Category Archives: TRUSTING GOD

HE STILL REIGNS!!!

Image result for free picture of god reignsGOD STILL REIGNS!! I sat motionless, eyes closed, feeling the power of Holy Spirit in the thundering crescendo of instruments and voices raised in exultant praise.

He sits high above the mountains, King of kings and Lord is He, and all power is His forever! He still reigns! An empty tomb is there to prove, death could never hold our King. He still reigns, He still reigns!”

I first heard “He Still Reigns!” thirty plus years ago, when still a fairly new Christ follower. Just thinking about the truths in that song has stirred my soul ever since. Thirty or so years ago, the enemy was busy seeking to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) anything and anyone he could. Today, however, his efforts are even more obvious because God is revealing and thwarting the plans of the evil one and those who serve him. Today, I pray this message encourages and strengthens you and brings you the comfort with which God has comforted me (2 Corinthians 1:4), which is that blessed assurance that I am His and He is mine and HE STILL REIGNS!

Consider this:

  • The world, our nation, and many individuals are now in battles where it seems that evil has won.
  • But the battles will last only for a while.
    God will get Himself glory through and because of what is happening.
  • God remains in complete control.
  • God’s plans and purposes will be fulfilled in every way, in the world, our nation, and our individual lives.
  • God will enable us to stand our ground and fight, with confident expectation of victory and with His joy in our hearts.
  • God so often delivers at the last moment.

Three stories of last-moment deliverance by God. Let’s search for understanding in three Bible stories where God delivered His children from seemingly impossible situations, at the last moment. Because of those situations, God got Himself honor and glory and the enemy was made to know that God is the LORD. (Exodus 14:18). These stories are:

  1. Exodus 14 — The parting of the Red Sea
  2. Daniel 3 — Three Hebrews in the fiery furnace
  3. Daniel 6 — Daniel in the den of lions

Image result for free picture of red sea deliveranceExodus 14: The parting of the Red Sea. Read Exodus 13:17 through Exodus 14:31 to get an overview. Then consider the following observations. (Unless indicated otherwise, quotations are from the NIV.)

Ex. 13:17 God knew the Israelites might return to Egypt if they faced war with the Philistines, so God led them toward the Red Sea. He knew they needed a demonstration of His power on their behalf.

Ex 13:21-22 God led them by day and by night and never stopped leading them for a moment.

Ex 14:2-4 God told Moses, His leader, that Israel was to encamp by the Red Sea so that Pharaoh would think they were wandering around in confusion. God would harden Pharaoh’s heart to pursue them which would result in glory for God so that the Egyptians would know He is God. (Think about it – Egypt did not pursue them again, though Israel traveled in a nearby dessert for 40 years. God did indeed make Egypt learn that He IS God.)

Ex 14:5-12 Israel was at first “marching out boldly” (v. 8) but when Pharaoh approached “they were terrified and cried out to the Lord and turned on Moses (v. 10)

Image result for Free Picture Of American Flag Flying. Size: 157 x 110. Source: www.freestockphotos.bizLet me say here: How many have turned against our President, Donald John Trump—from whom the 2020 election was stolen–because it looks like evil won and is about to destroy our nation?

Ex 14:13 Moses told the people “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see a gain. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Image result for free picture of pillar of cloud and fireEx 14: 19- The angel of God moved behind the Israelites, and the pillar of cloud (which means this event began during the day) also moved behind them and “throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.” (Emphasis added)

Notice: God protects His people while He is preparing their deliverance. I believe this is where our nation and our world is at this moment. Verse 21 says “and all that night, the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.”

Notice: Going through the Red Sea happened at night and all during the process of Israel walking through the divided waters, many many of them were still close to the Egyptians, waiting on the dangerous side, with only God’s pillar of cloud and fire keeping them safe. It took a while for deliverance from evil and into freedom to be complete. And during that time, all the Israelites who could not fit into the dry passage through the sea, had to stand still and wait and stay on God’s side. Had they turned back toward Egypt, rather than waiting on God’s process of deliverance to be completed, they would have become captives again.

