:8, “fretting leads only to evil.” And that is what happened to my thoughts today, so Lord, please forgive me for fretting and not trusting better today. Please help me keep my mind on Your promises.”

I sat there, slowly rocking, wondering if I should go to bed yet. But I still did not feel peace, so I continued.

Give Him all your cares and worries, fears and doubt. Father, You say in I Peter 5:7 to cast, or toss, all our cares onto You because You care for us. And you also say that You know just how I feel. In Hebrews 4:15 You say You are our great High Priest Who is “. . . able to understand and sympathize and have a fellow feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation. . . Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.” (AMPC)

And that next verse says, that because of all of that, we should

“. . . then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace—the throne of God’s unmerited favor [to us sinners]; that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need—appropriate and well-timed help, coming just when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:16, AMPC)”

Image result for free picture of father hugging childI walked to my desk and picked up the sheet of paper on which I had printed the definition of mercy from www.gotquestions.org:

In the Bible, mercy is extended to an offender in the form of forgiveness or to the suffering in the form of healing or other comfort. In any case, mercy can be characterized as compassionate treatment of those in distress. Whether the distress is caused by the guilt or penalty of sin or by a debilitating physical condition, mercy is there to help.”

That’s me, Father,” I continued. “I am in distress, still, even after praying and trying to be at peace. And it is because I have given in to worry. Forgive me, Lord. Thank You that You deal with our failures with compassion.”

Believe that He is tender and compassionate toward you every day – because HE IS!. I paused and just kept silent. Portions of Lamentations 3, another verse in my arsenal, came to mind, where Jeremiah was recalling how hard life had been but then said,

Image result for free picture of jesus and lamb[21] But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation:

[22] It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.

[23] They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.

[24] The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.

[25] 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.]

[26] It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.”

I paused again, staring into the darkness outside the open window, remembering how often I had repeated verses 25 and 26, many months ago now, when I was deep in the mud and mire of depression. I had been using the NIV version at the time, which reads “The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD”.

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Thank Him for His faithfulness to you personally. Yes, Lord,” I resumed, “You have taught me so very much these last two years about staying uplifted in You and thus avoiding the enslavement of discouragement and hopelessness and despair. Thank You, Father. I do remember how faithful You have been and always will be. You said in Psalm 107:43 that it is wise to take notice of and consider the great love You showed in delivering Israel over and over. I will think about how faithfully You have delivered me from all my fears and troubles, over and over. I know You never change (Hebrews 13:8)

So, dear dear Father, One Who loves me so, I do put all my cares into Your loving hands, and I choose to wait with hope and expectancy and confidence, because You promised in Lamentations 3:25 that when I have a need and I ask with the authority of Your Word, that You will be good to me. You are good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for You, Lord. You are merciful and gracious, as You say in Psalm 103 and that You do not treat us as our sins deserve and I know it is because of what You say right here, in verses 11 through 14:

[11] For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.

[12] As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

[13] As a father loves and pities His children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe],

[14] For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints on His heart] that we are dust.”

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Think about how much He loves you and His attitude toward the nature of your human condition. Oh, Father! That is another way of saying that Your mercy and loving-kindness fill the earth, isn’t it, that there is no place I could go to and not be enveloped in Your tender, loving, care. And You say the fact that we are human is imprinted on Your heart. If something were imprinted on my heart, then every beat of my heart and every thought of my mind, every fiber of my being would be affected by that.

So You are saying that with Your every thought toward us, You remember our human weaknesses. Maybe it also means that You remember the moment You created each of us, as parents remember when their beloved child was born.

Could it be that You also remember that without You, our Fountain of Living Water, we cease to exist, that we return to dust? When You look, with compassion and mercy on our humanness, do You stir up those “ rivers of living water” (John 7:38) that You give to us when we believe in You? Yes, Lord, I think that whenever we reverently and worshipfully fear You, You stir up those waters and our thirst is satisfied. Like now, Lord, this time with You and Your Word has refreshed my soul, and I feel Your peace beginning to settle. Nothing has changed yet everything has changed.

