Category Archives: BIBLE STUDY

God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security, Revisited – Part Two

In Part One, we were reminded that the truths in God’s Word are our weapons for spiritual warfare. Some Bible verses in particular will keep us in peace and feeling secure if we keep those verses uppermost in our minds and hearts. We considered the benefits of meditating upon and memorizing God’s Word.

Part Two covers the following topics.

  • 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

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 public domain picture of judge with gavelHebrews 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 public domain 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’s Arsenal for Peace and Security, Revisited – Part One

The power of God’s Word– the power of Truth–renewed my mind (Romans 12:2) after a long season of severe depression. Although I had known the Lord for many years, I did not have the habit of meditating on His Word all day long. This post and the next show how God changed that, and how easily He can do the same for you.

This is a reprinting from October 1, 2020, nearly four years ago.  Through all this time, meditating on God’s Word has kept me free from depression. For sure, there have been emotional dips and seasons of feeling discouraged and afraid. But every time I returned to the habit of pondering the truths of God’s Word all day long, God gave me “again a settled place of quiet and safety.” (Jeremiah 15:19, AMPC). He has a settled place of quiet and safety for you, too.

Part One covers these topics:

  • 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?

God’s weapons for spiritual warfare.  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?

How 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.

 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.

On the “Books and More” tab of this website you will find a printable document called “God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security.”  This list contains 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 bodyguard 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).

In Part Two, we will consider how using the Amplified Classic Bible can enhance your meditation and how God’s Word works to change your heart.

God notices you – always! – Revisited

Note: Dear friend, this blog post is a repeat from September 29, 2020. With all that is happening in our world right now, it is a reminder that I personally need.

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 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 pinecones.

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.

“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 years ago now, 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.

It is worth noting that meditating on God’s Word has kept me free from depression for nearly four years now. There have been brief times of discouragement and moments of despair when the path led through dark valleys and over mountains that looked impossible. But as I tried, no matter how feebly, to think on God’s Word, His Word never once failed to comfort and deliver.

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 two blog posts, “God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security – Revisited – Parts One and Two”  give a list of Scriptures that will lead you toward peace and explain more about how the Word works in your heart. Image result for free picture of bible study

 

 

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

 

 

Opportunities for great joy

In the early hours. . . I squinted, then squinted harder at the glowing red numerals. Four o’clock. Not drowsy at all. No chance of going back to sleep.

“Well, Father, You say in Ecclesiastes 5 that dreams come when there are many cares. I think it was some kind of dream that woke me up.”

I reached out for my phone and opened my audio copy of the Bible, knowing I needed to hear some psalms. For the next two hours, I lay in the dark, moving the heating pad from neck to back to ankle.

“Thank You, Father, that I can listen to psalms with my whole heart and make those words my own prayer. Thank You for all the reassurances of Your love for me and all the reminders of Your power for those You love.

Father, I cannot fix everything that has happened these last two weeks. I know the enemy seeks to push me into worry and fear and then depression. So I am casting all my cares on you. I will stay alert and resist him (I Peter 5).

Satan, I command you to get behind me and flee away! It is written that if I submit myself to God and resist you, you must flee (James 4:7) and I am submitting myself to God, trusting in Him and following Him with my whole heart.

I praise You, Father, that You are in me and You are greater than the evil one (I John 4:4). I praise You that all things are in Your hand, that You busy yourself with the details of the lives of those who live in right standing with you (Psalm 37:23). I thank You that You are my strength, my personal bravery and my invincible army! (Habakkuk 3:19).”

With that I got out of bed and began the day.

How to Fight Discouragement | Kelly LangstonEveryone is having “troubles, trials, distresses and frustrations.” (John 16:33) Revivals are breaking out across the country as God’s Great Awakening continues. God is exposing evil throughout the world. And the devil–“filled with fury because he knows his time is short” (Revelations 12:12)—is doing all he can to torment believers. You are not alone!

What to do “when we face trials of many kinds”? I know your tale of worries and woes is much like mine. Yet, the Word gives us light for our next steps and the path ahead (Psalm 119:105). So, what does God tell us to do when seemingly surrounded by troubles that seem to have no solution?

[1] Actively consider it all joy.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4, NIV)

The New Living translation says: “Consider it an opportunity for great joy. . . “  Although that is not how my feelings initially react when hard things happen, thinking on this Scripture stirs my faith and lets me say “God, I trust You in this. I choose to believe that You will use this for ultimate good.” Whenever I take that simple step, God’s peace starts bubbling up from inside. Obedience brings blessing (Deuteronomy 30:2).

