All posts by Freda Farmer

God earnestly waits – Part One

See related image detail

(15) For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength, But you would not,  . . . 

(18) . . . And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!  (Isaiah 30:15, 18, AMPC)

Each and every time we turn away from God, He earnestly waits for us. Surely that is one reason Holy Spirit inspired men to record the parable of the prodigal son.  Ponder Isaiah 30:18. Can you feel His boundless love for us in these words?

Confidence in the world or in God? Many believers would say they put their trust in God more than anything else. In this series of blog posts, we will see how Satan can deceive us into idol worship.

The message of Isaiah 30 – light for the afflicted and oppressed. In a nutshell, the message of Isaiah 30 is that anything less than dependence on God first eventually leads to sorrow, shame, humiliation and confusion. However, God lovingly waits on us and longs to help us WHEN we return to Him. THEN He helps us utterly destroy our enemies and gives us abundant life while He restores us.

Isaiah 30 is the basis for the book “Undepressed: How God’s Word Heals Your Heart When Nothing Else Can” (coming soon).  This book shows how relying on God and His Word first, rather than methods of the world, healed deep depression when nothing else worked. This series of blog posts highlights the message of Isaiah 30, focusing on verse 18.

Image result for free word art of isaiahOverview of Isaiah 30. Isaiah 30 shows us that we rebel against God when we rely on anything more than Him. Eventually, the very thing we lean on starts destroying us. God will answer us when we return to Him, He will destroy our enemies, and He will give us joy as we fight together to destroy our enemies.

  • Verses 1-9: Anything less than dependence on God for strength and protection eventually leads to great sorrow, shame, humiliation, and confusion.
  • Verses 10-12: Dependence on the world and worldly ways–rather than God–for strength and protection, shows we are rebelling against God.
  • Verses 13-17: This rebellion removes part of the protection around our heart and, eventually, “at some distant day” the enemy attacks through this open door with sudden, total destruction. That happens because we refused God’s warnings to return to depending on Him, quieting ourselves and letting our trust in God give us strength. And because we said no to God and went our own way, thinking we could outsmart, or outrun our enemies, our enemies will totally terrorize us
  • Verse 18: God earnestly waits, longing to be gracious, to have mercy and compassion on us. Because God is faithful and just, we are blessed if we wait and hope for Him with expectation. He will be gracious and faithful to our waiting and trusting if we ask for help.
  • Verse 19-22. God hears His people when they cry out to Him, and He answers by letting us constantly hear His clear instruction, even though He hid Himself and gave us adversity and affliction when we turned from Him. After that, we will totally turn away from putting anything before God because we will understand how disgusting that is to God.
  • Verse 23-26: While God is healing the wound He inflicted because of our sin, He will: abundantly bless our work and our life, give refreshing water everywhere and give seven times our usual light.
  • Verse 27-28: God will burn with anger, with indescribable consuming fire and power, when He comes to fight for us.
  • Verse 29-33. We will have the highest possible joy God annihilates our bitterest enemies, completing the destruction He has prepared for them.

Historical Background of the Book of Isaiah: The name Isaiah means “Jehovah is salvation” or “Jehovah saves.” While Isaiah prophesied in Judah, the Southern Kingdom, Assyrians had already destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel. As Halley’s Bible commentary explains, prophets are “the spiritual conscience of the nation. They are appointed to remind kings, priests, and the people of their obligations to God and people.” (p. 363).

Isaiah warned kings and the people that God’s wrath would bring condemnation and tribulation. He urged repentance from sin and returning to God.  As Mary Fairchild explained in her post, Isaiah also described beforehand events that would happen soon, like consequences of depending on Egypt for help, events that would take place in the distant future, such as the first coming of Jesus Christ, and finally events that still have not occurred, like Christ’s return to earth. “In summary, the message of Isaiah is that salvation comes from God—not man. God alone is Savior, Ruler, and King.” https://www.learnreligions.com/book-of-isaiah-701145)”

Image result for public domain Picture of AssyriansThe Assyrian threat. For Isaiah’s entire life, the Assyrians threatened Judah’s existence. Isaiah witnessed the destruction the Assyrians inflicted on God’s people, including the captivity and exile of the entire Northern Kingdom, the taking by Sennacherib of 200,000 people of Judah, and the near capture of Jerusalem. Isaiah saw his entire nation ruined by Assyria. Throughout his life, during the reign of four kings (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah), Israel warned over and over that Jerusalem and Judah would be destroyed because of their wickedness. But he also gave words of comfort as he spoke of the coming Messiah.

Outline of the book of Isaiah:  The 1984 NIV published by Zondervan outlines the 66 chapters of Isaiah as follows:

1-6      Judgement and hope of restoration
7-12    Hope in Assyria or God
13-23  Prophecies about nations
24-27  Israel’s judgement and deliverance
28-35  Warnings and Zion restored
36-39  King Hezekiah withstands Assyria
40-56  Promises of divine deliverance
57-66  The final kingdom established

The 1984 NIV Bible (Zondervan) states:

“Isaiah repeatedly warned the people that Jerusalem and Judah would be judged because of their wickedness. In chapter 39 he predicted the Babylonian exile. But he also held to the hope that the kingdom would be restored again.

Beginning in Isaiah 40 Isaiah offered comfort with these promises from God: 1) the Babylonian exiles would be allowed to return to Jerusalem; 2) a righteous, suffering servant would bring salvation; 3) God would set up a new, righteous kingdom.” (page 593)

Isaiah Chapter 30: Isaiah 30 is one of the “Sermons of woes upon the unbelievers in Israel.” (Open Bible, New American Standard, p. 626).  Chapter 30 is labelled “Confidence in Egypt versus Confidence in God.” Chapter 30 occurred in the reign of the very wicked king Ahaz. Unlike the other three kings who reigned over Juda during Isaiah’s lifetime, Ahaz was a wicked king, encouraging idolatry and even sacrificing his own child to the idol Moloch. Tragically, this same sin is practiced by many in our world today, when people murder babies in the womb. They make it sound less gruesome by calling it “abortion” but it is the same thing.

Image result for public domain Picture of ANCIENT TREASURESWhen surrounded by his enemies, instead of turning to God for help, this horribly evil King Ahaz took the treasures out of God’s Temple and sent them to Egypt, to purchase help.

The blessing and safety of obedience to and reliance upon God and His Word first is one central message of Isaiah 30.

This week, read Isaiah 30 and see how God helps you summarize its message.

Personal Note:  Health issues stopped blog posts for about six weeks. I’ll write about that another time. It is a stellar example of how God keeps lovingly guiding our path and rescuing us even when we think we have failed or disappointed Him.

 

Keeping yourself calm – Part Three

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Tiny Flower. Size: 135 x 100. Source: publicdomainpictures.netEnter His gates with thanksgiving. Something caught my eye as I closed the car door in the parking lot. On the edge of the sidewalk, a Lilliputian flower lifted its tiny face to the sun. As I had done when my grandsons squatted to inspect each roly poly, ladybug and beetle that crossed our path, I leaned close and smiled. One-fourth the size of a dime, the dainty blossom was a miniature daisy. Nearby, nestled among stalks of grass, other closed buds or buds just starting to open perched atop slender stems. Only that one flower fully opened itself, receiving the benefits of facing the sun.

“Thank You, Father, for drawing my eye to this dainty flower. Forgive me for focusing on troubles lately instead of speaking my gratitude all day, each day. Thank You for moving me to stop and praise You and to ponder the wonders of Your creation.”

Have you found, like me, that when you take time during the day not only to thank God but also to praise Him, to verbalize His many marvelous qualities, to admire Him, to adore Him, to pause and ponder all He is doing for you – have you found it brings awareness of His presence? This is the pearl of wisdom in Psalm 100. Verse four tells us to approach Him first by giving thanks and then to enter into His presence by praising Him. We are to admire Him and express our appreciation of Him affectionately and gratefully.  Psalm 22:3 tells us that God lives in the praises of His people. Somehow, I think a fresh part of His love, a living part of God Himself, might actually come down from heaven and merge with the part of His Spirit that lives in our spirit. In our thoughts and feelings of love toward Him we are one with Him.

May God grant us grace to keep our faces, like flowers, turned toward our loving Father, for He is ever looking toward us. He keeps watch over us with care, all day. Wherever we go He takes notice of us. This is our loving Father, our great and glorious but intimate King Who told Jacob:

 “ And behold, I am with you and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you. Genesis 28:15 AMPC).

Oh, what blessings await us when we are mindful that God is with us!

In Parts One and Two, we saw that Psalm 93 and 94 reassure us of God’s sovereignty and tell us that God will give us the power to keep ourselves calm. With confidence that God will make a way, we can let our swords glint with the truths in this psalm:

  • When world situations seem to be going badly and
  • When external personal situations seem to be going badly, and
  • When our internal world floods with doubt and fear and our grasp on hope weakens.

Outline of Part Three. Here is what we will cover in Part Three.

  • Psalm 94, The message of Verses 16 through 23
  • Who will stand up for me?
  • God HELPS when we are desperate
  • God promises to make it easier
  • When I THOUGHT my foot had slipped
  • In the midst of great fear, God comforts and cheers
  • The way the wicked attacks
  • Seek God the way He says to
  • God’s strength
  • And what about the wicked?
  • Pray that God would grant the wicked repentance!
  • As for the godly?

Image result for public domain picture of father with open armsPsalm 94. The message of Verses 16 through 23. The last section of Psalm 94 (verses 16 through 23) shows that—while God is allowing the cup of His wrath to be filled–God stands up for us by offering refuge. His arms are always open toward His children, waiting for us to run into His shelter. Consider verse 22-23. The psalmist says “BUT. . .” –in spite of the attacks of the enemy and his great fear (all he spoke of in verses 1-21), God has become his High Tower and defense and the Rock of his refuge. How did the psalmist reach this place of trusting, strong confidence in God?

He learned to run to God, to let God be his Rock of refuge. In other words, he found the strength of God that comes when we take refuge in or lean on Him. Rock symbolizes strength and in Hebrew “of” can mean of, for, from or to. So, “Rock of refuge” can mean the strength of God that comes from taking refuge in Him.

God’s strength is made complete in our weakness as the strength of a man is made complete when a woman leans on a man. She can limp along the path, and eventually fall, even though he is inches away from her. But if she reaches out and leans on him and uses his strength, she can move forward and with much less effort. The superior physical strength of a man fulfills its purpose when he helps a woman. I do not fully understand it, but I believe the differences between genders is a parallel that models one way to draw on God’s strength. God tells us to lean on and rely on Him over and over and over yet again. It must be important!

Who will stand up for me? Psalm 94:16.

16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

Verse 16 concerns what had happened in verses 17-19.  In considering how God helped him, the psalmist cries, in amazement, “Who could possibly have stood up for me against the evildoers? I was so very desperate, but God taught me to stay calm and let His ‘comforts cheer and delight’ my soul. Yet I had been truly desperate!”

God HELPS when we are desperate. Verse 17

17 Unless the Lord had been my help, I would soon have dwelt in [the land where there is] silence.

The psalmist says that things were so bad he felt like he would have died if God had not helped him. But God was his help. In Isaiah 41:10 God tells His desperate children: 10 Fear 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 and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” (AMPC)

God reassures us that He is with us and that, because we have chosen Him as our God, He will BE our God. The enemy may shoot fiery darts at your mind, lies like “you can’t make it. I’m going to win.” But God promises He will help you. A child trying to clean up a spilled box of toys alone soon becomes discouraged, but as soon as the parent stoops to his level and helps, the child brightens. He is no longer alone, and the one who is everything to him and loves him is helping, and that one always takes care of him. Just the presence of the parent helps.  Even so, just being aware of God’s presence helps. And, God will help ease the burden – of everything we turn over to Him.

Image result for public domain picture of parent and child picking up toysGod promises to make it easier. And God promises to “harden you to difficulties”.  After papa or mama help a little child pick up his toys a few times, that child learns it is not so bad. The child has become hardened to the difficulty of having to pick up his toys.  It no longer upsets him so much. After God has gotten me out of emotional turmoil a few times, I am not as upset when it happens again. Why? Because God has strengthened and hardened me to that difficulty. No matter the difficulty God allows, He makes it easier for His child. He is always with us, always close, and very readily found. (Psalm 46:1)

23 The 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]. 24 Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him. (Psalm 37:23-24, AMPC)

God will help! Psalm 37. Reread verse 34 of Psalm 37 again. It says God will help His children who are good, or in right standing with Him. “Right standing” or righteousness does not mean perfect; it just means those who are following Him wholeheartedly. The definition of the simple word “help” encourages me. Help means to give support, to provide something necessary, or to make more pleasant or bearable. (Websters 1828 online dictionary). In the smallest or biggest thing you face today, God, your God, is right there beside you, waiting to help.  And this applies even when you feel you are going under, when you feel yourself wobbling. Part of helping is holding us up even when we feel we have fallen so far as to be beyond help.

When I THOUGHT my foot had slipped. Verse 18.

18 When I said, My foot is slipping, Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, held me up.

Notice that the psalmist is talking about how he felt before God comforted him, when he thought his foot was slipping. If we start believing we are falling, we are in true danger because, in so doing, we step into the snare of fear. And fear grows rapidly, like the invasive poisonous weed it is. Fear destroys faith, chokes out all good fruit of the spirit and plants seeds that can grow into sorrow, unrest, hasty actions, and self-centered harshness born of desperation.

