Category Archives: DAILY LIFE

Little paper hearts

“Oh no!”

I stopped shaking out the bunch of artificial white carnations and lilies as I leaned over my second-floor balcony, watching three rosebud pink paper hearts spiral and flutter all the way to the ground, as concerned as if I had just dropped the ruby ring my daughter gave me down the sink.

I ran, well at least I moved fast, to retrieve those three little paper hearts. They had nestled in the vase of white flowers next to my kitchen sink for nearly four years, extras from when I worked part-time in the children’s department of our church. Four years ago, God was just beginning to draw me out of the pit of deep depression.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. 19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:16-19).

Read all of Psalm 18 and take time to thank God for something He has rescued you from. Understanding how God fights for us is deeply comforting.

The messages on those paper hearts. Three messages are printed in the center of those little hearts:

  • God made me and He loves me.
  • God listens to me and He loves me.
  • God takes care of me and He loves me.

Pondering Bible truths such as these day and night (Psalm 1), healed depression and gave me a new, undepressed mind (Romans 12:2) when nothing else worked.

Constant reminders.  We all have our weaknesses. Some of us, like me, need reminders all day long to depend on God and not worry. Some of us, like me, need reminding that no matter how I feel, I am not alone. That’s why those little pink paper hearts reside in that vase of flowers by my sink. What do I think of when I read those three little messages?

God made me and He loves me. In Psalm 139:13-16 David talks with God about how God created him. David says to God:

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

Verse 16b says “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” How comforting to know that our all-powerful God has our life planned and that His plan is for our good.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

“. . . And He loves me” In verses 17 and 18 of Psalm 139, David gives us another detail about the way God loves us – He thinks about us all the time.

“How precious to me are your thoughts,] God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.”

I can only echo The Enduring Word commentary: “David was filled with amazement and adoration by considering how God knew and cared for him. It is precious that God should think of us at all; it is beyond precious that He would think well of us and think so often of us.” (emphasis added)

God takes care of me and He loves me. I have an extremely hard time writing about the phrase “God takes care of me.” Why? I have too much to say! Since April 1981, when I gave my heart to Jesus, God has abundantly supplied all my needs “according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NIV). He truly has never, no never, no never failed in any way (Hebrews 13:5-6, Joshua).

By God’s grace, when I was saved I determined to put my relationship with God first and to obey Him fully. Everything else—every day of the past forty-three years–followed from that. God continues to give steady spiritual growth, heart and body healings, and miraculous provision of every physical, mental, emotional and spiritual need. All it takes is loving God above all, obeying Him, and serving Him with your whole heart.

Consider now Hebrews 13:5-6. Verse 5 tells us to love God first, more than material things, and be content with where we are and what we have. Why? God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is, promises to never fail us in any way. I highly recommend imprinting these two verses on your heart by pondering on them.

 Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down ]relax My hold on you)! ]Assuredly not!]

So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?

Image result for public domain picture of father listening to childGod listens to me and He loves me. Many years of seeing God do personal miracle after personal miracle has built up my faith. From the miracle of courage and strength for daily life to miraculous physical healings and provision, He has never failed. Yet, being human, sometimes dark clouds of loneliness and self-pity close in, threatening a destructive emotional storm. Though surrounded by loving family and friends, in moments of special stress or fatigue, the enemy sometimes flings flaming arrows of thought. “You are all alone. No one really cares. How could they? You are such a mess, you are . . . “

By grace, I’ve learned to quickly identify the voice of the enemy. When thoughts like that come, I say “Satan, it is written in James 4:7 that if I submit myself to God and resist you, you must flee, so I command you to flee now!” Then I immediately turn to praising God and keeping my mind on Him. “Father, thank You that You are far greater than the enemy and that You are in me, Your Spirit is giving me all I need for life and godliness. You are keeping me in complete and constant peace because I am keeping my mind fixed on You. Thank You for teaching me Your Word. Thank You that I live in America where I can have a Bible and worship You in freedom. Thank You for my family, for food to eat, clothes to wear, a car to drive. Thank You for the bird I hear chirping outside. . .”

This has never, no never, failed to restore my peace. Try it.

Another weapon against the poison of loneliness is Genesis 28:15.

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

Keep the truths in this Scripture in mind as you go about your daily life and simply talk with God about whatever you are doing. Be aware that He is listening—all day long—specifically to you. You will find it helps you feel His presence.

