Category Archives: DEPRESSION

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)

 

 

New book available for you

Image result for public domain picture of bookstoreBy God’s grace, there is a new book available on the Books and More page of this website – Undepressed: How God’s Word Can Heal Your Heart.

Undepressed is the true story of how studying and meditating on God’s Word healed life-long depression, when nothing else worked. This full-length novel interweaves narrative with explanation of principles found in Isaiah 30, as well as many other Bible truths.

Isaiah 30 teaches that we rebel against God when we love or rely on anything more than Him. Eventually, the very thing we lean on starts destroying us.  However, God eagerly watches and waits for us, longing to be good to us. God will answer us when we return to Him, and He will give us joy as we fight together to destroy our enemies.

Each chapter of Undepressed begins with a summary page, in quick-scan format, highlighting the main story points covered in that chapter as well as the Biblical truths illustrated.

Not just enough – The Distinct DotThis book shows you how to use God’s Word to heal your heart, regardless of your problem, and walk closer to Him. My sincere prayer is that God uses it to speak to you, personally, in the ways only He knows you need.  Friend, He really, really loves you!

Blessings,
Freda

When flaming arrows hit the mark

Image result for public domain picture of writingI wrote as fast as I could, straining to say each word out loud as I wrote, straining desperately to connect any way I could.

“I am so mad at You God! I am so sorry, but I really just am! (Tears, then a long pause). Why did You let this happen? Why? (Tears, then a longer pause.)  This is awful, just awful! No, no, no! I know this will turn out for good. You promise that in Romans 8:28. I know You are still in control of everything no matter what it feels like.

“Please help me, Lord! Oh, Father! How I need You, like the song says, how I need You now! I feel so torn up inside. I don’t know what to do. I just feel like giving up. I really do just want to give up. All this hurts too much.  I can’t handle it if life is going to be this way. I just can’t!”

When the writing is hard. Although I regularly write about details of my life because I hope to help others grow closer to God, sometimes the feelings are too raw. Sometimes I am ashamed and embarrassed about how I felt and what I did or said. Like now. What caused the desperate prayer above? Whenever we decide to go forward with something for God, our accuser (Revelations 12:10) tries to hinder us (I Thessalonians 2:18, Matthew 13:3-19).

A few weeks ago, I began praying for God to help as I redoubled efforts to improve my health. I have a lot of writing I want to do for God before I go home to heaven, and that requires a healthy body and mind, which requires exercise and good health habits.  The past nine months had included four hospitalizations for atrial fibrillation on top of long–standing debilitating fatigue and worsening feet, neck and hip problems.  Exercise and health in general had suffered.

Image result for public domain picture of creams and medicine bottlesSo, I renewed my determination to lose those fifteen pounds the cardiologist says would help the heart. I got back onto a stricter diet, added in more exercise and stretching, prioritized getting more rest, etc. etc.  I felt good for two days. Then came the attacks. I strained a leg muscle, which meant I limped and could not exercise at all for a week and after that only with great caution. Then, although it had disappeared for decades, the itching and burning red skin of eczema reappeared, which required about fifty dollars of over-the-counter creams and lotions. Then, also after a long absence, came athlete’s foot which can make the soles of your feel like they are on fire at the same time they itch and which also required fifty or so dollars of creams, sprays and powders, not to mention the cost in time and effort and frustration. The achy feet, hips, neck and back quickly worsened with the near complete lack of exercise.

Then, my eyes began hurting as soon I began typing on the computer, and sitting at the desk for more than fifteen minutes meant aching hips, two more new negative things. Then on top of the panic that threatens all of us each time we pay a bill, buy anything or go to the grocery, the garbage disposal had to be replaced. All this in the midst of the genuine difficulties extreme summer heat imposes on us all.

Image result for public domain picture of womans hands prayingThrough all of that, by great outpourings of grace, I had kept a good attitude, telling myself, “Well, that’s one more thing to ignore and trust God to take care of because He loves me and He IS taking care of me.”

Then came the incident when the flaming arrows of our enemy attacked one of the most precious things in my life.

What were the reactions? I panicked. I fell apart inside. I felt fear, and I got furious, not just angry but furious. There seemed, and still seems, no way this precious, precious part of my life can ever be restored.

Image result for public domain picture of flaming arrowsThen I prayed. “Oh, Lord! I know You tell us in Ephesians 4:26-27 in the AMPC that when we are angry we must not sin and we must not end the day being exasperated or furious or indignant because it gives the enemy a foothold in our life. Well, I feel all of that right now and more. So, I am trying to talk with You about this. As this awful day has gone on, Lord, I have started to feel as depressed as I did five years ago before You used Your Word to heal the depression. Everything in my life and everything about my life feels sad and pathetic again, my tiny home, my old used car, my overweight and aging and sagging body . . .”

Resisting at the onset. By grace, those thoughts did not linger long because the Word God had planted in my heart bubbled up into consciousness.

Image result for public domain picture of the shield of faith

“Lord, you say in I Peter 5 that we are to resist the enemy when he first starts attacking us, so I will do that, with Your help. I will go about our normal life, just as if that had not happened. I will do my little stretches, eat dinner, have our quiet time and go to bed and tomorrow I’ll do our usual routine.  I will keep doing our normal life, trusting in You, staying close to You, until things feel better.”

And that’s what I did. I finished out the day the best I could which, unfortunately for the diet, included chocolate and some other comforting edibles. Then I went to bed.

Learning more about humility.  The next morning, I sorely wanted to stay in bed but as I fixed a cup of tea, John 16:33 came to mind.

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

“Thank You, Lord. Help me know the truths in this verse deep in my heart. I do know they are true, though I still do not feel like it, and I choose to believe You. I know You do not want me to be unhappy, not even for one day, so I will keep trying.”

At the gym, verses I have recently meditated on and memorized about humility came to mind. After a wimpy workout, but a workout nonetheless, I walked back to the car.

“Lord, I do not know if I made a mistake and I do not know what I need to do differently now about this situation that has gone so wrong, but I will trust and obey. I ask You to guide me and show me what You want me to do. Help me to truly walk humbly with You, as You tell us in Micah 6, where You say that You require us “. . . to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy and to humble” ourself and walk humbly with You, our God.”

I drove home in silence, reflecting on that verse and the one about resisting the devil at the onset of his attacks. When I got home and read the whole passage that contains “resist the devil at his onset”,  I was reminded, from previous study times, that it begins with the admonition to act with humility toward each other because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Hebrews 5:5, NIV).

How to Study the Bible in College: Four Easy Steps - Dear Little SisI also saw in my Bible where I had drawn arrows from one phrase to the next, indicating that because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, that we are to humble ourselves before God so that we are in the position for Him to lift us up, in due time. We are also to cast all our worries, anxieties and concerns on God, to control ourselves, keep watching alertly for our enemy, and resist him at the onset because our fellow believers around the world are having the same kinds of sufferings we are having. And God will, after we have suffered a little while, restore us and make us strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:5-11).