So, I pray: “Father, I know this is an opportunity for spiritual growth. I thank You for the faith You have given me and for loving me enough to help me grow. Help me have the attitude You want me to have about it all.”

Image result for PUBLIC DOMAIN PICGTUR OF PRAYING HANDS[2] Present your specific requests to God.  Philippians 4:6-7 gives specific instructions not only about difficulties but about how to live every day. God says—in everything–rather than worry, to pray specifically, giving thanks to Him as we pray.  Then we will have His peace, which will protect our hearts and minds.

6 Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (AMPC)

So, I pray:

I present this situation to You, Lord. I thank You for the good things in this situation and I thank You for all the countless blessings Your pour on me every day. Thank You for salvation, for Your presence, for food to eat and clothes to wear, for the health You give me. Thank You that as I hope confidently in You, and keep my mind fixed on you, You will “guard and keep me in perfect and constant peace.” (Isaiah 26:3).

Image result for PUBLIC DOMAIN PICGTUR OF THE BIBLE[3] Remind yourself about some basic truths from God’s Word —meditate on the Word. God is very clear: meditating on His Word leads to prosperity and success. Yes, it can be hard to keep your mind on God and His Word when the distresses of life cascade one after another or when an affliction continues on and on, but consider these two passages:

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8, NIV, emphasis added)

And. . .

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.  But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-2, NLT, emphasis added).

God’s Word covers every situation you will face. Meditating on the Word is one of the best ways to obey Philippians 4:4-8 and fix your mind on good things.

So, I pray:

Father, I know You are working everything out for good (Romans 8:28). I know You will never fail me or leave me helpless in any way so I am comforted and I am encouraged and I say “with confidence, ‘The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT) I know that You have good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11) I know that You have put understanding and joy in my path and I will find them as I keep walking (Psalm 97:11). I know that You draw near to me whenever I draw near to You (I John 4:16).

Oh Father! Help me not lose heart, because I know You are working in my heart and that these troubles are light and temporary compared to the eternal things You have prepared for me. Help me fix my mind on unseen things, which are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

It helps immeasurably if you have the Word “hidden in your heart.” The verses you know will come to mind, like water gurgling up out of desert sand. For a deeper discussion of this topic, see the booklet “Diligent Meditation” on the Books and More page of this website.

[4] “Trust in the Lord and do good.”  Psalm 37:3 tells us: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.”  When hard times come, we are not to sit down and worry and give in to fear and dread. Actively trust God and go on with the next thing that needs to be done in your life. Seek out something good you can do for someone. Keep living the godly life God has called you to live. Trust God and do good.

Below is a link to an encouraging post about Elisabeth Elliot, the well-known Christian missionary and author whose missionary husband was martyred. When Elisabeth “. . . didn’t know which way to turn or what to do next. Elisabeth kept re-committing herself to trusting Christ, then she got busy doing the next right thing she knew that the Lord commanded in Scripture. Elisabeth didn’t let go and let God; she trusted Jesus and did good like Psalm 37:3 teaches. Her faith in Christ was active, not passive.” (For the entire post see Do the Next Thing: Elisabeth Elliot – Words of Hope (wohbm.org)

What if we are confused and do not know what is the next right thing?” God promises to direct our steps in life (Proverbs 3:5-6) if we trust in Him with all our heart. That includes times when our personal world seems to fall apart. He also promises to give us wisdom if we ask with faith (James 1:5-8). Another verse I lean hard on when I am confused about anything – what steps to take, which task to do first this day—is Proverbs 16:3: “Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.” (AMPC)

You know what a relief it is when someone strong takes a heavy package out of your hands. You lean forward, release your grip and suddenly the weight is gone. God promises: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:1, NIV). When I ask God, sincerely, to have His way with whatever it is, big or little, He promises to make my thoughts “become agreeable to His will” and to establish my plans.

Sheep Grazing in the Mountains at Sunset | Best Pictures in the World[5] Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture while you are doing the next right thing. I like how Joyce Meyer summed up this part of the verse. She says be bold enough to trust God and enjoy your life WHILE He solves your problems. As the years, and trials, go by (and they both do, you know) I am learning to let go of worry before I see solutions and enjoy the blessings that are right in front of me. Each trouble I go through teaches me more about God’s faithfulness and His loving kindnesses.