Returning to whole-hearted seeking. Jeremiah 29 contains a warning and a precious promise about God’s mercy toward us. Jeremiah 2­9 is a letter God wrote through Jeremiah to the captives exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem because of their wickedness and unrepentant idol worship. In the first nine verses, God told the captive Israelites to settle down and work for the good of the place they lived (Babylon) because “its welfare will determine your welfare.” (V. 7b, NLT). God told them they would stay in Babylon 70 years, which was until their punishment was completed. (Notice how God is taking care of them, even while they are being punished, by telling them how to have a better life.)  In verse 10, God promises that after 70 years He would return them to Jerusalem and “do for you all the good things I have promised.” (v. 10b).

And then comes the well-known verse, Jeremiah 29:11: “11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” (NIV). Especially notice verses 12 through 14.

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

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

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

God reassures His rebellious people that He has good plans for them, and that their final outcome will be one where they love Him whole-heartedly and find Him as well as enjoy freedom again.

This teaches me that I move toward captivity –to my fleshly nature and/or Satan–when I start depending on or loving anything more than God. I make that thing an idol. It also teaches me that God is ever ready to deliver me when I seek Him with my whole heart, as if my very life depended on Him, which it does.  God brings me back to Jerusalem, to the beautiful condition of the heart that comes from peace, when I call on Him whole-heartedly.

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

Free Bald Eagle Perched on Tree Branch Stock PhotoFather, thank You so much for teaching us how to stay in peace. Thank You for Your clear guidance in the Word. Please forgive me when I give in to doubt or fear. Thank You that You are growing me up and those times come far less often.

And from Psalm 91 I say, Lord, help me always dwell in the secret place so that I can remain continually under the shadow of Your great wings. Remind me to say of You, “The Lord is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!” (AMPC)

When I do that, Lord, I know You will cover me with Your feathers, just like a mother hen fiercely defending her little chicks.

And when I am under Your wings, I will be able to snuggle in close and find the trust and refuge I so desperately need.  Truly Lord, Your “truth and faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.”

 

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 ...

How many roses has God given you?

His love gifts are everywhere. Predawn coolness filled the room. I closed my eyes, relishing the feel of it on the bare skin of my arms. I pressed my palms around the mug of tea just the right temperature for sipping. Inhaling the cool air deep into my lungs, I put the tea on the window ledge and picked up the pencil, ready to continue my journaling with the Lord. My eyes paused, finally, on the profusion of pink roses swaying just outside my window. That’s when conviction came, that piercing within as you realize you have hurt someone you love most dearly,

“Oh, Father! I am so, so sorry! Forgive me! I remember the thrill of first seeing that this wild rose bush had climbed all the way to my second-floor window, letting me see two roses while sitting in this very chair. That delight lasted for days. Looking at them with gratitude was a thing between us, just You and me, throughout the day. And look at how many more roses You have caused to grow and blossom! Just look at them! Oh, when was the last time I thanked You for these beautiful flowers!”

How often do I take His specially chosen love gifts for granted?  That morning, I counted 22 roses in bloom or in bud. When had I begun taking this precious gift from God for granted? How would a human husband feel if his wife plunked the carefully chosen bouquet of her favorite flowers in a corner and never looked at them again? How many times the past few weeks since the roses began blooming had God nudged me to stop and sit down with Him and just thank Him, to just spend a few minutes specifically thanking Him for those roses?

It is fitting and appropriate to give thanks, to praise and to worship the Lord. The Bible is filled with verses telling us to give our thanks and our praise and our worship to God.  I Thessalonians 5:18 says: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)

Why? It is appropriate.

 Rejoice in the Lord, O you [uncompromisingly] righteous [you upright in right standing with God]; for praise is becoming and appropriate for those who are upright [in heart]. (Psalm 33:1, AMPC, emphasis added)

Why is it appropriate? One of many reasons is because “God is good and His love endures forever”!   This fact is so vital for us to keep in mind that God repeats it multiple times in the Word, especially in Psalms. He even included an entire psalm that repeats this teaching. The phrase “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever” appears in each of the 26 verses of Psalm 136. Selah!

God delights in our praise and thanksgiving and worship. It pleases me greatly that praising God, thanking Him, and obeying Him whole-heartedly are gifts I can give to Him, little of course and by no means anywhere near what He deserves. However, when I keep Him first in my heart and love Him with all my heart, I know that gives Him delight

The Lord takes pleasure in those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy and loving-kindness.  (Psalm 147:11, AMPC)

Being ungrateful is spiritually dangerous. When I complain—about anything—I open a door to the enemy. I am making a way for him to steal, kill and destroy the good things God has prepared for me, including an intimate relationship with Him.

God hates complaining. Read Psalm 78 slowly and prayerfully. Do you see how many times God was merciful and forgave Israel and did not destroy them? But do you see that eventually they got what their actions deserved?