By grace.  I lay down then, to take my usual hour of rest, pondering “I can do hard things like this, no matter how bad I feel. I have done many hard things by God’s grace, and this is no different.  The enemy wants me to think it is impossible to keep living my usual life with God while this heartache of a situation goes on, but I can do whatever I need to do through God because He gives me His strength (Philippians 4:13.) And that passage in Peter might be the scriptural basis for what I’ve heard Bible teachers say, that hard times give us the chance to really grow because we learn more when we stand strong in trials than in easier times.

As the afternoon went on, I felt I should take time to read more of the two books about prayer that lay on the table beside the rocker.  One book reminded me of the importance of spending time praying in the Spirit and how that helps when you do not know how to pray.

I took time right then to pray in tongues for a good while, feeling nothing, thinking nothing at first. Then, however, I sensed clear guidance from the Lord on some changes and additions I should make to my prayer life regarding this new painful situation.

“Father, thank You. I know by faith, that I will feel better soon. I am already feeling better, and thank You for bringing Psalm 86:17 to mind, for reminding me that when You help and comfort me, You are showing Your approval of me. I certainly do not deserve Your approval, Father, but I thank You that You earnestly remember and have imprinted on Your heart the fact that I am merely frail, human dust (Psalm 103:14). I still feel so helpless but I am hoping in You, with confidence and expectation.

Daddy’s Hand - Daily Devotions | CBN.comThank You that, though this might not be a serious thing to some people it is desperately serious and hard for me and I know You are busying Yourself with this detail of my life. I know Your eyes are on me and Your ears are open to my cries for help. I know You will never, no never, no never fail me or forsake me or relax Your grip on me. I know nothing, nothing, nothing is too hard for You. I know You are with me. I know You put my every tear in a bottle. I know You are with me wherever I go and that You keep careful watch over me. I know You will always help me. I know You will always guide every step I take as I keep trusting You and following You. I know You will keep guiding me. I know, Lord, that. . .

Dear friend and fellow pilgrim, I began writing this blog post to share how God can give us strength in the midst of what seems impossible, and that is still my purpose. However, as I wrote I realized I was able to get to a better place heart-wise, even though nothing at all has changed outwardly, because the Word I have studied and meditated upon and hidden inside my heart kept bubbling up into consciousness, in the very midst of roiling emotions.

So, again, I plead: take time, now, to diligently study the Word.  Take time, now, to meditate-on-the-Word-with-the-intent-to-memorize it (even if you do not actually memorize it perfectly) so that you can resist the enemy and keep living this beautiful abundant life God has prepared for you. If you need help getting started on Bible study and meditation, see “Diligent Bible Study” and “Diligent Meditation” on the “Basics of Believing” tab of this website.

In this world, we all will have great troubles, but Jesus has overcome the world and deprived it of power to harm us, so we can be of good cheer (John 16:33). We can “put on God’s complete armor, so that we will be “able to resist and stand our ground on the evil day [of danger] and, having done all [the crisis demands] to stand [firmly in our place] (Ephesians 6:13, AMPC).

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Jesus reaching out. Size: 183 x 185. Source: www.peopleschurchtoday.orgWhatever crisis you face today, I sincerely pray God gives you grace to put on His full armor and to stand firmly in your place. God adores you, and He wants you to walk in His ways so that you can have peace and the abundant life His Son Jesus died to give you (John 10:10).

Blessings,
Freda

 

Bounteous blessings

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“. . . and in His law he meditates. . . ” As I slowed for a red light, the rich resonant voice of David Cochran Heath said,

“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. (psalm 1:1-2, NKJ)”

“Hmmm,” I pondered. “Psalm 1 is saying to mediate on the law of the Lord. Hmmm.”

I recently began listening to the Word while driving by using an audio copy of the Bible on my phone. I had been meditating, deliberately, purposefully, for many months now and this latest tool was a big help. I had been meditating on Scriptures addressing areas where I needed healing and maturity. “Meditating on the law” sounded different. Was I truly meditating on the law? Or was I missing something?  Following are some things I discovered as I sought to understand. First, I reminded myself of what God means by meditation.

What is meditation? To meditate is “to dwell on anything in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind.” (www.webstersdictionary1828.com). Synonyms include to ponder, muse, brood, concentrate, be lost in thought, think deeply and carefully upon–and my favorite—to chew the cud! Cows chew their cud up to eight hours a day, chewing each mouthful 40 to 60 times so the grass will be digested properly and absorbed by the body. The cow eats the grass and then, later chews it. We read the Word, and then, later, we think about it until it is digested.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Cow Chewing CudMeditation on the Word changes us from the inside out. To meditate means to ponder and think about a verse or passage so long that it becomes part of you. Grass, properly chewed, becomes part of a cow. The Word, properly meditated upon or thoroughly chewed and swallowed, becomes part of who we are. The Word changes our innermost being. It renews our mind (Romans 12:1-2).

Meditation is NOT yoga. When we meditate, we do not repeat a mantra or try to make our mind blank. We are thinking about and talking with the God Who made heaven and earth, God Most High, and His Word to us. We are purposefully thinking about Him and what His words to us mean.

What is “God’s law”?  Simply stated, the law is a set of rules that regulate behavior. It also means, in the Biblical context “the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God” (Psalm 1:2a, AMPC). The entire Bible is “God’s law”, because it explains, either by direct statement or by illustrative story, how His laws work and how His believing children are to live this life.

How do you meditate on God’s law? One particularly productive lens to use in meditating is pondering cause and effect.  A thief may ponder the effect of getting caught and thereby control his impulse to steal. With our desperately wicked human heart (Jeremiah 17:9), we all need laws to help us avoid wrong behavior. We also need His laws to show us what is good – how to please God, to grow, and to deal rightly with others.  It is not enough, however, to hear the law once or twice. We must thoroughly understand how God’s laws work. That includes understanding cause and effect.

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Scales Of JusticePondering causes and effects — God’s laws. David is credited with writing many of the psalms. As he (and other psalmists) reflected on the history of God’s people, the consequences of their obediences and disobediences to God’s laws, David pondered cause and effect and thus received instruction in God’s laws.

David also found comfort in recalling God’s dealings with him personally. How often does David start a psalm by pouring out his troubles to God but then reminding himself of what God has done in the past and reassuring himself that God will again deliver him?  As we hear David release his emotions to God, then hear his thoughts about God’s awesome nature, His sovereignty, justice, tender mercies and loving kindness, David’s thoughts become our own. David’s words give voice to emotions we otherwise could not express.

The psalms are of great practical value. The psalms are, after all, one of the five wisdom books in the Bible. Psalms are routinely included in daily Bible reading plans.  Besides being a God-given aid to release emotions, they succinctly state God’s laws and instructions whereas the historical books and prophets use stories to illustrate God’s laws. Most of the New Testament also succinctly states God’s laws and instructions for living.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Gym Learning to meditate, phrase by phrase. As I reflect on past experience, I see how God used my need for regular exercise at the gym to teach me how to meditate. When I first began diligently meditating, I kept copies of verses and passages on the kitchen counter and carried them with me on errands. However, it was at the gym that I really learned how to think deeply about the verses I read. That was where I began meditating-with-the-intent-to-memorize.