I implore you: prayerfully study Psalm 37. It is filled with reassurances about God’s faithfulness to help and deliver the righteous “because they take refuge in Him. (Psalm 37:40, NIV)

So what were my problems? Here is a brief account of experiences that led me to ask three questions.

Within Our Grasp | Jesus christ images, Pictures of jesus christ ...Opportunity to trust #l. Upon Whom am I really leaning?   When my car’s “Check Engine” light came on, I took it in for an oil change, which makes that light go off unless there is something else wrong. That shop (not my regular one) said the car needed struts and a UV joint. For $2100. But, they had a six months, same as cash program. I gulped, took the opportunity to witness to the young man and drove down the road to my regular car shop. There, the estimate was $1500 – but no payment plan. I took that chance to, as I have before, thank the young man at my regular shop for being honest, went home and prayed. And looked at my stash of cash and the savings account.

I could pay for the repairs but it would nearly wipe out my stash of cash and the savings, both carefully accumulated twenty dollars at a time, for years. I thanked God for the wisdom to have been saving regularly and for the honest car repair shop and asked Him to help me not worry.

What I learned (again) regarding financial troubles: I did not realize I was trusting in the money I had saved, rather than trusting God. As long as I had that stash of cash I felt I could make it a few weeks, if financial catastrophe happened. While it wise to have savings, I am to lean on God for all my needs, finances included. Because I am so very human, I often do not see that I am leaning on something, or someone, until that thing or person is removed. The problem with the car led me to start writing about these trials.

Opportunity to trust #2: Can I trust God when the enemy strikes my flesh? The next day, I woke up with a painful rash around my nose, where the CPAP mask sits. I also had a painful rash at the corners of my mouth. It hurt to even open my mouth. And the burning on the bottoms of my feet, long-standing, off and on, was nearly unbearable. All this on top of the usual aches and pains and other physical challenges so many older people have.

Mercifully, I obtained an appointment with a dermatologist the next day. He quickly diagnosed all three issues and gave prescriptions. It was a blessing that the other two rashes finally led me to see a dermatologist because I had struggled with the feet issue for many months, thinking it could not be athlete’s foot because there were no blisters or redness, as my father had had.  The face rashes cleared almost immediately but addressing the feet issue has required much time and energy and money – treating all shoes and socks, new shoes, special washing instructions for laundry and the feet, and on and on it seems.

Opportunity to trust #3: Can I trust God when the enemy hurts my loved ones? Just as I was beginning to feel more stable, one of my loved ones passed out, had to have CPR and spent four hours in the ER getting stabilized and receiving three units of blood. Doctors are now trying to find the cause. The next day I learned another of my loved ones is facing a job change and drastic cut in pay.

I have worked on this blog post since the problem with the car. Blessed I am to have instructions from God on what to do right in my hands. I know God loves my loved ones far, far, far more than I ever can, and I know He is working all things together for good. I know He is loving in all that He does. I know His mercies are new every morning. I know there is nothing too hard for God. I know God is good and His mercy and loving kindness never, never, no never end.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.  (Psalm 136:1-3, NIV)

Christian, know that God understands when things fall apart and you do, too. He does not get angry or criticize. Rather, He is “close to the brokenhearted.” His compassions are new every morning. He has the utmost tenderness toward you. “Great and abundant is His stability and faithfulness.” Meditate on Lamentations 3:18-26.

Jesus hugging lamb, so precious. Prophetic art. | Jesus christ images ...

A stained white garment

A Communal Communion | Pictures of jesus christ, Communion, Jesus picturesStained, again. “Oh, no! Not again!”

As I closed my Bible and put it on the side table next to the rocker by the window,  I looked down at the little spatters of burgundy on my favorite white everyday top. I must have, once again, held the tiny communion cup too close when I’d opened it.

There have been seasons in my life where I take communion at home with the Lord every morning. For years, I used grape juice and bread or crackers, but a few months ago I purchased a box of pre-filled communion cups and wafers, like those used in many, perhaps most, churches. The plastic lid covering those cups is hard to remove.

In other seasons of life, I have taken communion at home as the Lord leads like, for example, when I am deeply convicted of sinning against the Lord or another person in some way, like this morning or when I want to commemorate or  celebrate something with the Lord.