Image result for Free Picture of God My Fortress. Size: 161 x 92. Source: www.youtube.comThank You, Lord, thank You! You and You alone are my Rock, my Source of Strength, my Refuge, my Fortress, my Strong Tower into which I run and am safe, my Shelter, my king of Kings and lord of Lords, Who rules and reigns with majesty and splendor over all the earth and all its inhabitants, Who brings the Light of Truth and Love into the darkest night, Who carries Your little ones in Your arms, my great and Good Shepherd, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Glorious One Who lives in unapproachable light, Who is the Light of the World, my Defender, my Healer, my Mighty One and my best Friend, who holds me day and night safe in His all-mighty, ever-faithful, ever-merciful, ever kind and loving arms. How truly great and awesome You are, Lord!

Image result for free picture of god will help meFear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties; yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain your with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. (Isaiah 41:10, AMPC)

Dear friend, I sincerely pray that your days like I had, days when you forget or simply cannot keep your mind on God and His Word, are few. But when those days happen, take time to sit and quiet yourself in His presence, and let God love you through the life-giving truths of His Word. He will never, no never, no never fail you! (Hebrews 13:5).

The grass withers, and the flower falls but the Word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8, NIV).

Taking God’s Word into your heart brings light and life.(Psalm 119:130)

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When we wobble, God doesn’t! Part 3 of 3

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True troubles! Without some true trouble, some stress and real strain, I confess much of self would still yet remain.That couplet popped into my spirit more than 30 years ago, when I was returning home after taking my eleven year old daughter to school. I typed medical dictation at home that year, since the tiny company I had worked for had gone bankrupt, and I pinched each penny. Hard. Back then, although I constantly worried about providing for my daughter and myself, God was teaching me to trust Him and to see whatever hardship came up as loving training from Him. And that lesson is as applicable—and just as hard sometimes—today as it was then.

Regarding wobbliness and wobbly times, so far we have learned that:
[1] We learn more when our way is wobbly.
[2] Trials (times that make us wobble) are good for us.
[3] Trials teach us things we learn no other way.
[4] Trials are necessary for the continuing growth that is part of Christian maturity.
[5] Trials protect us from the deadly condition of complacency.
[6] We CAN make progress during trials because God equips us with what we need.
[7] No matter what happens, we can–like Habakkuk–be confident that God will get us through the trial.

Today, we will consider the following points:
[8] Experience, the best teacher? YES!
[9] Do trials ever end for the believer?
[10] The more we wobble, the less we will.
P.S. Just for you, dear friend!

[8] Experience is the best teacher. Yes! You can thoroughly practice swimming, on land, but until you are actually in the water. . . You can thoroughly practice rock climbing at the gym, but until you are actually on a mountain. . . You can thoroughly study about trusting God in hard times, but until you are actually in hard times . . .

As I learned years ago when my daughter was little, God sometimes puts us in hard places that make us desperate – for the loving purpose of helping us grow. He is being kind to us. Scripture reassures us that “God is loving toward all He has made.” (Psalm 145:17b, NIV)

Image result for free picture of person ion deep endDuring trials, it may feel like God has thrown us in the deep end and left us, but that is merely our flesh reacting. As our human bodies react to threat, so do our soul and spirit. There is an automatic response in our heart when we face what we perceive as danger, just as there is an automatic response in our body when we face a physical threat.

And that is precisely where the possibility for growth comes. In that moment when we feel fear, or discouragement or whatever negative arrows the enemy is shooting at us, we can learn to lean on truth, and—to the extent that we do that (Psalm 33:22)–that truth will set us free from fear and its consequences (John 8:32). If we allow it, the enemy can magnify our natural, human reaction of fear. But, if we turn instead to God, God can turn that fear into strength.

In those moments, as we seek God by meditating on His word constantly (Deuteronomy 6:4-8 and Psalm 1) we can calm our frail, human hearts by focusing our mind on passages like Isaiah 41:10.