Notice also: The deliverance through the Red Sea took most of the night. Verse 24 says “During the last watch of the night” God confused the Egyptian army, wheels came off their chariots and the Egyptians understood that God was fighting for Israel and against them.

This is just my  interpretation but perhaps the Egyptian army was getting close to the last of the Israelites who were walking to freedom. God could have had the Israelites walk faster or the Egyptians move slower, but maybe He wanted the Israelites to look into the midst of the Red Sea and observe what He was doing to their enemies. Maybe He wanted His children to have a picture to carry in their memory of mighty Pharaoh becoming terrified. Maybe He wanted them to see that even when the enemy was so very close, that He was still in control.

Image result for free picture of red sea deliveranceReturning to the text, in verse 26, God told Moses to again stretch out his hand over the sea and at daybreak, the sea went back into is place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. Not one of them survived.” (emphasis added.) “And Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant. (30b, 31)

Notice: God planned the entire event. He was in control the entire time. Because of the enemy’s efforts to destroy God’s people, God got Himself glory, and in so doing taught His people to fear Him and trust Him. Because of what happened, God destroyed Egypt’s entire army and put the fear of God into that wicked nation.

Daniel 3: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Image result for Free Picture of Nebuchadnezzar and idol. Size: 79 x 101. Source: www.pinterest.comDan 3:3-6 During the time when Israel was taken captive into Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone to bow down and worship a nine-foot tall idol he had made. He threatened that anyone who did not would be thrown into a burning furnace.

Dan 3:7 Most of the people complied.

Dan 3:8-12 Some men brought malicious accusations against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, reporting to King Nebuchadnezzar that these three did not serve Babylonian gods nor did they comply with his order to worship the idol Nebuchadnezzar had made.

Dan 3:13-15 The king was furious and gave the three a chance to comply, else they would be thrown into the furnace.

Notice: The enemy was threatening them with what looked like certain death if they did not turn away from God. The enemy of our souls wants the worship that is due God and will do anything he can to turn us away from God.

Dan 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied “If our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up!”

Dan 3:19-23 The king was so enraged that he had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual, had the three tied up and had them thrown into the furnace. It was so hot that the flame killed the strong men who handled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Flying American Flag PoleNotice: The enemy threatens and does all in his power to make the situation even worse. Consider our nation and our world this very day. Is not the enemy doing all in his power to destroy our President Donald John Trump—from whom the 2020 election was stolen–as well as everyone who is standing for righteousness and truth?

Dan 3:24-26 For a while, the three Hebrews were in the furnace; HOWEVER, when the King looked in, he saw a fourth man with them and they were walking around!

Notice: The three Hebrews had to actually go into the furnace and stay there for a while. BUT. . . God Himself was with them, in the furnace, and the king saw God.

Image result for Free Picture of Four Men in The Furnace. Size: 184 x 110. Source: fim-carol.blogspot.comDan 3:27 After the king told the three Hebrews to come out of the furnace and the king and all his rulers saw the “the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed; neither were their garments scored or changed in color or condition, nor had even the smell of smoke clung to them.” (AMPC)

Dan 3:28-30 The king said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who believed in, trusted in, and relied on Him! And they set aside the king’s command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” (See also Romans 12:1-3, which instructs us to be living sacrifices and to be transformed by renewing our minds so that we can understand God’s will.) Then the king threatened death to anyone in his kingdom who spoke against the God of the three Hebrews.

Daniel 6: Daniel in the den of lions.

The Bible tells of another time during the Babylonian captivity when God got Himself glory because someone stood strong in the midst of great trial for a while, until God worked deliverance.

Dan 6:1-9 “Daniel so distinguished himself . . .by his exceptional qualities”. . . that King Darius planned to “set him over the whole kingdom”. (Verses in this passage are from the NIV.) The other government officials, realizing they could not find any corruption in Daniel unless it concerned the law of Daniel’s God, persuaded King Darius to decree that no one could pray to any god or man but King Darius for thirty days, else they would be thrown to the lions.