God cares very much about celebrating important things by doing something concrete, like the Lord’s Supper and meeting with Him at church on the Sabbbath day. Consider also the feasts, the festivals, all the altars He commanded to be built in the Old Testament. And how about the twelve stones taken out of the river bed of the Jordan to celebrate the miraculous crossing of the river described in Joshua 4:1-11?

God’s ways to deal with sin. I hasten to say that this is my personal habit, something Holy Spirit has put on my heart to do after I heard about it from others. There is no verse in the Bible that tells us we must take the Lord’s Supper each time we are convicted of sin. The blood Jesus shed on the cross paid the full price for sin once and for all. By faith in His sacrifice my sins are forgiven and forgotten by God. The practice of bringing a sacrifice for sin to the temple was for God’s people before Jesus came.

Then Jesus came to earth and fulfilled the Law with His life, and His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus made the way for us to be cleansed of sin and to have eternal life.

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” John 3:16, (AMPC, emphasis added.)

After Calvary, the age in which we now live, the God-prescribed way for believers in Jesus to be cleansed from sin as we go about our daily life is found in 1 John 1:9. God promises us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)

5 Reasons to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for LaundryGetting those stains out. So what happened to my favorite everyday top? I remembered a household tip learned when I was a secretary for the Sheriff’s Office. Once when a deputy—wearing a snowy white uniform shirt—was fixing a jammed stapler he somehow got blood on his sleeve. Another deputy retrieved hydrogen peroxide from the clinic, poured a bit on each spot and rubbed. As she kept rubbing the liquid into the fabric, the hydrogen peroxide foamed away the blood stain. Completely.

I see several spiritual lessons in that process.

[1] Sin is an unavoidable part of being human, just as accidents are. In Romans 7:14-25 the Apostle Paul describes his struggle with sin. If you have never studied this passage, read it over first in the NIV or the NLT, then do a thorough study. In this passage Paul explains that, although he wants with all his heart to do what is right,  his human, sinful nature always fights against that. Yet Paul rejoices that God, through Jesus, delivers him. Paul says,

“(v. 21) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. (22) I love God’s law with all my heart (23) but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. (24) Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (25) ‘Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: in my mind I really want to obey God’s law but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (NLT)”

I clearly remember the relief I felt the day I first understood the next verse, Romans 8:1.

“Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation [no adjudging guilty of wrong] for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1, AMPC, emphasis added).

 God does not condemn me for how my human nature reacts any more than He condemns me for how my physical flesh reacts when I fall and scrape my knee.

[2] God has prepared the way to deal with all our sins. When we genuinely repent and turn away from our sins and toward God, our sins are blotted out (Acts 3:19). We are born again, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3:1-21. Then, as we live this new life of serving God, as we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. How does that happen? As we saw earlier, when we confess our sins to God He forgives us. Look at this section of First John, which the NIV labels “Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness.”

(5) This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. (6) If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.

(8) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us form all unrighteousness. (10) If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.” (NIV, emphasis added)

General Ledger No. 1 Gold - NYPL's Public Domain Archive Public Domain ...[3] It is best to confess our sin immediately. Perhaps you have heard “It is best to keep short accounts with the Lord.” This pearl of wisdom comes from the Word. Leviticus 5:5 tells us “When you become  aware of your guilt in any of these ways, you must confess your sin.” (NLT)  Psalm 32:3 shows what happens when we refuse to confess our sin. “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.”(NLT)

If I had let that blouse with the grape juice stain sit in the laundry basket for a few days, it likely would not have come out. I had to interrupt what I had planned to do, find the prescribed cleaning agent, then take time to follow the prescribed procedure.

[4] We must be ever vigilant against sin. Whenever I wear my white blouse, I am extra careful about possible spills or stains and I glance down at it several times a day to be sure it remains unstained.

Once God cleans us up, He changes our basic habits and attitudes. He gives us a new nature, a new garment so to speak as He covers our sin with His righteousness. In the Bible, garment is a “symbol of covering, evil or righteous, defiled or beautiful.” (Interpreting the Symbols and Types, Kevin J. Conner, p. 144)

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10, NIV, emphasis added)

Once we are robed in His righteousness, we must watch daily to keep our garments clean, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12).

And look at what Jesus promises in Revelations 3:5:

“The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and His angels. (NIV)”

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, recorded his musings upon the purpose of life. He told us to keep ourselves pure, to keep our garments white.  In Chapter Nine, after Solomon concludes that good and evil, death and life happen to everyone, he says it is best to go ahead and live your life. “There is hope only for the living. . . ‘It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!” (Ecclesiastes 9:4, NLT). Then Solomon continues:

“Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart [if you are righteous, wise, and in the hands of God]; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments be always white [with purity], and let your head not lack [the] oil of gladness]. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-8, AMPC, emphasis added).

