Monthly Archives: December 2023

Are you fearful, like me?

O Little Town of Bethlehem - Point of View - Point of View


The following poem can be sung to the melody of the beloved Christmas carol “O, Little Town of Bethlehem.” Try it.

[1] My fearful heart, my fragile soul, why do you doubt and fear?
for God your King is powerful, and He is very near.
He watches over you with care, takes note of where you go,
so wait and hope and expect Him. He’s helping you to grow.

[2] Here in the silence of my heart I’m learning to depend.
He’s teaching me from His great law to hide myself in Him.
He’s working all things for my good. In all things He is faithful,
to teach my heart to follow Him, to trust Him as I should.

[3] When life in this old evil world brings torment without cease,
our God wants our minds fixed on Him, safe, guarded, kept in peace.
He knows our every weakness, He knows our hearts are frail,
and so He sent Emmanuel. In Him we never fail!

[4] When you are feeling all alone, like you don’t have a friend,
remember Satan’s lies are lies, and trust makes darkness end.
For every time we call on Him, He answers us with light,
and on His strength we can depend!
We’re girded in His might!

Sea Surf Waves Beach Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures“Are you fearful, like me?” is a trick question, sort of. I wanted to get your attention. I am not fearful in the sense that I know God is sovereign, I know that He is loving and faithful, and I know that not one word of all His promises ever fails. Yet, because I am human, feelings of all kinds occasionally splash up, like waves on seaside rocks. And, sometimes if I do not run to God quickly enough, feelings overwhelm my soul, as surely as the tide overwhelms (ah! but only temporarily) the ever-shifting shoreline.

We all have similar feelings. As the Word tells us, we humans all have similar feelings. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 in the New Living Translation.

12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure (emphasis added).

The context for this comforting verse is Paul’s warning that the believers at Corinth not repeat the mistakes Israel did, when the Israelites “set their hearts on evil things” (v. 6), when they were idolators, adulterers and grumblers and tested the Lord. All these died in the dessert, never making it to the Promised Land.

Paul says “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (v. 11). In light of that, Paul says we must be very careful, if we think we are doing well spiritually, to be careful and not fall into sin, because we are all subject to the same temptations.

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin].

13 For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man

[that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear].

But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature],

and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure,

but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out

(the means of escape to a landing place),

that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. (I Corinthians 10:12-13, AMPC).

Note that the emphases and the spacing are my interpretation and not included in the original text.

Son running into father's arms - Preaching MagazineGod will provide a way of escape. How comforting that last part of Verse 13 is! Read it again. No matter what temptation we face, God has promised He will not let it be more than we can endure and He will make a way out of it, a “means of escape to a safe landing place.” I like to think of that as a child running into his father’s strong and loving arms.

Why we must always be running to God.  Verse 14 is connected to what came before the “Therefore” that starts Verse 14. Because of what we just saw in Verse 1 through 13, we are to flee from idolatry, which means to shun, to consistently avoid loving or honoring or respecting anything or anyone more than we do God. Read this verse in the AMPC.

14 Therefore, my dearly beloved, shun (keep clear away from, avoid by flight if need be) any sort of idolatry (of loving or venerating anything more than God) (emphasis added).

So, verses 1 through 14 tell us if we are appropriately aware of our human tendencies–of all kinds, not just fear–we will seek, inquire of and for, and depend upon God as our first and vital necessity.

I think God is lovingly telling us here, as a father would tell a beloved son embarking on a journey: Now, remember, you cannot see in the darkness. You must walk only in the light.

Unrecognizable young man praying, kneeling on the floor, hands on his ...And how do we do that? By keeping His Word in our mind – constantly. Three years ago, I was just starting to learn how to maintain healing from life-controlling depression and fear. What brought healing? Diligent, daily meditation on God’s Word. Desperation led me to meditate on comforting Bible verses hour after hour, all day long, during every free minute, every day, week after week, month after month. As I did that God’s Word healed my heart when all else had failed.

God has maintained the healing and helped me grow. How? By moving me to continue delighting in His law and diligently meditating “on His law day and night.” (Psalm 1:2, NIV).

Still desperate about His Word. I am still desperate about His Word because I have learned I can do nothing without Him but that “I can do everything through Christ Who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT) By His grace I can now say to my loving, gracious Father:

I will keep Your law continually, forever and ever [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it]. And I will walk at liberty and at ease, for I have sought and inquired for [and desperately required] Your precepts. (Psalm 119:45, AMPC)

Other carols for consecration.  If you like the poem above, and the idea of more verses for your favorite Christmas carols, see “Carols for Consecration” on the Books and More page of this website or the link below.