Image result for free picture of american flag flying

Notice: Daniel was highly successful but government officials did all they could to destroy him. Does that not sound like what has happened recently to our President, Donald John Trump—from whom the 2020 election was stolen? He was doing a superb work as President, but then some powerful people attacked him (actually, they have attacked him relentlessly since he announced his candidacy for President.)

Take heart, friend! GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH PRESIDENT DONALD JOHN TRUMP, AND GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH AMERICA!!!

Dan 6:10 Upon hearing the decree, Daniel went home, opened his windows to Jerusalem and prayed, “just as he had done before.” Observe that Daniel continued living the righteous life as had been his habit. We need to develop solid spiritual habits before disaster strikes. If you are not doing so, get busy friend!

Dan 6:11-17 Daniel’s enemies reported Daniel’s actions to King Darius who was “greatly distressed. . . and made every effort . . . to save him.” However, as the enemies of Daniel reminded the king, no decree or edict of the king could be changed, so Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. King Darius said to Daniel, “May your God whom you serve continually rescue you!”

Dan 6:18-21 After a sleepless, tormented night, King Darius “hurried to the lions’ den.”

Notice: Daniel was in the apparent grasp of the enemy for a while – the entire night.

King Darius called out to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your Glod, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” The phrase “Whom you serve continually” appears in verses 16 and again here in verse 20, urging us, I believe, to strive to be like Daniel so that everyone knows we serve God continually.

Image result for free picture of daniel in the lions denDan 6:21-23 Observe that, even in this situation, Daniel is respectful. Daniel says, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” (NIV). The king was overjoyed and had Daniel set free, and the Scriptures tell us “No wound was found on him, because he had trusted in His God.” (v. 23b)

Dan 6:22-24 The men who had falsely accused Daniel were themselves and their families thrown into the lions’ den and were devoured before they reached the floor of the den. This last piece of information is included, I have heard many pastors state, to show that the lions were starved and would indeed have devoured Daniel but for the angel of God’s protection.

Dan 6:25 God gets Himself glory because of the hard situation in which Daniel was placed for a while. King Darius orders all in his kingdom to “fear and reverence the God of Daniel” for, or BECAUSE, King Darius states ”He is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and He saves; he performs signs and wonder in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions” (NIV)

Daniel 6:28. “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”

These three Bible stories encourage us to stand strong. Reread them and talk them over with God. See what Holy Spirit tells you.

Image result for free picture of the throne of godGod still reigns. God is in the process of getting Himself glory now, in the very midst of what seems hopeless. God delivered the Israelites, the three Hebrews, and Daniel, and He will deliver us! Read I Peter 1:1-12. Notice that verse 5 says ,”And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” (NLT) Rejoice, fellow believer! We have the hope of eternal life, and we have God protecting us this very moment.

The song “He still reigns!I have walked with God for 39 years. Our awesome God has never, no never, no never failed me in any way whatsoever, in any degree, not for one moment! (Hebrews 13:5-6). Our God sits in heaven and laughs at the wicked (Psalm 2), “But what joy for all who take refuge in Him!” (Palm 2:12c)

Now, today, in my home, I worship God as I listen to “He Still Reigns”, and my spirit and all that is within me rejoices and exults in Him. I feel the power of the One who speaks and mountains move, I hear the sound of the One who roars and lays bare the depths of the ocean, and I am in the presence of the One who created and sustains the universe and all that exists, the One who loves us, our soon-coming King, our King of kings and our Lord of Lords! Find a video of this powerfully anointed song, like the one at the link below, and be strengthened. Give our God the glory due His name! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fESjsMgzYTE

This old world’s in such confusion, hearts are failing everywhere, and sometimes it seems that God just doesn’t care. But don’t you fear! He holds our future. Let all heaven and earth proclaim He still reigns, He still reigns! An empty tomb is there to prove, death could never hold our King. He still reigns, He still reigns!” (Verse 2 from “He Still Reigns!”)

Image result for free picture of jesus returning on white horse

Are you dwelling in the secret place of the Most High? – Psalm 91, Pt. 1

Image result for Free Picture of Home Sweet Home. Size: 162 x 102. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.net“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. “I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust.