In Verse 10, Solomon counsels: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (NIV).

That says to me that I am to live my life, with joy, keeping my heart pure before God by living in the light that comes from understanding the Word of God. I am to keep my heart clean before God by confessing any sin as soon as I am aware of it.

Washing with the water of the Word works. After rubbing out those stains on my blouse, I laid it across the back of the couch to dry out before putting it in the laundry basket. When I got back from errands, I picked up the blouse. I looked at every inch and could find no trace of stain. It was completely white. Consider these verses.

(25) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her, (26) So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, (27) That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. (Ephesians 5:25-27, AMPC, emphasis added).

            Selah, oh my soul, selah! God loves me so much that He compares me to His bride. God has made the way—despite my frail human flesh—for me to be holy and without blame in His eyes. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14, KJV).

Everything We Need, Part Two

Jesus and NicodemusReview of Part One: In Part One, we looked at the first three verses of the first chapter of Second Peter. We learned that, through having a personal relationship with Jesus, God has already provided everything we need for life and for that life to be godly. In Part Two, we see how He does that and how we are to respond.

His exceedingly great promises.  First, go back and re-read the first three verses of 2 Peter chapter one. Then read verse 4:

(4) By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape (by flight) from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed) and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature. (AMPC)”

In this verse Peter tells us that the cause of the moral decay filling the world is lust and greed. However, we can flee away from that and share in God’s divine nature through the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives. God has given us His very great promises because of His glory and His goodness. Look closely at the first three phrases in the next verse, verse 5.

(v. 5) For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop. . . 

That phrase “For this very reason” points back to verse 4. Peter says that because of the great promises God has given us, we must make every effort, which means be diligent, to add godly qualities to our faith. Then Peter lists seven qualities that we can – and are supposed to — develop in ourselves. We develop these by God’s grace of course, but it requires our effort or it will not happen.

To reiterate, Peter says God has given us all that we need to live a godly life and the way to live that godly life is to flee the world’s corruption by participating in the nature of God. We do that by diligently exercising our faith and continually growing in Jesus, which means developing godly qualities.

What qualities should we pursue? Verses 5 through 7 list the godly qualities Peter says we can develop. We are to add to our faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. Putting each phrase on a separate line makes the process of how to acquire these qualities easier to see.

 “For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort

  • in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy),
  • and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),
  • And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control,
  • and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance),
  • and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),
  • And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection,
  • and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.”

 The process of developing godly qualities. Do you see the pattern? As we exercise, or use, one quality, we develop another godly quality, another attribute of the divine nature. “In exercising _________ develop ________.”

Image result for public domain picture of mans strong armsWhen we obey God and exercise, or use, the small bit of spiritual muscle we have, God develops that muscle. As that particular spiritual muscle develops—in response to our using it–the spiritual muscles and tendons around it also grow and another good quality starts to grow. And on and gloriously on!

A good comparison is physical exercise. Let’s say I’m a high school gym student. The coach says he is sure I have potential as a distance runner. I have faith in him, so I add to my faith in what the coach told me by starting with what I have. I diligently, industriously, start running every day. As I continue exercising my faith in what the coach told me, I develop strength, in general, in several body systems and muscles. As I continue running daily, my legs become stronger. I see (or the coach tells me) I must also do strength training to develop my quadriceps muscles so my knees will stay strong. I do that and next the coach assigns exercises to strengthen my hips and on and on until I have a well-trained runner’s physique.

Or consider someone who wants to have strong arms. I start with biceps exercises and those biceps muscles grow as I diligently work out, week by week. While I am developing my biceps, the triceps are also affected. Next I add triceps exercises. Next come the shoulders. And on and on until all muscle groups are strong.

Why do we need to develop these godly qualities? The answer is simple: these qualities will keep us from being idle or unfruitful, both of which are dangerous spiritual conditions. Look at verse 8.

(8) For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Notice we must develop these godly qualities and then keep on developing them. These qualities must “increasingly abound.” God puts a stern warning in Verse 9 for those who do not keep growing.

(v. 9) For whoever lacks these qualities is blind [spiritually shortsighted] seeing only what is near to him and has become oblivious [to the fact that] he was cleansed from his old sins.”