This happened accidentally because that span of 30 minutes using weights was devoted to meditating and the only way I could do that was to look at a phrase on my paper, try to hold it in my mind while doing a set of reps, then go back to look at my paper. I was essentially memorizing one phrase at a time. After I repeated a phrase two or three times to myself, while I did the rest of the reps on that particular machine, I would think about what the words meant.

So what did it look like? I would put the paper next to my water bottle on the floor in the corner, then read one phrase and repeat it over and over for two or three minutes while I used one weight machine. Then I’d walk over, read that phrase again or the next phrase, do another weight machine, reread the phrase and so on. By the end of a workout, I would have maybe two or three new verses almost memorized. And, in the process I would have deeply pondered the meaning of words in those verses as well as the links between cause and effect.

So, I began meditating by just trying to think about God’s Word but, by Divine happenstance my efforts at meditation turned into efforts to memorize the Word I was meditating upon. When I was doing things at home or out and about, it was harder to make myself spend that much time repeating one phrase enough times to have the same effect. 

Image result for Public Domain Picture of prescription bottleIn his priceless book “Gods Medicine Bottle,” Derek Prince relates how learning to diligently study and meditate on God’s Word healed his body when doctors could not.  Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland and many other Bible teachers stress the importance of studying and speaking the Word and having it always in our minds and on our lips.  Joyce Meyer in particular teaches how God’s Word can heal your soul.

Personal victory. Joyce Meyer says “Personal victory over personal problems come from personal time with God.”

It was not until I spent personal time with God, studying and meditating upon what His Word said about my personal problems, that I gained personal victory over depression and anxiety.  And He keeps showing me, week by week, new areas of truth upon which I need to meditate.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of cornucopiaBounteous blessings! The blessings of meditation are bounteous. Here are just a few. Meditation:

  • Heals our bodies (Proverbs 4:20-23, Psalm 103:2-3, Proverbs 3:5-8, Exodus 15:26)
  • Renews our minds (Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:22-24, Colossians 2:2-3)
  • Helps us reverently fear God (Deuteronomy 6:2)
  • Helps us remember what He has done (Deuteronomy 6:12)
  • Leads us toward right standing with God (Deuteronomy 6:25)
  • Helps us teach God’s ways to our children (Deuteronomy 6:7 and 11:18-21)
  • Leads to long life (Deuteronomy 11:21)
  • Makes our way prosperous, enables us to deal wisely and have good success (Joshua 1:8)
  • Gives us a constant connection to the Living Water and makes us fruitful even in hard times (Psalm 1)
  • Makes us wise and gives us insight (Psalm 119:97), and
  • Keeps us in complete and constant peace. (Isaiah 26:3 and Philippians 4:4-8)

For a more detailed look into meditation, see the little booklet “Diligent Meditation” on the “Books and More” page of this website.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of wooded pathGod will guide your efforts. God always responds to the heart sincerely reaching out to Him. And we can reach out with complete confidence when we are asking for something that we know He wants for us, such as guidance in studying and understanding His Word.  “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (I John 5:14-15, NIV).

Your life is no doubt different from mine. You have different demands on your time and resources. But, regardless, I know beyond all doubt that when we ask God for help in understanding His Word better, He leads us clearly.  If you don’t already, won’t you start including meditation in your daily habits?

And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher.

And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left.  (Isiah 30:20-21, AMPC)

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Light and joy are sown

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Dawn. Size: 278 x 169. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.net11 Light is sown for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and strewn along their pathway, and joy for the upright in heart [the irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection].

12 Rejoice in the Lord, you [consistently] righteous (upright and in right standing with God), and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.  (Psalm 97:11-12, AMPC)

Just doing the next thing. “Father, I do not know if this walk will do much good. It is so much less than what I did just a month ago. But the joints are so stiff I must do something.”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Blue Sky and Clouds. Size: 265 x 169. Source: www.1millionfreepictures.comI walked slowly, taking care to stand fully upright, shoulders back, consciously using muscles that weeks without working out had weakened. The neighborhood street bordering my complex was lined with only one- and two-story apartments, so I had a full view of the sky overhead. From horizon to horizon, the inverted blue bowl of God’s heaven, dotted with whisps and puffs of cottony white, elicited a feeling of being covered, of being shielded, of being safe.  Vast as the sky is, it seemed close and comforting.

I glanced at the paper in my hand.

Light is sown. . . “Light is sown for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and strewn along their pathway. . . “

You know, Lord, when I first memorized this a few months ago, I thought about it in the order in which it is written, that You plant light for us and scatter it along the path of our life. But, today, what I see is that there are two separate actions. You plant good things, like light, far down our path but that You also scatter light right where we are, because it takes time for planted things to bear fruit, so we need some of it now.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Hand Sowing SeedTo strew means to scatter things on the surface, so Your scatter light we can get to easily, now, right on the surface. But You are always providing for our future so You have also planted light for us to use in the future. Perhaps that light takes time to grow and will be a stronger and brighter than what we find so easily today. Perhaps some of that planted light will grow into a tree. Maybe it will be a fruit tree or a shade tree, providing food for the hungry and rest for the weary.”

Resisting the enemy. Thoughts and sorrows started to push their way into consciousness—When will my family finally yield to Your love? How will I ever get back to health? How will I pay all the bills?

“No! I will not give in to these thoughts. Satan, get behind me! It is written if I am subject to God and I resist you and stand firm against you, you must flee (James 4:7). It is also written that I can do all things because Christ gives me strength, and that includes being vigilant about your attacks, and being firm in faith against you at the onset. God’s Word tells me that my fellow believers all over the world have the ‘same identical sufferings’ (I Peter 5:8-9). I am not being singled out with trials.

Lord, You said that while we are in the world we all have “troubles, trials, distress and frustration.” I will do what You said. I am setting my mind to be of good cheer. I will take courage and be confident, certain and undaunted!  I can do that because I believe what You said Lord, that You have overcome the world and You have deprived the world of power to harm me and have conquered it for me. (John 16:33, AMPC).

I will meditate on and delight in the things that are eternal, the unseen things, those things the enemy cannot touch. I will be grateful and thank You for all You have done. I will be thankful for the comfort of Your precious Holy Spirit, for knowing You have prepared a beautiful eternal home for me, and that while on earth I can abide in You and bear much good fruit for Your kingdom. And You reminded Your disciples, and me, of these things so that we may have “perfect peace and confidence.” That means complete peace and complete confidence, about everything.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Rock Fortress. Size: 236 x 165. Source: www.flickr.comHelp me stay safe in You, Lord! Oh, help me stay in You, safe within You Who are my Rock, safe within the mental and spiritual fortress I create when I say I am taking refuge in You, when I put my trust in You, as Jeremiah did in Lamentations 3:19-33.  I remember, Lord, that verse 25 says You are good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for You, to those who seek You. Then the brackets after seek says “inquire of and for You and require You by right of necessity and on the authority of Your Word.”