Consider Psalm 91. God says that if we dwell in the secret place of the Most High, God promises to keep us stable and fixed because He, Whom no enemy can stand up against, will be hovering right above, overshadowing us.  If we declare “He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!” God says that THEN (which means if we do verses 1 and 2), then:

For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. (Psalm 91:3, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of bird snareIn Bible times, fowlers (trappers of wild birds) spread snares on the ground. Once a bird stepped into it, the snare closed and held the bird’s foot captive. If we live according to God’s will the best we can, we will less often step into fear because fear is never God’s desire for us. And, furthermore, when our feet of clay step off the path of light and into a snare, God promises to release our foot from the snare if we lean, rely, and confidently trust in Him (Psalm 91:1-3; Psalm 25:15).

While God is getting us out of snares we step into—whether a passing or lingering mood, a chosen lifestyle or circumstances we did not create—we can calm our soul and “Give thanks to the Lord, FOR He is good. His mercy and love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1, NIV). God’s mercy and loving-kindness holds us up.

Keeping our mind fixed on God’s mercy and loving kindness is life-giving. Perhaps that is why God had the writer of Psalm 136 repeat “His mercy and loving kindness endures forever” in each of the 26 verses in Psalm 136.  This favorite temple psalm was chanted responsively, with the people responding “His mercy and loving kindness endures forever!” each time the priest made a statement about God’s mercy, loving kindness, goodness and faithfulness to Israel. I find it strengthening to read Psalm 136 out loud, slowly, pondering how God’s relationship to Israel parallels my own. I ponder how He rules over His beautiful creation into which He has placed me, how He set me free from enslavement to sin, how He led me, and continues leading me, through the process of maturity, how He helps me learn to possess the victorious life He promised, and so many more mercies!

Image result for public domain picture of parent and school childPause and ponder what mercy and loving kindness mean. Mercy can mean lenient or compassionate treatment, a fortunate circumstance or compassionate treatment of those in distress. Kindness means of a sympathetic or helpful nature, gentle, giving pleasure and relief, affectionate and loving. (Websters 1828 online dictionary). A wife can walk through the hard circumstances of her day with peace and strength if she knows her strong, merciful, loving and kind husband will be home at close of day to be with her. So can a child better endure daily trials because he knows he will soon be safe in a loving home, with loving parents and family. In trials of all kinds, we can know that He has promised help and relief, deliverance and His presence—and that is all day long, for He is ever with us when we are with Him.  (2 Chronicles 15:2)

In the midst of great fear, God comforts and cheers.  Verse 19. 

19 In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!

In verse 19, it sounds like the psalmist is still in the snare of fear, with a multitude of anxious thoughts swarming his mind. A seed of fear has multiplied into a multitude of anxious thoughts. As looking into a multitude of anything is visually confusing, so facing a multitude of anxious thoughts breeds confusion. You are carried along with the multitude of negative thoughts and feelings as they swirl and build even as one fish is carried along with the school of other fish. Yet even then, God sends comforts that cheer and delight His tormented child. God’s comforts bring “renewed hope and cheer” ((NLT).

One of God’s richest never-failing comforts is truths from His Word that He brings to mind. The writer of Psalm 119 said “This is my comfort and consolation in my affliction: that Your word has revived me and given me life. (Psalm 119:50, AMPC)”.   Even though proud and arrogant men were mocking him (verse 51) he says “When I have [earnestly] recalled Your ordinances from of old, O Lord, I have taken comfort.” (verse 52, emphasis added).

Image result for Free Word Art of Calm. Size: 160 x 100. Source: ourlittleescapades.comHow much better if we can keep ourselves calm and refused to be seized with alarm (Freda!)  How much better if we can follow Paul’s example and let God comfort and encourage us “and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5, AMPC)

But when we do fall into the pit of fear or any state of non-calmness, we can declare the Word that we need! The sooner we identify the thing we are fearing and neutralize that fear with Biblical truth, the sooner we will be released from the snare. We can learn to speak declarations, like this one by Amy Duggins, “out loud and with authority!” “Fear, I see you. I refuse to partner with you and I command you to leave right now in the name of Jesus.”

Then we can neutralize that lie with God’s truth “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, AMPC).

Amy’s post “Taking thoughts captive” at www.honorGodmindbodysoul.com will help greatly with this. Here is a link to that post.  https://tinyurl.com/yuame7ex

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Darkness. Size: 138 x 106. Source: www.clker.comWhether the condition of non-calm comes because of blatant sin, the weakness of our flesh or an attack from the enemy, it helps to identify the lie. That forces it out of the darkness of the subconscious and into the light of conscious awareness. Then we can see clearly what truths we need to speak and meditate upon. I have found that repenting of past failures with those specific kinds of thoughts, as Amy suggests, is a powerful act of obedience. And God helps us form new habits of hand and heart.

The way the wicked attack. Verses 20-21

20 Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with You—they who frame and hide their unrighteous doings under [the sacred name of] law? 21 They band themselves together against the life of the [consistently] righteous and condemn the innocent to death.

The vicious, death seeking nature of Satan is the same in attacking us individually and in attacking our world. For a present-day example of verses 20 and 21 working in our world, look no further than daily news. Radical socialist progressive liberals now ruling our country are calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). They call the murder of unborn children, sexual mutilation and perversion of children by teachers, open borders allowing drug and human sex trafficking, and a host of other evils good. They join together and speak a unified message of hatred and they join together in making and administering laws that harm and seek to destroy conservatives, and even more so those who follow God.

For sources that encourage by telling of the things God is doing—which mainstream media does not—see the “What is happening in our world today?” page of this website.

Back to verses 20-21 . . . Notice, though, that despite their boasting, the evil ones currently on the throne of our nation have no likeness with God; they are nothing like him. Their supposed “throne” is nothing like God’s actual throne. Remember the theme of Psalm 93 and 94? God IS sovereign. His vengeance is certain.  Look at the woes in Isaiah 5:20-23. God says woe to them because they have “rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:24b, NIV) God’s anger burns against them.  Unbelievers may joke about the wrath of God but in their hearts they have an idea of what great sorrows and distress and tribulations await them.

Image result for public domain picture of ancient fortressSeek God the way He says to.  God longs to be my High Tower and my Defense. He wants me to remain safe in Him, in the place of running to Him, while He wipes out the wicked.

22 But the Lord has become my High Tower and Defense, and my God the Rock of my refuge. 23 And He will turn back upon them their own iniquity and will wipe them out by means of their own wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.

The psalmist links verses 20-21 with 22-23. He says that the wicked are attacking, BUT the Lord has become his refuge. Although he is being attacked, he is safe because he has run into the High Tower that is the name of the Lord. “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10, NIV)”

The psalmist is safe because he is depending on God.  He has, after a wilderness experience, learned to lean on his Beloved (Solomon 8:5). His dependence on and obedience to God have led him into the shelter of loving and serving God. He has acquired the strength that comes from turning to God.

As surely as any child ever stands behind his father, trusting him to fight for him, so the believer who is depending on the nature, or name, of God is safe and can be at peace.

Image result for Public Domain picture Of Mountain Goats. Size: 138 x 103. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.netGod’s strength. Psalm 18 praises and explains God’s strength for David. It was written after God had delivered him from all his enemies, including Saul. Psalm 18 teaches us that God’s way is perfect, and that we can also become “perfect”, as far as we can in our humanity, by becoming complete.  God makes our way of living complete when we learn to let Him give us his strength by leaning on Him. When we lean on Him, God grants the ability to stand and move forward even during seasons of testing and trouble. He gives us the nimble feet of mountain goats.

 As for God, His way is perfect! The word of the Lord is tested and tried; He is a shield to all those who take refuge and put their trust in Him. 31 For who is God except the Lord? Or who is the Rock save our God, 32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect?

33 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. (Psalm 18:30-33, AMPC, emphasis added)

No matter what the enemy says or threatens, God can give us the power to stay calm. This is our heritage from God.

But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17, AMPC, emphasis added)

 And what about the wicked? While the righteous trusting ones are safe, trusting in their God, God will turn back upon the wicked their own iniquity and “. . . will wipe them out by means of their own wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.” (Psalm 94:23, AMPC)

God warns us all very clearly. His Word teaches that God is merciful beyond human understanding but He is also just. Galations 6:7 tells us “Do not be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (NLT)

6 For He will render to every man according to his works [justly, as his deeds deserve]: To those who by patient persistence in well-doing [springing from piety] seek [unseen but sure] glory and honor and [he eternal blessedness of] immortality, He will give eternal life.

But for those who are self-seeking and self-willed and disobedient to the Truth but responsive to wickedness, there will be indignation and wrath.[And] there will be tribulation and anguish and calamity and constraint for every soul of man who [habitually] does evil . . .   (Romans 2:6-9a, AMPC)

Those who habitually do evil, who reject God’s repeated warnings, will get what they deserve. The evil they inflicted and planned to inflict on others will come upon them. “Whoever digs a pit [for another man’s feet] shall fall into it himself, and he who rolls a stone [up a height to do mischief], it will return upon him. (Proverbs 26:27, AMPC)” The NLT says “If you set a trap for others, you will be caught in it yourself.”

Image result for public domain picture of prayerPray that God would grant the wicked repentance! Far from rejoicing over the soon-coming fate of the wicked, we grieve for them and pray for them, that God may grant them repentance, resulting in salvation.

“. . . in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it], 26 And that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him, [henceforth] to do His [God’s] will. (2 Timothy 2:25b-26, AMPC)

We are obligated to pray for the wicked. 2 Timothy 2:25 tells us to pray for those who oppose us “ that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (NIV). Intercessors for America is an excellent resource for prayer and for people with whom to partner in prayer. Go to www.intercessorsforamerica.org.

As for the godly? God promises to restore what the enemy destroyed and what he stole.

“ Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:7-11, NIV)

Image result for public domain picture of jesus and little boyDear friend, whatever storm you are in, whether caused by our present evil world, circumstances of your life or an internal struggle, rest in these truths:

  • God is with you.
  • He adores you.
  • God uses the trials of this life to mature us. He never wastes anything. He IS sovereign. Whatever is happening did not surprise Him.
  • He has already made the way so that you can stay perfectly at peace.
  • He is reaching out his hand, hovering over you in love, this moment.
  • He will treat you fairly – and so so so much more than fairly!
  • He hurts wherever you hurt. He feels with you and for you and He has made the way for you to be comforted in His presence while he deals with the attacks of the enemy. His tender mercies never, no never, no never fail!

May we imprint on our heart that . . .

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works [the entirety of things created].

10 All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your loving ones shall bless You [affectionately and gratefully shall Your saints confess and praise You]! (Psalm 145:8-10, AMPC)

Image result for Quotes About Eagles Soaring

 

Keeping yourself calm – Part Two

Hand On Your Heart Public-Domain“God’s Word is the power of God
in the human heart.”
(Halley, p. 184)

Review of Part One. In Part One we saw that both Psalm 93 and 94 concern the sovereignty of God. Knowing that God is eternally sovereign and that He reigns supreme over all He created inspires awe, which leads to holiness. Holding fast to the truth that God is sovereign helps create a calm heart.

Outline of Part Two. Here is what we will cover in Part Two.

  • The blessings of applying the psalms
  • Psalm 94 – three possible applications
  • Grace and mercy for today
  • Mountaintop overview of Psalm 94
  • Psalm 94, section by section
    • Vengeance belongs to God.
    • Who are “the stupid ones” among us?
    • Whose thoughts are useless?
    • Who are the blessed among us?
    • How do we get that power to keep ourselves calm?
    • Why does God want us to have this power?
    • Though you may feel alone, you are never alone. He is with you always.
    • God will administer justice.
  • Your particular trials.
  • Deconstruction and reconstruction.
  • Your present circumstance.

Image result for public domain picture of key Key verse:

12 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law,

13 That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.

14 For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage. (Psalm 94:12-14, AMPC, emphasis added)

As we explore Psalm 94, let’s keep in mind that it is connected with Psalm 93. The theme of both psalms is God’s majesty, the fact that He IS sovereign over all things at all times. These two psalms, I think, could be considered as one.

The blessings of applying the psalms.  As a new believer, I heard someone explain that the truths in the Bible apply to my life, just as they applied to the lives of the writers of Scripture. No matter the trial or tribulation, I can pray the psalms with confidence that my God is fighting for me and will deliver me from all my troubles. What a comfort this has been!

“Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19, AMPC)

Applying this psalm. R. T. Kendall said: “One must not try to make a parable stand evenly on all four legs. That means one must be cautious in trying to make every nuance of a parable have a special meaning.” (p. xxviii, The Midnight Cry.)  All of a passage can apply to the actual situation discussed and at the same time parts of it can apply to other situations, especially the human heart. In Psalm 94, all the verses speak of God’s sure judgement on the wicked and His protection of the righteous during adversities. Most, if not all, the verses, also speak of God’s sovereignty over Satan’s attacks on the lives and hearts of His beloved little ones.

Psalm 94 – three possible applications.  For me, this psalm applies at all levels of life. God’s nature is the same whether He is dealing with the world, a nation, or an individual. Satan’s nature—whom God always defeats!—is also the same whether he attacks the world or individuals.