Do you remember how many times in the Old Testament God had to punish the Israelites because they lost sight of what He had done for them, could not see clearly Who He was and turned to their old ways of living?

Remember that God has already made the way for each of us to develop these qualities. God equips us for everything we need to live a godly life. If we fail to develop spiritually, we harm ourselves. Greatly. We remain spiritual infants, weak creatures and easy prey for the enemy of our souls. Our spiritual infancy requires that someone else carry us, feed us, and put up with our immature behavior.

Do you want to avoid stumbling and falling?  God gives us a priceless promise in verse 10. He says if we work diligently to develop those godly qualities, we will never stumble or fall.

(v. 10)  “Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall” (emphasis added).  (The NLT says “fall away.”)

Paradox Principles: The Stumbling Man

That “because of this” at the start of verse 10 connects this verse to those that came before. Because of the great potential that awaits us in God’s promises, we should be eager to do what God says and work diligently to develop God-like qualities. God does not promise a life free of problems, in fact Jesus says quite the opposite in John 16:33. However, God does promise we will be able to keep walking safely with Him. And it will be with joy and all the other results of having an intimate relationship with Jesus (Galations 5:22-23).

(v 11.) “Thus there will be richly and abundantly provided for you entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

The Enduring Word Commentary has this note about 2 Peter 1:11: “Peter here reminded his readers of the great reward of a calling and election made sure. They would enter heaven gloriously, not as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:15.)”  Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and meditate on that warning.

Be stirred up. Friend, may we be reminded about these things and stirred up “by way of remembrance”, as Peter wanted us to be. Peter said, “I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle (tent, body) to stir you up by way of remembrance.” (2 Peter 1:12, AMPC).  May we diligently exercise our faith so we may become strong and develop every godly quality.

Godly qualities will save us from the darkness of our present world. And we will shine like stars in that darkness. As the apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:14-16:

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves].

That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (fault-less, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world. ( AMPC)

Stars - Long Exposure 4k Public Domain Video - YouTube

 

Everything we need

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3, NIV, 1984)

For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).  (2 Peter 1:3, AMPC)

We already have everything we need for. . . . I watched Lily closely. She had just started her morning catly ablutions, thoroughly licking one slender paw, rubbing it over and over the right side of her face, then more licking and more rubbing until that side of her face was satisfactory, then repeating the process on the left. Next came her shoulders, then tummy which required an awkward posture and finally her hind parts, rear leg straight up in the air in the most undignified way.

“Hmmm, Lord,” I reflected, “You have given my little Lily and all cats everything they need for life, everything they need to take care of themselves. Either their mother, instincts or both teach them to keep themselves clean, to hunt and eat food, to socialize, to reproduce and to raise their young. I know that their grooming keeps their coat healthy by distributing oils, removes dirt and pests, calms them down and, if necessary, cools them. You’ve given them everything they need for life . . . ”

I paused a beat, then smiled.

“. . . just like You have given us everything we need for life and godliness through Your very great and precious promises. Let me see, where was that verse? I still remember the jolt of power in those words the first time I understood them. . .”

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3, NIV, 1984)

Background of our text: First Peter was written by Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus, to a group of Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Peter urged them to remember what Jesus did for them and he encouraged them to live holy lives. He gave instructions for living a holy life in a sinful world. Second Peter was written to the same group of Christians who were then in “danger being confused by false teachers. Peter reminds the Christians that the best way to resist false teachers is to grow in the knowledge and practice of the Christian faith.” (NIV 1984, Introduction to 2 Peter.)

The headings in the 1984 NIV show that Second Peter covers these topics:

  • Making One’s Calling and Election Sure (the section we will focus upon),
  • Prophecy of Scripture,
  • False Teachers and Their Destruction, and
  • the Day of the Lord.

Old stuff | Old keys, Vintage keys, Old fashioned keyKey point: It is just as important to live a holy life today as it was for believers sixty years or so after the death of Jesus, when this book of the Bible was written. The way to live a holy life remains the same. Furthermore, verse 9 contains the clear warning: if we do not have the qualities listed in verses 4 through 7, we are short-sighted spiritually and have forgotten what Jesus has done for us. But if we develop those qualities, we “will never fall. . . and will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (v. 10-11, NIV)

Our text, 2 Peter 1:1-12.  Take time now to read the first chapter of Second Peter, then re-read verses 1-12 slowly. Here is a summary of what I believe Peter is saying in verses 1-3.