My precious, precious Heavenly Father, my Faithful and Loving One, I do have need of Your power to overcome this habit of worry and fear that has returned. This is a real need, and I am trying my best and I have the authority of Your Word that reassures me You will give me strength to do this. I will resist these doubts and fears from the enemy at their onset. (I Peter 5:6-9). I will ponder on and speak of the great deeds You have done. I will remind myself of Your mercy and loving kindness toward all that You created. I will think on good things. . . “

As I told that young mom at the park yesterday, ‘You can have as much of God as you want’, Lord, I want all of you that I can absorb and more! Oh, deal with this worrisome flesh, these weaknesses, these tendencies to doubt and fear. Forgive me, Father! I know You are sovereign over all things, I know You are working all things together for Your good and for Your glory and You can only do good. I know that. Please help my heart absorb that truth yet again as I meditate on Your Word, Your precious, loving and living Word.”

Little trees. . .big trees. Along both sides of the street, at each driveway stood a pair of ten-foot-tall cedars. I knew these must have been planted 35 years ago when this area was military housing. Then they would have been no taller than a kindergartner. I know that because in the home where I lived from age 8 to 16, my father planted a pair of cedars bordering our driveway when we first moved in, and in a few more years, these should grow to about the same size.

“What children,” I pondered, “had played chase around these cedars 35 years ago, as my brothers and I had, while they waited for their father to come home from the base as we waited for our father to come home from the rock mine, dodging each other around the little trees, perilously close to the street, a fact about which our mother never worried in those days when kids played, unsupervised, for hours at a stretch, in those long ago days?

Had those children stood proudly beside their dad while he watered the little trees, coaxing them to grow even as he coaxed his children to grow. Had they wheedled him into a short game of catch before they all went in for supper?”

What a deep vein of memory that row of paired, more than mature cedar trees touched, that vein of memories etched into the bedrock of my heart by my father’s love and attention, night after night, homecoming after homecoming to his family.

Childhood. What a mystery! When in it, unaware of the sacrifices of those who love and nurture us, and unable to articulate what the warmth and security mean to us, we seldom express gratitude. Then it takes years before we understand and, far too often, the one who loved us so well is gone.

Image result for Public Domain Picture OF dusty work bootsBut, Lord, I know Daddy understood. And thank You that I did thank him, many times, once I was older, before he passed away. And I know that the love he had for me was directly from You, that he was a channel for Your very own fierce fatherly love”

Help me be grateful, Lord!Oh, Father! Help me be aware of what You do for me. Help me give You thanks and gratitude. Help me see what You do, like giving light and joy as this psalm says.  You gave given me a very good life, even to the present time, to my gray hair season, as you say in Isaiah 46:4.”

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4, NIV).”

I reached into my pocket to read the next phrase of Psalm 97:11 but it was gone. I must have not tucked it far enough into the pocket of my hoodie. Turning around, I saw only leaves tumbling down the black asphalt. The wind must have already blown it away.

“Just like that,” I pondered, “We in America could lose our Bibles. Help me, Lord, get more Word hidden in my heart. Help me truly to treasure Your Word.”

In the pondering. As I walked, I pondered verse 11. That familiar rustling stirred inside, that treasured gift of having a thought not my own pop into awareness. How wonderful and how loving that God’s Word is actually alive and interacts with our innermost thoughts and feelings (Hebrews 4:12).  It is almost like God speaking to us with an audible voice.

So, I talked that verse over with God, in my heart, as I walked.

11 Light is sown for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and strewn along their pathway, and joy for the upright in heart [the irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection]. (Psalm 97:11, AMPC)

“Lord, I know this verse means that You scatter light along my path, in unexpected places here and there, and that You also prepare light that I will need far into the future.  This verse says the same thing about joy – that You have put joy here and there in unexpected places and also prepared it for the future.  The verse says “along the pathway”, which means not just in one spot but all along the length of the path of my life.

Irrepressible joy. I continued thinking, aware that “The irrepressible joy which comes from awareness of His favor and protection” was an instruction, that it suggested being aware of God’s favor and His protection produces joy so intense it cannot be pushed down, not even by the enemy and his vicious attacks on God’s children.

“That is what I need, Lord! Joy!  You tell us over and over to rejoice, to cast our cares on You and do not worry.  And I know that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”

I remembered that Ezra said this well-known verse when the people were weeping over their sins because they had just heard and understood the Law and their sins. Yet You told them to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, and not to grieve. You said, right in the midst of their tears of repentance:

“Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.” (Nehemiah 8:10, AMPC)

A stronghold is a place that Image result for Public Domain Picture of Rock Fortress. Size: 252 x 168. Source: mikevanhoozer.coms fortified against attack. I know You have prepared a place of safety and a source of strength for me, and by Your grace I will look for it and run into it. Father, You know how little joy I have experienced lately but I trust You to help me find that which You have lovingly prepared, just for me. I know You say You busy yourself with our every step when our ways delight You. (Psalm 37:23).

“The trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12). I hesitated before going back inside to resume the day, pausing, as usual, across the street from the three stately sycamores alongside the complex next to mine. Taller than the oaks beside them, their white trunks in stark contrast with the brown of the oaks, their almost bare branches rocked left and right, as smaller branches wobbled in the wind. In the topmost branches, the few remaining clusters of broad leaves fluttered against one another and crackled, a soothing whooshing sound.

“Lord, You have spoken with me, in so many ways, so many years. I remember that cold. February morning walking to work in 1985, occasionally glancing at an index card with John 3:6 written on it. When You first opened that scripture for me, You possibly put the identical thought into my mind that You had put into Nicodemus’s mind on that long ago night when he asked Jesus how to be born again. I know Jesus explained to him that the spiritual world is unseen, like the wind, but that the spiritual world reveals itself by the effects it has, just as the wind reveals itself by the effects, like sound, that it has.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8, NIV)

“Father, I cannot see You, but I know You are with me this moment by the peace I feel. And in these recent times when I could not feel Your peace, I know You were with me just as much. I do not know what You are doing to do, any more than I know which way the wind will blow, but I trust You, Father, I trust You with it all, with every care on my heart. And I know You already know each one.

So, on this February morning, 2023, as I watched the sycamores bear witness to the wind, I said in my heart:

“You are good and all that You do is good. I know You will help me. I know You have prepared light and joy for me, this day and far into my future. I know You will lead me in the path You want me to travel (Proverbs 3:5-6).

And I know You will give that “irrepressible joy that comes from awareness of Your favor and protection.”  By Your grace, I will think about You and the good that You do, I will mind heavenly things, I will cast my cares on You and rejoice and think on good things. Your Word never fails, Lord, and You promise peace if we keep our mind fixed on You.

Father, I know You are always with me, You will always help me, You will always give me Your joy and You are always in complete, sovereign control of my life. So, I will rejoice and again I say, I will choose to be joyful. . .”

And I continued with the rest of the day God had made, for me, and for you.

Little miracles aren’t little

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Verity: something (such as a statement) that is true”. www.merriam-webster.com.