So do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)

I remember the morning at the gym when trying to memorize this verse. Holy Spirit helped me reflect: “The all-mighty, all-loving One who made and sustains the universe is right here with me, He Himself, and He adores me. There is no reason to fear. That One is the Person I am depending on, who I am calling and making my God, the Ruler of my life. He has promised to give me strength and to help me and to support me. And that includes this very moment. . . ”

Image result for free picture of father and child in waterConsider this. How would a loving, compassionate father begin teaching his child, who has never before seen deep water, how to swim? He holds his little boy firmly in his arms while wading slowly in until the boy’s feet are submerged, all while he holds the boy snugly in his arms. The father pauses and splashes the water with his hand, lets the boy play with the water and get used to it and they laugh about it together. Then, the father goes a bit deeper, pausing each time for reassurances and more laughter until finally the water is up to the child’s chest and then the father starts walking through the water, letting the boy experience the feel of water flowing over his little body. That might be enough for the first time. The next time, the father would hold the boy in his arms and let him splash about on his own, while being held, and so on.

That beloved little boy is never endangered although he feels he is! Only the presence and embrace of his father calms him enough to let the lessons proceed. Trials can make us afraid, even terrorized, but we can, through choosing to believe what He says, benefit from the presence and embrace of our Heavenly Father and, step by slow step, learn to use our God-given potential to keep going through trials. Then, when we come to a big trial, we will go right through it, just as a traveler swims across a river that obstructs his path.

As I reflect on my relationship with God, I can see that the trials in the early years were easy compared with trials in recent times. He strengthened me and hardened me to difficulties, as He promises in Isaiah 41:10. So, by God’s grace I now stay steadier through trials and I look for God’s blessings while I walk through them. Experience has taught me the truths of Lamentations 3:19-66—that indeed” 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.” (Lamentations 3:25,AMPC)

Beloved, God NEVER abandons us or fails us or lets us down, in any way (Hebrews 13:5).It just feels like it sometimes. And the cure is always trusting and obeying.

Image result for free Clip Art of End of the road. Size: 72 x 100. Source: clipground.com[9] Do trials ever end for the believer? The short answer? No. Why? It is because of the nature of our fallen world, the nature of man, the nature of our enemy, and the nature of God’s plan for mankind. BUT GOD HAS MADE A WAY TO LIVE IN VICTORY AND JOY!

The nature of our fallen world—so long as we live on this earth, we will have troubles. The world is under the curse described in Genesis 3. We will not enjoy the Edenic type of life that God planned for mankind until our inmost beings leave the earthly tabernacle of this flesh and live in the presence of God Himself in heaven. “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward”, Job 5:7 tells us.

The nature of man. So long as we live on this earth, we will struggle with sin (Romans 7:7-25). Psalm 51:5 tells us we are all born as sinners. Romans 3:23 says we have all “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” but verse 22 joyfully proclaims the righteousness which comes “from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Once saved through faith in Jesus, we must keep pursuing and obeying God, as we saw earlier in this writing. No person, except Jesus, has ever been and can ever be good enough. Right before he died, the great apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Phillipi. In Chapter 3 of that letter, he explains why he puts no confidence for salvation in anything he does (or “in the flesh”) but rather he keeps pressing on, he says, toward “the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14, NIV) And that was right before Paul died. Think about that!

Image result for Free Picture of Earth. Size: 204 x 204. Source: dreamicus.comThe nature of our enemy. So long as we live on this earth, Satan will constantly seek to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). For an excellent teaching on the activity of Satan—and a teaching that will calm fear and fill you with hope!–see “Satan’s Ten Strategies Against You”, by John Piper at www.desiringgod.org. Eventually, at the end of time Satan will be “thrown into the lake of burning sulfur . . . and will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10). In the meantime, throughout each of our lifetimes, we can walk in the victory over Satan and sin that Jesus purchased for us.