“The secret place of the Most High.” Hmm. . . I pondered, as I took a sip of half-caf, lowered the volume of the gentle piano music streaming on the computer, and leaned back in my chair. “Dwell” means to live permanently, to make someplace your home by living, eating, sleeping, and finding shelter. And what exactly is the secret place? I think I know but. . .

Do you have your own arsenal of Scripture? Psalm 91 is part of my arsenal of Scripture, the verses I deliberately keep fresh in my mind through repeated meditation and which I use every day when something threatens to steal my peace or my feeling of security in Jesus. I discovered this group of verses in the spring of 2019, when deep healing of life-long depression began. Many things, including Bible reading and study, prayer, Christian counseling, and medicine, all had helped greatly.

However, deep healing of the root causes of sorrow and discouragement did not happen until God helped me give His Word its proper place in my daily life and in my heart. Only when God taught me to diligently study His law, His precepts, instructions, and teachings and to meditate, to ponder and study them, by day and by night, (Psalm 1:1, AMPC), only then was I able to keep my emotions stable and to walk in victory. Only then could I trade my ashes for beauty, my mourning for joy, and my spirit of despair for a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)

Image result for Free Picture of Tangled Roots. Size: 174 x 110. Source: denisepass.comPeace and security in the secret place. The biggest causes of depression for me–the ugly roots that caused death and decay– were fear and insecurity. Two years ago while memorizing Psalm 91, I realized that the powerful promises of Psalm 91 were dependent on what I did, like dwelling, trusting, making God my refuge, and loving Him. Part of the reason the Word helps me so much, I think, is that verses like this give me something to “do” and the confidence that if I do my part, God will certainly do His. For example, keeping Psalm 91 in mind, I did the best I could to stay in God’s presence all day long and as I did so, even though I was mired in the mud of negative feelings at the start, I kept reminding myself that God would do His part and that no foe could withstand His mighty power (Psalm 91:1, AMPC). That brought a small, but ever-increasing measure of peace and security.

I felt little difference at first but by day by day, week by week, my faith in God’s promises grew as I saw Him deliver me one hour, one situation at a time. When we do our best to obey God, God does good things for us. Hebrews 11:6 in the NIV tells us “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He reward those who earnestly seek Him.”

Image result for free picture of promiseThe “thens” of Psalm 91. A clear example of how God rewards us for seeking Him is found in Psalm 91. The AMPC has this footnote for Psalm 91: “The rich promises of this whole chapter are dependent upon one’s meeting exactly the conditions of these first two verses.”  Before we examine verses 1 and 2, let’s look into those rich promises. The “thens” that follow verses 1 and 2, along with the “becauses” in verses 9 through 16, (using the 1965 Amplified Bible) highlight those promises, as follows:

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

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

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

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

and finally. . .

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

So, let’s begin pondering this beloved psalm, often called the soldier’s psalm. Let’s explore what those essential first two verses instruct us to do.

Verse 1: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

Dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. In considering what “dwelling” meant, I turned to John 14, a passage that speaks of dwelling. In John 14, Jesus promised to send Holy Spirit—“Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart) because it does not see Him, nor know and recognize Him. . .“–but Whom the disciples would recognize because the Comforter lived with them and would be in them (meaning after Jesus ascended to heaven and Holy Spirit came).

Jesus promised that after His resurrection, His disciples would know, for themselves, that “I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you.” (v. 20). Jesus said that if they really loved Him, they would obey Him and He would show Himself to them and let them clearly see Him and He would make Himself real to them. That promise also applies to us, His current-day disciples.

Image result for Free Clip Art of Moving In. Size: 168 x 204. Source: www.clipartpanda.comWhen asked how He would reveal Himself to us and make Himself real to us—and not the world– Jesus answered that if someone loves Him, that person will obey His Word and Jesus and the Father will “come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him.” (John 14:23, AMPC).  Jesus reiterated that if we really love Him, we will obey His teachings.

So, our love and obedience causes God to dwell, or live, in us and our love and obedience causes us to live in God and God in us. And His abiding in us is how He makes Himself real to us. So that means that He does not show, reveal or manifest Himself to the world—to those who do not love or obey Him. People who do not love and obey God do not think He is real.