The title for this piece worked itself out in the writing of it. The working title was “Miracles of Comfort and Provision.” However, the God Who adores, cherishes, treasures, prizes and dotes on you and me revealed the incalculable depth of a verity you possibly have pondered just as I have:  Little miracles aren’t little.

A niracle – Strength to keep trusting. Sitting on the edge of the bed, in the dark, head in hands, hands on knees, just like someone with a hangover.

“Oh, Father! I know You are here. I know You are taking care of things but I am so discouraged. Why is it so hard to get and keep a positive attitude? Why do I keep thinking about the negative when I am doing all I can to keep my thoughts on You and to meditate on Your truths? You healed that depression and showed me what to do. What is wrong with me that I can’t do it?

Is it just that so many hard things have happened lately that they added up to more than I can handle, even though I keep trying the best I can to cast my cares on You and leave them there? (Psalm 55:22; I Peter 5:6-10). I know part of it is also the fact that all believers are undergoing intense attack from the enemy. Maybe this is just a natural reaction to it all.”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of TearsThree times in the next two hours of morning puttering around—making hot tea, watching the sunrise, having devotions—tears popped up, tears and weeping.

“Thank You, Father, for leading me yesterday to meditate on Lamentations 3:19-33. It is still in my mind.  I know Your mercy and loving kindness keeps me from being consumed because Your tender compassions are new every morning. And I say that You are my portion, You are my life, and I will hope in You and wait with expectation, even though I feel as bad as it sounds Jeremiah felt..

A miracle – Paying bills. Pressing my lips into a firm line, I sat at the desk and dialed the student loan number, following up on the carefully prepared letter I had written to accompany the application. An hour later, as I ended the call and stared at two pages of notes, tears came again. But this time they were tears of relief. I had been accepted into an income-based payment plan with a more affordable monthly payment.

A miracle – “Gonna be alright”.   When I walked into the bedroom, I heard a gentle, soothing voice sing “Everything’s gonna be alright. I believe, yes I believe You’re working all things for my good.” The announcer said “That was ‘Gonna be alright’ by Ryan Ellis.”  A minute later I was at the computer, listening to the song heard a week ago, on another desperate morning. A thorough internet search had been unfruitful when similar titles kept popping up. For me, the lyrics and the music and the singer all transmitted a mighty anointing. Ryan sang soft and low, his voice a murmur, almost a whisper, reminding me of my earthly father’s gentle lilting baritone, my father who grew up on a horse farm and knew how to settle a horse or an injured pet with his voice and his hands. I sat and listened, hugging a big couch pillow to my chest as hard as I could.

“Father, it’s almost like hearing Your voice and feeling Your arms. Thank You for letting me find this song today. Bless that singer and others who hear this song. . .

“You hear my cry, my deepest pain.
You listen patiently as long as it takes.
You whisper truth over the lies
The words that bring me back to life.
Everything’s gonna be alright. . .”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of GymA miracle – I CAN keep exercising.  I dried my tears and went to the gym, carrying my printed pages of Psalm 86 around with me as I worked out. In Psalm 86, David pleads with the Lord to listen and answer him in his distress, because he is trusting in God.  As I began stretching, I pondered how the AMPC put Psalm 86:

Preserve my life, for I am godly and dedicated; O my God, save Your servant, for I trust in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, without fear or doubt’].

“Father, I am trusting in You the best I can. I do believe You will rescue me. I do have confidence in You and I am choosing to stop fear and doubting about all those problems I cast on You first thing this morning.”

Two weeks ago, all the weight-lifting equipment I had used for five years had been replaced with radically different equipment. Angry, (to be accurate, livid) and frustrated because the new equipment did not seem adjustable to my six-foot tall frame, I had not worked out in two weeks, during which time I had become progressively stiff, all over, and deeply discouraged with the inability to keep neck, back, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet strong enough to cope with old injuries and structural problems. But today, an angry determination, seemingly from nowhere, settled over me. I took time to really study the despised new machines and stopped being afraid they would harm muscles and joints being worked in new ways. With increasing relief, I went from machine to machine, planning out a routine that gave a good workout of the major muscle groups I needed to keep strong.

Then, under the sway of that angry determination from nowhere, I tried the elliptical machine I had not used in ten years and was stunned. Hips and back limbered up and muscles awoke. And, it did not hurt my previously-fractured ankle!

 “Thank You, Father. With the new weights and the elliptical and then a few minutes on the recumbent bicycle, I can get a more vigorous workout than I have had in years. You know how I have missed that and how good it makes me feel!”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of a Garden Spade Tool in the DirtA miracle – “The spade of agony” reminder. Then, while on the recumbent bike, I read several pages from “Beside Still Waters,” (Thomas Nelson, 1999), 365 devotionals on the topic of affliction, by Charles H. Spurgeon. In the devotional “Waiting for Mercy” (page 35), he applies the “no pain, no gain principle,” to heavenly things, stating

“God’s usual rule is to make us pray before He gives the blessing and to make us fervently pray before great mercies are given. . . If we obtained the blessing when we first asked, we would not have a sense of mercy’s value. . . First we ask, then we seek, and finally we plead with cries, tears, and a broken heart. . . I never would have been able to comfort anguished seekers if I myself had not been kept waiting for mercy. . .”

I had read his biography and knew that Pastor Spurgeon had indeed suffered great affliction throughout his life. I pondered his next comments “The spade of agony digs deep trenches to hold the water of life. . . If you knock with a heavy heart, you will soon sing with the joy of the Spirit. Therefore, do not be discouraged because the door is still closed.” What deep comfort that brought about the trials and the spiritual dangers of my loved ones.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of a Mourning Dove FlyingA miracle – a dove in flight.  On my usual route home along Interstate 290, a dove suddenly appeared and flew from right to left directly in front of and above my car. Startling at the sight of it, I looked up just in time to see the Brodie exit sign and turn right, a change in course that prevented ten minutes of frustrated doubling back to reach the grocery.

Driving down the exit ramp, “Father, how many times over the years have You sent a dove or cardinal as a visible sign of Your care for me and Your presence? How many times have I been praying or been despondent or felt deeply alone or in an impossible situation and seen that flash of red in a tree or seen the speeding, powerful silhouette of a dove flash across the sky? Countless times, Father, I truly could never count how many times You have taken my breath away. Just to have a seeable demonstration that You are with me, that You see what I am doing, that You care about each little detail of my life (Psalm 37:23-24) . . .  what more could I ever ask?

I know we are to grow up in You and live more by faith than by sight or feelings. Maybe You have been showing me that truth these last few months when I have not felt Your presence like I usually do. Thank You, Lord, for loving me enough to make me grow up more.

A miracle – a tin of cookies.  I smiled as I picked up the little papaya colored tin of butter cookies. “Father, You know how much I like the butter cookies that come in tins and You know that having that many cookies around is too much temptation.” I put two of the little tins in my grocery car. “Thank You for these little tins of cookies. They will be so, so good with a cup of iced decaf when I’m writing. The perfect little treat!”