The nature of God’s plan for mankind–As Genesis 2:16-17 records, God made humans with the freedom of choice, and that includes whether or not we love Him. We can, through Him, choose NOT to sin, as we see in Romans 6:11-14. We can overcome sin, through offering our whole selves to God and choosing to love and serve Him (Joshua 24:15).

If we truly love God more than all else, we will place more value on heavenly things than things of this life. If we “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2, NIV). We will then be empowered to consider what we learn through trials of greater value than whatever inconvenience, hard work and even suffering trials may cause.

In light of all that, we can be encouraged and accept trials as part of life and as of no more consequence than the fact that we must keep breathing, eating, sleeping, etc. as long as we live. Certain things are just part of life.

Image result for free clip Art Of Abundant Life. Size: 125 x 106. Source: clipground.comAnd our life can be abundant! We can choose to believe what Jesus told us in John 16:33, that in Him we:

may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have troubles, trials, 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.]

For me, investing time and energy in meditating on and memorizing that Scripture and many others has gone far in developing a better attitude than I once had about the trials of daily life.

[10] The more we wobble, the less we will. So here we sit, you in the trials and temptations of this day in your individual life and me with mine. No matter where you are and what you are doing, God is right there, watching over you, loving You. So, I pray,

May He strengthen you with power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit [Himself] indwelling your innermost being and personality). May Christ through our faith, [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, and make His permanent home in your heart!” (Ephesians 3:16-17a, AMPC)

Image result for free picture of wobblingHere I sit, using an alternative word processor program, my three favorite Bible translations opened on my desk, pausing to look out the window and stroke Lilly as I think of a word, and also pausing every fifteen minutes to stretch. Most of the trials described at the start of this blog are still present, but I am making great spiritual progress precisely because of and through the difficulties. God is working His strength into my heart. He is training me to keep my mind better fixed on things above (Colossians 3:2) and He is doing that through my experiencing the difficulties of life on this earth. Just as using the wobble board in physical therapy improved my balance, so do trials improve my innate wobbliness. The more I wobble, the less I will!

Oh, trust Him! Lean on Him and hope, with confidence, in Him! Wait on Him. He has not failed you, and He never will. He is training you through hardship and trials because He loves you and it is for your safety and your good. His mercy and loving kindness are upon us in proportion to our waiting and hoping in Him (Psalm 33:22), so wait patiently on Him! God is good to those who wait on Him (Lamentations 3:25). Like the eagle, turn your face into your storm and spread your wings of faith. Let God use the very storm that threatens you to cause you to mount up with Him and renew your strength!

P.S. Just for you, dear friend:

Image result for Free Picture Of Hawk Soaring. Size: 164 x 110. Source: www.smithsonianmag.comAs I sat in the sun, purposefully getting vitamin D, proof-reading this piece of writing, God sent a hawk soaring right in front of my eyes as I reclined on the lounge chair beside the pool. I see hawks fairly often in the neighborhood close by when I walk there but never this far. And that is not all . . .

As I sat, frantically scribbling, trying to describe the beauty and awe of watching that one hawk soar right above my head, back and forth, surfing the invisible currents of air, the sun shone through its outstretched wings, revealing the tips were lighter colored than the rest of those long wings. As I sat writing with part of my mind, with the other part, I was thinking:

A spiritual message. . . There is a spiritual message in the fact that I could not see the wind on which the hawk was soaring, just as non-believers do not see the wind on which we believers soar through troubles. But non-believers are watching and they know something unseen is helping us. Whether they “believe” in the Power they cannot see or not, they are still seeing that Power in action and our soaring gives God the means to demonstrate His power to them.

A word from Holy Spirit? . . . Then, while jotting those thoughts down, I felt a powerful urge to write that Holy Spirit says someone reading this will be enabled to soar in victory through their trial.

Image result for free clip art of Who me. Size: 73 x 100. Source: handymanwire.comSelf doubt. . . replaced with boldness! How dare I, little old me, say that? I am not like the powerful prophets and teachers of God I see and hear that I should say such a thing. But then, praise God, faith, truth and obedience overcame those lies of the devil as God’s truths bubbled up from within: that timidity and fear did not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7), God does not have favorites (Romans 2:11), God does train those who are willing to hear His voice clearly (John 10:27-29, Isaiah 30), and I could trust God and be bold (Jeremiah 1:8).