His dwelling in us is hidden from the world. It is a secret, like the secret mentioned in Psalm 25:14: “The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning.”

God’s hidden, or secret, companionship, God’s friendship, is promised to those who fear, revere and worship Him, which includes obeying His commands. As we just read In John 14, Jesus promised to make His home with those who love Him and do what He says.  So where is this home? Jesus promised to make His home with “each” of us, so that implies to me that the “home” is in our individual hearts.

Child Whispering to Grand ParentI think this helps describe that “secret place of the Most High” of Psalm 91. It is a secret place, where no one else can see, a place created when we love and obey God. When we deeply love someone, we tell them they “have a place in our hearts”, right? So, that phrase must apply here. We give God a place in our hearts when we love Him and respond to Him, and He makes His home with us. He is always with us. We are His dwelling place.  I think that must be like a cousin would make your residence his home if he moved in and became part of the routine of your family, if he had his own seat at the table and his own bed, and other members of your household included him in their daily activities. That cousin would be making your residence his home.

“the Most High. I think Scripture uses “Most High” here to remind us of this attribute of God, that He is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” and that He is above, and in control of, every being that exists. “Most High”, or ‘El’Elyhon is saying that “God is the very highest of all spiritual begins to which humans give the title ‘god’. (https://namesforgod.net)

Image result for free picture of anchor on a ship“shall remain stable and fixed”. The NIV and the NLT say that the one who dwells in the secret place shall “find rest”. I love the idea of finding rest in His presence, but remaining stable and fixed spoke more powerfully to me in the months when I was fighting desperately for emotional stability. “Stable and fixed” implies something is anchored in place securely and is unlikely to overturn or be changed.  There is that security theme again!

“under the shadow of the Almighty.” “God Almighty” is from the Hebrew El Shaddai, meaning “God, the All-powerful One”. (www.compellingtruth.org).  It comforts me to ponder the fact that this God, this Holy One Who is protecting me, is the most powerful Being that exists. He is THE Highest. and if I am in His shadow, that means He is above me, covering me, and because He is The Highest, He is covering me, shading me, from all things because He is above all things and He is All-powerful.

“whose power no foe can withstand.” How reassuring to hear that no enemy can stand against my God! “Withstand” means “to oppose or resist” (Webster’s 1828 online dictionary). Withstand also means to hold out against, or to stand one’s ground, as in the case of a battle. It also means to remain undamaged by, as when some structures withstand hurricane-force winds. I smile each time I repeat that phrase—“whose power no foe can withstand.”

I smile because, when I look closely, I see that it is the foe who will be unable to withstand, it is the foe who will be unable to hold out, it is the foe who will be damaged by the power of God Almighty, which means God Almighty is fighting my enemies for me! God is the One attacking. The foe is the one trying to not give ground and not be damaged and destroyed. Almighty God is going to move the enemy back, God Almighty is going to damage the enemy! The enemy will not be able to resist God Almighty! This verse did not say that God Most High can withstand all the power of the foe, although that is more than true. That would imply that the Most High was in a defensive position. No, to me it means that although God protecting us is a defensive action, from our human perspective, when God defends us He always gains ground against the enemy and defeats the enemy! God never, no never, no never fails!

Verse  2: “I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust.

Image result for free picture of children buiding a fort“I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God.” Picture two nine-year-old boys building a fort in the woods bordering their back yard. They cannot lift a heavy log they want to use. One boy says, “Wait til my Dad gets home. He will move it for us. He can pick up anything!”

The boy says that because, in that boy’s experience, his Dad can lift anything the boy has needed. If I have sought refuge in God before, I know, by experience, that He keeps me safe and shelters me from danger. If I have experienced the security of being safe and unharmed in the Fortress of His love while the enemy warred against me, I too will say “the Lord is my refuge, my Fortress.”

This is another wording of the truth expressed in verse 14 of Psalm 91 and in Psalm 9:10, which is that those who are familiar with the character of  God, through experience with His character, will trust in Him.