Image result for public domain picture of double edged sworWith confidence that God will make a way, we can let our swords glint with the truths in this psalm:

  • When world situations seem to be going badly and
  • When external personal situations seem to be going badly, and
  • When our internal world floods with doubt and fear and our grasp on hope weakens.

Even if we feel our grip on hope is slipping, God never, no never, no never relaxes His hold on us – most assuredly not! (Hebrews 13:5, AMPC)

Grace and mercy for today. Whatever the cause of a non-calm soul, Holy Spirit will comfort, counsel, and help us. He is our advocate and our intercessor and He will strengthen us (John 15:26, AMPC).  In Psalm 94 we find grace and mercy to help us in our time of need.

I need to hear of God’s compassion for my humanness. I need to hear that He understands just how I feel, and that He does not condemn me for being human, rather that He is touched by and feels what I do. I need to hear that others through the centuries felt as overwhelmed as I do sometimes.

I need to hear God reassure me that His mercy and loving-kindness will hold me up—today, this moment (Psalm 94:18.) I need to be reminded that, as I lean on Him and trust Him, I can say to God: “In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!” (Psalm 94:19). I need to lean on God.  I need the strength and comfort that God put in His Word specifically for you and me, specifically for this very hour, for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14).

Image result for public domain picture of mountain top viewMountaintop overview.  Following is how I see Psalm 94 from a mountaintop perspective.

1-11: The psalmist pleads with God to give the wicked what they deserve.

12-15: I am blessed when God is training me because His training will give me power to keep myself calm in adversity, knowing that God will bring justice for me. So, I will not waste my life fretting or being in fear until that happens.

17-19:  I was defenseless and very anxious in my heart and felt I was slipping, but now You, God, have taught me to stay calm and to let You comfort and cheer and delight me.

20-21:  I know evildoers will not stay in power – they are not like You, God, Who truly are Sovereign.

22-23 : I will remain safe when I run to you and thus let You be my Refuge and my Defender. And I know You will wipe out the wicked by means of their own wickedness.

Psalm 94, section by section.
Vengeance belongs to God.

1-2      O Lord God, You to Whom vengeance belongs, O God, You to Whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render to the proud a fit compensation!

Here, the psalmist asks God to give his enemies the punishment they deserve and he acknowledges, twice, that vengeance belongs to God. Possessing the right and power to administer just punishments—vengeance—is part of God’s sovereignty. This is true regarding things happening in our world, in our personal worlds and in our souls.

People tend to remember first and last parts of messages.  The certainty of God’s vengeance for His people is almost the last thing Moses reminded the Israelites of before he blessed each tribe, climbed Mount Nebo and died. On that day, Moses gave a long speech (Deuteronomy 12:1 to 33:29), that ended with his discourse on vengeance and a reminder about living by the Word. After reminding the Israelites of God’s vengeance, Moses reminded them that setting their hearts and minds on all the words he had taught them and teaching them to their children was their very life—not an “empty and worthless trifle.” Rather it was a valuable and precious treasure, a matter of life or death. By that, they would live long in the promised land.  (v. 46-47).

See the source imageTo be victorious, to abide in the promised land today, that condition of life where we see God’s promises fulfilled in our life:

  • We must keep our minds fixed on His sovereignty—which includes His sure vengeance. His vengeance against the enemy’s attacks on our life circumstance and our soul is just as certain as God’s vengeance against what the enemy does in the world.
  • We must be careful to live by His Word and teach it to our children – as if our life and our children’s lives depended on it — because they do. If no children are under our influence, we must help other believers learn to live by His Word – by what we say and how we live.

God’s pending vengeance on the wicked – then and now. The psalmist says to God – look what the wicked are doing, arrogantly boasting of their power and afflicting God’s people and, by neglect, killing those who cannot defend themselves

Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph and exult? They pour out arrogant words, speaking hard things; all the evildoers boast loftily. They crush Your people, O Lord, and afflict Your heritage. They slay the widow and the transient stranger and murder the unprotected orphan. Yet they say, The Lord does not see, neither does the God of Jacob notice it.

The pride and arrogance of wicked, godless world and national leaders comes from Satan himself. The defeated enemy of our souls is also proud and arrogant when he attacks God’s beloved ones through finances, health, relationships, and work. He is equally as vicious and deceived into believing he will win when he attacks our soul.

Who are “the stupid ones” among us? In verses 8 to 10, the psalmist says such people—all those who think God does not see them–are stupid.

Consider and understand, you stupid ones among the people! And you [self-confident] fools, when will you become wise? He Who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He Who formed the eye, shall He not see? 10 He Who disciplines and instructs the nations, shall He not punish, He Who teaches man knowledge?

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Crown and Robe and Scepter. Size: 150 x 118. Source: digitalcollections.nypl.orgThe psalmist, in wisdom, observes that God, Who made eyes and ears, sees and hears them. And this sovereign God who controls the nations of the world and Who is the source of all that is—this sovereign One will punish evil. And we know He makes even evil things turn out for the good of His children. “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. (Romans 8:28, AMPC)

God has a specific plan for each of us. And each day of our life is already decided by God before we were ever born. If we believe God is sovereign, this truth is easier to grasp. Ponder Psalm 139:16 –ponder all of Psalm 139! Then do it again!

Whose thoughts are useless?

11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are vain (empty and futile—only a breath).

This verse seems to conclude God’s statements in verses 8 through 10. This verse says it is not only the thoughts of the obviously wicked that are useless, but the thoughts of all mankind. Truly, without God we are nothing and can do nothing. Just as God hears and sees all we say and do, so He knows all we think and feel.  (Psalm 139:4). Without Him, our thoughts have no power, serve no true purpose and are fleeting as breath. But . . .

Who are the blessed among us?

12 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.

In contrast to the uncomfortable truth in verse 11 that our thoughts are useless, the psalmist then comforts us by explaining that our thoughts can be trained so that they become useful!  God trains our minds and hearts – through discipline and instruction and teaching out of His law—SO THAT He can give us a very useful thing. That useful thing is the power to keep ourselves calm during adversity.

God’s dear children must learn to stay calm in trouble because: (1) Life in this fallen world includes “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration” (John 16:33) and (2) growing up into who God wants us to be in Christ is also includes “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration.” We are butterflies who must gain strength while struggling against the cocoon. Open the cocoon prematurely, and the butterfly dies. Let the potential butterfly struggle and it becomes a thing of beauty to all who behold it.

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Power. Size: 135 x 101. Source: publicdomainpictures.netHow do we get that power? How do we get that power to keep ourselves calm during any adversity? Through letting God discipline and instruct and teach us out of His law. It is a process.

A baby learns to walk through experience with the law of gravity.  She takes a step, falls down, tries again and repeats the experience, acquiring a bit more balance and power with each fall. Babies must actually wobble and fall down. To learn to swim, you must actually be in the water, interacting with the laws of flotation and moving in water. Practicing swim strokes on dry land will not work. Children do not learn to save money until they actually feel the pinch of an empty piggy bank. Learning to keep ourselves calm in adversity, requires being in actual adversity!  Selah, my soul (pause and calmly think of that.) O, selah!

Our compassionate Father teaches and trains us although the painful parts of training hurt His heart more than a human parent’s heart. He does that because He longs to bring us to maturity, to the point where we, like Israel, no longer depend on idols but rather on Him and Him alone. We must learn to say:

I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:1b, 2, NLT)

Why does God want us to have this power? God does not want us to suffer unnecessarily. Also, it takes time for the cup of God’s wrath to be filled. Finally, adversity usually affects our heart, “out of which flow the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). God says to guard our heart “above all else” and with all diligence. He wants us to stay calm in His arms while He carries us through life. Whether we feel it or not, He does carry us close to His heart – from birth to old age.

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
all you who remain in Israel.
I have cared for you since you were born.
Yes, I carried you before you were born.
I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.  (Isaiah 46:3-4, NLT)

See the source imagePause now and fix in your mind a picture of a small child carried close against his father’s chest. What do you see on that child’s face? Peace. Contentment. Safety. Security. Love. That is what God wants you to feel, no matter if He is carrying you over a raging river, across a dry dessert, through a pounding thunderstorm, or into a peaceful valley. You are safe in His arms. Oh, for the faith of a little child, that we may enter and dwell in the Kingdom.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Mark 10:14b-15, NIV.)

Though you may feel alone, you are never alone. He is with you always. (Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6). We can find countless reassurances and examples of this truth in His Word. If we engrave His Word on our hearts, His Word will shield and fight for us when we are troubled. God does carry us, close to His heart, and He will work justice for us.

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Scales Of Justice. Size: 150 x 150. Source: cliparts.coGod WILL administer justice. Verse 14-15. We can be calm because we know God is fair and just and loving and He will bring about good for us.  He is sovereign, He never forsakes us, and He will work justice.

14 For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage. 15 For justice will return to the [uncompromisingly] righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

The more we know about God’s character, the calmer we can be. We can ponder the fact that just as much as vengeance belongs to the Lord, so do mercy and loving-kindness.  We can ponder that, as the pit is inevitable for the wicked, even so is a loving result for those whom God is disciplining and instructing.

When facing adversity and affliction, we can rest in the truth that we are blessed because God will not leave us, and we will be treated fairly. Four facts seem to be part of the same thought in God’s mind. I believe He wants all four facts in our minds when we think about adversity.

  • We are blessed, even in trials, because God will use every situation to train us. . .
  • . . . because He wants us to have power to keep ourselves calm.
  • He will never leave us and
  • He will treat us fairly (much, much more than fairly!)

Your particular trials. The current world situation has led to exploding levels of depression and anxiety. Dealing with our world is the point of struggle for many. For others, the point of struggle involves what God is doing in our life and heart.

We all experience unsettled emotions throughout life. And the process of training—failing, falling and rising again—is the same regardless of whether we become unsettled because of the world at large, our personal external world or the world within that is our heart. We all go through the process of struggling against the weight of the world and sin outlined in Hebrews 12:1-12. Think about it.

God used world situations to develop character in those living during World War II, just as He used the enslavement in Egypt, the journey to the Promised Land, and the Roman persecution. He determines when we are born, and it is no accident you and I are living today. He will use every aspect of life in 2022 to train us.

See the source imageDeconstruction and reconstruction. After forty plus years of gratefully walking with our loving Father, I have repeatedly experienced seasons of being deconstructed then reconstructed, those times when you think you have this Christian life going pretty well and then a wheel falls off. I can sit on the ground, crying over my scraped knee, feeling mad at God and my tricycle. I can sit and do nothing and let hope ebb out even faster than the blood running down my knee and thus open my mind to the lies of the enemy.

Or I can lift up my shield of faith, pick up my sword of truth and reach up to my tender and merciful Father. I can let Him comfort me and clean me up and do needed repairs on that wobbly wheel and axle. Then together, we can move forward on that special path of life He has prepared for me. Together, we can “make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.”  (Psalm 18, especially verses 30-33, AMPC)

Friend, no matter what causes one of your wheels to fall off—a behavior or addiction you thought was defeated, sickness of a loved one, loss of your job, or things in this crazy world–God will use it for your good. Ponder the life of Job, of Joseph, of David and of Paul. “For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 12:11, NIV)

Image result for public domain picture of stone chiselYour present circumstance. I once read:

“The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you, is the best-shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity. Do not push away the instrument, lest you lose its work.” Anonymous.

Like that loving and wise mother watching her son struggle with his tricycle, God lets us endure what we must so we can be equipped to prosper in this world. And He feels each physical strain and pain, He knows each fearful thought. He keeps each and every tear in a bottle.  (Psalm 56:8). Every tear? That is what God says.

God WILL bless us! Fellow struggling saint, we can rest assured that, no matter the source of our adversity, God will bless us if we fear and revere and worship Him. And He will be our sweet, oh so sweet, Companion.

Who is the man who reverently fears and worships the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way that he should choose. 13 He himself shall dwell at ease, and his offspring shall inherit the land. 14 The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning. (Psalm 25:12-14, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of god holding childThe love God feels for us is unutterably tender. It is unutterably powerful. He Who holds the world in His hands holds us. He Who watches over every sparrow watches over us and never sleeps. This sovereign, compassionate, merciful and loving One Who IS love, loves us with an undying love. Oh, how He loves you and me!

In Part Three, we will finish Psalm 94. The last section of Psalm 94 lets us see how holding to the truth of God’s sovereignty calms our heart, no matter the adversity.

 

Are you ready to vote?

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Hourglass. Size: 67 x 104. Source: www.pinterest.comA quick reminder:  voter registration deadline is October 11. You still have a few days if you are not registered to vote.

And also – are you researching the candidates?  If you enter your address, www.ivoterguide.com will show a sample ballot, along with a rating ranging from very liberal to very conservative and other relevant information about each candidate.

I cannot recall the exact percentage but it is shocking how many professing Christians do not vote. We who believe in and follow God must vote and we must vote according to Bible-based values.  If believers do not vote, wicked rulers will continue to freely strut about and evil will continue to be praised in our land.  (Psalm 12:8).

Please do not stay home because you think the outcome will be rigged once again. Patriotic Americans will be watching the polls and the voting process this time.

I leave you to ponder–and be reassured by–Psalm 12. Voting our values is one way we can help stop the enemy from “stealing, killing and destroying” all that is good.

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Bible. Size: 146 x 100. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.netHelp, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
    The faithful have vanished from the earth!
Neighbors lie to each other,
    speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.
May the Lord cut off their flattering lips
    and silence their boastful tongues.
They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content.
    Our lips are our own—who can stop us?”