Obedience brings blessing (Luke 11:28) and when we use what we have, God gives even more (Luke 19:11-27). The moment I made up my mind to write that statement—that Holy Spirit was saying someone would be empowered to soar when they read these words—that very moment, friend, I saw a small group (called a “kettle” I later learned) of hawks suddenly appear in my field of vision, straight ahead. And that first hawk (had he been scouting?) began circling them.

Image result for Free Picture of Kettle of Hawks. Size: 163 x 110. Source: www.pinterest.comIt is a whole host of them, Lord!”, I thought, “like an army! It is like a picture of Your body of believers, faithfully soaring on the wings of Your wind, following along obediently, and, like eagles, using the very trials surrounding them to soar high up, with You, where You want them to go.”

It’s like Your believers today, in the United States and the world, who choose to believe and to know You are still on Your throne, in the midst of the apparent victory of evil and wickedness. We know You are working ‘everything out for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose’, as You say in Romans 8:28. As we trust in You and face the future with faith, You lift us up, to heavenly places with You.

I watched, open-mouthed, eyes squinting, as the kettle of hawks soared back and forth, each following a different path, left, then right, each at a slightly different height, like fish in an aquarium, like children playing on an azure playground. Then, as if hearing a command, they began soaring northward, one after the other, one or two at a time, until the last one faded to a black dot then vanished. I could see them no longer, but as I gazed in that direction, I knew they were there, steadily, continuing their journey, returning to their home.

Dear dear reader, I believe God wants you to know:

He hears your cry in your trial, He wants you to know He has good plans for you, He has not let go of Your hand. He never will loosen His grip on you or forsake you or leave you helpless. He will give you strength and everything else you need to walk through this trial, and you will not even smell like smoke when it is over.

Oh, fellow pilgrim! Just trust and keep His Word in your mind and in your mouth! God hears the cries of the righteous! His mercy and loving-kindness will be upon us in proportion to our waiting and hoping in Him. Wait and hope in the Lord, with confident expectation! He is right there with you and He is working for your good! Our loving, all-mighty, ageless, eternal Father in heaven is loving and kind and compassionate and faithful and merciful and good – all the time!

Image result for free picture of god's hand reaching down

When we wobble, God doesn’t! Part 2 of 3

Image result for free Picture of Prayer. Size: 154 x 103. Source: theblazingcenter.comLast week, we considered the first three of the statements below about trials. Did the Bible passages we examined make sense to you? I pray so! If not, James 1:5-8 tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (NIV)

This week, we will examine statements four through seven below.

Wobbliness and wobbly times:

[1] We learn more when our way is wobbly.

[2] Trials (times that make us wobble) are good for us.

[3] Trials teach us things we learn no other way.

[4] Trials are necessary for the continuing growth that is part of Christian maturity.

[5] Trials protect us from the deadly condition of complacency.

[6] We CAN make progress during trials because God equips us with what we need

[7] No matter what happens, we can–like Habakkuk—be confident that God will get us through the trial.

[8] Experience, the best teacher? YES!

[9] Do trials ever end for the believer?

[10] The more we wobble, the less we will.

P.S. Just for you, dear friend!

Image result for Free Picture of Sprout. Size: 152 x 102. Source: www.istockphoto.com[4] Trials are necessary for the continuing growth that is part of maturity. James 1:2-4 says:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, BECAUSE you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work SO THAT you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)” (emphasis added).

Could God be any clearer with us??? We are to think about, or consider, trials as a good thing. God is saying trials are a good thing because they provide a chance to use our faith, which will help us develop the ability to keep going in spite of difficulties. And then, after our need to persevere has done what it needs to do in our character, we will be mature and complete. He is telling us, giving us a kind warning so we can prepare our minds and hearts for a long process. He is also telling us there is a good thing coming at the end of the process, and that gives us hope and strength.