A miracle – just the knowing. After four trips lugging grocery bags up the stairs, I flopped on the couch, not even taking my shoes off. Pleasantly tired, the kind of good tired you get after working hard, I reflected on the day thus far.

“Maybe I should finish that blog post from yesterday, the one based on Psalm 97:11 because God has certainly scattered the light of His presence all along my path today. He had a lot of things prepared for me. But maybe the few people who read the blog are tired of hearing about my same old struggles. . . “

My face twisted up and tears popped into my eyes yet again as two thoughts popped into awareness. “Reading about Spurgeon’s and others struggles strengthens and encourages and comforts you, so hearing about your struggles well help others” and “I am not mad at you or disappointed with you because you have a tendency to get discouraged and afraid. Everyone has fleshly weaknesses and those just happen to be yours. I will always, always, always help you and strengthen and comfort you. I will never, no never, no never turn away from you in any way, My child.”

A miracle – frail leaves in the wind. Five minutes later, I cradled a cup of iced decaf, cool on my palms. I scooted the rocker closer to the window. After the unusual ice storm last week, I savored the look of sun pouring through the glass, glaring off the white rocker arms and reflecting off the faux oak flooring. Across the narrow slice of sky visible through the two buildings next to mine floated woolly clouds, as dazzlingly white as the Florida clouds I so sorely missed. Lily Bugs jumped onto the arm of the rocker, gazing at me with her slanting green eyes, leaning her head into my hand as I scratched her furry ears.

Through the window, a cluster of leaves on the end of a twig-like branch quivered in the slow breeze and quivered again, a slice of nature as beautiful and true and comforting as any grand vista of mountains or valley or ocean, a slice of nature prepared just for me. The ice storm had brought down the tree growing beneath my window but, by moving the rocker closer, I could still look out into nature, into God’s handiwork. I could still see His feathered creatures flit about the branches.

A miracle –help and comfort. As I kept thinking about all God had done this day and how to write about it, I started taking pictures, including one of the printed-out Bible verses I had carried around earlier in the day. I paused and read the last two verses of Psalm 86:

“O turn to me and have mercy and be gracious to me; grant strength (might and inflexibility to temptation) to Your servant and save the son of Your maidservant.

Show me a sign of [Your evident] goodwill and favor, that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because You, Lord, [will show Your approval of me when You] help and comfort me.” (Psalm 86:16-17, AMPC)

Grateful tears again filled my eyes as I realized that all day long God had been sending sign after sign of His goodwill, His favor and His approval. He had indeed helped and comforted. On first waking, the discouragement and sorrow and the feeling of being had been deep. But God had been a very present and well-proved help (Psalm 96:1) throughout my troubled day. And He was not done showering down mercy and loving kindness.

A miracle – making peace with the suffering of others. Earlier in the week, a wise friend had spoken of her own trials, which included seeing loved ones struggle. She was trying to surrender to the suffering, as she put it, to accept that sometimes we have to see the suffering of the ones we love.

I thought about that and reflected on the undercurrent of anger mixed with sorrow that I had felt all day. I knew my face was as downcast as it had been during the months of severe depression.

“Father, I know it’s okay to be mad and to express it. You tell us ‘Be angry and do not sin’ and the next phrase says not to ‘let the sun go down while you are still angry’, which means do not keep anger in your heart overnight (Ephesians 4:26).

I picked up my AMPC and read:

26 When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.
27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. (Ephesians 4:26-27, AMPC)

“I know it’s normal to be mad at the enemy when we suffer and when our loved ones suffer. Lord, I think I have been angry for a long time about health and other on-going trials, especially lately with seeing loved ones hurting. I was probably mad at You, too, but my pride kept that hidden in my subconscious. That gave the enemy a foot hold. With that and the fatigue, no wonder there was so much negative. Forgive me, Father. I am so sorry. Help me change!”

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Praying HandsA miracle – When “all” you can do is pray. “Father, I think You are showing me how to persevere in trials when there is nothing I can do but pray. You want me to cast all my worries, anxieties and concerns on You, guard my heart against negative thoughts and feelings, and pray.” Yesterday, I had begun re-reading Andrew Murray’s classic “The Ministry of Intercession.”  Using the parable of the friend at midnight in Luke 11, he had explained that impossible situations move us to pray more fervently because ‘all we can do is pray.’

“Lord, I do know that I cannot do anything about my loved ones situations but pray, and I will keep praying. I do not want to see them suffer, but by grace I know You will help me make peace with the process they are going through, even while I pray for Your mercy on them.”

A miracle – Peace that transcends understanding.

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. (Philippians 4:6-7, AMPC)

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Dove LandingAs I sat in the sun, staring at the puffy clouds, that blessed peace from God began settling down, that unexplainable peace that you know can only be from God because it comes when things are so bad that it makes no sense to have peace. That morning, to make it more real to myself, I had written a list of cares I was choosing to cast onto the Lord (I Peter 5:7). Today, God had touched each one.

And now, now by His graciously putting the thoughts in my mind, I not only knew but felt that everything troubling me will indeed be alright, because:

  • Our loving, merciful God IS sovereign,
  • God sees it all and loves me and the people I love,
  • He is now working and will continue working all things for our good and His glory,
  • Nothing is too hard for God, and
  • God never for one second forsakes us or relaxes His grip on us.

A miracle – His majesty and might.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of cloudsMajestic and mighty, His mountains—the clouds—
Arise from the earth and the sea they enshroud.
Majestic and mighty, our sweet loving King,
Ruler of every great and small thing.

His little miracles are not little.  Selah, dear friend, selah!

For your comfort. Below is a list of songs that have especially comforted me in recent times. Each of them “happened” to play on the radio at moments of great need, a tender touch from the Lord, saying “I am right here with you. I see you. I have you in My arms. Everything will be alright, My child.”

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!] (Hebrews 13:5b, AMPC)

[1] “Gonna be alright”, written by Ryan Ellis, Ethan Hulse and Ben Cantelo, performed by Ryan Ellis.  https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=gon

[2] “Rescue” (I will send out an army), written and performed by Lauren Daigle.
https://tinyurl.com/2p83zp9e

[3] “Don’t lose heart” written by Steven Curtis Chapman, Bryan Fowler and Micah Kuiper.
https://tinyurl.com/2p8dp2kv

[4] “Life is hard (but God is good), by Pam Thum.  https://tinyurl.com/a3473prh

[5] I also highly recommend the book “Beside Still Waters” by Charles H. Spurgeon. Each page reaches deep into the soul and spirit.

One more miracle – the power of truth.  A few days later, I heard: “Fatigue can mimic  and trigger depression.” I had heard that before but in the moment of hearing it this time, I sensed God was setting me free from a lie that had been floating in my subconsciousness – the lie that I was depressed again and that it would take a long time to overcome it, that there was a basic tendency in my personality that would always cause depression.