The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless,
    and I have heard the groans of the poor.
Now I will rise up to rescue them,
    as they have longed for me to do.”
The Lord’s promises are pure,
    like silver refined in a furnace,
    purified seven times over.
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
    preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
    and evil is praised throughout the land.

Please:   vote and vote Bible-based values!

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Jesus and earth. Size: 152 x 106. Source: www.turnbacktogod.com

 

Keeping yourself calm – Part One

See related image detailDear friend, this study of Psalm 93 and 94 will likely be three or more parts. I am still working on it. I do not know what God is doing with my Bible study times and writing but I know He is working for my good and drawing me closer, though the process of growing is painful. Whatever you are doing and wherever you are, I fervently pray you take time to get alone with God and His Word and let Him draw you closer, directly, you and Him alone.  God is getting ready to shake our world, and we must learn to hear Him clearer and clearer.

Topics in Part One: Here is what we will cover in Part One.

  • The blessing of discipline and instruction
  • Getting the tricycle up the steps—the lesson of Psalm 94:12-13.
  • God’s timing is perfect
  • The central message of Psalms
  • Book IV of Psalms
  • Psalm 93 and 94 – the majesty of God
  • Calmness conquers fear
  • Overall message of Psalm 93 and 94.
  • Pondering Psalm 93
    • God is eternally sovereign.
    • God reigns supreme over all He created.
    • Awe leads to holiness.
  • Calm for that unseen world within

 The blessing of discipline and instruction

12 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law,

13 That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.

14 For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage.

15 For justice will return to the [uncompromisingly] righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.  (Psalm 94:12-15, AMPC, emphasis added)

Image result for public domain picture of boy and tricycleGetting the tricycle up the steps—the lesson of Psalm 94:12-13. I heard a story about two women sitting in the backyard, watching the young son of one of the women struggling to get his tricycle up the steps to the back porch. Leg braces hindered the four-year-old’s efforts. Thoroughly angry, one woman, not yet a mom, asked the other “How can you sit there and do nothing? Don’t you see your son needs your help? He has braces, for pity sake!”

Tears streaming down her face, the boy’s mother said, “I do see.” She paused to gulp down a sob. “But if I help him now, he will never learn to do it himself.”

Beloved, I believe this is a picture of what God feels as He watches our struggles, each moment, each hour, each day—whether our struggle comes from the evil in our world, from some hard thing in our personal world or from the process of God’s loving discipline.

He could, of course, make our individual troubles and those of this desperately evil world disappear in the blink of an eye. And He can give us peace in a moment. I am sure He has done that countless times for you. However, we will never grow into the strong, brave and courageous person He called us to be in this world – until He grants us the power to keep ourselves calm in times of adversity. (Psalm 94:12-13)

See the source imageGod’s timing is perfect. I began working on “God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security” in September 2020. This is one of the nine Bible passages that are the foundation of that book.  While trying to finish writing about those nine verses, God kept leading to other topics. Possibly one reason is that I need Psalms 93 and 94 today even more than two years ago.

Let’s examine these two Psalms, which are the framework for Psalm 94:12-13. They will strengthen, encourage, and equip us to bear up under hardships of our larger world, our personal world and of the discipline process. We can learn to bear up with joy and victory and peace! And, thus, we will delight the heart of our loving, ever-watchful, ever-faithful, ever-present Father in heaven.

Friend, we can learn—yes, we can!!—to calm ourselves like a weaned child (Psalm 131:2) and just rest in the presence of our loving Father. He is watching you and me, you know, each second of each hour, in our good times as well as in our struggles, just like that mom watching her son. And He never sleeps. (Psalm 121). He feels what we feel.

Let’s see what God says about this concept that sometimes He lets us struggle so that we may be strengthened and healed. God wants us strong, and He love us enough to do whatever that takes. Never forget, though, that He feels our hurt more than we ourselves do. God feels what we feel. And He loves us enough to let some small, momentary hurts work a far, far greater and exceeding weight of good and glory! ((2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Trust. Size: 143 x 104. Source: alearningaday.comThe central message of Psalms. According to Halley’s Bible Handbook (2000, Zondervan), the leading ideas in the psalms are trust, praise, rejoicing, and God’s unfailing love, but

“Trust is the foremost idea in the book, repeated over and over. Whatever the occasions, joyous or terrifying, it drove David straight to God. Whatever his weaknesses, David literally lived in God.” (P. 321)

That bears repeating: trust is the foremost idea in the book of Psalms. The AMPC reveals that trust in God means to lean upon, rely on, and hope confidently in God. (Isaiah 26:3-4, AMPC). Beloved, God knows what you and I need and, like the perfect and compassionate and loving and merciful Father He is, He has already abundantly supplied for our every need and that includes discipline and instruction as individualized as our fingerprints. He wants us to train us how to live with confidence and sure hope.

Book IV of Psalms. Psalm 94, which is linked with Psalm 93, is in Book IV of Psalms. Here is how Halley labels these 16 psalms (Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan, 2000, p.342-343)

  • Ps 90 The Eternity of God
  • Ps 91 A Hymn of Trust
  • Ps 92 A Sabbath Hymn of Praise
  • Ps 93-94 The Majesty of God
  • Ps 95-97 The Reign of God
  • Ps 98 A Song of Jubilant Joy
  • Ps 99-100 God Reigns—Worship Him
  • Ps 101 A Psalm for Rulers
  • Ps 102 A Prayer of Penitence
  • Ps 103 A Psalm of God’s Mercy
  • Ps 104 A Nature Psalm
  • Ps 105-106 Two Historical Psalms.”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Mountains. Size: 173 x 100. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.netPsalm 93 and 94 – the majesty of God.  This collection of 16 psalms in Book IV teaches about God’s nature, why we can trust Him, and what our response must be. Part of why we can trust God is His majesty, His royal power. Halley commented that Psalm 93 and 94 speak of:

“God’s majesty and the destruction of the wicked and the power, holiness, and eternity of God’s throne. From everlasting, God reigns forevermore. Wickedness is prevalent in this world, but in the end, God’s justice prevails: the doom of the wicked is certain. This is one of the most frequent themes of Scripture.” (p.340, emphasis added)

Halley wrote this comment in 1961, when Halley’s Handbook was first published. What reassurance and comfort it gives us in 2022!

God obviously wants us to keep this truth in mind or He would not have made it such a central theme in the tapestry of Scripture. I believe one reason is because HE knows our frame (Psalm 103). He understands and—through Jesus—actually is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). He knows our human weaknesses. He knows how easily we become discouraged in the face of difficulties and wickedness. He knows what Satan wants to do and how he operates.

Calmness conquers fear. God also knows Satan’s principal weapon is fear. It is said that fear appears 365 times in God’s Word.  He tells us repeatedly how to conquer fear. Part of conquering fear is learning how to keep ourselves calm. That requires knowing truth and it also requires practice walking in truth.

What truths held in consciousness calm fear?

  • God is sovereign–far, far, far greater than whatever troubles us (Psalm 93).
  • God loves us (John 3:16).
    God has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • God promises to make everything turn out for our good if we love Him (which includes obeying Him) and if we are called, or living, according to His purpose, being “conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). That includes everything. Period.

Image result for public domain picture of worldThese truths deliver us from fear and the mistakes fear causes us to make in three circumstances we face today. In each circumstance, the doom of the wicked is certain and the defeat of Satan is just as certain.

  • In distressing times for the world at large,
  • In distressing personal times, and
  • In distressing seasons of personal chastening and discipline

Let’s strengthen our hearts by studying more about His supreme power so that He can become, as the psalmist said, “. . . my High Tower and Defense, and my God, the Rock of my refuge. “(Psalm 94:22, AMPC)

Overall message of Psalm 93 and 94. These are the main ideas I see.

PSALM 93
(1-2)   God is King, majestic and immovable because of His strength and power.
(3-4)     He has reigned from everlasting, and is mightier than humanity and wicked nations.
(5)       It is appropriate for His people to be holy – separated from sin and heartily obeying Him.

Psalm 94
(1-2)   (The psalmist cries) Rise up, O Lord, You Who owns vengeance!
(3-7)  Look at what the wicked are doing and they mock You.
(8-10)  People are stupid if they do not know that God, Who created seeing and hearing, hears and sees them. This God Who teaches man knowledge also disciplines AND instructs AND punishes nations.

(11-15) God knows that man, with his worthless thoughts, needs discipline and instruction from God’s law IN ORDER TO learn to keep himself calm while God is preparing judgement for the wicked  BECAUSE God will not abandon His people. God will treat the righteous justly.
(16-19) (David knows that, SO he says) I know God will be my help against evil doers and will comfort me while He is working.

(20-21) Those evil ones temporarily in power have no part in God.
(22-23) BUT I have fellowship with God, who is covering me, and my God will, in His vengeance, wipe out the wicked by their own wickedness.

Image result for public domain picture of mother holding childThus, we see why we can keep ourselves calm no matter what. We can learn to keep ourselves calm whether Satan’s evil is manifesting itself through national and world leaders, someone or some circumstance in our personal sphere or through our flesh as we undergo discipline or chastening.

Pondering Psalm 93.  In the first of these two psalms about God’s majesty the psalmist praises God and blesses God.  The psalmist is perceiving how and who God really is, and he is speaking to God about what He has perceived. He is telling God that he is aware of, that he has perceived, His sovereign power and dignity, the grandeur of His kingship, the splendor of His very being – His royal nature.

We are privileged to see into a sacred, intimate moment between God and the writer of this psalm, a moment of reverent worship. The psalmist is adoring God, worshipping Him with words of awe and respect and love as he ponders and gazes upon God, as surely as any lover ever adored his beloved. Aware of God’s omnipotence and His faithful love, in deep reverence the psalmist might have whispered, “It is fitting that Your people, oh God, be holy, separate from sin and trusting in you and heartily obeying You.”

Let’s consider the details of what was said in Psalm 93.

God is eternally sovereign. V. 1 “The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is robed, He has girded Himself with strength and power; the world also is established, that it cannot be moved. Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting.”

God is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelations 17:14; 19:16). He is the ultimate king of all that is. Nothing and no one is, ever has been, or ever will be above Him.  As Moses said in Psalm 90:2b “. . . from everlasting to everlasting You are God.” Think about Psalm 104:2 that says “God wraps Himself with light.” God is light – yet He wraps Himself in light. In Psalm 93:1, God, Who is majestic, clothes Himself in majesty. Selah!

God reigns supreme over all He created. V. 3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up the roaring of their waves.  The Lord on high is mightier and more glorious than the noise of many waters, yes, than the mighty breakers and waves of the sea.

Image result for Waves Crashing at NightThe ocean seems—and is—powerful, especially so when its waves roar. But in verse 38:11 in the book of Job (also often attributed to Moses), God says He specified just how far the proud waves of the sea could come.  In Job 38:8-11, God asked Job: ““Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt.” (NIV).

Throughout the Bible, God often reminds us that He “stretched out the heavens”, that He is the creator and sustainer of the ends of the earth and all that is in and on it. He reminds us of this again here. This One, this all powerful One Who loves us and watches our every step,  He is the One who tenderly told Old Testament saints not to fear for He was with them and not to be afraid for He was their God (Isaiah 41:10). This One told His storm-tossed disciples not to fear when they saw a figure walking on water moving toward them.  (John 6:20)

Awe leads to holiness.  V5.  Your testimonies are very sure; holiness [apparent in separation from sin, with simple trust and hearty obedience] is becoming to Your house, O Lord, forever.

With the truths of the first four verses in his consciousness, the psalmist is filled with reverent awe. He is more aware of Who God is and His power. Unstated, I believe is his awareness that he is but dust, a passing vaper in comparison. Filled with awe, he says it is right that he should separate himself from the world and worship and serve this mighty sovereign Ruler of the world. He perceives it is the right thing to be holy.

Image result for public domain clip art of holinessThe clarifying phrases in the AMPC here show us that holiness will be obvious when we do three things:

  • separate ourselves from sin,
  • have child-like trust toward God and
  • vigorously and cheerfully obey Him. This is proper and pleasing.

Reread this psalm slowly. Pause and ponder as God guides your heart. If we imprint the truth of God’s sovereignty on our spirit it will guard and garrison our thoughts and feelings. Truth will completely encircle us with peace, no matter the outward circumstances.

Calm for that unseen world within. God’s truths are an impenetrable shield. We need that shield for today, for the world at large, for our personal world, and for the world of our hearts, for that unseen world within each of us, that place where God tenderly works each day . . .

  • That place where He faithfully speaks the light of His truth into our darkness as regularly as He commands the dawn,
  • That place where He calms the storms of our soul as easily as He calms the roiled waters of the vast oceans,
  • That inner world where He commands violent winds to settle to gentle zephyrs.

Image result for public domain picture of sparrowsYes, this great and high and Holy One, this One

  • Who watches over each creature He has lovingly made,
  • Who clothes His flowers with splendor beyond that of kings,
  • Who carefully paints each individual sparrow with shades of brown and white and black according to its kind, and then feeds each one until its little body falls to the ground and, I believe, then takes it back home to be with Him eternally.

Let us consider His works and His love and stand in awe. (Job 38:1-42:6).