This is one of the passages I memorized as a new believer, and it has floated up into consciousness countless times since then. I admit that at first I approached this truth with a somewhat begrudging attitude, trying but most often failing to have the right attitude. Looking back, though, I can see how God worked good out of each and every trial (Romans 8:28). By His grace I now have a better attitude when a fresh trial comes. No, not a perfect attitude but a greatly improved one!

Image result for FREE Picture Of Three Size Plants. Size: 181 x 110. Source: www.gettyimages.comContinual growth is part of being a Christ follower and it is a refuge, a way of life that keeps us safe. If we strive to keep growing, we will be kept safe. In 2 Peter 1:3-11, Peter tells us how to “make our calling and election sure SO THAT we will not stumble or fall (v.10-11.) He assures us that God has already given us everything that we need to live and to be godly and that through God’s promises we can become like Him and overcome the moral decay of the world. In verse 5 through 7, he lists qualities we are to make every effort to obtain: faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.” (Notice the similarity to the nine fruits of the spirit in Galations 5:22-23.)

Why should we strive to keep growing? The next verse tells us clearly that by pressing on we will make our Christian lives effective and productive. Verse 8 says “For IF you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice the “increasing measure” concept. That says we have to keep growing and keep growing and keep growing. And just as continually bearing fruit is no trouble for a fruit tree, so will our spiritual fruit bearing be natural. .

Notice also the stern, loving warning in verse 9: “If anyone does not have them” [those qualities in increasing measure]”, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

Image result for Free Clip Art of Pride Before Destruction. Size: 81 x 110. Source: www.christart.comMay God have mercy on each one of us and move us to keep making every effort to grow! That is a stern warning indeed, but do we not sternly warn our children not to play in the street? It is very easy for the enemy to lead a nearsighted or blind person off the path of godliness. God clearly warns us against behaviors that lead to blindness, such as depending on idols. Satan tries to use spiritual pride to tell us we have arrived spiritually and we do not need to keep striving so hard. Danger! Danger! Danger! God warns over and over against pride and complacency.

[5] Trials protect us from the deadly condition of complacency. If we do not keep growing we tend to become complacent. Stop exercising for a week and see how hard it is to get yourself back to the gym! God knows how easily we slip back into old habits, so He speaks through the prophet Amos and warns “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion. . . ” (Amos 6:1, NIV). Peter ends his second letter to believers by telling us to live holy and godly lives and keep growing as we anticipate the return of Christ:

. . . be on your guard SO THAT you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. BUT GROW in the grace and knowledge of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, NIV) (emphasis added)

In Matthew 7:26 Jesus warns that we pursue our own ruin if we do not act on His words. Jesus said “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”

Remember the children’s song? “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, not hearers only. . . “

Ever heard the saying “There are no atheists in foxholes”? When we are in desperate situations, we tend to become more intense in seeking God. Have you heard someone recall a very hard time and say almost wistfully, “But I was never so close to God as I was then.” When God uses trials to get us focused on Him, He is acting in love. He wants us to have a passionate love for Him because loving, revering, worshipping and obeying Him keeps us safe and brings multitudes of blessings.

In the NIV Bible, the last section of that great chapter 12 of Hebrews, verses 14-29, is labeled “Warning Against Refusing God”. Verse 25 says

See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns from heaven?” and Verse 28-29 urge us to “be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.” (NIV)

Image result for Free Picture of God is a Fire. Size: 178 x 101. Source: www.godisreal.todayIn saying “our God is a consuming fire’, the writer of Hebrews is referring to Exodus 19:12-13 when Israel was warned not to even approach the foot of Mount Sinai, where God had met with Moses, else they would be killed. They were to treat God with reverence and fear and awe AND SO ARE WE TO DO THE SAME TODAY. God has not changed and He will never change (Hebrews 13:8). He is steadfast, enduring, ageless, matchless, and eternal! He is our Rock, our Refuge and our Redeemer, our “King of kings and Lord of lords!” (Revelation 19:16)

If we appropriately remember who God is and who we are, we will strive with all our heart to obey Him. We will not treat Him or anything about Him lightly or half-heartedly, and our love for Him will be fervent. Thus we may avoid the condition of a lukewarm heart. Read Revelations 3:14-22 and see for yourself how much God hates our being lukewarm toward Him. Being lukewarm is a condition from which we must earnestly repent (verse 19). In verse 19, God pleads with those who are lukewarm to open the door of their hearts to Him.