Yes, for several months there had been real reasons for fatigue and some might continue for a while. However, understanding that fatigue, and specifically accumulated fatigue, had caused most of the negativity and anxiety made me feel well able to overcome it. That knowledge was reassurance from the Lord that I had done well to keep leaning on Him, to keep meditating on and studying the Word the best I could, and going on with my life, consciously walking with Him the best I could each day and loving those He put in my path.

A second truth I heard was that in hard times it is easy to lose perspective, which is why God tells us to have close fellowship with other believers. That means it is wise to invest time and effort into establishing and maintaining close relationships.

As I re-read this, I heard echoes from a friend of another truth I need to hear often, which is not to get tricked into a “works attitude.”  None of us can ever be good enough to earn salvation, rather, it is a free gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a gift so that none of us can boast.  Neither do we “earn” any of God’s other gifts. It is all by grace, because it is God Who works in us, to give us the desire even to do good.

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

Dear friend, I pray this writing brings you comfort. As the song says, “Life is hard, but God is good”. Oh, He is so, so, so very good to us! He adores us, and He is with us every moment of this life and will be on into eternity. He wants us to have abundant life now, as well as in eternity. (John 10:10)

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, til it overflows). AMPC

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Jesus Reaching Out

Compassed about with . . .

Image result for Public Domain Picture of rising FloodwatersFor this [forgiveness] let everyone who is godly pray—pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely when the great waters [of trial] overflow, they shall not reach [the spirit in] him.” (Psalm 32:6, AMPC, emphasis added.)

“Great waters of trial”.  “Father, You said to cast all our cares on You, so that is what I am doing, Lord. thank You for highlighting I Peter 5:6-10 to me last week. Help me have an attitude that pleases You as I try to just talk with You about what is on my heart, as I cast my cares on You. Lord, oh, please let me not complain or murmur! Help me just talk with You, as I would a human friend.”

I rocked slowly, so as not to spill the mug of chamomile, and watched as the horizon separated into bands of cobalt blue and pigeon gray. I snugged my thin house sweater closer around my shoulders.

“Father, I am so sorry but I feel so alone. I know You are right here with me, and in me and all around me. I know You have everything in my life and in this world in Your complete control. I know You will work everything out for my good, that You have only good plans for me. I know You are always working with those I love and pray for.

I am so grateful for the surgery but Lord I am so tired of dealing with recovery and still feeling so bad, without enough energy to write or do things I did just a few months ago. And I am so, so tired of fighting negative feelings!

Thank You that I know we are to resist the enemy at the onset of his attack on us. I know that helps the negative feelings not get a grip. I confess I have given in to his onslaught so many times these past few months.  And I know that is why I feel so bad now. The stress of those emotions has accumulated. Even though I know better, I surely know better, I have fallen into an emotional pit. Again. My foot has been snared and I am not moving forward with You.”

On the horizon, the orange glow expanded from a thin line to a broad band then fingers reaching out and up. I did not want to start this day. I leaned over and stroked Lily’s soft fur, wishing I could just hug her tight. No, actually wishing I could be hugged by someone big and strong, wishing I could just cry on someone’s shoulder. A long time. Wishing I could hear a deep voice murmuring close to my ear, “Everything will be all right. I have you.”

Seasons of trials. This writing is a little slice of life, my life as a frail and flawed follower of Jesus. You likely know, as I do, that seasons of trials, those unending days, weeks, or months when situations test our endurance, come to all of us.  What are we, as followers of Jesus, to do?  Count it all joy and exercise our faith. That leads to perseverance. And perseverance—when its work is finished—leads to maturity. (James 1:1-4) Yes, but our flesh! Ah, our weak full-of-feeling flesh!! Praise God that He earnestly remembers the weaknesses of our flesh (Psalm 103) and He always, always, always makes a way of escape from the world, the flesh, and the devil. (I Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:19: Isaiah 41:10; and Isaiah 43:16). And that includes emotional pits and snares that halt our progress on the path of maturity.

So, because by grace I have personal experience with these truths, yesterday morning I kept talking to the Lord as I fixed oatmeal, dressed for the day and put a water bottle and book into my gym bag.

Setting my mind. “Lord, I am going to just keep trying. I don’t want to. I just want to turn off my mind and stay on the couch. But I am setting my mind to keep moving forward with faith, to go on with the usual activities of daily life, my daily life, this day. I know You are faithful and loving and kind and merciful. I know You will deliver me from this trial. I know You will restore me to the joy of being aware of Your presence. I will do the things I know to do, like being purposefully grateful for what is in my hands, thinking how to help others, praying for them, and meditating on Your Word as I walk through this day, this day which I know is a gift from You, a true loving gift.”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Notes on Kitchen CounterI picked up the three sheets of type-written Bible verses lying on the kitchen counter and read them over, once again. Yesterday, I had picked out three of my favorite verses about comfort and typed them all on one piece of paper, trying to keep them in mind all day long even though the dark cloud of emotions lingered still, like a cold, damp unwelcome fog.

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

“The Lord is my strength and my impenetrable shield; my heart trusts, relies on and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” (Psalm 28:7, AMPC)

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts, relies on and confidently leans on the Lord shall be compassed about with mercy and with lovingkindness.” (Psalm 32:10, AMPC, emphasis added)

Image result for Public Domain Picture of 360 degreesCompassed about. “Oh, Father!  Thank You for this promise! That is what I need right now and all day, to be totally surrounded by Your mercy and lovingkindness, in every area of my life, in every moment today. Compassed about means to be completely encircled 360 degrees. It means to be hidden in You, with mercy and lovingkindness forming a shield around me so that the enemy’s arrows cannot touch me. I am trusting in You, Lord, I am relying on you and I lean on You with confidence because You have never, no never, no never failed me in any regard! Please do cover me with mercy and lovingkindness today.”

I stepped out the door into sunshine, down the stairs, along the sidewalk and into the parking lot. As I turned the ignition, the upbeat music filled the car. “Oh, Lord have mercy, have mercy on me!”  I smiled, a tight little smile.

“Thank You, Father. That song playing at just this moment is a pat on the head from You. Thank You!”

I listened to the music as I drove, then made that sharp left onto Jones at the bottom of a hill, smiling as I remembered my youngest grandson singing out “Wheeee!” as we made that turn on our way to the gym. My two grandsons were well into elementary school now, no longer with me during the day. How I missed them! But, as was my habit, I thanked God for every day I had been with them, realizing my great fortune as a grandmother who lived close. I also thanked God that my years of office work were done, no more of that frantic pace of life, always struggling to carve out enough time for prayer and Bible study.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Car Radio

“The evidence of Your goodness . . .” As I drove onto the I-70 entrance ramp, I also thanked God, as I did so often, for all the years of His help raising my daughter. And, as always, love and concern for her and my now-expanded immediate family, surged up from the innermost depths. At just that moment, from the radio came “I see the evidence of your goodness all over my life, all over my life!” Tears immediately spilled over, ran down my cheeks and kept flowing.