(Verse 1). I, Peter, am a servant and special messenger of Jesus, and I am writing to believers, those “of like precious faith.”

(Verse 2) I say to you believers “May you have even more grace and peace, which you will be able to obtain through knowing Jesus, which means to know Jesus fully, personally, precisely and correctly  .. .

(Verse 3) . . .  because through knowing Jesus we will find the power God has already given us for living a godly life.

"We are all just walking each other home." (With images) | Pictures of ...In other words, God has put abundant grace and peace and total provision for a godly life in the pathway of knowing Jesus, of being one with Him. And knowing Jesus means knowing Him “fully, personally, precisely, and correctly.”

A more detailed look at verses 1-3. Let’s turn to the Amplified Classic Bible (AMPC) for a deeper look at these verses.

1. “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle (special messenger) of Jesus Christ to those who have received (obtained an equal privilege of ) like precious faith with ourselves in and through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:”

First, Peter reminds his readers that he is a disciple of Jesus and also an apostle. Peter says he is writing to fellow believers. He tells them that, as believers, they share the same privilege of having faith like his if they live in right standing (righteousness) with God. They have that privilege because of the right standing Jesus had with God the Father.

2. “May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” What a prayer!

Grace and peace. Most of us have heard that grace means God’s unmerited favor, a truth we need to be ever mindful of. But how often have you considered what God means when He says peace?  Look at what the phrases in the AMPC tell us peace is:

  • perfect well-being,
  • all necessary good,
  • all spiritual prosperity, and
  • freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts

Notice God says perfect, or complete, well-being. Webster’s 1828 online dictionary says wellbeing means welfare, happiness, prosperity. Peace also means we will have “all necessary good.” Remember that God promises in Psalm 84:11 that He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly (KJV). This peace God is talking about also includes having all we need to be spiritually prosperous or successful. Lastly God’s peace means we can be free from fears and agitating feelings and conflicts. As someone prone to insecurity and anxiety, I especially treasure that fact.

. . . be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. And how do we get that grace and peace? The NIV says “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”. Gotquestions.org says the following about knowing Jesus.

“When people speak of “knowing” Jesus, they refer to having a relationship with Him. Being a Christian is more than knowing about Jesus; being a Christian is knowing Him personally. Jesus spoke of the need to know the Savior when He prayed, “This is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.” (John 17:3).

The AMPC expands upon what a relationship with Jesus looks like with the following words “in [the full, personal, precise and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”  You no doubt have some people you know a little bit, but not fully. We are to have a full, complete relationship with Jesus, holding nothing of ourselves back from our wonderful Savior Who held nothing of Himself back from us. The next word, personal, speaks of our private life, what we do and with whom, and how we feel.

Precise and correct are the next two words used to describe what our relationship with Jesus should be. Precise refers to how detailed or specific something is whereas correct means being right or lining up with a standard.  To me, these two words mean we are to take great care about the details of our relationship with Jesus and that our relationship should be based on the truths of God’s Word.

Consider the religious leaders in the time of Jesus. They were precise in their attitude about man’s relationship with God, having rules about the little details of life such as how many steps they could walk on the Sabbath, but they were not correct, because as Jesus explained, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27, NIV)

Verse 3. “For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that are [requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).” 

The first word in this verse—for—is not in the NIV nor the King James. These connecting words in the AMPC help me see cause and effect and connections between ideas. That “for” in verse 3 tells me that verse 3 explains verse 2.  In verse 3, Peter says God’s grace and peace will be multiplied in us as we walk with Jesus because God has already put everything we need for living a godly life in the pathway of knowing Jesus.

Crowns – Royal ExhibitionsGod, in His divine power, has already bestowed, or given, us everything we need for our life and for that life to be godly.  Bestow means to give something to someone or present it to them. A queen could bestow knighthood on a man but if that man did nothing with it, what then? You can place a bowl of food in front of someone, but if they do not eat, what good does your bestowing food on them do?

A theme I see repeated throughout the Bible is that believers are to act like believers in our daily life. If we have faith but do not do anything with it, our faith is dead. James 2:14-26 gives clear teaching on the necessity to put shoes to our faith. Notice especially verses 17–“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”– and verse 26 — “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” ( NIV).

Another theme present throughout the Bible is God’s charge to us to pursue continual spiritual growth. We are to follow Paul’s example and press on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1-3). God tells us to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11), which means we are to take action regarding something He has already provided. We are to clothe ourselves with humility (Colossians 3:12), pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and on and on we could go with things God tells us to do.