Carols-for-Consecration-.pdf (

I pray you will be helped to meditate more and more on God’s powerful Word. And find more and evermore peace during this season, this blessed season when God  Himself came to earth to bring peace on earth and “good will to men.” (Luke 2:14, NIV).

O Little Town of Bethlehem - YouTube

God says: Soar!

Image result for public domain picture of soaring eagleThat soaring hawk. The waiting room was quiet, but I was not waiting quietly, at least not on the inside. Then came the blast of the Keurig machine and that wonderful penetrating aroma of fresh coffee. I knew that machine was there in the reception area because one half of this large office did cardiac stress tests, including chemical stress tests where people sometimes had a reaction that was helped with a simple cup of coffee. I had experienced that last year.

“Oh, Lord! I hope the doctor does not tell me I need another one of those this year!”

Tired of sitting, I walked over and stood in front of the floor to ceiling windows on the second floor of the doctor’s office. Since third grade, being even one floor above ground brings me back to the first time I was in a home with a second floor, when our Florida family visited my paternal grandmother in Nashville. I can still see Granny, smiling and leading us all through the side-entrance and up the narrow, carpeted, tunnel-like stairway to her second-floor apartment where, wonder of wonders, you looked right into the branches of trees.

The simple charm of that came back as my eyes traced the wave-like line of treetops. Then I saw it, just a spot at first, in the distance. Moving in narrow arcs from side to side, the hawk drew closer. As it drew closer the width of those arcs increased. The bird soared, wings fully opened, moving only to change altitude or make a turn and even then, only making slow, gentle flaps as its body angled into the turns.

Like many modern doctors’ offices, the entire wall was floor to ceiling windows.  I watched as that hawk flew left and right, back and forth, turning just as it was about to go out of my sight and going back in the other direction, over and over and over. Like it was performing, dancing in the air, just for me, it flew. Effortlessly.

“Lord, thank You. I get it. That hawk is soaring, as an eagle, just by spreading its wings. It is riding on the wind. I know You want me to mount up over the difficulties of life this day to soar with You, as You say in that verse in Isaiah 40. I know You want me to enjoy this day and be glad because You have made this day for me. It is no accident.” (Psalm 118:24)”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Diamonds. Size: 122 x 104. Source: publicdomainvectors.orgIsaiah 40,“a grand chapter.” Isaiah 40, which contains that well-known verse about mounting up like an eagle, “is a grand chapter” as Henry H. Halley said. Verses 1 through 11 speak of the coming of Jesus. Verses 12-31, the rest of the chapter, speak of “the infinite power of God, and the eternal youth of those who trust Him” (Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 385). To read the entire chapter is to walk, not on a field strewn with diamonds, but a field comprised of diamonds. We will pick up but a few diamonds of truth in this short writing, just enough to get the context for Isaiah 40:28-31, the passage we will focus on.

Isaiah 40 is the first chapter of a lengthy passage (chapters 40 through 56), that presents God’s promises of the coming deliverance for His people. God starts this discourse with “Comfort, comfort My people” (Isaiah 40:1, AMPC) and then He tells them to get ready because He, their sovereign Lord is coming “with power.”

Image result for public domain picture of c reationThen Isaiah shifts into one of the many sublime passages in the Word that describe God’s power. We hear the same thunderous truths we hear when God addresses Job in Job 38 through 41. In Job 38, God asks Job “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? (v. 4)  Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place? (v. 12), Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? (v. 18). In Job 39, God asks Job “Do you give the horse its strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? (v. 19). “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high?” (v. 26-27). (NIV)

Similarly, in Isaiah 40 we hear God ask:

Verse 12-15. “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens?” and “Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed Him as His counselor?” Then God says that “before Him all nations are as nothing; they are regarded by Him as worthless and less than nothing.” (v. 12, 13, and5a).

Verse 21-24. God asks haven’t you heard? Don’t you know that God reigns over all that is, and that He is omnipotent, omnipresent.  “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.” 

Starry Sky - Image AbyssVerse 25-26. With that in His listener’s minds, God, our Holy and loving God, then asks, “To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal?” Look up at the sky and think about Who made the heavens. Think about Who calls each star by name and keeps them all, right where they are.

Verses 27-31. God then asks, in view of all that, why do you think God is not watching you? “Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God.” (NIV) God asks haven’t you heard, don’t you know, that “The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” And He never tires, He understands everything, and He gives strength to those who are weak. Even when human strength fails, God gives new strength to those who hope in Him. Then they soar and move forward like the most majestic creature of the air. They run and do not grow weary.