So, therefore, with all that in mind, I ask myself: If that is how this mighty Sovereign, our all-powerful King, cares for His beloved earth and each creature in it, how much more does He care for you and me? How much more does He long to strengthen our faith so that we can keep ourselves calm?

Friend, if we seek Him today, with all our heart, we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)

When we are with Him, He is with us (2 Chronicles 15:2) and His presence will bring His peace, for He Himself is our peace.  (Ephesians 2:14)

“He is calm who believes God is sovereign.”
Craig Scroggie.

Eagle Soaring Over MountainsThe One Who commands the eagles to soar
loves you forever, forever more,
Therefore, take heart! Be strong in your trust!
For the One Who has made you
is mindful you’re dust.
Yes, He knows your frame,
knows just how you’re made
and He longs that you know —
the price has been paid.

In Part Two we will explore Psalm 94. Until then, may the truths in both these psalms calm our troubled hearts and minds, for He Who made us cares for us far, far, far more than we can know.

 

 

 

 

Bouquets from the Lover of your soul

I put my cup of chamomile on the side table by the rocker and settled in. Gazing out the window as the light of day advanced, I saw the cluster of crepe myrtle blossoms framed just so, in the patch of sky not encroached upon by the building next door.

As I contemplated the simple beauty of bare branches silhouetted against sky, soft piano and violin intertwined in ethereal complexity, touching my mind, at once as tender as a loving hand on the cheek, as sublime as mountain peaks undulating to the horizon and beyond, and as majestic and unrestrainable as the waves of the sea. A flock of sparrows fluttered into leafy branches, making fuchsia blossoms sway.

Image result for public domain picture of mountains

“Oh, Father! You could not be more real than if You were human. Thank You for the gift of being aware of Your presence. Oh, help me stay aware, Lord! Please don’t let the busyness of the day separate me from You, Lord. I’ll never understand how You do it but just to know, just to feel, that You are here with me, just to somehow feel Your love, just to know You love me and accept me as I am, failures and weaknesses and all. It’s beyond words.

Oh, Father! I appreciate You so much. Help me be worthy, Lord, of Your love. Help me walk holy. Show me how You want to use me today for Your kingdom, no matter the cost.

Image result for public domain picture of crashing waves But this one thing, my beloved Father, my Treasure, I do ask, yes I beg for it, as David did – don’t take Your presence from me! Your loving kindness is better than life.  At your right hand indeed are pleasures forevermore. 

Dear, dear Father, You Who are love, help me love You better. Show me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness. Be my Rock, my Fortress, hide me in the shelter of Your presence. Unto You and You alone, oh Lord, do I bring my life. Thank You, Father, thank You . . . “

Thoughts to ponder. . .

“The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship of the Lord have they who fear – revere and worship – Him, and He will show them His covenant, and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning. (Psalm 25:14, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of grand piano and violin

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after, 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.

For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:4-5, AMPC)

“We look for heaven and never realize
God is in the commonplace things all around us.” Anonymous

Image result for public domain picture of father holding child

Help stop Texas schools from honoring sexual perversion

Dear reader,

You are NOT helpless! Perhaps you have felt helpless against the evil that is threatening America. I hope you have been watching the conservative news outlets recommended on the “What is God doing?” page of this website. If so, you have been hearing specific ways you can take part in God’s battle for America and for righteousness.

Dangerous proposed changes to the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Here is one way that is urgent. I am begging you to take action to help stop the Texas Board of Education from revamping the Texas K-12 curriculum so that it rewrites Texas and American history and requires students to learn definitions and distinguishing characteristics of homosexuals and transgenders and what is “fair” treatment of such individuals.

The proposed revision “Gives a globalist view that omits mention of American resilience, trust in God and celebration of our declaration of independence WHILE introducing and expanding concepts of LBGTQ, sexual orientation and gender identity. It also removes Texas history from fourth and seventh grade curriculum WHILE adding a REQUIREMENT for students to define sex, gender, and sexual orientation and differentiation among their distinguishing characteristics and to learn a gender inequality index.”  (Victory News 4 p.m. podcast, 8/29/2022). Hear the Victory News podcast at www.govictory.com

A petition has already been turned in asking the Texas State Board of Education to reject this radical revamp of the TEKS. But your voice is needed! Your call will make a difference. You need to call now!

You can make a difference! Below are phone numbers of nine Republican Texas School Board Members. (There are fifteen members total.) Please call each one and ask them to reject this radical revamp of the TEKS and return to teaching American history, government, economics and geography.

  • Will Hickman 832-304-0051
  • Kevin Ellis 512-710-7915
  • Pam Little 972-342-6697
  • Matt Robinson 281-635-1962
  • Tom Maynard 512-532-9517
  • Sue Melton-Malone 254-749-0415
  • Andrew Young 936-662-4264
  • Pat Hardy 817-732-1786
  • Jay Johnson 806-680-3245

Please call the state School Board members during office hours. When I made my first call last night at 9, it went directly to the person.

Also call Governor Abbott (512-463-2000) and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (512-463-5342). These calls go to an office.

I suggest you say something like:

Hello. My name is (    ).  I live in Texas. Thank you for your work on the school board of education.

I am calling to ask you to do all you can to stop the proposed revamping of the TEKS curriculum. I do not want my children taught about homosexuality and transgenderism. I do not want parts of Texas and American history cut from the curriculum. Thank you for whatever you can do to stop this attack on our children and their future.

Your phone call will make a difference. If this vile change to the TEKS curriculum is approved, your children, grandchildren and other children you love will not be taught about the real America. Instead, during that time they will be forced to study sexual perversion.

Will you please take time to call?

ANOTHER CRITICAL ISSUE THAT MUST BE STOPPED BEFORE SEPTEMBER 11. And there is one other issue that demands action NOW. I also beg you to listen to the August 24 podcast on www.givehim15.com.  Here is a link to the podcast. August 24, 2022 (givehim15.com)

You will see a link at the bottom of the podcast that makes it easy for you to make your voice heard regarding proposed changes to Title IX.  Here is that link Title IX – Child & Parent Rights Campaign (childparentrights.org)

Some of the vile consequences if this proposed federal law is not stopped by September 11 include requiring K-12 to college schools to allow males—people who are biologically male–who “identify” as female to use girls bathrooms and locker rooms and to compete with females. Also, calling a male “he” rather than “she” if that person “identifies” as a girl is considered sexual harassment. Also, it will mandate as policy that students be taught some children are born in the wrong body and should “transition” to the other gender. Also, Title IX coordinators will become federal law enforcement officials, able to enforce the new mandates, able to file complaints against school officials and students.

I urge you to go to the website and read. The horrors are real. The Biden administration did this covertly, purposely, so as to leave only a matter of days before this becomes FEDERAL LAW.  YOUR VOICE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Here are the steps to follow on the website.

  • Read the opening page of the website.
  • Starter comment letters are at the bottom. Click on the one for you (parents, for example). You can download and personalize a letter and save it to your computer.
  • Go back to the opening page and click in the red bar across the page — “Submit your comments to the Federal Register”
  • Click the green “Submit a formal complaint.”
  • From there, you can cut and paste your own letter or fill out the form and upload your letter from your computer
  • At the bottom of the page, click the “I understand…” box and then click submit.

Is it worth 15 minutes of your time to stop a girl from being raped when a boy is allowed to enter a girl’s bathroom? It is already happening in some schools.

Which do you value more – God’s agenda or something else on your to-do list today? If I irritate y ou and thus provoke you to action, then I say good. A few years ago, I told a fellow believer I did not want to hear about the horrors of child sex trafficking and other unspeakable evils (like the ones addressed above) because it was so upsetting. She said, “Well, so you want to just stick your head in the sand and ignore it all?”  Yes, I was offended. Greatly.

A pastor recently said “A hot poker to the heart really hurts but sometimes that is just what you need.”

Thinking about such vile things does hurt and upset our emotions.  It disturbs me greatly to even think about  what is happening but how dare we not wake up and take action after hearing even part of the truth?

God says we must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.  (Proverbs 31:9, NLT)

 Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.  (Isaiah 1:17, AMPC)

The comfort of His presence

Image result for Public Domain picture Of Sunrise in Woods. Size: 135 x 100. Source: creativemarket.comThat which goes beyond understanding. Sometimes, whether because of the “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” of this earthly life (John 16:33, AMPC), stumbling with spiritual disciplines or the unavoidable hardship of God’s loving discipline (Hebrews 12), I cannot feel God’s presence. I know—beyond all doubt—that He is always with me but sometimes a cold fog of feelings blinds the eyes of the soul.

Then suddenly, having done nothing but persevere, shafts of light pierce the veil. Like the light of dawn grasping earth by its edges to shake the wickedness of night out of it (Job 38:13, AMPC), the light that comes from awareness of His love shakes distress away. Love Himself pierces the heart afresh from the inside out and, like a mother tenderly brushing away baby tears, He collects our tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). And He comforts us.

Friend and fellow pilgrim, I truly doubt human words will ever express how awareness of His love feels any more than words can describe that peace that exceeds human understanding. I pray you know that peace that “garrisons and mounts guard over our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, AMPC). Awareness of His presence, His love, and His peace is His desire for us.

I share the following personal experience, in detail. I pray it enriches your awareness of His constant presence and unfailing love today and whenever trials of this life cloud your own heart, those times of your own high places. May this help us both remember that God lovingly uses hard times to equip us. He makes us “able to stand firmly and make progress on our dangerous heights of testing and trouble” just as He equips the deer with feet able to stand firm and move on high and dangerous mountains.

33 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.  (Psalm 18:33, AMPC)

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! (Habakkuk 3:19, AMPC)

Trying to be grateful, trying to be strong. Oh, Father! Thank You for this couch. You had just the right one, brown and long enough to stretch out on, ready for me. Thank You for our lovely condo. Thank You for helping me find that picture of the path and that mirror. Thank You for helping me learn to be grateful and for teaching me that stopping to thank You for things around me turns my heart to You and away from the hard things of life. Thank You that I know this heaviness will lift. Thank You that. . . “

Seated on the couch, I faced the tiny alcove framing the fireplace I had hidden with a bookcase. Atop the bookcase, perched on a brown and gold set of nesting boxes my grandsons had played with (perched on the boxes because nails would not penetrate the gray tile of the alcove), stood an unframed painting of trees bordering a path leading into bright light. Impressionistic, and using only shades of brown, white and gray, it carried the eye outward, expanding the room. Next to the painting of the path stood a mirror, framed in deep brown wood embellished with ornate scrollwork. A lavish peace lily in a brown pot and an ivy in a white pot stood in front of the mirror, next to the oscillating fan which compensated for the lack of an overhead fan. In front of the bookcase stood a floor lamp, ornate scrollwork adorning its wide base and top. Coffee-colored fringe trimmed its octagonal lamp shade.

In front of the alcove, a luxe pillow sham—its shades of nut brown, buff and black a feast to my eyes as the pattern swirled in mind-relaxing complexity—hung over the white fabric of the rocker. Khaki tassels trimmed the area rug which consisted of squares of brown and gold and beige patterns. Alternating panels of solid cocoa and white embroidered with beige flowers hung from an ornate curtain rod, with the tassel my youngest grandson had loved to play with hanging from the end. The rich, old world look of my front room, in soft and rich browns, with touches of white, had been achieved over a span of more than two years and with thrift store items.

“Thank You, Father, for getting all this together. It is beautiful to my eyes. Father, help me be grateful! I am grateful but the effects of this long summer, being trapped inside much of the day because of the heat and all the stresses lately have done something. Forgive me for feeling frustrated and impatient with all the health problems. I know You are working! Thank You for keeping me moving forward, though it feels like one inch at a time. Oh, Lord! Help my ungrateful heart!

See the source imageNever alone but feeling like it. I had just returned from a 7:30 stress test and echocardiogram. All the way home I had fought a familiar and despised self-pity about one more doctor visit and one more procedure alone. A long-time single, it was hard not to think how comforting it would be to have someone to just go with me or to come home to and talk about it all with. I resisted those thoughts because I knew God was with me. I also knew married people can feel as lonely as singles, sometimes more so. Yet, feelings are feelings, and I wanted just to be with someone. I had stopped at a cafe for tea and a treat, which usually lifted my spirits but today had only accentuated my solitude and now, now I was at home and alone.

And I was trying, I was trying to be grateful.

“Lord, I am so sorry for how I feel. I do thank You for all You have given me, including my wonderful, loving family who live so close. Help me, Father. I know my thoughts are not pleasing. I am complaining just like Israel did when You gave them manna. Oh, Father! Forgive me and help me get my attitude right!”

Image result for public domain picture of toddler handsStirred memories . . . overwhelmed emotions. The drive to the stress test had been down Lamar Avenue, the urban street that traverses the spine of Austin. Rich memories had been deposited all along its circuitous route. Sixteen years ago, I had first visited Austin when my daughter and son-in-law relocated there. On my visits, we often drove down Lamar to go to Whole Foods. Four years later, when I relocated to Austin, to be a happy grandmother, I had driven the length of Lamar to get to the chiropractor, until I found one on my side of the river. It was along the southern end of Lamar that I had taken my first grandson every week to buy diapers and baby lotion and such at the department store. Eighteen months later, Ben and I had driven the full length of Lamar to pick up some baby equipment for his newborn brother while Papa was with Mama at the hospital. As Ben grew, we still made those weekly diaper runs down Lamar to the department store but he was soon old enough to sit with me in the orange and white booths of the café in the corner after we shopped.  He played with coffee stirrers and cup wrappers as we each had an oatmeal cookie.