“They who know Your name (have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy and) will lean on and confidently trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of the Word and the right of their necessity.] (AMPC)

If I have seen, through experience, that He shows Himself strong on my behalf when I call upon Him (2 Chronicles 16:9), then I can say, with confidence, “The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer, my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower” (Psalm 18:2, AMPC). Then I will love Him “fervently and devotedly” and He will be my strength (Psalm 18:1, AMPC)

“on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust.”  To lean, as a verb, means “to incline, deviate, or bend from a vertical position; to cast one’s weight to one side for support.  MacMillan’s dictionary also says it means to “to tend to choose or support something.” Decades ago, when I first made Jesus the King of my heart, I memorized Proverbs 3:5-6 and made it the guiding principle of my life. Although my meditation back then was not as deep as it is now, I clearly remember the first time I experienced that inner knowing that Holy Spirit had touched my mind with fresh understanding. As I was Image result for free picture of little girl sleepingreflecting on those two verses, having my evening devotions after tucking my daughter into bed, I realized that leaning on God, rather than my own understanding, meant to lean or depend on Him so much that if He did not come through I would fall, just like if I truly leaned on a crutch or a cane I would fall if the crutch or cane broke.

Experiences of God’s mercy are what empowers us to trust God with confidence, but we have to incline our heart, and our actions, toward Him and we have to walk, or live our lives, holding to Him and letting Him take the weight of our burdens and needs. Actually leaning on a crutch or cane requires me to lean forward, grasp it and take a step on my weak foot with the crutch bearing much of the weight. If I step out letting my weak foot support my weight, I am not really leaning. And I am further harming my own weak foot – and my own silly self.

Image result for free picture of check bookI remember taking a quivering breath as I wrote out my tithe check that first time so long ago. There would not be enough money left to pay bills and buy groceries for my precious little one and me if God did not do something miraculous with finances.  I had several tremulous days until I saw God steadily supply our needs, week after week, with specials on the foods we regularly ate, a unexpected reimbursement from insurance, invitations to dinner, and on and on and on. God did do miracles that month and every time I have needed a financial miracle–for the last forty years. We-can-depend-on-God! He-IS-faithful!

Confidence in God—and the matchless peace it brings—is built by acting in faith. I have a wonderful quote written on a post-it note, scotch-taped to the cubby above my desk: “We live by believing, not by seeing.”

We become confident that God will keep us “stable and fixed” in His presence as we actually try to do that. And wobbly first attempts to find His presence must be exceedingly precious in God’s eyes. How does a mother or father feel when their baby boy takes his first step? And when that baby says “Papa” and reaches upward, what does Papa do?

Faith grows in the furnace, in the fire, and in the flood. The next time a situation or your feelings seem overwhelming, act in faith, while you are still feeling overwhelmed. That is worth repeating: Faith grows in the furnace, in the fire, and in the flood. While you are closed in, it is hot, and you feel you are suffocating, make the effort to get alone with your heavenly Father for a few minutes. Remind your soul of His good qualities and of all the times He has taken care of you. Read the promises in Psalm 91 and rest in the peace of knowing that He will fulfill those promises for little old you if you make Him your dwelling place, by loving and obeying Him.

If you love Him and obey Him, He IS your dwelling place. He DOES live in you, and you DO live in Him. Your feelings and thought arrows from the enemy might lie to you, but if you are doing your part in one of the promises of God, God IS doing His part to fulfill that promise in your life. Let the truth of those promises from Jesus comfort you as the warm embrace of a father soothes a fearful, restless child.  Find your rest in His presence, in just being with Him.

Next time, we will look into what God promises those who make Him their Refuge and their Fortress, those who lift up their hearts to Him and call on His name, those who run into His arms, like a little child crying “Abba! Father”! (Romans 8:15)

Image result for Free Picture of child Running into father's Arms. Size: 147 x 105. Source: www.youworkforthem.com

Are you truly seeking?

Image result for Free Picture of Dictionary. Size: 173 x 108. Source: www.itechcode.comTo seek – ‘to try to locate or discover” (www.thefreedictionary.com)

“1 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are the undefiled (the upright, truly sincere, and blameless) in the way [of the revealed will of God], who walk (order their conduct and conversation) in the law of the Lord (the whole of God’s revealed will).