Why do we become ungrateful? We get distracted by many things, our own desires, someone else’s agenda, and the ways of this dark world. This world is filled with “troubles, trials, distress and frustrations.” Just before Calvary, Jesus lovingly told His disciples that they would have “troubles, trials, distress and frustration” in this world. But He also told them “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.] (John 16:33b, AMPC, emphasis added)

God understands and “imprints on His heart” that we are just frail human beings (Psalm 103) so He always, always, always provides a way to escape from temptations. That includes those that come from within our desperately wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9)  as well as those that come from living in this world. Paul told us:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

Praising and giving thanks protects me. When I consciously, purposefully, tell God “Thank You” for the little things that are right in front of me – a Bible to study, food to eat, a home to live in – I begin feeling gratitude, peace and hope. Expressing thanks to my heavenly Father helps me think about His great love toward me and about Who He is. How can I fear or complain when I am pondering the fact that the One Who holds the world in His loving hands dearly, dearly loves me? Like all His commands, the command to give God thanks is good for us.

Like gifts from a child. One of the first gifts a child gives is the head of a flower plucked from the back yard and lovingly presented in a chubby fist. Like the little drummer boy “I have no gift that’s fit to lay before a King” but I can give Him the very best of my heart. I can give Him my gratitude and my conscious awareness of Him. I can just sit down with Him and say,

“I love You Father! Thank You for those roses! Thank You for teaching me from Your Word. Thank You for leading me to have a closer relationship with You. It is so good to just sit in Your presence, Father. I love the peace I feel when my mind is on You.

Help me remember, please, to stop the busyness of my hands and sit down with You. Thank You that I feel Your love when I do that. Show me how to please You more, Lord.  Show me how You want me to live every hour of every day You give me on this earth. I love You Lord, I just love You. . . “

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.

Do you know what happens when you love God?

Image result for free clip art of CAUSE AND EFFECTPlease note: This is a reprint from April 8, 2021.Life has been blessed – and busy!

The “if-then” nature of God’s promises. While studying Psalm 91, God has taught me much about the “if-then” nature of His promises. I am very grateful! In all the years I have studied the Bible (and I feel I have only begun understanding how to study this last year) I do not recall being so aware of how often if-then, because, for, therefore, thus, and similar words appear. Perhaps that is because two years mired in the muddy pit of depression imprinted a zeal to understand what God wants me to do so that I can remain safe in “the secret place of the Most High.”

As we conclude our exploration of Psalm 91, let’s review what we learned about the “if-thens”, when we began this study of what is often called “the soldier’s psalm.”

The “if-thens” of Psalm 91. A clear example of how God rewards us for seeking Him is found in Psalm 91. The AMPC has this footnote for Psalm 91: “The rich promises of this whole chapter are dependent upon one’s meeting exactly the conditions of these first two verses.”  Here are the “thens” that follow verses 1 and 2, along with the “becauses” in verses 9 through 16, (using the 1965 Amplified Bible) :

IF I dwell in the secret place AND SAY God is my refuge AND TRUST in Him (verses 1 and 2)

  • THEN God will “deliver me from every trap” (NLT),
  • THEN He will cover me,
  • THEN His “faithful promises will be my armor and protection”,
  • THEN I will not be afraid of anything evil, at any time,
  • THEN “No evil will touch me” (NLT) though people fall all around me. (phrases in parentheses are from the NLT)

. . . the “because” point the way to promises, too . . .

  • BECAUSE I make God my refuge and dwelling place (which repeats verses 1 and 2), “no evil will conquer me”, (NLT) and that is true because “He will order His angels to protect me wherever I go” (NLT)

(and finally, verses 14-16):

  • BECAUSE I love God and trust in His nature, He will rescue me, protect me, answer me, honor me, give me a long life, and show me His salvation, which includes deliverance, as well as redemption from sin through the blood of Jesus.

Image result for free clip art of GODS PROMISESPsalm 91: 14 through 16–eight thundering “I wills! Eight powerful “I will” promises conclude Psalm 91.

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no never] 15. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Let’s look at these promises once more, in list form:

(Because he has set his love upon Me, THEREFORE:

  • I will deliver him,
  • I will set him on high,
  • because He knows and understands My name
  • I will answer him when he calls on me,
  • I will be with him in trouble,
  • I will deliver him,
  • I will honor him,
  • I will satisfy him with long life, and
  • I will show him My salvation.

Image result for FREE PICTURE of sun moon and starsWhen we set our love on God. Notice that these eight promises apply to us when we set our love upon God. I see God’s fairness in Verse 14 in that when we set our love on Him, he sets us on high. How do I “set my love” on someone? “To set” means to put something in a specific place or position, like setting a book on the table. I like what Webster’s 1828 online dictionary says, “To put, place, or fix in any situation. God set the sun, moon and stars in the firmament.” That means something is permanently fixed and secured in a particular place. And that is how we are to love God—permanently and unshakably. If we do that, God promises to deliver us, which Webster’s 1828 defines as “to free or to release, as from a restraint; to set at liberty, as from captivity” and also “to rescue or to save.” The enemy of our souls always intends us deadly harm, but we have the promise of Almighty God that He will deliver us IF we meet His conditions.