Against the backdrop of that song, flowed a kaleidoscopic montage of treasured up and cherished memories,

Image result for Public Domain Picture of mother and young daughter walking

  • Sharon carrying the Holly Hobby tote bag I made for her crayons and coloring books to use during evening church service (Thank You, Father, that I was saved when she was young so she could learn about You when she was little!);
  • the family with two girls her age at whose house we had attended Friday night Bible study when I was first converted (Thank You for those Christian friends who gave such spiritual and practical help!),
  • countless snapshots of her smiling, laughing face as we did life together—evenings, errands, shared daily routines, inventive special occasions (Thank You, Father, for the friend who advised to “get involved with whatever she does and let other things go.”
  • the anonymous benefactor who paid her tuition at a Christian school for seven years,
  • the two twenties we had found under a box on the closet shelf that time she needed new shoes,
  • the steady merit increases at the civil service job, the pension from which let me retire and relocate to Austin for my grandsons’ preschool years.

So we would know how much God love us. Interwoven with the repeating refrain of “The Evidence of Your Goodness” flowed another song God had so often sent when things were hard. Playing on a parallel track in my mind was “So You Would Know” by Al Hobbs.

“How many times must I prove how much I love you?
How many ways must My love for you I show?
How many times must I rescue you from trouble
for you to know just how much I love you?

Didn’t I wake you up this morning?
Weren’t you clothed in your right mind?
When you walked through that problem
didn’t I step right in on time?
When you got weak along life’s journey
didn’t My angel carry you?
So you would know just how much I love you.

How many days must I be a fence all around you?
How many nights must I wipe your tears away?
How many storms must I bring you safely through
for you to know just how much I love you?

Didn’t I put food on your table?
show up when your bills were due?
When the pains were racking your body
didn’t I send a healing down to you?
When you were lost in sin and sorrow
didn’t I die to set you free
so you would know just how much I love you?
. . . so you would know just how much I love you

Image result for public domain Picture of church Choir I saw a much younger me standing in worship services, hands raised, tears flowing as the choir sang “How many times must I prove how much I love you?” So many, many years of faithfulness, more than forty now and never once letting me down in any way. The scenes kept playing through my mind as I drove and listened and wept

“Thank You, Father, thank You for all those years, all those times! You took such good care of  our physical needs, on my secretary-level salary. You were such a good father to Sharon and a husband for me. And You still are, Father. Help me embrace this beautiful life You have given, in every detail!”

I sat in the gym parking lot a while before the tears stopped. As I worked out, I remembered having written a blog post (December 2, 2021) on “The Wisdom and Safety of Giving Thanks” And I pondered.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Angry ChildIf anyone is truly wise—the lesson of Psalm 105-Psalm 107.  Psalm 105 commanded Israel to thank God, rely on Him, and remember “the wonders He has done.” Psalm 105:8 through Psalm 106:43 recount countless times God’s people complained, forgot to remember what He had done for them and rebelled against Him. Yet God delivered them over and over when they cried to Him in their troubles. Psalm 107 ends with “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.” (NIV)

Though I surely knew better, I had behaved just like Israel, and for how long now? Weeks? I had tried to be grateful but deep inside I had still been complaining – in the very face of Divine provision, just like the Israelites complaining about manna! Oh, how our desperately proud heart blinds us to faults we so easily see in others! Through those two songs and bringing Psalm 105-107 to mind, God had given me the same loving message three times in less than 30 minutes: “I have always provided for your every need and will continue because of how much I love you. You have nothing to fear, My child. I am with You this very moment.”

When my stubborn heart finally let go of self-pity, my ears finally heard what I needed to do and what would restore my soul to that blessed awareness of His presence that my complaining and doubt had hidden so many days. And what was that? Simply trust and obey.

Trust, really trust, and do good. Psalm 37:3 sums up the plan of action that, along with heart-deep gratitude, always gets me moving forward with God, even while still on “the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.” (Psalm 18:32-33)

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” (Psalm 37:3, AMPC)

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Father Holding ChildRecalling God’s goodness and expressing my gratitude to Him always rekindles trust and confidence in the Lord and makes me want to be about the business of living my life for Him. That, in turn, gets my mind off of self and self’s problems and focused on God and others. In more than 40 years, God has never once failed to reward the simplest of such little acts of obedience. Why, oh why had I been unable to do those simple things? True, prolonged illness then surgery and recovery can weaken anyone’s mental, emotional, and spiritual strength but I knew better! God had trained me how to keep my mind safely on Him and to focus on Kingdom work.

Our loving, forgiving, and exceedingly compassionate Father. God taught much through this latest cycle of trials, falling down, and, by grace, getting up again.

[1] I learned to be less critical of myself because I had ample time during this dry spell to contemplate the fact that we each have our own personal weaknesses. Two of mine are worry and, ug, self-pity. I also pondered how forgiving God is and that He really means it when He says He “earnestly imprints on His heart that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14, AMPC)

[2] I also recalled that, while on earth, we will never attain perfection but are always to be pressing on toward maturity (Hebrews 6:1-3).

[3] And, God demonstrated, through my failings, why He said to “put no confidence in the flesh.”  It is a blessing to feel secure and confident that that you can, by grace, guard your heart and keep yourself spiritually and emotionally strong. However, I had, unknowingly, been depending on my ability to guard my thoughts as I reassured myself that I was doing everything God had led me to do. I was leaning on me, not trusting in God. What ugly pride! What danger!

God will let us have no other gods before Him and that includes the toxic idol of confidence in self effort. To the extent that we depend on our own actions to keep us peaceful and moving forward, we will inevitably fail and fall. God will deal with our pride. He loves us too much to let us carry that lit stick of dynamite around!

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Father Walking with Little Girl One message of Psalm 32. As I ponder Psalm 32, I see the rich blessings of remaining in right standing with God. God instantly forgives when we openly confess our sins and iniquities to Him, including things we deceived ourselves about. If we do that, God keeps our spirit safe, even through great trials. God clearly teaches us how to live if we walk with Him willingly, and He completely encircles us with mercy and loving-kindness. Thus, in every aspect of our lives, His mercy and loving-kindness will be unmistakable.  We will truly be compassed about, completely encircled, with mercy and loving kindness.

“For this [forgiveness] let everyone who is godly pray—pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely when the great waters [of trial] overflow, they shall not reach [the spirit in] him.” (Psalm 32:6, AMPC, emphasis added)

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts, relies on and confidently leans on the Lord shall be compassed about with mercy and with lovingkindness.” (Psalm 32:10, AMPC, emphasis added)

“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you [uncompromisingly] righteous [you who are upright and in right standing with Him]; shout for you, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 AMPC)

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Keeping yourself calm – Part Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God HELPS when we are desperate. Verse 17

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

The psalmist says that things were so bad he felt like he would have died if God had not helped him. But God was his help. In Isaiah 41:10 God tells His desperate children: 10 Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” (AMPC)

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

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

23 The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. 24 Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him. (Psalm 37:23-24, AMPC)

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

When I THOUGHT my foot had slipped. Verse 18.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The way the wicked attack. Verses 20-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places. (Psalm 18:30-33, AMPC, emphasis added)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May we imprint on our heart that . . .

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

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

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