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are they who keep His testimonies, and who seek, inquire for and of Him and crave Him with the whole heart. (emphasis added)

Yes, they do no unrighteousness [no willful wandering from His precepts]; they walk in His ways.”  (Psalm 119:1-3, AMPC)

My conclusion after an initial exploration of what seeking God means is that truly seeking God takes time and diligent, focused effort. Here are the questions I explored and some conclusions I reached as I searched the Word.

Why do we seek God? Three of the many reasons are: He tells us to, it pleases Him, and we need the safety and blessings seeking Him brings.

God is looking for those who seek Him. How tender is the thought that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe looks over the whole earth for people who seek Him! “The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. “ (Psalm 14:2, NIV).

God eagerly longs to be gracious to us and show us mercy and loving-kindness (Isaiah 30:18.) when we put Him first, when we turn away from all “. . . idols—false gods [from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life.. .”]  (1 John 5:21, AMPC)

Image result for free picture of father and childGod keeps our human frailties in His mind with intense seriousness.  In Psalm 103, David describes God’s blessings and His mercy and loving-kindness toward our sins and iniquities. Just like a father, God loves and pities those who fear Him because He knows how we are made: “He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust.” (verse 13-14). Think about that. He imprints–on His heart–the fact of our weakness.  How often do you put your hand over your heart when you are deeply touched? Have you not, in deep sorrow for a loved one, felt actual physical pain in your chest? It must somehow be that God’s love for us actually affects His heart. Dear fellow believer, all I can say is “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:6, NIV)

Because God knows how we are formed and what we need, He tells us to “Seek the kingdom of God above all else and live righteously” (Matthew 6:33,NLT) and we will have all that we need.  Part of seeking the kingdom of God first is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV)  It is wise to do this, to seek God—whole-heartedly. Psalm 14:2 in the Amplified tells me that we are wise and understanding when we seek God above all else.

The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who understood, dealt wisely, and sought after God, inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him [of vital necessity].

What does God mean by seek? To seek means to try to find someone or something. Webster’s 1828 Online Dictionary defines seek as “to go in search or quest of” and “to search for by going from place to place.” That implies effort, movement, and making progress toward something. We must make the effort to step out from our current position and then we must keep moving along, following the path that our pursuit creates. How often does the Word tell us to take action? We are told to put on God’s armor (Ephesians 6:11), to lay aside sin (James 1:21), and to trust God (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 34:8). How often does the Word show us that following God is a process, that it is a journey along a path? 2 Peter 1:3-11 exhorts us to “make our calling and election sure”, to keep growing and work hard to add to our faith one godly quality after another. God describes the path of the righteous person in Proverbs 4:18 (NIV): “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter than the full light of day.”

Image result for free picture of parable of lost coinsOther facets of seeking. When you do a word search for “seek, inquire and require”, you find words like crave (2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 105:4) and yearn (Ezra 7:10, Psalm 84:2). And in everyday English, synonyms for seek include explore, pursue, follow, and to look high and low (like the Luke 15 parables of the lost sheep and the lost coins).

Clearly, when God says seek Him, He does not mean thinking about Him for an hour on Sunday and five minutes once in a while during the week.

Are you truly seeking the Lord? Do you desperately require Him, like the person in Psalm 77:2?

Why is “Inquire and require” associated with the word seek in the Bible? I am finding that the more I study the Word, the more I want to study the Word. One fruitful method is pursuing the explanatory words and phrases in the Amplified Bible, which include ideas speakers of the original language would have understood implicitly. For example, when I noticed that “inquire and require” appeared often after the word “seek”, I entered “seek, inquire and require” into the search window in BibleGateway.com.

I found that there are two ways to inquire– to “inquire of and for the Lord.” God caused King Artaxrexes to give Ezra all that he asked BECAUSE “. . . Ezra had prepared and set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord [to inquire for it and of it, to require and yearn for it] and to do and teach Israel its statutes and its ordinances. (Ezra 7:10, AMPC).

To inquire of someone is to ask a question of that person. To inquire for someone is to ask to see that person. So, we ask God questions (we ask of God) and we ask to see Him (we ask for Him, for His presence.)