How has God given us all we need for life and godliness? Look at the second half of verse 3. “Through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). God has already given us all that we need and the way to get that is through that full, personal relationship with Jesus. As we come to know Him, we perceive His glory, His true nature, not what others may have told us or what we thought. We also come to understand (at least a tiny bit) how wonderful He is. Awareness of these truths will draw us, or call us, to Him as surely as flowers seek the sunlight.

A Wife Who PraysA question to ponder: God has given animals, including my Lily cat, the means to take care of themselves. What would happen if Lily did not eat the food I put in her dish, or if she did not groom herself? Please show me, my beloved Heavenly Father, how to perceive and fully use all that You have bestowed upon me for living a life pleasing to You. Amen.

Part Two: In Part Two we will start with 2 Peter1:4.

By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed) and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.” (AMPC, emphasis added.)

Read the entire first chapter of Second Peter, again, and see what Holy Spirit shows you the second time through.

Are you still praying for Israel?

Image result for public domain free picture of newspaper and cup of coffeeSo much is happening in our world. So much is happening in our world, the pace of events is accelerating, and much of what is happening seems horrible. But be encouraged! Yes, seemingly terrible things are happening “but our God is in heaven. He does whatever pleases Him.” (Psalm 115:3, ESV). God is still and will always, always, always be sovereign. He is allowing some evil things to be exposed, and He is allowing that for many reasons.

For a Biblical view of what is happening, and to help keep your heart safe in His peace, I recommend watching Victory News (https://victorynews.govictory.com, daily at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.) and Flashpoint (https://flashpoint.govictory.com, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00 p.m.).  Another truthful and up-to-the-minute source for news from Israel is www.jerusalemprayerteam.org.

So much to pray about! There is much for believers to pray about and trust God for. Two especially helpful resources for prayer are the “Give Him 15” daily podcasts by Dutch Sheets and the Intercessors for America website. One thing we must pray about is Israel.

God tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they prosper who love you [the Holy City]!
May peace be within your walls and prosperity within your palaces!
For my brethren and companions’ sake, I will now say, Peace be within you!
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek, inquire for, and require your good. (Psalm 122:6-9, AMPC)

And God promises to bless those who bless Israel.

And I will bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves]. (Genesis 12:3, AMPC)

Are you still praying for Israel? The world was horrified when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7 of last year. And Satan is still attacking Israel through Hamas and through  stirring up world-wide anti-Semitism. We need to pray for the protection of Jewish people world-wide. We also must pray for the enemies of Israel. Read Genesis 12:3 again and notice – God says He will curse those who curse or use insolent language against Israel.

And we must pray for the nation of Israel, that God will cause the enemies of Israel to be defeated (Deuteronomy 28:7), that Israel will totally destroy Hamas. Victory News includes a daily update from Israel where you can hear what is really happening.

IDF soldiers operating in Gaza. | IDF soldiers from the Naha… | FlickrAn important prayer for Israel. The military arm of Israel, the Israel Defense Force, needs our daily prayer. In 2005, I was privileged to visit the Holy Land. While there, I learned the powerful prayer below. Will you join me now in praying for the IDF?

God of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, may You bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Force who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the great sea to the approach of the Arabah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

May Hashem cause the enemies who rise up against our fighters to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, blessed is He, preserve and protect our fighting men and women from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, may He lead our enemies under their sway, may He grant them salvation, and may the Scripture be fulfilled for them that says, “For it is Hashem your God Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.”  (Deuteronomy 20:4). Now let us respond, Amen.

How to help in a concrete way. The Israeli people also need our financial support. There are many organizations helping Israel. One such organization that I trust uses the money for helping Israel, not for personal gain, is www.jerusalemprayerteam.org.

Every prayer and every dollar help. I must ask myself, “Am I doing my part?”

Israel Flag Wallpapers - Wallpaper Cave

God says: Soar!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Similarly, in Isaiah 40 we hear God ask:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. (Philippians 2:13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://rb.gy/pm0gtn

Mount up with wings as eagles by DraytonShores on DeviantArt

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

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

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

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

 

God earnestly waits – Conclusion (Part 9)

The Power of God - YouTube

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

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

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

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

In Parts One through Eight, we:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATEMENT OF FAITH - The JourneyI have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.” (AMPC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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