Image result for FREE PICTURE OF HIGH GROUNDIf we set our love on God, God will deliver us and “set us on high.” It is good to be on high ground during a battle, and we know this life on earth is a battle! “Setting on high” also implies being lifted up from having fallen down or being in a low position. Job 5:9-16 lists a few of the kind things God does, one of which is “The lowly He sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” (V. 11, NIV). God will keep us fixed and secured in a high, or safe, place.

Stand in awe of the Word. I think a word of loving caution is needed here. I do not pretend to know exactly how God works, but I do know He tells us to study His word diligently, 2 Timothy 2:15 clearly instructs us to “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly] handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” That includes understanding the context of a verse upon which you are relying. I have heard and read many instances, as I am sure you have, where a verse is obviously used incorrectly. However, we all need to be on guard against mishandling the Word in subtle ways. I have done this in the past, but by God’s grace, I now work diligently to ensure I handle His Word correctly.

Image result for FREE PICTURE of bibleSearching out context helps prevent such subtle as well as obvious errors. At a minimum, I read a few verses before and after. Preferably, I read the entire chapter and peruse an outline of the book of the Bible in which the verse is located. This does take extra time and effort, but it is a safeguard for us. Below is a link to an excellent article about handling the Word of God correctly at knowableword.com The Dangerous Consequences of Ignoring Context (knowableword.com)

Because we know and understand what God is like. . . “Because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never]. (Psalm 91:14b, AMPC)

The AMPC translation of verse 14-b teaches us what it means to “know and understand” God’s name, which means His nature or what He is like. The phrases in brackets state “has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no never.” So as we personally experience God’s mercy, His love and His kindness, we will be able to truly trust and rely on him because we will know—through our experiencing it—that God will never, no never, no never forsake us. (Now is a good time to meditate afresh on Hebrews 13:5-6 in the AMPC)

Image result for free picture of sick woman in bedI may have heard that someone with whom I have a casual acquaintance (let’s call her Sandy) is a kind person, but when Sandy brings soup and other food and medicine to my house when I have the flu, I know—through personal knowledge and experience—that Sandy is kind.

Perhaps one reason God tells us to consider ourselves blessed when we have trials (James 1) is because trials give us chances to experience God’s love and faithfulness. After we have walked through a few trials and seen God deliver us, we can have the confident hope and expectation of the writer of Lamentations. In the first part of Chapter 3, he remembers all his afflictions, the “wormwood and the gall” (AMPC) but in Verse 21 he remembers something that gives him hope and expectation—which is that “Because of the LORD”s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. (NIV)”

Image result for free picture of sunrise

We will have all we need. The other six “I wills” cover everything we need in this earthly life. If we set our love on God and come to know Him through experiencing His love and mercy, God says:

  • I will answer him when he calls upon Me;
  • I will be with him in trouble;
  • I will deliver him and
  • I will honor him.
  • I will satisfy him with long life,
  • and I will show him My salvation. (Psalm 91:15-16, AMPC) (Besides the theological definition of “deliverance from the power and penalty of sin.” salvation also means “saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.” (www.dictionary.com).

In these promises I hear God’s thundering voice, but I also hear Him gently, quietly, pleading with us, urging us to set our love on Him, to put Him first. Why? Because He loves us and knows what is good for us. Oh, how great the love of God! Dare we offer Him anything less than total, passionate, faithful love, obedience, and devotion?

Look how Matthew Henry talks about these promises :

Whatever happens, nothing shall hurt the believer; though trouble and affliction befall, it shall come, not for his hurt, but for good, though for the present it be not joyous but grievous. Those who rightly know God, will set their love upon him. They by prayer constantly call upon him. His promise is, that he will in due time deliver the believer out of trouble, and in the mean time be with him in trouble.

The Lord will manage all his worldly concerns, and preserve his life on earth, so long as it shall be good for him. For encouragement in this he looks unto Jesus. He shall live long enough; till he has done the work he was sent into this world for, and is ready for heaven. Who would wish to live a day longer than God has some work to do, either by him or upon him?

Image result for free picture of heavenA man may die young, yet be satisfied with living. But a wicked man is not satisfied even with long life. At length the believer’s conflict ends; he has done for ever with trouble, sin, and temptation.” (from the Matthew Henry commentary on Psalm 91:9-16 at www.biblehub.com

Is it any wonder that so many of us memorize all of Psalm 91? Selah, selah, selah!