The love and kindness and compassion of our God for us is higher than the heavens are above the earth (Psalm 103). When He helps us avoid complacency—no matter the means He uses–He is acting in love, for our good.

[6] We CAN make progress DURING trials because God equips us with what we need to walk through the trials. Trials do not stop our journey with God, and they do not stop our growth. The truth is just the opposite! They are a lovingly planned part of the path of every believer’s life.

Image result for free picture of mountain goatsHe gives exactly what we need. Just as God gives mountain goats specially constructed hoofs and powerful neck and shoulder muscles, Psalm 18:33 promises He will give us what we need to walk on our high places securely.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places.” (AMPC)

Notice also that times of testing and trouble are dangerous. But be encouraged! God’s special provisions equip us to stand firmly and also make progress upon, through and because of the very difficulties themselves. If a mountain stands in our path and there is no way around it, we can go right over the mountain and keep going forward along our desired path, in the same direction, making progress upon the mountain itself.

This powerful verse, verse 33, comes in the middle of Psalm 18, a psalm which gives all of us courage to endure trials with confident hope and expectation. Psalm 18 starts with praise to the LORD for His strength, then David recalls how, when he faced death and destruction, God answered him and fought mightily for him, setting him in a spacious place because God delighted in him. David declared that God had rewarded him according to his righteousness (v. 24) because “To the faithful You show yourself faithful, to the blameless You show yourself blameless. . . . “ (v. 15) David keeps encouraging himself as He describes God’s power and mercy on his behalf, including (in verse 32-36) how God had enabled him to make progress and “stand on the heights”. David concludes with more praise for the God who saves him from his enemies and shows unfailing kindness to him and his descendants forever – that includes you and me!

[7 ] No matter what happens, we can–like Habakkuk—be confident God will get us through the trial. Most of the book of Habakkuk speaks of the coming judgment on God’s people because of their wickedness. (To see how applicable the Bible is to this present world, read the minor prophets and reflect on the apparent victory of evil we now see in the United States and other parts of the world.) Nevertheless, even though judgment would come, Habakkuk concludes with praise to God and a declaration of trust in God. He says:

Image result for Free Picture of Olives and Figs and Grapes. Size: 157 x 104. Source: smittenkitchen.comThough the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD. I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18, NIV)

Think about what Habakkuk is saying – though every single thing I usually depend on fails me (figs, grapes, olives, fields, sheep and cattle, which was everything people in those times depended upon) – yet even so, in spite of all of that, I WILL be happy in God and I WILL be joyful in the God who is my Savior.

I think Habakkuk could make that declaration BECAUSE Habakkuk was thinking about the last verse, verse 19:

Image result for Free Picture of Mountain goat feet. Size: 158 x 105. Source: flickr.comThe Lord 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]!” (AMPC- notice the ! At the end).

Wow oh wow oh wow! How can we not be encouraged! God will BE our strength, He will BE the bravery we need and He will BE our unbeatable army. He will make our feet as perfectly suited for our personal path as a deer’s feet are suited for mountains. God will cause us to walk. He will not let us stand still and be terrorized. He will cause us to make spiritual progress upon the very trials themselves, whether the trials involve trouble, suffering or responsibility.

Next week, we will finish this brief examination of trials. Think about what you have learned so far from the Bible passages we have examined. Do you feel any differently about daily life? About the occasional long spells of troubles? Are you convinced that, in spite of how they feel, trials are truly good for you?

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