Mama and I alternated days with the boys once little brother Ansel was older. One especially memorable day when I had Ansel he and I drove down Lamar to that same supply store to get some more equipment and we stopped for French fries after. When Ansel went with me on the diaper run, he liked to stick coffee stirrers into his crackers and play with the tiny coffee creamer cups I had emptied. Such sweet, sweet companionship with my boys!  It had been wrenching to see them start kindergarten.

For the last five years, I had driven down the south end of Lamar, alone, for school pickup, the highlight of my day. Driving through that stretch of Lamar this morning had reinforced the painful truth that school started next week. The summer, filled with wonderful days with the boys, was ending. I was not ready to see them move up another grade, to grow a little older, a little further away from me. I felt the loss ripping at my heart with each hug, each “I love you, Nana”. Ah love! Such pleasure when experienced and such pain at its loss! The looming separation from my boys had brought the fog of self-pity over my heart.

The miracle of loving. I leaned over and picked up Lily and carried her to the kitchen counter. Speaking softly, I dampened paper towels with warm water and gently wiped her eyes, then her face and ears, our anti-allergy morning routine which had been overlooked in the rush to get out the door.

“My sweet Lily bugs,” I crooned as I picked her up and pressed her close to my chest under my chin. I walked to the couch murmuring “My sweet, sweet baby girl.” I sat down with Lily by my side and began brushing her face and neck, stroking the velvet of her sides and back. As soon as I released her, she jumped to the floor and swiped at the mouse on a string propped against the basket of cat toys.

“Okay, girl. Here we go.” I swished the mouse back and forth, another daily routine. I knew it helped keep her happy and active.

“Father,” I prayed. “Thank You so much for my darling Lily. She is such good company and it helps so much to have someone to take care of and to love on. . . “

That’s when it happened, that overwhelming awareness that God was right there with me, that unexplainable knowing that He understood, and felt, just what I was feeling. My throat tightened. Tears fell.

He feels our feelings. “God, I guess when you give love to someone and take care of them it feels almost like someone is caring for you. That’s why you gave me Lily, and all the other cats through the years, isn’t it, for all the hours alone at home. That’s why you gave me my family, each one of them. I remember how comforting it was to hold my Sharon and take care of her all those years so long ago. Loving my little Lily helps so much, Father. Thank You! I cannot see Your face and I cannot touch Your hand and I cannot hear Your physical voice but I know You are here.”

I sniffed, blinked and continued staring straight ahead. Two Scriptures came to mind.

“The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him, craving Him as your soul’s first necessity], He will be found by you; but if you [become indifferent and] forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2, AMPC)

10 And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity]. (Psalm 9:10, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of father whispering to childI paused in my thoughts. The awareness that God was there was something like what you sense when someone comes up behind you but has made no sound or when you sense that someone is watching you. It felt like God was saying to me . . .

  • I love you, My little child.
  • I see you. I always see you, and I am always, always, always with you.
  • I am pleased with your efforts to please me. They are as precious in my sight as the pictures Ben and Ansel draw for you.
  • I adore you just as you are.
  • You need do nothing to earn My love.
  • Just as you adore your grandsons, so I adore and accept you, and far, far more.
  • I know your heart. I understand your struggles with fear and worry and keeping life going as you make your way in this dark world. That is why I touched your mind as you loved Lily. I want you to feel the comfort of My love. I want you to feel My presence.
  • You have not displeased Me. I have not removed Myself from you. I am with you and I will always be with you.
  • Some times and some seasons of feeling separated from Me are necessary. This is just as when you train a child. But see! I have prepared you with all you need through the Word we have together planted and nurtured in your heart! My living Word has sustained you through these last weeks when darkness seemed to cover My face and you do often felt I was not with You.
  • Know this truth, My child: I AM with you always!

Our loving God of all comfort. So, dear friend, I am posting this narrative though it seems a bit too personal. I want you to know that whatever you are feeling today, God is right there with you and He understands and He longs to communicate His love to you. He longs to take care of whatever need you have. He is our perfect Father. If human fathers are moved when seeing their children in need how much more is the Father of our spirits moved by our distress?

God has made a special way of loving you that is for only you and Him, a way that no one else in the world shares. Yes, He is that involved in each detail of your life and He has taken that much care to make the way that He can comfort you and love and guide you. That way is as unique as the pattern of whorls on your fingertips. I sincerely pray that He broaden and deepen that channel of communication between you and Him.

One last thought about God’s love for you. One of my favorite passages about God’s comfort is 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. I found this verse more than forty years ago when I was reading the Bible through for the first time after being saved. Back then, my deepest pain was fear that I could not take good enough care of my daughter alone. God has never once let us down and never ever failed to give comfort when I turned to Him.

Today, I noticed that the NIV clearly shows God’s comfort produces patient endurance of sufferings.

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (AMPC, emphasis added)

Then, while reading the AMPC, I noticed that each time the word comfort appears in the text, “consolation and encouragement” follow in the amplifying parenthesis. Consolation means to lessen the grief, sense of loss or trouble” of someone. And encouragement means, of course, to inspire, or to breath, courage and hope into someone.

So, I pray that God, through letting you perceive His presence and through your study of His Word, lessens whatever distress you feel. I pray that He breathes fresh and abundant courage and hope into your soul, and that He works your individual experience out for your good, to produce even greater endurance–with greater awareness of His presence–in the very midst of your trials.

But if we are troubled (afflicted and distressed), it is for your comfort (consolation and encouragement) and [for your] salvation; and if we are comforted (consoled and encouraged), it is for your comfort (consolation and encouragement), which works [in you] when you patiently endure the same evils (misfortunes and calamities) that we also suffer and undergo.

And our hope for you [our joyful and confident expectation of good for you] is ever unwavering (assured and unshaken); for we know that just as you share and are partners in [our] sufferings and calamities, you also share and are partners in [our] comfort (consolation and encouragement). (2 Corinthians 1:6-7, AMPC, emphasis added)

“The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him, craving Him as your soul’s first necessity], He will be found by you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of father whispering to child

 

What is happening to our world?

Image result for public domain picture of jesus and the worldGood things ARE happening!  You might not know it, but in the midst of all the evil seeming to take over our nation and our world, God has started the greatest spiritual awakening of all time. Unless you have been hearing truthful and Godly news sources, you likely will not believe that. You likely see no way out of the current darkness and possibly feel Armageddon is fast approaching. I say: take heart!

For about two years, I have listened only to truthful, Godly news sources, like those listed on the “What is God doing?” tab on this website. This is where I learned that God is NOW pouring out His Spirit, with signs and wonders and miracles and hundreds of salvations in big tent meetings, through the ministry of evangelists like Mario Murillo. Grassroots America has begun speaking out against things like our schools blatantly grooming our children for sexual perversion—which is nothing less than outright pedophilia. Believers and patriots are running for local and national offices and winning. Many organizations have obtained documented proof that the 2020 election was stolen from President Trump and that proof is even now moving some states toward decertifying the 2022 elections.

God is doing so much for His beloved America! When I first thought of writing this littleImage result for public domain picture of america summary, America still awaited the SCOTUS decision on abortion. Other rulings—like prayer on school grounds–have also supported the U.S. Constitution, which as I hope you know is based on Biblical principles, no matter which twisted way liberals try to rewrite the history of America, the only nation beside Israel which is devoted to God.

I beg you:  Get informed and then get involved! There is much you can do, yes, ordinary you.

Following is a brief overview of what has been happening to America. If you have not been following truthful Godly sources of news, it could take a while before you grasp the big picture. So, I pray this provides a framework into which you can add more knowledge as you start listening. No doubt, I will not get everything exactly accurate and someone who spends full time on telling truth would add much to this outline, but I believe it is a good start if you need a foundational understanding.

See the big picture.  Understand first that there are levels of attack. The topmost leader of the evil we see today is, of course, Satan, who has been scheming against God and His beloved humans since Eden. Under Satan are “rulers, authorities and the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan and his evil horde are pulling the strings of their human puppets.

The next highest level of evil is the deep state. A handful of unbelievably wealthy people have worked for decades to do Satan’s evil bidding and to depopulate the earth. Satan has promised them they will have it all. This includes people like George Soros and Bill Gates.

See the source imageThese people are pushing a globalist socialist, communist agenda. They want to destroy America and other countries and bring in the “New World Order” – a one-world government. Sound like the book of Revelations yet? What do you think mandatory vaccinations are preparations for? In Canada, the wicked despot Trudeau cut off all finances for truckers who protested against the vaccine.

The deep state aims to control the entire world, but especially Israel—the apple of God’s eye—and the United States, which was founded upon and dedicated expressly to God and religious liberty. “America was raised up to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.” (Dutch Sheets, givehim15.com, July 27, 2022).  No wonder Satan is so bent on destroying America.

They have been playing the long game for decades. They are responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (because he was trying to return America to the silver standard for our currency). They are responsible for the stolen 2020 election because they hate President Trump.

Their agenda. ­ They push socialist communism so that they can have control over the world. And they do this through political leaders and other influential, powerful leaders. This is why they are creating such chaos. Chaos makes people desperate for peace and safety. Make a country desperate enough and they will submit to anything.  Their ultimate goal is to wipe out much of the earth’s population so things will be better for them. That’s why the vaccines Bill Gates gave “generously” to a struggling nation made the children sterile. That is why Margaret Sanger, who started Planned Parenthood, openly targeted the black race for abortion and why the vast majority of such death clinics are in black neighborhoods, the easiest, most “productive” target. Their agenda to wipe out much of the human race—especially God’s people–and bring in the “New World Order” is why they used the plandemic to wipe out so many Americans and others.

Image result for Public Domain picture of Churches. Size: 150 x 225. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.netWhat they did to churches.  The church in America has long been rotting, becoming progressively more silent against evil. This is the fault of the church but what put gasoline on the fire of unholiness was the Johnson amendment, which came about because LBJ replaced John F. Kennedy as president. The Johnson amendment gives churches a tax-break but on the condition that churches stay out of politics. Now you know one reason pulpits have been silent about all kinds of evil for so long.

Pastors have chosen to serve the god of money and popularity rather than the Holy One of the Bible. They have not spoken out against the evil things happening in our land because they do not want to lose their tax break and they do not want to “offend” their congregation and lose their church. And they have led their sheep into the same evil path, staying silent about and even affirming all kinds of evil.

Image result for public domain picture of pasttor at pulpitBesides that, the pulpit in America largely stopped preaching the power of the blood and holiness many years ago. Not only that, the church stayed in its four walls and out of the pillars of society. Consequently, the foundations of our society were corrupted and that corruption has, like the contaminating filth it is, spread. Did you know pastors were heavily involved in America’s initial fight for freedom? They were called “The black coat regiment.” Did you hear that on mainstream media?

“But we are not to oppose authorities” you say.   Multitudes of churches and believers are cowering behind Romans 13:1-2 which states: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (NIV) This verse applies to righteous rulers. Verse 3 explains that this applies to “rulers who hold no terror for those who do right, buy for those who do wrong.”  Most of our world’s rulers today support those who do wrong and violently oppose those who do right.

See the source imageWhat did Peter and the apostles do when the authorities persecuted them for preaching Jesus and gave strict orders not to teach in the name of Jesus? “Peter and the other apostles replied: We must obey God rather than men?” (Acts 5:29, NIV)

They own the media. The deep state owns mainstream media and seeks to spread its evil agenda and to silence all those who speak for righteousness and truth. This is starting to change as God gives truth a voice through individual believers who speak out and through believers who create platforms that get the truth out.  But this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Mainstream media is still covering up most of the evil currently operating in our world.

The evil you see happening is by design. The covid epidemic—and other evil and destructions we now see, like the invasion of our southern border — was planned. Yes, covid is a real disease but it is a manufactured sickness, a test to see how quickly the deep state could control the world, to see how much we would put up with. What did the world do? We wore masks, forsook church, got vaccinated and believed the lies – like children are in grave danger and must wear masks in school. Did you know that the percentage of children who died from covid is miniscule? You will not hear that on mainstream news.

While they had everyone terrified of covid, they killed millions world-wide, especially among the elderly and those with health issues; did much to start ruining our economy, damaged the lives of a whole generation of children; and trained much of the world to submit to whatever they say to handle the next virus they are waiting to unleash.

This attack by the deep state, incidentally, prepared the way for them to use mail-in ballots as part of their theft of the 2020 election. Don’t believe it was stolen? See the documentary “2,000 mules.” And just wait. God is even now exposing evil, and His arm is lifted high.

Image result for public domain picture of white houseThe jackal sitting unlawfully in our White House is systematically destroying our economy through planned inflation, which he began by shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline immediately upon beginning his charade as our lawfully-elected president.  Besides that,

  • He abandoned American troops and civilians in Afghanistan as well as Afghanis who supported and had fought alongside the U.S.
  • He created and continues to deepen the gas shortage because he sold out to the hyper-radical environmentalists who funded his campaign and so is pushing “green” energy.
  • There are too many horrors to list and they grow daily.
  • All this, plus, the media is no longer covering up his incompetence and the world laughs at the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, God’s nation.

Image result for Cute Elementary ClassroomsWhat Satan wants to do to our children. Because the deep state controls the media, you are not hearing about the sexual perversion being taught in our public schools and the pedophilia teachers are committing using curricula approved by principals and school districts. To further the perverted homosexual agenda, teachers are preparing children to accept homosexuality and transgenderism by teaching them, in detail, about homosexual practices – under the guise of being “inclusive” and “gay rights.” THIS IS PEDOPHILIA! When parents protested at school boards, the jackal’s administration labelled them “domestic terrorists”.

More parents are speaking up and the tide is turning in some states but last week I saw a podcast on Victory News where a teacher explained to other teachers the correct pronouns to use on report cards so that a child who “identifies” as being of the opposite sex while at school can continue to pose as the sex they want and the teachers will not, inadvertently, let the parent know what is going on at school with their own child. Some children have begun sex change treatments which were deliberately hidden from parents.

Image result for public domain picture of school childThis is all part of a planned attack by Satan. Go online and search “We are coming for your children.”  A San Francisco gay men’s choir spells out exactly what the left wants to do with YOUR children and grandchildren. It is disgusting and I hope it infuriates you.

This is one more reason why you need to start listening to conservative, Christian, patriotic, righteous news and stop listening to and believing the enemy.  Are you mad yet?

Why the deep state supports violence, defunding the police, and taking our guns. If the only people allowed to have guns are criminals, then the only people with guns will be criminals. Then, the evil, totalitarian, socialist progressives and the deep state can control Image result for Public Domain Picture of Police. Size: 180 x 101. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.netus. Then America would be in a situation like Australia, where people were forced into covid camps for not obeying the governments covid rules. The right to bear arms is the second Amendment to our Constitution. Yes, gun violence is horrific beyond words, but the solution is to allow law-abiding citizens to bear arms. Mainstream media has not told you that since the tragedy in Uvalde at least two other potential mass shooters were stopped by citizens using their legally-permitted guns.

Blind justice. The deep state worked years ago to get corrupt judges and prosecutors and legislators into office. That is how Congressman Lee ZeldIn could be attacked with a knife, during a political rally, and his attacker immediately released from jail. Such things are happening all the time. You just do not hear about them on the media that the globalist, communist, socialist deep state owns.

Image result for public domain picture of united states mapBorders. The jackal’s puppets have purposefully moved him to allowed millions of illegal aliens to cross our southern border. And they are being relocated throughout the US. Many of these are sex traffickers, drug traffickers, terrorists and other criminals. Thousands are dying as they are smuggled across the border by the drug cartel. Fentanyl use has exploded as it has flowed like a river across the border. Why does the administration do nothing? They are planning for the illegals to be grateful for being allowed into the US and to vote for them.

January 6 theater. This is a blatant attempt to stop President Trump from running in 2024. I will not give it the dignity of explanation but start listening to conservative news outlets and the truth you hear about this sham will seem unbelievable. And what about the rampant violence in our cities which is not covered in mainstream news and about which the left does nothing?

See the source imageWhat they are doing to our beloved military.  I say “beloved military” because I am deeply, deeply grateful to the men and women and families who have sacrificed and are even now sacrificing so we may live in a free country. Satan is working to weaken and destroy our military. Thousands are being discharged because they refuse to take the vax.  Leaders are spending resources teaching our military how to use the “proper” pronouns lest they offend someone who is deluded into thinking they can change their sex. They have been forced to work alongside homosexuals and do you really think the trouble this perversion causes is reported by mainstream media?

In China the government removed ALL “girlie” boy effeminate movies and tv shows for children, replacing them with media that teaches boys to be men. Communist China is raising up a generation of men who will fight like men. What is our media teaching our young boys, our future soldiers? How to be weak, intimidated, and to tolerate that which is disgusting and vile in God’s sight.

God puts an instinct into males to be men and fight to protect females and children. What will our future soldiers be if that instinct is beaten out of them by years of lies and punishment for following their God-given instincts?

See the source image

Distractions! All these and many more distractions are coming now, before the 2022 midterms and who knows what else they have planned? They are already making noises about another plandemic. And look at the hatred unleased against abortion.

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Ultrasound. Size: 188 x 100. Source: radiationepal.blogspot.comThe curse of abortion over the United States. When our Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, returning this issue to the states, where it should have always remained because it is not a constitutional “right”, a curse was lifted off our land. Abortion is a blood sacrifice to the god Molech. That is why you see such unbelievable hatred from those who support it. They are demonically controlled and influenced. How else do you account for the violence and hatred? It is demonic control and it is also the flesh. People do not like it when they have to pay the consequences for their sin. They want abortion so they can continue their sexual immorality without the consequence of raising a child. So Satan has brutally murdered millions of babies in the womb. Their blood has cried out to God and He is bringing justice.

Did you know some states were approving abortion up to 30 days AFTER THE BABY WAS OUT OF THE WOMB?

See the source imageIf you vote democrat, you are supporting this abomination. One hundred percent of democrats in the House voted to keep Roe v. Wade intact.   Think about that. If you voted for the jackal now in the White House you voted for abortion and for all the evils now seeming to prevail.

Wake up! You can do something! You can repent of that and start praying for and supporting righteous leaders and righteous endeavors. You can make a difference!

The tide is turning, God is already doing mighty things. Look at the other Supreme Court decisions that defend righteousness. Look at the truths that even mainstream media is starting to proclaim (because they have no choice.)  Just this should convince you.

But if you listen to the prophets, you have been hearing them say, for years that God is doing many things behind the scenes, exposing and destroying evil. Prophets have been saying for months now that the Third Great Awakening has already begun, with signs and wonders and hundreds of salvations happening in tent revivals as in former days. They also predicted the many ways righteousness is starting to flow in our nation.

Image result for public domain picture of niagaraEveryday Americans are waking up and taking action. Grassroots efforts and organizations that oppose evil and promote righteousness are exploding. God is about to unleash a Niagara of justice and righteousness. (Amos 5:24)

Will you get involved? I beg you: will you get involved? You are alive at this time by God’s design. He has things for you, personally, to do in this fight, just as God had things for Esther to do. And He will equip and supply you as you stand and start fighting.

I ask you: Do you want to look back and remember that you did your part in God’s fight? Or do you want to remember that fear and disbelief kept you from taking your stand against evil?

How do you think the Holocaust happened? Little by little, one lie at a time.  People believed lies because they were repeated over and over and those who could help the Jews stayed silent. And the Jewish people themselves, these precious souls who are the apple of His eye? What about them?

See the source image

The last exhibit in the Holocaust Memorial Museum is the “shoe pile”, a pile of 4,000 shoes of holocaust victims.  May we never forget and may we never cease to pray for Israel and the peace of Israel. What happened to God’s beloved Jewish people is a warning for us. They were deceived, and those who suspected evil was being done and who could do something remained silent.

Socialist and communistic leaders promise people things will be good if they just submit and obey the government. Think about it.

Here is part of an article from the October 12, 2021, Seattle Times.

The 4,000 shoes on display are on loan from the State Museum of Majdanek in Lublin, Poland,” said Steven Luckert, curator of the permanent exhibition. “In general, the shoes are the objects that leave the most profound impression on the visitors. It shows the magnitude of Nazi murder through something so deeply personal.”

Men’s loafers, children’s bootees and women’s two-inch heels are piled in a disordered heap. The women’s shoes, once beautiful, may be the most shocking remnants in the exhibition. They are the reminder that some victims were hopeful, taking their finery and most-feminine footwear on trains that led to this.

“Some of the shoes are very elegant, and the variety gives the sense of the deception at work to fool the victims,” Luckert said. “Jews were told they would be building new lives someplace in the East, not told they were being sent to be killed.”

In the 1930s, the quotation below appeared in many public addresses of the German pastor Martin Niemoller:

“First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews – and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one to speak for me.”

If you are doing something, keep doing it and even more! If not, I must ask: how long will you remain passive and indifferent?

Specific things to do – now:

  1. At home alone, with in-person prayer groups or on-line. Put your boots on the ground and go to places and pray.
  2. Get informed – go to the “What is God doing?” page of this website and start listening regularly to conservative, Christian media. Besides speaking truth, they give ways to get involved in God’s fight for righteousness and justice in our land.
  3. Send letters and emails and call your government representatives, at all levels. millionvoices.org has made this easy. Check it out.
  4. Serve at polling places, run for local offices – yes you!
  5. Go to school board meetings, city councils, legislative sessions – whatever is available to you — and pray and speak as the Lord leads.
  6. Speak up to your pastor. Just writing a respectful, but truthful letter to your pastor can move him or her to start speaking up for righteousness.
  7. Start a prayer meeting for your city, state and nation – just you and one other person can move mountains.
  8. This is just a starter list. As you seek God and get in the fight, He will lead you personally.

Fellow believer, I have been bold and I wish I could be even bolder! We must be about God’s work and do our part to destroy the works of the enemy. (I John 3:8) We cannot remain passive and silent. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with Me is against Me and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30, NIV)

Image result for public domain picture of jesus extending his hand

Where are you planted? Part One

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Car on Street. Size: 184 x 206. Source: www.photos-public-domain.com“Do not call conspiracy [or hard or holy] all that this people will call conspiracy [or hard or holy]; neither be in fear of what they fear, nor [make others afraid] and in dread.” (Isaiah 8:12, AMPC)

“Well, Father, I am not sure what the first part of this verse means but you are surely telling me that my fear can make others fear.”

Midmorning traffic was light as I drove down Manchaca, past the high school, the community college, and the string of small businesses, repeating my current Bible verse. At the light, I glanced at the next phrase on the printed page spread on the passenger seat, next to my purse.

“The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor his Holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety].”

As I made the left turn onto Jones, a little side street lined with homes, conviction came so strong I almost pulled into a driveway to stop and think.

“Oh, forgive me, Father! I see that I dishonor You when I do not depend on You alone as my only hope of safety. Oh, forgive me, Lord!”

I sped up along the entrance ramp and then the slow, arcing single-lane turn, ignoring the unsettling feeling of being suspended in midair. Although focused on driving, part of my mind repeated “The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor his Holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety.” All the while, a familiar undercurrent of gratitude flowed along at a semiconscious level, gratitude for the path the Good Shepherd had led me to follow.

“Thank You, Lord, for all the times the boys and I drove along this road on our way to the gym back when they were preschool. Thank You that diligent Bible study and meditation in my areas of need healed the depression and fear when nothing else worked. Thank You, Father, for the thirst You have given for Your Word! What an unspeakable gift!”

Image result for public domain picture of handwritten noteA personal message of deep love and concern. Friend, this piece of writing came about, with a strong awareness of God’s presence. It interrupted work on another subject. I do not, of course, claim to hear God’s voice perfectly, but I do know when I feel His presence especially strong, as I did when writing this. I plead with you to receive these words in the spirit in which they are written– keenly aware of my own weaknesses and with deep love and concern for your spiritual welfare and your life eternal. So, I ask you today. . .

  • What are you doing with the Word?
  • Are you planted in a desert?
  • Are you planted in a fertile area?
  • Do you have deep roots? Any?
  • Do your roots seek a cistern or the Source Himself?
  • Blinders?
  • Do you know about two more dangers?
  • Do you hear “The full counsel of God”?
  • Do you do personalized study for personal needs?
    • God wants to teach you personally
    • Only God knows my heart and what my heart needs
  • A personal regret

What are you doing with the Word? Are you purposefully studying the Word, diligently, and in your areas of personal need? Are you purposefully meditating on the Word you find each day, all day? If so, press on!  But if diligent Bible study and diligent, purposeful meditation are not part of your daily routine or if your Bible study consists only of trying to absorb Truth others have mined, I beg you, consider – where is the tree of your heart planted?

Image result for public domain picture of tree in desertAre you planted in a desert? Are you planted in the desert of rebellion and disobedience regarding God’s command to “study and show yourself approved to God?” (2 Timothy 2:15)? Do you consider personal, serious Bible study and meditation unnecessary? While listening to preaching and teaching, do you play with your phone? Do you think about the week ahead? If so, if you seldom study or even read the Word for yourself and if you do not pay close attention to what preaching and teaching you do hear, then you rarely get rain and your heart is shriveling as is your soul although you do not perceive it.

You remain spiritually alive only by His grace, and, like a cactus, your trifling bit of life-sustaining moisture is hoarded deep inside, with thorns blocking the way of any fellow parched soul seeking sustenance. You bear no good fruit and provide no shade under which weary ones may rest. You are in grave danger.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Rainforest Trees. Size: 137 x 100. Source: www.flickr.comAre you planted in a fertile area? You say, “No! I am like a tree planted where it receives abundant rain. I regularly study my Bible and gather with others for preaching and teaching.  I eagerly stretch out my branches and let the rain revive my leaves and, thus, I am watered abundantly. My roots bring water to my soul and I bear good fruit.”

Ahh! That is well and good and you may be a fruit-producing tree but receiving life-giving water through leaves and shallow roots drawing on pooled rain water is a “backward sort of way for a tree to absorb water . . . At least 70 different species of trees in seven different ecosystems have been identified as using a back to front water transport mechanism like this. This is most common in rainforests where mist forms near the treetops, making an environment suitable for this type of water consumption.” (www.wildlifeinformer.com)

Friend, are you getting your spiritual nourishment—like trees feeding on the moisture in the treetops–only from the rain and from the atmosphere created by other believers as you discuss the Word that has been fed to you?

See the source imageDo you have deep roots? Any? God obviously intends for us to be instructed. Every tree does indeed get some of its necessary moisture from rain and from close proximity to fellow believers as well as via shallow roots drawing on rainwater held in the ground. However, God also intends for every believer to diligently study the Word individually and to meditate on His Word continually. It is not God’s plan for believers to be watered with the Word only by what they hear from others, no matter how sound. What happens during drought, when water from rain fails?

Friend, I must ask: Do you have deep roots? Any at all? Do you take time regularly and consistently (not perfectly, but consistently) for diligent Bible study and diligent meditation? Or is your sustenance only from that treetop mist and shallow soil soaked with rainwater?

With love, I must ask again: Do you have any deep roots? Think about it. What if your source of water, of God’s truth, is now tainted or becomes tainted?  God wants you to fully, from the heart, obey Scripture and become like a tree “planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1), so that you will be continually watered not only from others but from below, from the unseen depths of the Spirit directly. God wants you to have deep roots. And He wants your roots to connect to the spring, the Source Himself, of Living Water.

Do your roots seek a cistern or The Source Himself?  Spiritual roots must not only burrow deeply into the soil but they must burrow in the right location. Otherwise, you will draw from a source that, like rain, is secondary to the True Source.

What do I mean? You may be drawing from a cistern. A cistern is an underground reservoir to hold rain. You may get good water, from sound teaching and your own diligent study and meditation upon about what you have heard, but you still are not getting water from the Source Himself. Why?

Roots grow toward water. If a tree, even a deeply-rooted tree, is planted far from a river, its roots will grow toward and inevitably draw from secondary underground sources, like cisterns or ground water.

See the source imageIf I establish myself, if I plant myself, in the habit of getting all my spiritual water from the teaching and preaching of others, I am planting myself above a cistern or a water table.  Even though my roots do go deep, if my mind is open only to what I have been taught—all my roots reach sideways, into that cistern or groundwater, into that reservoir of the teaching of others. I will not hear from God through His Word directly. Friend, every human, no matter how holy, is but a “broken cistern” (Jeremiah 2:13). God wants us to hear from Him directly.  

Unless I am planted close to the water so that my roots connect directly to the underground water that is part of the river itself, the Living Water cannot do His full work in me. The Living Word cannot uncloak truth as I study new Scriptures and He cannot reveal new depths of familiar Scriptures. He is limited to the interpretation of the person who taught me.

Suppose someone taught me that one has to be baptized in water to be saved. When I read that Jesus told the thief on the cross “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43, KJV)”, I will not perceive that this verse shows water baptism is not mandatory for salvation. If someone teaches me that the gifts of the Spirit demonstrated in the New Testament are not for today, I will read with that veil over my eyes.

Suppose my pastor only preaches Romans 13:1 (“be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established”). Study Romans 13:1-6 for yourself, and you will see God is saying obey rulers who do right, not wicked rulers. Was it right for God’s people to worship King Nebuchadnezzar when they were commanded to do so? No!  And what did the apostles say when the governing authorities commanded them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus? The apostles said “We must obey God rather than men!” (Romans 5:29b)

Further, we are not to say silent in the midst of evil, as so very many are doing today. Proverbs 25:26 is clear. “Like a muddied fountain and a polluted spring is a righteous man who yields and compromises his integrity before the wicked.” (AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of horse with blindersBlinders? A horse with blinders walks where he is allowed to see, blind to all things except what is right in front of his eyes, which is what his master has chosen for him to see. This was the sin that kept most of Israel from perceiving Messiah for Who He was and is and will ever be—God Himself. They believed someone else’s teaching, were blinded to all else, and rejected the teaching of the Living Word Himself.

In Matthew 23, Jesus called the teachers of the law and Pharisees, “hypocrites, blind guides, snakes and a brood of vipers”.  Jesus told them:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13-14, NIV)

Jesus was addressing teachers of the law and Pharisees who were blocking the way to salvation. Why were they doing that? They were enslaved, controlled, by their own fleshly lust for power and wealth.

Beloved, today’s pastors and teachers are made of the same flesh as those teachers and Pharisees more two thousand years ago.

I am not saying the pastors or teachers you hear are teaching you lies or using you or purposefully leading you away from Truth, but I must ask: if you do not search the Word yourself, how will you tell? A child accepts whatever his parents tell him because he trusts his parents. Who does God tell you to trust, Him and His Word or those who claim to know His Word?

Selective Focus Shot Of A Male Standing And Speaking From The PulpitAgain, I must ask, is it not possible that, though they have good intentions, some pastors and teachers are not connected with the Source of Truth and so are speaking only revised versions of what they themselves have been taught? Is it not possible that their own blindness and pre-judged interpretations cause them to err and, thus, lead you into error?

Suppose one is following another down the road and they both fall into a ditch. The leader says, “Oh, we are fine right here. This is the best place for us. No, no, don’t try to climb out. I know best.“ If the follower believes what the leader says, both will remain cold, wet, and miserable, mere inches away from the bright, warm, sunlit path God prepared for them.

Besides that dangerous kind of pastor and teacher, sadly, many so-called Christians today use and abuse God’s people and serve Satan just as much as the teachers of the law and Pharisees.

I beg you: let God open your eyes. Let Him teach you from the Word directly, not through the filter of anyone else’s understanding.

Two more grave dangers. As stated, if all I hear an know of the Word comes through someone else’s interpretation, I am planted above a cistern. Holy Spirit will not be able to show me fresh understanding of familiar Scriptures nd will be unable to open unfamiliar Scriptures.

Besides those grave dangers, (1) I will not hear the full counsel of God and (2) God will be unable to fully cleanse my heart of sin, bring full healing, and bring me to full maturity. Why? Let’s look first at the matter of hearing the full counsel of God.

Image result for free clipart Of holy fire. Size: 150 x 208. Source: clipground.com“The full counsel of God, Acts 20:27”. There are many kinds of sin. We are ignorant of most of them until we learn God’s laws and He personally teaches us how His laws apply to our individual lives.

Most preaching and teaching in the United States today focuses on self-improvement and other humanistic self-centered themes. Most preaching and teaching does not call sin sin. Think. When was the last time you heard a sermon on sexual immorality, homosexuality, abortion, jealousy, or lying? These sins are so obvious that even most unbelievers know Christians are not to do such things, but how often do you hear preaching on these sins?

Even rarer are sermons and teaching against filthy language, immodesty, self-centeredness, the consequences of neglecting the Word, the need for holiness and our responsibility as believers to shine into the darkness of our current wicked culture and to fight for the Kingdom and our freedom.

God has called us ALL to live “upright and godly lives” in this current dark world.  But if we do not hear preaching or teaching against sin—in all its forms—and if we fail to diligently study and meditate on the Word for ourselves, letting Holy Spirit speak to us personally, how will we live holy lives? How will we be changed from glory to glory? How will we gain a renewed mind? How will we conquer “the world, the flesh and the devil?” How will we hear God explain, through Biblical principles, what is happening in our world and what we must do about it?

Do you want to merely wipe the outside of the dish or do you want to clean the inside as well? (Matthew 23:25) The Great Physician has filled the Bible with His prescriptions for “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3)—right living in each aspect of human life.  God has called us ALL to be holy because He is holy.

(14) [Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].

(15) But as the One who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.

(16) For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. (I Peter 1:14-16, AMPC)

Part of holiness is maturity. In many places and with persuasive words, God urges us to press on to maturity, in verses like 2 Peter 1:5-11, Hebrews 6:1 and Colossians 2:6-8, to name a few. We can only do that if we hear what He says about each aspect of life—His full counsel.

Do you do personalized study for your personal needs? Finally, fellow sojourner, unless I seek unfiltered, fresh truth directly from the Word, through the teaching of Holy Spirit, for my particular needs, I remain—unknowingly—vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. I remain enslaved by (and reaping the consequences of) sin and iniquity concealed from my own awareness. And this can be in spite of decades of following God. (I stumbled at that point for many years)

Merely listening to teaching from others is like blindly grabbing a shirt from a huge rack holding every possible size. My need will be met only marginally and possibly not at all. Letting God teach me is like having the world’s best tailor make a garment for me.

Image result for public domain picture of two people studyingGod wants to teach us personally. Pressing on to maturity—until Christ is fully formed in us–is essential for every believer and possible only by the Living Word of God.  Our loving God longs to speak to you personally, through His Holy Spirit opening His Word to you, about your personal troubles, like fear, temper, depression, or addiction. He wants to give you victory over every “trouble, trial, distress and frustration” (John 16:33). God invites us to reason together with Him, and to let Him cleanse every crimson stain of sin until we are white as wool (Isaiah 1:18). Holy Spirit longs to study the Word with you. If you seek Him, He will be as clear as if you were studying with a human friend.

Only God knows my heart and what my heart needs. Pastors and teachers do not know my heart. Neither do I–because “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

It is part of human nature to conceal sin. Consequently, so very much of our sins and iniquities are hidden. Thus the psalmist cried: “Who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.” Psalm 19:12, NIV).  God does use sound preaching and teaching to convict us of much sin—glory to God!!—but most of every iceberg is hidden.

You have never and never will hear a pastor or teacher tell you the precise occasion when you committed adultery as you allowed lustful thoughts, like birds, to build a nest in your hair. But God knows and His Word will convict you of that.

Image result for public domain picture of an earYou have never and will never hear a pastor or teacher tell you that you are holding resentment and unforgiveness toward someone from 25 years ago – but God’s Word will.

Despite nearly four decades of weekly preaching I never heard a pastor explain how lies I believed about myself and God had created depression. But studying and meditating on the Word exposed those lies and replaced them with Truth, which set me free indeed. (John 8:31-21)

Sometimes prophets do bring God’s conviction to individuals, as Nathan did for David, but for most, God convicts us of our sins and iniquities through teaching and preaching AND personal study and meditation of His Word.

God says “I search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10). In that same passage, in verse 13, God sternly warns us through Jeremiah who said,

“Lord, You are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame; Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.” (NIV, emphasis added)

Only washing with the Word, from the inside out, will reveal and cleanse hidden sin. Only washing with the Word, from the inside out, will bring living water to hidden areas of weakness and needed growth, transforming dust into malleable clay, useful for the Potter. Only truth can expose and destroy lies and tear down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). Only the Word can shine light in caverns in your soul where, despite your best efforts, darkness yet reigns.

God longs for us to be healed and whole and living in peace as we labor, joyfully, in our work with Him.  And He has made the way. That way is through the cross, the way of letting God’s Living Word crucify your flesh and then wash you and keep you clean.

Image result for public domain picture of desert

A personal regret. With deep regret I confess that I did not truly study and meditate diligently—and in my individual areas of need—until two years of deep depression forced me to. Then I began studying passages phrase by phrase, slowly, carefully and digging deep to see the complete thought God was expressing. Often that involved the entire chapter as well as chapters before and after. And, finally, because God had put me in a dessert and I was desperately thirsty, I not only studied diligently but I also meditated diligently. I thought all day about truths God had revealed, repeating those passages and verses until I “accidentally” memorized them.

Only diligent Bible study and diligent meditation healed the depression and fear. Why? Because although I was outwardly obeying everything I knew about God and every command I heard and (thought I) had studied, the enemy’s lies living in my heart kept me in bondage to hidden sin, sins like doubting God’s faithfulness, His power for my life and His good intentions toward and promises to me.

Until I dedicated time and energy—and all my heart–to letting God teach me personally from the Word regarding my personal sins and weaknesses, until I then meditated on truth He revealed, until those truths renewed my mind, many areas of healing and needed growth remained hidden. So did many sins of which I was unaware – because I had heard no preaching or teaching about them even though I had pursued God with all my heart for nearly four decades.

Praise God that through diligent Bible study and meditation, Holy Spirit used the Living Water of the Word to reveal the precise portions of Truth I needed. Some need to have God’s truth flow in their hearts regarding a temper or lust or whatever. But I needed to have certain of God’s truths imprinted on my heart, the truths hat God loves me just as I am, that He truly will take care of all my needs, and that when I perceive His presence, His peace and love always drives out all loneliness and fear. I had heard those things but until I personally searched out Scriptures then studied and meditated upon them, letting the Living Word show me—or judge—which of my thoughts and intentions were true and which were false–I remained in darkness.

See the source image

Let’s review. In Part One, we have seen some conditions regarding the Word in which believers may be trapped. Believers, even with good intentions, may be:

  • Planted in a dessert – Not paying attention to the Word they hear and doing no personal study.
  • Planted in a fertile area – Paying attention to the Word and doing some personal study but drawing strength and light mainly from the Word they hear taught and interactions with believers.
  • Growing deep roots . . . but planted above a cistern – doing serious Bible study on their own but unknowingly interpreting all they study through the lens of what they have been taught.
  • Not hearing the full counsel of God – Hearing and studying only what is taught in sermons, group study, or what others have written.

I pray that you and I will ever pursue the path of:

  • Personalized teaching from Holy Spirit – Thirsting for and satisfied by teaching from Holy Spirit through the Word that reveals and heal personal sins and weakness and leads one to maturity.  Then we will joyfully live as that “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1b, NIV)

In Part Two, we will continue investigating this vital topic, starting with these questions:

  • Where is God telling you to look?
  • “Where can you get this living water? (John 4:11b, NIV)

 

See the source image