What does waiting mean? Let’s look at Verse 31 in the Amplified Bible

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

That word wait is rendered, in various translations, as wait, hope and trust. I’ve most often heard it quoted as wait. Notice that “waiting for the LORD” means to “expect, look for, and hope in Him.” In our humanity, we want to obey God and immediately see results. We want to read a verse, do what it says and see God move immediately, certainly within a day or two. But waiting, by definition, means a time of staying where you are until something happens. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines wait as “To stay or rest in expectation; to stop or remain stationary, till the arrival of some person or event.” So, we must trust God, and wait for Him—with patience and expectation and hope. Then comes the result.

How does God say to wait? We are not only to wait. We are to wait with hope and confident expectation. While we wait with confidence in Him, God helps us and that gladdens our heart. Consider Psalm 28:7. “The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” (emphasis added, AMP).

Sermon: Finding the Mustard Seed in the Arboretum of Faith | Leah D. SchadeBut what if we have no hope? What if we are not confident God will answer? God understands the heart. That is why He told us It only takes a mustard seed size bit of faith (Matthew 17:20).  I believe that is why He included Mark 9:14-25 in the Bible, that story of the boy horribly afflicted by an unclean spirit. When Jesus told the boy’s desperate father anything is possible, the father cried “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” (NIV) That’s how honest we must be with God.

And if we do not feel even that much faith, He will give us the desire to feel it. In Philippians 2, Paul reassured people who were continuing to grow in the Lord that God would give them not only the strength and, power to do His will but the desire as well.

 [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. (Philippians 2:13)

Living, active faith. Do you see that this waiting God requires is not passive, but rather active? There is an if/then, cause/effect link between God’s kind of waiting and the rewards He promises. We hope confidently in Him. Then we wait. Then He renews our strength.

Father And Sons Jumping In Lake Stock Photo - Download Image Now - iStockWe start the process of waiting with hope and expectation by taking a leap, by choosing to believe and by saying I will trust that God will rescue me. Consider Psalm 91. If we dwell in the secret place of the Most High (verse 1) and if we sayGod is my refuge and my fortress and I trust Him with confidence’ (verse 2), then all the promises in the rest of Psalm 91 apply.  I must declare, or say explicitly, that I am trusting in God, with confidence. That is active faith.

We see the same principle in Psalm 33:21. If you invert the clauses in that verse you get something like – because we have trusted, relied on and been confident in the Lord’s holy nature, our heart rejoices in Him (Psalm 33:21, AMPC paraphrased).

Again, this is what Jeremiah does in Lamentations 3:19-28. Because Jeremiah knows God is good to those who wait for Him hopefully and expectantly (v. 25) Jeremiah’s heart cries out, he takes a leap and says, “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.” (v. 24) Jeremiah is saying he is trusting God as His allotted portion in life, just as the priests in Bible times received their sustenance from the people because God was their portion, their provider. The rest of the Israelites, the non-priests, worked in the fields to get their food, but the priests were provided food by God, through the other Israelites, because the priests spent the hours of their days serving Him. God was the portion of the priests (Numbers 18:20).

Eagles leap, then soar. While writing this blog post I looked at slow motion videos of eagles soaring. Then I wondered how do they start soaring? God embeds deep teachings in nature. Eagles start soaring by taking a leap. Although they can, somewhat passively, simply stretch out their wings when they soar, they start soaring by taking a leap.

I will not soar with God, resting in His strength, until I take a leap and choose to hope in Him, with confidence, expecting that He will come through for me.

Watch the video at the link below or find another one by typing “slow motion video of eagle taking off” into a search engine. Do you see that initial leap the eagle takes? As the eagle leaps, he starts spreading his wings. Look at the strength and power in those wings, and those bones in those wings, arms and elbows so to speak, as they bend and reach out, the muscles and corded tendons contracting then stretching out. See the feathers unfurl and spread.

Mount up with wings as eagles by DraytonShores on DeviantArt

Notice how the wings change shape. See how very, very wide the wingspan is in proportion to the body. Notice how high up the wings reach and then how far down. “Eagles fly by utilizing their impressive wingspan, muscular bodies, and specialized flight adaptations…including a wing structure designed for maximum efficiency and the ability to manipulate wing shape and angel for lift and energy efficiency.´ How Do Eagles Fly? Revealing the Secrets of Their Soaring | Learn Bird Watching

Such a symphony of complexity, yet eagles leap then soar with ease because God made them with that capability.

You can do it!  God commands the eagle to soar (Job 39:26) but within that command is the command to leap. It may not feel like it in some circumstances, but God has made us with the capacity to take leaps of faith and soar, with Him, above the worries of this earthly life. It all begins with choosing to believe His Word, by taking a leap. Friend, you can do it because God is working in you.

Eagle Flying Over A Forest Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures