Category Archives: ANXIETY

Complete and constant peace IF . . .

Image result for Free Picture Of Doctor's OfficeIn the midst of daily life, Holy Spirit speaks. Bzmmmmm. The floor-to-ceiling glaring-white machine rotated itself, and me, 45 degrees so the technician could record a different view of the heart. I closed my eyes again and took a long, slow breath, careful to stay still.

“Ten more minutes or so strapped into this device,” I thought. “Harumph! Help me have a good attitude, Lord!”

“Thank You for training me to meditate on Your Word. It helps in every situation! So, let’s start at the beginning of my verses again, with Isaiah 26:3-4.

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because He commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord—commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him—forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting rock—the Rock of ages.” (AMPC).

Hmm . . .  “ the mind [both its inclination and its character]”. . .  I opened my eyes and managed not to jerk upright only with effort.

“Lord, what does character of mind mean? I have repeated this passage how many times and I only now see this? I believe that “inclination of the mind” means what your thoughts are focused upon and that was my subconscious thought while meditating on this verse these many months, but what does “character of mind” mean?

Clear guidance. I was reviewing the first of the verses and passages I had memorized on my way to victory over depression last year. For the last three days, after completing the blog post for the week, I had wondered which of the many topics floating in my mind to start on for next week. I was wondering, that is, in brief snatches of time during the work of daily life, which now included extra time invested in health and thus, less time to write, some of the “troubles, trials, distresses and frustration” which Jesus said His followers would experience. I was indeed frustrated!

Image result for free picture of notes handwrittenSo many things I wanted to write! I desperately wanted to finish the book about depression but other topics, including blog posts on each verse I had memorized, had fluttered overhead like birds zipping across the high ceiling of a big building. Some writers, like me, have difficulty picking and completing one topic. But I recognized when Holy Spirit was getting my attention, like now, in the middle of the stress test. He was saying write about Isaiah 26:3-4. Now.

Complete and constant peace is possible. So, dear friend and fellow pilgrim, here we are, you and me, exploring God’s truth in Isaiah 26:3-4, the first weapon in my “spiritual arsenal”, that list of verses that opened the dungeon doors of depression and fear for me.

It helps me think deeply about the Word to put new thoughts on a new line and sometimes to put each word on a new line.  Many months ago, as I pondered Isaiah 26:3-4, I wrote it in long-hand like this.

“You will guard him and keep him in

perfect and constant peace

whose mind [both its inclination and its character]

is stayed on You,

 because                                                                 

He commits himself to You,

leans on You,

and hopes confidently in You.

So trust in the Lord—

commit yourself to Him,

lean on Him,

hope confidently in Him—forever;

for the Lord God is an everlasting rock—the Rock of ages.” (AMPC).

Let’s look at each phrase and see what God might be saying. Remember, this is the Amplified version of the Bible, which has phrases other translations do not include. These phrases give the fuller, or amplified, meaning of words that modern-day readers do not understand but which speakers of that time would have automatically known was what the words meant. I find it extremely helpful to study and meditate using the Amplified. For a more detailed explanation as to why, please see the blog post “God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security”, October 1, 2020.

Isaiah 26:3-4. Two years ago, when I desperately needed peace, I studied verses about peace. I had not purposely memorized Bible verses for a long time and those hidden in my heart years earlier, including this one, had faded.  I liked the essence of this verse that remained in memory, the concept that God keeps us in peace if we fix our minds on Him. So, I began studying this verse in more detail, through meditating on the clarifying phrases in the Amplified.

Image result for free Picture of Guard In Bible TimesGuarding and keeping. “You will guard and keep. . . “ The first thing I noticed was that the verse said God would guard and keep our minds in peace, whereas the NIV, only said God would keep.  It was reassuring to ponder that God would not only keep us in peace if we kept our minds fixed on Him, but He would guard us as well. To guard something or someone, is to protect or shield them from harm by keeping potential danger away. So that must mean God will not allow anything to damage my peace when my mind is focused on Him.

“Complete and constant peace”. The next phrase shows two aspects of the peace God promises:  it will be complete, or perfect, and it will be constant. Complete peace would mean freedom from worry about any aspect of one’s life. One aspect of peace is freedom from struggle and fighting, and phrases similar to “He was given peace from his enemies round about” appear often in the Bible. So, if the nation of Israel was given peace on all sides, then maybe God is saying we will be free from attacks of worry, or fear or irritation any such thing, on all sides of our life, in each aspect of life, including health, family, friends, finances, our world, etc. That would be complete peace.

Image result for free picture of clockAnd, I reflected, constant means constant, sixty minutes each hour, twenty-four hours each day, seven days each week, and so forth until we see our loving Father face to face and, finally, no longer have to battle the world, the flesh, and the devil. That must mean there is a way to stay in peace all the time, so that means no dread at any time–no  dreading hard mornings or exercise or the job or house cleaning, or anything! And that verse “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30). Life, life from God, the good life He planned for human beings, is a peaceful life, with us enjoying every day and staying in God’s presence every day.

Inclination of mind. You will guard and keep in complete and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is fixed on You.”  As I pondered “inclination of mind”, I thought about focusing and I thought about the psalm when the psalm writer asks God to incline His to him. To incline your ear to someone, you focus all your hearing powers on that person’s voice. And I know the earth is inclined, or tilted toward or focused, at a precise angle toward the sun and that angle causes the seasons of the earth. To me, that means our thoughts, our mind, is focused or pointed toward God. And that means I am to be consciously thinking about God—His innumerable good qualities, His love and power and goodness and strength, His loving ways, His faithfulness, and the things He has done for mankind and for me in particular. That leads to light and life and all good things.

Image result for free picture of earth tilted toward sunAnd I think that principle operates in my life only in those minutes and hours when my mind is focused or inclined, toward God, thinking about Him as the earth is inclined, tilted toward, the sun. If I incline my mind away from God, then my thoughts will start darkening.

The character of the mind.  “Hmm. . . Lord, I know we develop character by repeating actions over and over and over, like that truism most people credit to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

So, just as our character, our “mental and moral qualities”, is shaped by what we repeatedly do and think, so is the quality or nature, the quality or character of our mind, shaped by what we repeatedly think and do?

Lord, I know that thinking on the Word all day long remakes our heart, but is the doing of that meditating, the habit of meditating, does that habit in itself also change the nature of the mind and how it works? Is that like if someone develops the habit of being patient by choosing, time after time, to wait quietly and calmly and then eventually they develop a patient character so that their  automatic  reaction to frustrating situations is to consciously stay calm?

I know that getting Your truths deep into my heart healed depression, but were You also changing how my mind actually works? Now, when problems arise Your Word immediately pops into consciousness. However,  before You trained me in the habit of constant meditation on Your word, my mind consistently thought negative thoughts and my heart constantly felt negative emotions, not only when problems came.

Image result for free picture of calendar That is such an encouraging thought, to know that You have already changed at the fundamental, most basic level, how I think and act, that You have already begun forming a stronger, more Christ-like character of mind. That is encouraging because I know it took months of persistence on my part, but the change did happen. So I know that, as I continue to persist, these occasional flare-ups will become less and less as You continue to give me a stronger character of mind, Lord! Thank You!

“Fixed on Him.” And “fixed on You” would mean to always have You on my mind, as that old song says, so that not only do I consciously, deliberately think about You but also in the moments when my mind is not occupied with some task or some other thinking, there You are! It’s like being in love or being a new parent or being preoccupied with an enjoyable project. So, it is a choice but it is also automatic because of deep, all-consuming love, attraction, and pleasure.

Image result for Free Picture Of Cause and Effect. . . because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in YouThank you, Lord, for showing me to ponder cause and effect links in Your Word, like here, and to study entire verses and passages.  I see that You keep us in peace when we keep our minds fixed on You because we commit to You, lean on You, and hope confidently in You. I had always quoted just the first part “You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You” (NIV) and forgotten the second part of the sentence. So I see that peace requires a trusting heart as well as a mind fixed on You. How had I overlooked that all those years?

So, trust in the Lord – commit yourself to Him, lean upon Him, and hope confidently in Him — forever.  That word “so” is another connecting word, meaning “therefore” or “for this reason”. That “So” after verse 3 means that “because of verse 3, do verse 4.” Clearly, You are saying that trust is essential in this process of having peace.

And, as I look at verses 3 and 4 together, I see another example of how Your Word defines itself. In verse 3, You say You will keep us in peace as we keep our minds on You and commit, lean, and hope confidently in You. Then verse 4 says “So trust. . .”  The Amplified version sets the next three phrases off by dashes, which signifies “additional phases of meaning included in the original word, phrase, or clause of the original language” (from the preface to The Amplified Bible, Zondervan, 1965.) So trust means to “commit ourselves to You, lean upon You, and hope confidently in You.” That shows me that the kind of trust You require is not some half-hearted thought or mindless repetition of a verse.

Rather, Your kind of trusting requires purposeful, focused thought and mental effort. You require trust like Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it (as a verb) meaning “to place confidence in; to rely on”.  The definitions of trust as a noun give even more clarity:  “confidence; reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person.” And perhaps Noah Webster also defined trust as “confident opinion of any event” and “credit given without examination” because he was mindful of how You meant it in Your Word. Your Word is used often in Mr. Webster’s 1828 dictionary!

Image result for free picture of picnicSo, trusting You means committing to You, leaning, and hoping confidently on You. If I really trust the weather report (and wouldn’t I be a rare bird!) I will schedule a family reunion at an outdoor park, with no alternate location identified. Furthermore, I will bake beans, make potato salad, and ice cupcakes with confidence. I would thus commit to, lean upon and hope confidently in the weather report. So, if I really trust You I will go about my life with confidence and NOT WORRY! Oh, help me, Lord!

And You say we are to trust You that way for ever.  Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “ever” as “at all times; always; continually; eternally.” That leaves no exceptions, does it Lord?

“. . . because the Lord God is an everlasting Rock – the Rock of Ages.” And here is another connecting word. We are to trust You like that because You are our Rock. I had seen Scripture use rock as a metaphor for the Lord many times, which I knew from a footnote (I forget where) that says rock means a source of strength. And sure enough, that is how Webster’s 1828 defines rock: “defense; means of safety; protection; strength; asylum; and a firm or immovable foundation.”  In looking into this, I saw that the website for R. C. Sproul clarifies that the meaning for this metaphor is multifaceted and that it “. . . tells us of the Lord’s stable, unchanging nature (Deuteronomy 32:4)” as well as “His strength and ability to safeguard His people, much as stone fortifications provide an excellent refuge from the elements and other dangers.”  https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/rock-ages/.

And Father, six days after starting this piece of writing, I see another truth: we are to trust You like You said so because doing so strengthens us. Phew! I need strengthening today, Lord, especially so thank You for  fresh insight today. That is related to the thought that just as meditating continually on Your Word has made big changes in the character of my mind so will keeping my mind on You make me stronger. That is so encouraging, Lord.  You really do know just how to encourage us and You know when we need it most. You are such a loving and good Father, Lord. Thank You for loving us like You do, with such understanding and such tender mercies!”

So, dear friend, in conclusion, when considering the whole chain of thought in Isaiah 26:3-4, I see that because our God is our Defender and our impenetrable place of refuge, He will surely guard us and keep us in complete and constant peace IF we keep our minds fixed on Him AND trust in Him, in the full, original meaning of those words. That is a guarantee from God, who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29) and whose promises are always yes.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NIV).

Image result for Free Picture of Rock of Ages CleftOur Rock of Ages. Writing this has made me more aware of the fact that it is God who does the work here. Certainly, I have to “try” my best, but the bottom line, the reason we are to keep our minds fixed on Him and fully trust Him is because He will defend and protect us. That takes the emphasis off me and my fickle frailties as I visualize seeking refuge from a storm in the hollow of a huge mountain, as Augustus Toplady, writer of that great hymn “Rock of Ages” actually did.

The fiercest wind, snow or rain cannot penetrate into the cleft of a great mountain. That mountain, and that small, sheltered place within the side of the mountain, will be untouched by any storm. The mountain, and that small hollowed out place, stand firm. All I have to do is choose to walk into that place and stay there.

Rain through Bedroom WindowAs a native Floridian, I know the snug feeling of being safe inside while hurricane force wind howls and rain flings itself against buildings. In the storms of my life and each ordinary day of my life, I can let my mind be battered and pounded, or I can choose to step into peace, into the everlasting, almighty, merciful, and ever-loving arms of my Heavenly Father, as I fix my mind on Him and trust (lean, rely, and hope confidently in) Him. And in doing that, I can know He will give me strength for whatever I need. It will be His strength, not my own weak strength, and it will make His strength complete. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

And, I am thinking it must give God a special joy when we turn to Him with trusting hearts and let Him take care of us and bear our burdens, just like a loving parent is gratified when they can carry a tired child and snuggle them close in their loving arms.  Oh, my Father! Let it ever be so! Amen.

Father Carrying Children

Fretting is forgetting

Fretting is forgetting, eyes off what He has done—
the victories He has given, the battles He has won.
My peace is in the knowing, eyes fixed on Him not me—
heart pondering His power.
In trusting, I am free.

See the source image

A personal note. My dear friend, I am sharing how I have stumbled and how God put me back on the right path. My prayer is that it encourages you to receive more of God’s goodness and grace and to better understand His deep, abiding passion for all of us.

Since God healed deep depression and fear, I have stayed in victory for many months. However, deep emotional struggles tangled up the last few days, and feelings have gradually worsened for weeks. One morning, I reviewed the past month, searching for what had gone wrong. A  month ago when reviewing  the nearly complete manuscript about overcoming depression, I had been living daily life consciously with God, being productive, and free from thoughts, feelings and reactions caused by depression and fear. And I was writing almost daily, my work for God and my joy.

I moved away, not God. So, on that first truly cold day here in Austin, I sat in the rocker with the window cracked two inches, relishing the truly cold air and the predawn darkness outside the window, re-reading my journaling notes back to when I had felt so close to God and joyful and excited about each day.  I have heard, more than once, that when you feel distant from God, it is you who moved, not God. So, I knew that because I no longer felt close to God meant that I had moved away, not Him.

So, I prayed and began taking notes as I reviewed the month.

Fretting is forgetting, eyes off what He has done. I had by grace been walking in the light (Psalm 56:13), BUT when several physical problems intensified simultaneously (asthma, feet issues, joints, heart concerns, etc.) I spent precious time and energy doing the best I could with each problem, which included prayer, going to doctors, refining my diet, adding more stretches and exercise as well as rest, etc. That was where my eyes turned off God and toward the problems, thus, toward darkness.

Image result for free picture of a dark pathThe path of fretting leads to darkness. Although I know better, I began fretting, focusing on problems, rather than God’s promises. We can focus on only one thing, so in turning my focus away from light, and toward my problems, I was heading toward the darkness with its deadly snares of discouragement, fear, and despair.  And I kept on in that direction, unaware that my pathway was growing darker, my vision growing dimmer. God lovingly warns us in Psalm 37:8 b:  “. . . Do not fret– it leads only to evil.” (NIV)

The victories He has given, the battles He has won.  Even though the book I was finishing described the many victories God had given over depression, I was not thinking about them myself and thanking God for them afresh, which would have kept my attention on God’s power and my heart filled with light.

Image result for free picture of poisonWithout God’s power and victories in mind, we often start thinking our current situation is impossible. We begin losing hope and subconsciously begin doubting God and His power and His love for us. Eventually we can even start to doubt His goodness and fall for the same lie Satan told Eve in Genesis 3:4-5. Satan told Eve that God was withholding good from her and Adam, that He was not giving them the best.  Those kinds of evil thoughts can flow subconsciously, in our hearts, beyond our awareness because, as Jeremiah 17:9 cautions, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV)

Psalm 105 to 107: the wisdom of often remembering what God has done.  Psalm 105, 106, and 107 clearly tell us it is wise to consciously, intentionally  recall what God has done. These three psalms show the wisdom of regularly observing and heeding the Lord’s “goodness and loving-kindness and His wonderful works to the children of men.” The key idea that links these psalms is Psalm 107:43:

“Whoso is wise [if there be any truly wise] will observe and heed these things; and they will diligently consider the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord. (AMPC).”  

“These things” are God’s goodness and loving-kindness and “His wonderful works for the children of men”, some of which are recounted in Psalm 105 and 106.

Psalm 105 opens with “O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the people” (KJV) Verses 1 through 5 tell us five things to do: thank the Lord, sing to Him, glory in His holy name, look to Him and His strength, and remember “the wonders He has done.”  In the rest of Psalm 105 God reminds Israel, and us, of how faithful He was to them, beginning with Abraham all the way through their history to when He gave them the promised land in order that “they might observe His statutes and keep His laws (hearing, receiving, loving and obeying them].” (AMPC) In other words, He created a people of His own and put them in the wonderful land He had prepared so that they could love and follow Him. He does the same thing when He matures us, taking us on a journey to a position of right-standing with Him, so that we can enjoy the fulfillment of His promises.

Image result for free picture of red seaPsalm 106 starts with praise for God and His merciful doings and then confesses that “our fathers in Egypt understood not nor appreciated your miracles; they did not [earnestly] remember the multitude of Your mercies, nor imprint Your loving-kindness [on their hearts], but they were rebellious and provoked the Lord at the sea, even at the Red Sea (v. 7, AMPC) Then we read that “nevertheless, He saved them for His name’s sake [to prove the righteousness of the divine character], that He might make His mighty power to be known.”   And we read how He saved them over and over when they kept rebelling all throughout their wilderness journey. Read for yourself and see how merciful God was with them, “nevertheless” hearing their cry and how

He [earnestly] remembered for their sake His covenant, and relented their sentence of evil—according to the abundance of His mercy and loving-kindness [when they cried out to Him]” v. 45, AMPC)

They forgot what God had done and turned away over and over and over but every time God rescued them when they called out to Him.

Psalm 107. Then read Psalm 107, which opens with “O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever.” (AMPC). Notice that the idea of thanking the Lord for his goodness and mercy and loving-kindness is repeated four times as a lament, in verses 8, 15, 21, and 31. The psalmist is deeply grieved that people are not doing that. He laments –“Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord His goodness and loving-kindness, and His wonderful works to the children of men!”  Psalm 107 concludes with verse 43, which tells us it is truly wise to “observe and heed these things” and “diligently consider the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord.”

God is clearly telling us what to do—we are to “Give thanks to the LORD because He is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1, 136:1, NIV) And, as with all that He does, it is for our good. Selah and selah and selah, oh my soul!

Image result for free picture of gods loveBesides Psalm 107, another psalm, Psalm 136, also opens with “O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever.” The phrase “His mercy and loving-kindness endures forever” is repeated in all 26 verses of Psalm 136, after statements about His great wonders from the time of creation to His current bountiful provision for Israel. God wants us to remember that “His love endures forever” (NIV)

So, dear friend, I lament . . . If only I had remembered to remember His countless gifts to me personally and His eternal loving nature, I would have recalled the battles He had fought for me and the victories we had won as He trained me to keep myself calm in times of adversity (Psalm 94:13). I would not have kept fretting about my problems and looking to my own strength. I could have stayed out of the snares of discouragement and despair that bound me up in self-focus.

My peace is in the knowing, eyes fixed on Him not me. In hindsight, I can see where I failed in my part of the blessed promise in Isaiah 26:3

“ You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”  (AMPC)

My heart remained committed to Him but I was leaning on my own understanding–my mind not fixed on Him– as I tried to figure out solutions to the problems. I was trapped in the snare of fretting and worry because it made me feel in control. I had stopped hoping confidently in God. How the enemy must love it when he manages to steal our hope and our conscious confidence in God!

. . . heart pondering His power. . . in trusting, I am free. When my mind is on God, either through talking with Him or pondering on His Word, I am free from hurt from the world, my flesh, and the devil. Keeping my mind on God and the truths of His Word keeps me trusting, believing, and waiting with confident expectation.

Image result for free picture of chainThere is a deep mystery and connection for me between the words trust, faith, hope, confidence and expectation and what it produces in the life of God’s believing children. I see a faint glimmer of how it works. It is cause and effect, like the links of a chain. I believe the mechanism of its operation, the way it works, is summarized in “We live by faith, not by sight.” or as I heard paraphrased recently, “We live by believing not by seeing.”

To me, that means we have to reach out, into the unseen and eternal spiritual realm (2 Corinthians 4:18) and when we do, our faith (which is trust, hope, and belief) is doing our part and then God responds. I know our faith pleases God, because He says we have to believe in Him and have to believe that He will reward our diligent seeking of Him.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV)

The way of faith in Psalm 91. In Psalm 91, I see this same cause and effect between our faith and the rewards of being consciously aware of God’s presence, which includes peace.

When I do my part and dwell in the secret place of the Most High (verse 1) and

When I say the Lord “. . . is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Hm I lean and rely and in him, I [confidently] trust!

THEN He delivers me from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

THEN He will cover me with His pinions,

and while I am there, under the covering of His wings—and His wings are spread over me, covering me, BECAUSEI reached out in faith to Him—I shall (which means definitely) be enabled to trust and find the refuge I seek.

And His truth and faithfulness will THEN be my shield and my protection.

This Is the main idea of the poem that started this writing, this idea that when I remember what God has done, I can put my faith—my active, reaching out trust—in Him. THEN, in the act of trusting itself, I am at peace.

Like firmly embedded nails, during my emotional stumbling, our loving Shepherd has deeply rooted more of His wisdom about trusting into my heart (Ecclesiastes 12:11). And I am grateful.

Image result for free pictukre of child on stairsHis discipline is so, so loving.  The depth of God’s love—the little we can understand of its fathomless depths—is astounding. “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10b, NIV).  I get a small understanding of this when I recall a story I heard long ago. As a woman tearfully watched her young son, who had a pronounced limp, struggle to get his tricycle up the stairs and onto the porch, her friend asked why she did not help. The loving mother replied, “If I help him now, he will never learn to do things for himself.”

Think about how much God loves us, but also consider His wisdom. He knows we have to learn basic disciplines of the Christian faith, that we must remain faithful to His teachings (John 8:31), that we must keep growing and developing (2 Peter 1:3-10) and pressing on toward maturity (Philippians 3:12-21). So, God lovingly sends circumstances that force us to grow. He lovingly prunes us (John 15:2) so we will bear even more fruit. And He trains us to cleanse ourselves from ignoble purposes, so that we may be “instruments for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

When I am in painful struggles, I may wonder, at least subconsciously, as perhaps that precious little boy did, why God does not remove the problem when it would be so easy for Him to do so. But, I can choose, by faith, to remember that God is working for my good, in all things (Romans 8:28). I can also choose to say I am blessed because “Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct,  Lord, and teach out of Your law, that (emphasis added)  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. “Psalm 94:12-13, AMPC)

Image result for free pictukre of heartThe blessings of this trial – a renewed heart and renewed commitment. God used this latest turbulent time, of my own making, to show I needed a specific plan to keep walking in victory and to stay out of the pit of depression and fear. By His grace, I had developed some excellent spiritual disciplines during that season of intense healing, but I needed some “insurance” that I would maintain those disciplines as well as some other habits that guard against discouragement and depression. Failing in some of these areas is, I believe, what opened the door to discouragement this last time. So, I am confessing and repenting of those sins, as I have already done with a close friend, knowing He will cleanse me from them. (“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9, NASB).

I believe God clearly showed me the need for a specific plan to stay out of the pit. I am earnest about this agreement with God, but I am not calling it a vow. Failing to keep vows is sin. It is disrespectful to God and foolish. We are to stand in awe of God in all things. Regarding vows, He tells us clearly:

“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. 6Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore, fear God. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7, NIV).

Image result for free pictukre of waling with godStaying in His presence, feasting on His Word, serving Him with love. I am setting my heart to be as careful as I can in maintaining the spiritual habits I personally need as well as certain other habits. I am recommitting to love the Lord in this way with “all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).  My plan is to:

  • Maintain the daily devotional times of Bible study and prayer He has shown are needed for me personally,
  • The best I can to either talk with God or be meditating on the Word, (Psalm 1), all day, from rising up to lying down, and
  • Do whatever my hand finds to do with all my might and to do it willingly, as for the Lord (Ecclesiastes 9:10, Colossians 3:23).

Confident joy! We can be confident that God is with us when we seek to follow Him more closely, and that He will help us and give us strength.  He says in Isaiah 48:10

“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)

We can also be confident because we know that growing in Him is in accordance with His will.

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

How blessed we are that God shows us clearly how to live, patiently teaching over and over what we need to know, whether our walk with Him has been long or short! How blessed we are that His presence fills us with joy and the promise of eternal pleasures with Him!

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. “(Psalm 16:11, NIV)

Selah, and selah, and selah, oh my soul!

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“Troubles, trials, distress, and frustration.”

Just a regular frustrating day.  “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world, you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration. Be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I am overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] John 16:33, AMPC

Image result for Free Picture of OatmealThe “tribulations and trials and distress and frustrations” of being human had filled the first hours of this day. As I ate my oatmeal, I felt guilty for sleeping late although health issues required extra rest right now. Irritated that negative thoughts, which had led to depression in years past, now swirled in my mind, I asked myself “Are these health problems going to drag me back toward the pit? I am doing the best I can, Lord, but it is really hard.”

“Lord, surely in this world we do have troubles, trials, distress and frustration. Help me be of good cheer, like You said, and to remember that You have overcome the world for me.” I paused. “Even though it surely does not feel like it today!”

Next, after 45 minutes at the computer, I hit save, bagged up the garbage to toss in the dumpster and headed out the door for my daily short, and slow, walk.

“I’m frustrated about the writing, too, Lord. You always give so many thoughts and I want to include so much of the Bible, but I read that people do not want to read long blog posts. And there are so many projects I want to write but my back cannot take long hours at the computer like before.”

“Oh, Lord! Forgive me for complaining! It is such a gift and a privilege to serve You and live for You.  I know You will guide, Lord, and show just what to do each day. Help me focus on Your truths and not my fears and frustrations!”

God speaks through nature. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2, NIV)

Image result for Free Picture of Neighborhood StreetI started walking slowly down the short street bordering my building, striving to put my heel down first, as the physical therapist had coached me to do, noticing again how the trees along the sidewalk formed a straight line all the way to the first intersection, which abutted the neighborhood elementary school. When I walked earlier in the morning, several men in work clothes stood together, waiting for a ride to their work, but by late morning, like today, it was just me and the Lord and an occasional cat, napping under a broken toy wagon next to the sagging and soggy yellow couch and the splintered bookcase.

My walk usually ended at the intersection but the wind blowing through the trees along the small, gravel track at the elementary school enticed me. I sidled through the open gate and walked to the green wrought iron bench. Still feeling tired and discouraged, I texted a friend whose husband was facing yet another surgery and another friend whose teenager was being, well, a real teenager.

As I looked, the wind kept moving the overgrown grass in rippling waves, fluttering the leaves of the trees, murmuring in my ears, bringing back the pure pleasures of childhood, like the feel of Florida’s sugary soft beach sand curling around bare toes,  the cool touch of the conch shell pressing  into my ear, and the sound of the ocean’s power echoing within its twisting chamber. Finally, I really looked. Finally, I started listening to God.

Who can know the path of the wind? Who can know the way of God? Part of Psalm 103 bubbled up from within: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” (NIV) 

“Lord, surely, I am indeed a blade of grass. Teach me, oh Lord, to “number my days aright” so I can live wisely. (Psalm 90:12) Help me remember that I am here on earth, and You are there in heaven, ruling and reigning over all things. Help me remember I cannot understand Your ways any more than I can tell which way the wind will blow next, like that verse in Ecclesiastes I memorized so long ago, that as I “do not know how the body is formed in the womb, so I cannot understand the way of God, the Maker of all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5). Help me stop trying to figure everything out, which I know makes me feel in control. Help me trust You when things seem to be going all wrong.”

Image result for Free Picture of Wind In WheatI looked intently at the grass. The green of the bottom two-thirds blended into yellow and pale brown, with dark brown spikes at the top of each stem, like mature heads of wheat, pulling the entire strand of grass over in the moments the wind was still. The up, then down, left, then right, then swirling patterns made the path of the wind visible.

“How many strands of grass?” I wondered, “cover this little track, the in-field, the surrounding areas up to the fence and then toward the playground. Thousands? Millions? Yet they all move as one when the wind touches them. Each blade is so fragile, but together they make a grand symphony of motion.”

The way of the word in the heart. “Oh, Father! Please help Your silly child. Help me get in the right rhythm with You again, to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galations 5:25). Help me return to depending on You and not my own strength to keep myself together. That is what I was doing the last few days, right?  Help me yield to Your ways and Your leading, just as these blades of grass yield to the wind and in so doing are beautiful. Help me yield, Lord! Help me trust! I trust You, Lord! Help me trust You more! “

“I know every single person also has loads of troubles, trials, distress and frustrations, just as I do. They are just different for each person. Help me honor You, Lord, in my individual life, this day, this hour. Help me be cheerful, and take courage and be confident, certain, and undaunted, as You told your disciples just before Your arrest and trial and crucifixion.  Help me remember that You have overcome the world and that it cannot harm me because You have deprived it of that power. Help me fix my mind on heavenly things and KEEP it set, because that is where my real life is, with You, not here on earth.”  (And set your minds and keep them set on what is above—the higher things—not on the things that are on the earth.” Colossians 3:2, AMPC)

When I got back home, I looked up the verse about the wind. “As You do now know the path of the wind or how the body is formed in the womb, so you cannot understand the way of God, the maker of all things. (NIV) Then I read verse 6.

Image result for Free Picture of Sowing SeedSow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”  

“Wow, Lord! Those two verses together mean to me that we are to work steadily each day, all day, because we do not know whether which one or all of our tasks will succeed any more than we can predict where the wind will blow next. Oh, help me, Lord, to do “whatever my hand finds to do” with all my heart, knowing I am working for You (Colossians 3:23 and Ecclesiastes 9:10).  Yes, Father, even if that is a morning of frustrating phone calls and an afternoon of doctor visits and errands. Let the deep meaning of Romans 8:28 resonate inside my heart. Assure me that You are a partner in my labor and that everything is fitting into a plan because I love You.”

“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 those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (AMPC)

“Remind me that You are a partner in my work. Help me live each hour with that awareness.”

“Help me remember that “the Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm” and that “though he stumble, he will not fall for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” (Psalms 37:23-24, NIV). And as the Amplified says You busy Yourself with his every step. That, truly, is remarkable!”

“Believe in the Lord your God and you will be able to stand firm. (2 Chronicles 20:20a) (NLT) As I tidied up before heading out the door, I saw my battered copy of the NLT open on the kitchen counter. From my daily Bible reading that morning, it was to open to the story of King Jehoshaphat’s victory over the combined armies of Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir.  Although Jehoshaphat was initially terrified to learn that the armies were surrounding him, he “begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting.” (2 Chronicles 20:3, NLT)  He stood before the people and prayed a powerful prayer in verses 6-12, praising God for His power, reminding Him of His promise to hear their cry, admitting their powerlessness and looking to Him for help.

Then “The spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men standing there” and Jahaziel told the people not to be afraid or discouraged  because “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v. 15) He said they only had to take their positions and stand still and “watch the Lord’s victory.”  Verse 18 and 19 records that King Jehoshaphat bowed low to the ground, as did all the people, and then they all worshipped God.

‘Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures forever.’ (Psalm 136:1, NLT) Early that morning, before troubles, trials, distress and frustration invaded my mind, I had drawn a box around verse 20, where Jehoshaphat had encouraged his people saying:.

“Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem. Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets, and you will succeed.” (NLT)

After that, Jehoshaphat had placed “. . . singers ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising Him for His holy splendor. This is what they sang: ‘Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures forever.’ (Psalm 136:1)

IImage result for free picture of jehoshaphat stood at my clean kitchen counter and continued re-reading the story. At the very moment they began to sing and give praise (emphasis added), the LORD caused the armies of Amon, Moab and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. (v. 22)” The story continued, telling that when the “army of Judah arrived at the looking point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.” (v 24).  

“Yes, I see that, Lord, and thank You! At the very moment they started to sing, You fought for them.”

I smiled, copied verse 20b on a folded piece of printer paper—”Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets, and you will succeed. I could memorize that much while I waited at the doctor’s office. I walked out the door, saying, from the heart.

“Oh, Lord! How I do thank You! Your faithful love surely endures forever. What wonderful things You do for Your children!  Thank You for Your Word, that gives such clear guidance and encouragement. Thank You for being with us each moment of every day, thank You, Lord, thank You, for . . . ”

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God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security

Image result for free picture of swords, guns and shieldsOverview:

  • God’s weapons for spiritual warfare.
  • Why these particular verses?
  • Why in this particular order?
  • How to use the key word sentences.
  • Why meditate?
  • Why memorize?
  • Why the AMPC?
  • God’s Word has power to change your heart and your life.
  • How does God’s Word change your heart?
  • As God’s truth increases in your heart, lies and darkness decrease.
  • A word of encouragement about meditating and memorizing.
  • God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security – List of Verses

God’s weapons for spiritual warfare. The power of God’s Word– the power of Truth–restored my mind after a long season of severe depression. According to Webster’s online dictionary, https://webster-dictionary.org/definition/arsenal, an arsenal is a “military structure where arms and ammunition and other military equipment are stored and training is given in the use of arms.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sample of How to Use Key Word Sentences

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

By the way, I did not deliberately put these verses in this order. Holy Spirit did that, by “accident” as I searched the Word! He is our perfect Teacher.

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

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

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

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

Why the Amplified translation of the Bible? Here is the description of the Amplified translation from www.lockman.org, the publisher.

“The Amplified Bible is a Literal Equivalent translation that, by using synonyms and definitions, both explains and expands the meaning of words in the text by placing amplification in parentheses, brackets, and after key words. This unique system of translation allows the reader to more completely and clearly grasp the meaning as it was understood in the original languages. Additionally, amplifications may provide further theological, historical, and other details for a better understanding of the text.”

Image result for free picture of dog with a boneTo meditate means to ponder, consider, to roll something over and over in your mind, and to work at it like a dog works at a bone or a cow chews her cud.  Compare the translations of Isaiah 26:3-4 below.

  • NIV – “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast in You because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”
  • NKJ – “You will keep in perfect peace Whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever. For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”
  • NLT – “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You. Trust in the Lord always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal rock.”
  • AMPC – “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord – commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him—forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting rock—the Rock of Ages.”

Picture of All Punctuation MarksYou will see that the Amplified has more words than most other translations.  These “extra” words—those set off in dashes, braces, brackets and parentheses –are shades of meaning that the original readers of the Bible would have automatically understood when they heard that word or phrase. Slowly, carefully reading these phrases in the Amplified is one way to meditate. It slows the mind down and guides the thought process. If I meditate on Isaiah 26:3 in the NIV or the NKJ, for example, I will come up with my own ideas about what “perfect peace” and a “steadfast mind” and “trust” mean, but the “extra” words in the Amplified are, I believe, the first thoughts we should  dwell on as we meditate on a verse or passage because they are, I believe, levels of meaning that God intended when He inspired the writers of Scripture.

So, using the Amplified has two clear benefits for meditation. First, it will force you to slow down and spend more time as you meditate. Second, it will help your meditation uncover more completely, in my opinion, what God is saying in His Word.

One clear example is the word trust in Isaiah 26:3-4. Isaiah 26:3 tells us to trust in the Lord and verse 4 defines trust in the clarifying words of the Amplified, the words between dashes. Verse 4 says “So trust in the Lord—commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him—forever. . .”  That means to me that when I see God use the word trust, He means “to commit myself to Him, to lean on Him, and to hope confidently in Him.”  Using my own thoughts, I did not think of those three layers of meaning.

I suggest you try using the Amplified translation to memorize. If, after a sincere effort, you are not blessed then use a translation such as the New King James or New International. I also recommend using the Amplified Classic edition. Later editions leave out some of the amplifying phrases.

God’s Word has power to change your heart and your life. The power of God’s Word will “fix” your heart no matter if your problem is addiction, anger, self-control, loneliness, depression, or fear. Then, as your heart changes, your life will change.

Image result for free picture of a judgeHebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is alive and full of power, and that it “judges the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (NIV) One thing that phrase means to me is that God’s Word in my mind enables me to discern, or to judge, whether thoughts and feelings in my heart are good or bad, true or false, beneficial or detrimental, holy or corrupted, whether they are from God or from the devil, and whether they lead toward life or lead toward death.

When I was deeply depressed and cowered down by fear, most of my thoughts were negative. The enemy and my own downtrodden heart generated thoughts and feelings of hopelessness and discouragement, day after day. Only when I began studying the Word for myself in my areas of need and then consciously kept those verses in my mind minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, did the healing begin.

The verses in “Your Basic Arsenal” are listed in the order in which I studied and then memorized them during that season. What I needed most when I first began was peace, so I kept repeating God’s promise to keep me in peace if I kept my mind fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3).  The truth of that Word made the lies in my heart flee, little by little. The light of truth chases the darkness of lies away, just as dawn chases the darkness of night away (Proverbs 4:18).

How does God’s Word change your heart? Here is one example of how the Word changes hearts. Whispering SilhouetteIsaiah 26:3 is true. It is a fact that God will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts are fixed on Him. (NLT) But the enemy tries to make us believe things that are not true. He tries to make us believe his lies, just as he did with Adam and Eve. I became and stayed depressed because, although I knew a lot of the Word, the enemy shot lying thought arrows into my heart, thoughts like “I will always feel bad and stay depressed. God cannot heal me. I am too messed up. I have wasted too much time. I have disappointed God, and He is mad at me.” If you hear something often enough, you can start to believe it, even if it is not true.

But because God’s Word is “alive and full of power,” it is active, it operates in our hearts, it energizes our hearts, and it is effective in our hearts. (Hebrews 4:12, AMPC). As soon as I heard even one short statement of truth (for example, God will never fail me in any way), the light that comes from that truth drove away some of the darkness–immediately. As I kept repeating that truth and thinking about it, pondering what exactly it meant, more light came into my mind and then my feelings.

As I searched the Bible for verses about peace, God led me first to Isaiah 26:3 and Hebrews 13:5. I started trying to keep the truths in those verses in my mind, by reading them repeatedly, then by repeating them over and over all day long, day after day, and thinking about them phrase by phrase, thinking about what each phrase meant, what each word in the phrases meant.

Image result for free picture of dawnAs God’s truth increases in your heart, lies and darkness decrease. When we meditate on God’s truth, truth and light start to take up more space in our thoughts than lies, so that truth becomes dominant, or foremost.  That is like changing undrinkable salt water by adding more fresh water until it becomes drinkable. Really, it is more like a desalinization plant because the salt, or lie, is actually removed, not just diluted!

I believe that is one reason God tells us, many times, to think about His Word all day long. As we keep His Word in our mind, hour by hour, day by day, we begin to think about life and situations like God thinks about them because we have more of the truth about life and those situations in our hearts. We start to walk in truth, to live in truth, to think like God and to act in a godly way.

As we keep diligently studying the Word, building up our library of knowledge about life as it really is, as God explains it in His Word, we grow up spiritually and grow stronger, and we fall for Satan’s lies far less often.

A word of encouragement about meditating and memorizing. You do not have to actually memorize the verses, although it will benefit you more to do so. You will find that if you ponder, think about, and puzzle over what each phrase means, you will nearly have it memorized without even trying. If you have an especially  hard time memorizing I urge you to give it your best effort, with prayer, for at least a week, with just one verse. If you really feel you cannot memorize, then do work faithfully to at least develop the habit of meditating on a specific verse or two each day, hour by hour intentionally rolling it over in your mind.

Image result for free picture of workbootsI heard a story about a man who worked as a laborer, with no way to pause and read the Word of God during the long hours he labored with his hands and back. But that man deeply loved God and the Word, so he memorized what he could of one verse each morning and meditated on that all day. The pastor who told the story said that man had a deeper understanding of God’s Word than many of the formally educated pastors and theologians he knew. The point, to me, is:  try the best you can, with all your heart, to study the Word and God will make your efforts succeed. Study Psalm 1 and selah – pause to think about what it says!

Remember the table below “God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security” is available as a printable Word document on the Books and More tab at www.wordsofhopeandhealing.com.

“Grace and peace to you from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 1:3, NIV)

Gods Arsenal for Peace and Security

Scripture Reference Key Thought – Memory Cue
Section One  
Isaiah 26:3 1. Peace
Hebrews 13:5 2. never fails
Isaiah 30:15 3. to return
Psalm 91 4. to the secret place.
Section Two
Lamentations 3:25-26 5.  God is good,
Genesis 28:15 6. He is near, so
Psalm 27:14 7. I can wait,
Isaiah 41:10 8. and not fear,
Psalm 94:12-15 9. And keep myself calm!
Section Three
John 16:33 10. I can be of good cheer!
Psalm 18:30-36 11. (because) God is perfect.
Psalm 1 12. I can think about Him all day.
Psalm 107 13. And I can thank Him.
Section Four
II Chronicles 15:2 14.  I will find Him
Philippians 4 15. as I rejoice, and
Psalm 103 16. and praise Him.
2  Chronicles 16:9 17. He longs to strengthen me.
See the “Books and More” page at www.wordsofhopeandhealing.com for a printable Word document of this table.

 

 

 

God notices you – always

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for free picture of child leaving school“Nana!”, he yelled. “I knew you were coming!”

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

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

A personal request

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

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

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

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

The next blog post, “The Arsenal of God’s Word” will give a list of Scriptures that will lead you toward peace and explain more about how the Word works in your heart.

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

 

 

God Promises His Presence IF. . . – Part One

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Crepe Myrtle Pink BlossomsAwakened by His presence. In the dim light of early morning, before the sun had risen above my line of sight with the buildings east of the window, I sat at my computer, tracing out green and brown intricacies of tree branches. Holy Spirit had woken me up early this morning. Half awake, at 6:30, I was simply aware of His presence, aware of being loved and aware I felt at peace. This early morning gift of a special awareness of His presence has happened several times since last year when depression and fear motivated me to desperately pursue God’s presence. It has happened at other times, too, most often when writing. However, this time, for many days I had been unable to feel His presence at all, much less that blessed intense awareness of His love for me.

Still enveloped in that peace that had covered me like a soft blanket while I was lying in bed,  I watched clusters of fuschia blossoms and seed pods at the ends of slender branches, swaying in the gentle morning wind.

“Hmmm,” I thought. “Only the branches on the edges of the trees catch the breeze, only those that reach out, like an unfurled sail.”

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of SailboatJust beyond the grasp of memory, I saw a motivational poster, an aerial shot of a solitary sailboat, sail hoisted, on a large lake, with something inspiring in large letters across the bottom, something like “If you don’t hoist your sail, you’ll stay stuck” only it was worded positively.

As I rocked in my desk chair, sipping iced coffee, I pondered how that paralleled reaching out to God. Although I am not a sailor, I know that even with the wind blowing hard, until a sail is hoisted, a boat will only drift with the tide and current. I pondered. . . God is always, always with us but until we reach out, we sometimes do not feel His presence.  Was that right?

How this little book grew. This book began a month ago as a short blog post that grew like Boston ivy! When I began writing, I felt close to God most of every day. But through the month, trials added up, and awareness of His presence wobbled. The times when I felt separated came more often until finally, I felt panicky and discouraged three days in a row, unable to feel God’s presence. That entire month I was working on this little book, studying and learning about His presence and His peace.

One blessing from that trial was discovering a spiritual emergency kit for finding the peace of God’s presence. As I reflected, I realized three simple things never fail to restore me to the secret place of the Most High:

  • Thanksgiving and praise,
  • Just talking with God throughout the day, and
  • Meditation on the blessed Word of God.

Details about the emergency kit are in a blog post entitled “My Spiritual Emergency Kit.” The goal of this little book about God’s presence is to bring deeper understanding of God’s presence and how to find and stay in “the shelter of the Most High.” (Psalm 91)

An overview. Listed below are the main points of this discussion. These are only a starting point for your own Bible study on this essential topic.

      1. What do we mean by God’s presence and His face?
      2. God tells us to seek His face.
      3. Basic truths about God’s presence.
      4. God promises His presence if we love and obey Him.
      5. How do we love and obey God?
      6. Why we sometime do not sense His presence.
      7. Hindrances to awareness of God’s presence.
      8. Lies from the enemy about God’s presence
      9. If you do not feel His presence.
      10. Do not give up no matter what or how long!
      11. Take courage!
      12. Wait with confident expectancy!
      13. “My deliverer is coming!’
      1. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY GOD’S PRESENCE AND HIS FACE?

Seeking the face of God means to seek His presence. A common Hebrew translation of “face” is “presence”. ( www.gotquestions.org) In this writing, when I talk about seeking God’s face or His presence, I mean seeking the conscious awareness of His presence. He is always with us, but the topic of this writing is being consciously aware of His presence.   Pastor and teacher John Piper says we do not seek God because he is lost. Rather

“. . . there is always something through which or around which we must go to meet him consciously.” (“What Does it Mean to Seek the LORD?” at www.desiringgod.org)

2. GOD TELLS US TO SEEK HIS FACE.

  • Seeking His face is a vital need.
  • He will help us.
  • Seek Him like David did.

The Bible tells us over and over to seek God’s face.  Psalm 105:4 says “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” (NIV)

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Seeking God“You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as Your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face {Your presence}, Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]. (Psalm 27:8, AMPC.) 

Seeking His face is a vital need. Notice that God says to seek His face, to ask for and insist upon His presence as our vital need, or something without which we cannot survive. Because this is clearly God’s desire, we can ask for help and be confident He will give it. I John 5:14-15 assures us about “the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”  (NIV) The wording of verse 15 in the Amplified Classic is even more reassuring.

And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge]  that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.”

He will help us. If God tells us to doImage result for royalty free clipart of i can do all things something, we can do it because His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), so we can confidently say with Paul “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13, NIV) That “everything” includes being aware of God’s presence. We may “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) We can call upon God for help because Jesus is our great High Priest who has “been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin.” (v. 15).

Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses. He understands our difficulties, and that includes the difficulty we have sometimes in doing what God says.

Seek Him like David. Read all 14 verses of Psalm 27 and see how David felt about the presence of God. In the first stanza (v. 1-3), David praises God and expresses gratitude to Him for taking such good care of him. In the second stanza (4-6), he expresses confidence that if he seeks God’s presence, God will keep him safe; and in the third stanza (7-12), David voices deep yearning for God’s presence. Finally, in the fourth stanza (13-14), David says He is confident He will see God’s goodness while he lives on earth, and he encourages himself and the listener to “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” God is everything to David. No wonder David longs to be in the presence of God!

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My spiritual emergency kit

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Emergency First Aid KitMy spiritual emergency kit.  Three tools are in my spiritual emergency kit. I use them when I lose my peace, that is to say, when I lose the awareness of God’s presence “. . . for He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). These three Bible-based tools are guaranteed to help us be conscious of God’s presence and His peace, no matter the circumstances. What are they?

  • Praise and thanksgiving,
  • Talking with Him, and
  • Meditating on Scripture

Why this post and why now?  I struggled this past month to write a blog post (that has turned into a small booklet) about finding the presence of God. The month began with walking in victory, feeling God’s peace pretty much all day. But then as trial after trial happened, peace and awareness of His presence wobbled. With each trial, I felt separated from Him for a longer time. Then came a series of progressively downward spirals that left me panicky and discouraged three days in a row, unable to feel God’s presence.

What was happening and why do we all need an emergency kit?

God must train us to keep ourselves calm in hard times. With the “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration” of this world (John 16:33, AMPC), we Christ followers must be able to keep ourselves calm.  This essential ability comes only with training. “Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law 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.” (Psalm 94:12-13, AMPC). 

He uses trials to trains us all. I believe God allows circumstances to press us hard sometimes . . .

. . . so that we will wobble. . .

. . .so that the effort to regain balance can strengthen us.

Image result for Wobble Board ExercisesBeing forced to work hard to regain our peace strengthens the mental and spiritual muscles that keep us walking in step with the Spirit (Galations 5:25) just as balance practice strengthens our body. Physical therapy for a broken ankle, which I have had, includes standing on a wobbly board (which is actually called a “wobble board”) so that injured muscles affecting balance must work harder. In doing so, muscles as well as nerve connections are strengthened.

God trains us all where we need it most. Losing conscious awareness of His presence tilts my world.  I believe that, in order to strengthen me where I am weak, God purposely withdrew awareness of His presence often this past month. And I say OUCH! But I also thank God, because it know it is necessary and it is turning out for my good (Hebrews 12).  God alone knows the human heart, and He knows just where each of us needs to be strengthened the most. Where do you need to be stronger?

Image result for royalty free picture of pruningGod also must constantly prune our flesh away (John 15:1-7). God had to shear off more pride from my heart this month. This entire past month, I labored to finish the piece about finding God’s presence, so I could pursue my own agenda—two books I wanted to get online and put on the Resources tab. But the little manuscript kept growing and growing. Instead of praying and asking God what he was showing me with the delay, I kept trying to do His work my way, according to my plans. Can you see the pride? God was training me to let Him lead in His work. He was also hacking off pride and stubbornness I could not see.

So, as the month went on, with trials steadily coming and being unable to find God even when I was writing, I grew desperate!  That showed me I needed a definite plan for what to do when I lost awareness of God’s presence and His peace.  I needed a spiritual emergency kit. As I prayed, I realized three simple spiritual disciplines never, no never, no never fail me!

Image result for royalty free picture of tabernacleGuarantee Number One: Thanksgiving and praise. In Psalm 100:4, God tells us to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” To me, that says we take the initial step toward God, or go through the gate, by giving Him thanks. Then, once inside the gate, we may draw nearer. As we praise Him, from inside the gate now, we may enter into His courts, where His presence is.

When I have lost awareness of God and His peace, I start thanking Him for what is right in front of me—being healthy enough to carry my laundry to the little laundry room, having all the clothes I need, not having to do the laundry by hand, etc.  As I keep thanking Him, He uplifts my head (Psalm 3:3), just as He did for David when he was fleeing from countless enemies, including his own son, Absalom.  I find His rest and then confidence in God replaces the fear (Psalm 3: 5-8).

Image result for royalty free picture of sweating person with cold drink of waterFeeling God’s presence after a separation brings such relief that praise follows automatically.  When someone gives you a cold drink on a hot day, you say thank you and then “Man, that hits the spot!” You talk about how relieved you feel. You are, in a sense, praising or appreciating and admiring that drink of cold water. So, when I feel separated from God I can  offer my sincere thanks to Him and then praise Him by expressing my appreciation for what He does and my admiration of who He is, just like I would verbalize appreciation for a cool drink. That, of course, gets my mind off my problems and I start thinking on the countless wonderfulnesses of God.

When a small child gets upset, a loving father takes that child into his embrace, and calms the child by getting his little mind on something else. In the deepest sense, I think I am like that.

Image result for royalty free picture of takling wit hJesusGuarantee Number Two:  Just talk with Him! It takes effort to develop the habit of constantly talking with God all day. In the little book “Practicing the Presence of God”, Brother Lawrence shows us how to do that, and he admits it was a challenge for him, too, at first. He said “. . . a little effort was needed to form the habit of continually conversing with God, telling Him everything that was happening. However, after a little careful practice, God’s love refreshed him, and it all became quite easy.” (The Practice of the Presence of God ,p. 14)

Simply talking with God, and especially out loud,  is one of the quickest ways I know to feel God’s peace. Yet so many, many times I forget and let my mind spin and spin, worrying or overplanning or whatever else is not worth thinking about!  I have learned, though, to just start talking with God about whatever is right in front of me.  If I try to think of something important or proper to say, the mind keeps on spinning. Like Brother Lawrence, I have learned to talk with Him about whatever I am doing at the moment. And sometimes it seems talking about the little things helps most.

I do not know why this “works” but God says He wants us to be at peace and He wants us to abide, or live with Him, constantly. This “just talking” with Him is, of course, one form of prayer, but for me it is separate from regular devotional times. I think this is one way to “Pray continually” (I Thessalonians 5:17, NIV)

Image result for royalty free picture of open ibleGuarantee Number Three: Meditate on His Word.  I have learned, the hard way, that if I keep a Bible verse in the front of my mind for even a few moments, I feel better. When attention is focused on the Word, there is no mental space left for negative feelings or problems. I either repeat verses I know or ones I am currently working on memorizing. For me, memorization requires repeating a phrase over and over and over yet again. And, as I do that, God gives more understanding than when I just read that verse or passage. But you do not have to try to memorize the verse or verses. Just think about them and turn them over and over in your mind, talking with God about what they mean.

God tells us many times in the Word to keep His Word in our conscious mind all day long. When I forget, feelings turn ugly and discouraging. But every time I get my mind on the Word, His Word successfully accomplishes God’s purpose in my life (Isaiah 55:11), because God’s Word is “alive and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12, NLT).

Image result for royalty free clip art of speech bubbleYears ago while in Al-Anon and before I knew Jesus, I learned that I can only think about one thing at a time, that I have one mind, and I can choose to think about good things or about bad. Learning that concept was necessary to survive that troubled time in my life. The same understanding helps me today.

We have to, of course, live daily life but while we work, exercise, drive, take out the trash or whatever we are doing, we can keep our mind on a Scripture.

Image result for royalty free picture of kitten in a carrierA personal example. While writing this blog post, I once again proved to myself the effectiveness of the emergency kit. I paused in the writing to take my new kitten to the veterinarian where I learned he still has ringworm, as well as another skin problem, will need two more weeks of treatment (after four weeks already) and there will be another big bill. I FELT deflated as I drove home, with loud meows all the way. However, in between the meows, while poking my finger through the carrier’s wire sides, trying to soothe the kitten, I chose to thank God that I had the kitten, that there was enough money to cover the expense, that cures had been discovered, etc.

Then, as we walked up the stairs, I just talked with Him about my fears and asked Him to help me have faith about it all. Finally, as I gave the kitten a treat and rested in the rocker, Holy Spirit and I returned to my current memory passage, Psalm 27, where it says “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress upon the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]’ He sets me securely upon my high places.” (AMPC)

“Lord, this is a time of testing and trouble but I know You are making me stronger through this concern about my kitten’s health and about finances. I know You are teaching me to stand firm and to keep moving forward with our life together, even though . . . “

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Holy Spirit, kitten and I had a peaceful evening together.

 

 

Think about Eden

“Think About Eden”

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Sunset over housesGod changes the world, twice, for you each day.

He dims the light

softens the sound

cools the air

and flames heaven with patterned colors,

all to delight your soul, calm your spirit, and give you rest.

As a tender parent, He blankets earth, and you, with soothing peace.

Stop. Still your hands. Let your Maker tell you of His love for you.

Pause in your rush to do. Listen.

He says “Be with Me” as He said to Adam and Eve in Eden.

Honor His love for you.

Pay attention.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Trees At NightLet Him show you how He turns green branches into inky black filigree.

Let Him delight your ear with birdsong and thrumming silence.

Let Him cool your skin with gentle whispers of wind that slide through the sheltering trees.

Breathe deeply. Take in the fragrances floating in cooler air.

Let Him give your body rest.

Simply stop. Open your heart and your eyes to your Maker.

And thank Him.

You will feel His presence.

You will know His love.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Sunset over housesIn the gloaming. I looked up, tapped my pencil on the slate-board in my lap, and smiled into the sky. Broad bands of carnation pink and dusty blue arched high above from east to west over the play area in the center of Marquis Apartments. From our second-floor balcony, I saw my daughter swinging with the daughter of our next door neighbor. This was my favorite time of day, next to the actual time I picked her up from daycare. We had come home, read two Dr. Seuss books, done homework, had supper and now, in the cool of the evening, in the minutes before the gloaming, I had a few moments to relax and watch her play.

As a believer only months old, I was devouring everything I could about God. Having not seen the light of God’s truth until the age of 29, I had experienced walking in darkness and I desperately wanted to stay close to this wonderful Jesus I had found. Reading a devotional called “God at Eventide” had taught me to stop and practice waiting for God’s presence. And, during that particular eventide, Holy Spirit had given thoughts that formed into words and more words as I wrote.

The poem “Think about Eden” flowed out, in less than ten minutes, with only a few crossed out phrases. Astounded, I stared at the page and reread the words. “Oh! Thank You, Jesus! Thank You, Lord!” I breathed quietly.

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“That is so beautiful, Lord! How did You do that?”

How God touches our mind. Well, dear reader, I am still pondering that question and similar questions thirty-plus years later. How does God put such clear thoughts into our minds? How does He give us ideas to solve problems, to do creative work, and to live our daily lives? How does He make His Word speak to us? How does He bring into conscious thought the precise Biblical principle we need in any given situation?

I may never know, but this I know. . . I will not fully understand this side of heaven just how God communicates with us so clearly but I know His Word is one powerful way.

When loneliness attacks, I hear “And behold I am with you and will keep watch over you with care. I will take notice of you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.” (Genesis 28:15, AMPC) When discouragement seeks to distract me from pressing on in my work for God and in doing all my daily tasks as unto Him, I hear “Wait and hope for and expect the Lord. Be brave and of good courage and let your heart be strong and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.“ (Psalm 27:14, AMPC).

There is a time . . . there is a season. . . As I thought how to wrap up this little devotional (so it would not spin into another little book, which by God’s grace keeps happening lately!), I thought of the verse” God has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiates 3:11, NIV). I thought of that because I had lost the “God Calling” poem over the years, one of the few pieces of writing I have ever lost. I tried to rewrite it several times over the 30-plus years since that tender evening with the Lord, watching my daughter play. But I never could get it “right.”

Well, for two weeks I have been working on a piece called “Finding God’s Presence.” So, today, with my mind soaked in thoughts about His presence, it was time to prayerfully attempt to recreate that long-ago “God Calling” poem. This version is not identical, but it is what my heart says now.

This version, at this time, is what I know of the beauty of simply waiting on God, setting aside time just to be in His presence, taking time to appreciate what He is showing me and letting Him have the pleasure of soothing me when I need it, just as I have had the pleasures of soothing my daughter and my grandsons. And just as their choosing to sit with me greatly pleases me, so I know my choosing to sit with my heavenly Father greatly pleases Him. Truly, everything is beautiful in its time.

Won’t you take time, today, to sit with our Heavenly Father and just let Him love you?

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When people get sick . . . give happy a chance!

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Quill PenNote from me to you: Because my family is now quarantining,  I decided to write something for my two grandsons. Imagine my surprise and delight when it just kept going and going. This poem is also available as a  ten-page printable book you can share with your own children or grandchildren.  The pictures print just fine, even if you use a black and white printer. To download your copy, see the Books and More tab on this website.

When People Get Sick . . . Give Happy a Chance!

There once was a time when folks just got sick.
Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of Big FamilyOh, my gosh! Oh, my golly! Oh, golly! Oh – ickkk!
The Mamas, the Papas, littles ones, too,
the Mimis, the Nanas and Gran Papas – phew!!

Folks had to stay in, to stop all the germs.
I’d just as soon eat a big can of worms!!!!
Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art Of Bowl Of WormsThis staying in thing, this going nowhere,
is a pain in the rear, in the old derriere!

This staying home thing is such a big bore!
Why, it puts me to sleep! Why, it just makes me snore!!!
Why, I’m so tired of this house, that I could just scream,
I just want to go out! Do you know what I mean????

I want to see friends, and to run and to play!Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Kids Running And Playing
What I really just want is a plain old plain day.
I want all the usual, the cool daily stuff.
Yeah, one day of old usual would be good enough!

Yeah, all the old usual, the things I thought plain
are gone, and old “Boring” – he’s all that remains.

                                Old Boring
Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of a TrapOld “Boring”, you say? Who is that old chap?
Why, the worst of the worst! A big old mean trap.

He’s the trap that could catch you and make you feel bad.
Why, if you are not careful He’ll make you feel sad!
He’ll tell you that good things are over, all done.
He’ll tell you you’ll never, no never have fun.Image result for royalty free clip art of pants on fire

But he’s a big liar! Don’t’ believe him! No way!
His pants are ON FIRE!!! Look! He’s running away!!
. . . because. . .
When you look with good eyes, when you look for the good,
You’ll see as you ought. You’ll see as you should.

                                So Many Good Things
Why, you’ll see that there’s still so many good things
Good ways to have fun, and the joy that joy brings. Rolling On Floor Laughing Clip Art Free
Why, you can laugh with your brother, your sister, your fish!
You can even cook up your best tasty dish!

Image result for royalty free clip art of child under a tree with a bookYou can sit in the grass in the shade of a tree.
And count puffy clouds! How happy you’ll be!
You can read the same books that you’ve read before,
and discover new things Yes! New things galore!
. . . because . . .
when you read a good book it makes your heart fly.
See the source image You’re free as a bird, without even a try.

                                    Good Books
Just relax and just read. Hear what the words say,
and the things they are saying will take you away.
You’ll go far away, to some wonderful places,
where people have joy and such smiles on their faces.

You’ll go to the stars, or maybe the moon,
and you’ll get there real fast, why, even by noon!
You may go by rocket, you may go by plane,
your may go the slow way by an old friendly train!Image result for royalty free clip graphics of a rocket to the moon

Your book, your good friend, will take you – it will,
to places you’ll love as you read and sit still.

Yes, sit still and just think of what the words say.
The words are like friends that just want to play,
friends just like Sally, old Fred or old Joe.
Good friends who play with you, who like you, you know?

Image result for Free Clip Art of Child Reading on CouchWith a nice couch to sit on, and a book in your hand,
you have such a good life! Oh my! It’s just grand!
And then staying home, will not be so bad.
You’ll think “What a good day! What a good day I had!”

Yes, if you’ll read a good book, or play some board games,
put together a puzzle, or make up fun names. . .
or create a fun house out of blankets and chairs,
why, Happy will find you, yes, quite unawares!Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art Children and Board Games

                                         Happy and You
Happy and you will find lots to do,
some things that are old, some things that are new.
And when you’re with Happy, all things are just fun,
and before you can know it, this day will be done.

You’ll tuck into bed, just Happy and you,
and you’ll have a good sleep, you both will, you two!
And then, why tomorrow, just guess who’ll be there,
Waiting and waiting with more fun to share.Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art Two Children In Bed

Yes, Happy will wait until you awake,
and then you’ll be off as quick as a shake.
Yes, off for more fun and funny things too,
for Happy will help you find new things to do.

And then staying home won’t be such a bore,
for Happy will always have fun things in store.

                                  How to Find Happy
So, “How?” you might ask, “Just how?” you might say,
“Can Happy stay with me, and play every day?”

Well, if you will just put your mind on good things, Image result for Royalty free Clip Art Two Children sitting Together
Why, Happy, old Happy, will make your heart sing!
Yes, Happy will come and sit beside you,
and play with you, friend, yes, all the day through.

So, just keep your mind fixed on things that are best
and let the old world take care of the rest.

You just decide, yes, make up your mind,Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of thinking
that Happy is something you really can find.
Yes, look for things good Don’t look at things bad.
And you and Old Happy – you’ll both be real glad!

            Time to go, but remember this!

Well, my dear child, my best-est book friend,
It’s time for this story to come to an end.
But remember, dear one, don’t ever forget,
that happy is something you always can get.Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of Hands Reaching for Smiley

But “How?” you might say, “Just how?” you might ask,
“Do I make myself happy? That’s a big and huge task.

Well . . .
You always can laugh, you always can smile,
You always can try, a little, a while. . .
then, Happy is there, down deep in your heart!

All you have to do is . . .
give Happy a startImage result for Royalty Free Clip Art of Happy Heart

Afflicted by an itch – for my good! Part Four of Four

Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of ConfusionConfusion leads to more confusion. In spite of the dizziness, I continued editing the manuscript, adding a comma here and removing an extra space, all the while pondering, “What does taking Your Word like medicine look like for me, Lord?” Still without an answer, I decided to review the basic passages I had memorized that had healed the depression and fear, my arsenal as I called it. I walked to the side table by the rocker and, underneath a yellow note pad, two devotionals and one Bible, found the nine sheet-protected pages binder-clipped at the left top corner. I reviewed each phrase of Isaiah 26:3, in the Amplified, until I could once again, as I had in previous weeks, repeat the entire verse to myself.

After lunch and an hour of lying down, trying to ignore the itching, I again returned to the manuscript, hoping to keep my mind off “the” problem. Instead, the buzzing whir of questions and fears intensified.

“Should I just stop the Prednisone? What if it is like an antibiotic and you are not supposed to. But it has not helped the itch that much, and I am not that dizzy. Well, I guess I am. Oh, what should I do?”

Then “Zing!” The enemy shot one of the poison-tipped arrows he uses against single believers. “Well, everything is so hard for you because you are alone. If you just had a husband, this would not be so hard.”

“Hmmph!” I said to myself, as I leaned forward, elbows on knees, gently pressing my temples. “Lord, as You say in Isaiah 54, You are my Creator and You are my husband. You are the LORD of heaven’s armies. You rule the entire earth. I will trust in You because I know You have always rescued me, and I know You love me. (Psalm 91)

Image result for Royalty Free Picture Of Sun Through Clouds\Trust brings clarity. Then came the clear thought, “Just call the pharmacist.” So, I did. She said, “Just stop taking it if it makes you dizzy.” I slid off the couch onto the floor, burying my face into the bumpy softness of corduroy cushions.

“Thank You, Lord, thank You!” Tears darkened an irregular circle in the cocoa-colored fabric of the couch.

“This is how I have handled sickness my entire life, isn’t it, Lord, even after I knew You? When I think I am catching a cold, I take two kinds of cold medicine, or more, to control the symptoms. Years ago when I was a runner, I tried orthotics, taping my arches, different shoes, extra stretching, strength training and everything else to “fix” my feet so I could keep running like I wanted to. When allergies began a few years ago, I began taking medicine every single day. Oh, sure, I prayed, and asked others to pray. I learned to anoint myself with oil, and to make declarations of health. But I was always trusting in something doctors could do or that I could do for healing.

And, Lord, I think I was afraid to trust You with my body. I panicked when I felt sick, and in the fog of panic, listened to the all or nothing lies of the enemy, lies like, ‘This is the start of a terrible sickness. You will not be able to work or do anything. You will be miserable. You must fix this now. Call a doctor. Get some medicine – quick! Hurry! You are in danger.”

I doubted You would really heal me. Forgive me, Father. I am so sorry. How could I have been so blind and doubted You so long? That must have deeply grieved Your heart when I subconsciously doubted Your love for me. It would be like Sharon thinking I was keeping good things away, when I did everything a single parent could possibly do.

I know from Your Word, Lord, that life is filled with troubles and You say rejoice because You have overcome this world. Yet, I also know that because we live in a fallen world we will have sicknesses and other afflictions of the flesh.”

With hips beginning to ache, I got up off the floor and sat on the couch. Sunlight blazed white off the blinds and dispersed into long slats on the oak veneer floor. The thump, thump, thump then slam as my upstairs neighbor returned home interrupted the squawk of a blue jay swaying on the branch outside the window.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Natural RemediesTrusting God first and using natural remedies. “Lord, obviously You are telling me to have more faith and to take Your Word like medicine. The only way I know to do that is refreshing my basic memory verses and adding more. I trust You, Lord, for more direction about how to use your Word like medicine. But I also think maybe I should just try natural remedies. I know people in Bible times used olive oil and other natural products for healing.”

Yesterday, my friend had texted to try ice packs and calamine lotion. Well, I disliked ice intensely and, although I had purchased calamine, it sat in the bag on the counter where I dropped it beside my purse when I returned home.

Now, I pulled an ice pack out of the freezer and winced as I applied it. In only a few moments, the itching began decreasing. I sat in the bathroom, gratefully relocating the ice pack to the itchiest spots. Next, I applied a thin layer of calamine lotion. In thirty minutes, the rash was nearly indistinguishable and the itch? Nonexistent.

“Thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord!” I kept repeating, as if I had just been pulled out of a raging river. “I appreciate it! That feels so much better.”

A few minutes later, my tummy growled. The enemy of our souls growled, too, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) However, this time, with a more sober mind and greater alertness to God’s voice, I resisted him and stood strong in my faith.

“Lord, You are healing the rash. The tummy upsets are no harder for You to heal. Nothing is too hard for You, as You say in Jeremiah 32:27. Please show me what to eat.”

In the refrigerator, I saw my two-day home-made chicken and vegetable soup, glad now that I had not thrown it out. When the itch and tummy upsets began simultaneously two days ago, I thought too much turmeric might have been the cause. For the last few weeks supper had been that soup with lots of onion and garlic and a big dose of turmeric, in a desperate effort to “fix” worsening allergies.

Image result for royalty free picture of healthy habitsOne problem, many messages. The small bowl of soup I ate settled just fine, no burping, no gas, no bloating. While washing the soup bowl, spoon, and the morning’s oatmeal bowl, another gentle thought came. “Large meals also cause GI problems.” It was not only too spicey soup. It was having two large bowls, as well as the rest of supper, then later a large bedtime snack, rationalizing I needed it to fall asleep. And, to be honest, self-pity often surfaced as I faced the night alone. A treat made me feel better, even though I knew lying down after eating often led to hiatal hernias, which often causes digestive problems.

Other thoughts flooded in about changes I needed to make for my health. I had gained ten pounds during the coronavirus lockdown because I whined that the gym was closed and I could not do my usual exercises. That had led to feeling stove-up, as my Dad used to say, and stiffer than I ever had. Bedtime had become irregular and too late, which led to arising after sunup, therefore missing the pre-dawn writing time that worked like a tonic every day.

Image result for royalty free picture of dad pointing finger Loving chastening, for my good. With deep gratitude, I saw that God had used the health problems for my good. They had taught me to depend on Him first for healing and to adjust some health habits. That would help me finish my years with good health, able to write and serve others, which was my heart’s desire.

A successful maiden voyage of a little ship of faith. Two days Clipper Ship Artlater, a bad earache helped exercise my new level of faith. As the right ear throbbed, I pulled my hair back and looked in the mirror. The outer edge of the canal was swollen and red.

“Oh, Lord!” was my initial thought. “Ears are really serious. How can I mess around with my ear?” But I prayed, with my mustard seed of faith (Luke 17:6), looked up natural remedies, applied ice packs and tea tree ointment (which fortunately was in the house already), sat on the couch and reviewed four more Scriptures in my arsenal until I could again recite them. After an hour or so came a measure of relief, and I went to bed, propped up to reduce fluid in the area. By midday the next day, the ear was remarkably better. Praise God! I knew healing did not always come so fast but, praise God and His great grace, it had this time!

I knew not to stop the blood pressure medicine but I could certainly make an, uh, honest effort to lose weight and exercise regularly again. Hmmm. . . maybe this could be a way to learn about long-term healing.

This light and momentary trouble (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) Regarding problems, perhaps there are a few basic lessons we believers learn—once we really learn them– and then spend the rest of life applying those lessons, by God’s grace alone, in new situations. I believe some of those lessons are:

[1] God is sovereign. (Psalm 113:1-6, Jeremiah 32:17)

[2] He loves us more than we can know this side of heaven. (John 3:16, Psalm 103)

[3] Everything He does and that He allows He will use for our ultimate good and the good of the Kingdom. (Romans 8:28, James 1:3-4, Genesis 50:20)

[4] He uses hard times to train us, and He does it because of His great love for us. (Hebrews 12:1-12, James 1:2-17)

[5] When we stray, He does whatever is necessary to woo us back to His loving heart and His safe pathways. (Luke 15, Psalm 107)

Image result for royalty free picture of path

[6] He will sustain us through any and everything, as we put our trust in Him. (Isaiah 26:3, I Peter 5:6-11)

[7] He died to give us an abundant life, on earth as well as in heaven, and it is His will that we live with love, joy, and peace each day. He will enable us to do that as we obey and trust Him. (John 3:16, John 10:10, Philippians 2:13).

God’s timing is perfect – ALL the time. That evening . . . “Lord, it is so funny how You hide things beneath all these books and writing papers until I have learned a particular lesson. When I first read “God’s Medicine Bottle”, I understood that Derek Prince taught that IF we give focused, reverent, and believing attention to Your Word, that Your Word will be medicine to us. But I somehow forgot how he said to take Your Word like medicine, so when I asked You I felt led to refresh my basic arsenal of memorized Scriptures, to add more Scriptures, and to meditate on Your Word even more all day long.

And now tonight, re-reading the book, I found where Derek said he “took” the medicine of Your Word by reading it three times a day, after meals, as you take other medicine.

So Lord, I am thinking this reading three times a day should be separate from other Bible study and reading, something I do specifically to seek Your healing. So, I think we should start with . . . The End

Image result for royalty free picture of woman on couch reading