To require God means He is our vital necessity, something necessary for life itself. This was how David instructed Solomon to love God when he was commissioning Solomon to build the temple.

 And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father [have personal knowledge of Him, be acquainted with, and understand Him; appreciate, heed, and cherish Him] and serve Him with a blameless heart and a willing mind. For the Lord searches all hearts and minds and understands all the wanderings of the thoughts. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity] you will find Him; but [a]if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever

Stop and notice how David told Solomon to approach God. David told Solomon to get to know God personally, to understand Him (which requires a lot of interaction), and to recognize His worth, to obey Him and to cherish Him. David told Solomon to do that BECAUSE God understands every single thought and BECAUSE if Solomon loved God that way, then he would be blessed.

And notice that this is how King Asa began his reign. Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God (2 Chronicles 14:2, NIV), he removed idols from the land “ and in verse 4 “commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers [to inquire of and for Him and crave Him as a vital necessity] (emphasais added), and to obey the law and the commandment.”

When something is vital to our survival, like air and water and food, we pursue that above all else. Is God your vital necessity?

Image result for Free Picture Of Diamond. Size: 156 x 102. Source: www.pixelstalk.netWe can seek God with confidence based on our needs and the authority of the Word. One chain of thought always leads to another when you plunge into the Word. What an unavoidable blessing! In pondering the previous verses, I saw a diamond of a promise in Psalm 9:10—that after I have personally experienced God’s mercy, I will be able to trust Him with confidence because I know He never forsakes me when I rely on His Word for my needs.

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

These two concepts—our needs and the authority of God’s Word—are paired in these other verses given below. These verses show me that God will take care of me, will supply my needs and deliver me, when I have a need and when I approach Him on the authority of His Word.

“The authority of God’s Word” is an extremely broad and deep topic about which I have only a partial understanding. Here, in the verses below, I believe it means that we are living in the authority of God’s Word when we are doing our utmost to believe and do what He has told us to.  So this means to me that I must obey and seek God with all my heart for His Word to operate, with authority, in my life.

Read these verses below and be amazed at what that blessed way of life includes.

Psalm 27:8– You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word].

Psalm 34:4I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. (I especially love this verse because it says God delivered the psalm writer from ALL his fears!)

Psalm 34:10–The young lions lack food and suffer hunger, but they who seek (inquire of and require) the Lord [by right of their need and on the authority of His Word], none of them shall lack any beneficial thing.

Lamentations 3:25–The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word].

Notice that Lamentations 3:25 comes after Jeremiah has recalled his great afflictions and then in verses 22 through 24 Jeremiah turns to remembering the reason he has hope:

  1. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
    23. They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
    24. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
        therefore I will wait for him.”

Dear friend, I, too, say that God is my portion. He is more than sufficient. He is all I need and more, just like a heaped-up plate at a sumptuous banquet. I am satisfied with Him, so I will truly seek Him, and I will wait for Him – with confident expectation!

See related image detail

Can you truly trust?

Image result for free picture of open bible on tableMy most used Bible. For most of December 2020, my 1964 Amplified Bible, which my beloved earthly father carried to church each Sunday, sat on the little table next to the rocker by the window, left open each day to the two pages displaying Psalm 32:4 through Psalm 35:3.  Cracked edges around the cordovan faux leather cover, loosening binding, and spotty yellow glimmers on page edges that once were gilded tell its age. This is my most used Bible, the one I read morning, night and in between, the one that has the markings most meaningful to me, markings made in the first hours of my day when seeking God for strength to do what I could not do, and markings made in the last waking hours of my day when thanking God for His faithfulness and, by faith, finding His peace for a troubled heart. For most of December, I read these two pages several times each day, gleaning fresh strength and comfort every single time.  Why?

How has your life been lately, dear friend? December 2020, and much of 2020 itself, has included vexing trials for many, many people, for many valid reasons, including me. In addition to the holiday blues, effects of the covid-19 panic, and the APPARENT AND TEMPORARY victory of evil in our nation and our world, I had a new personal challenge. And the new personal challenge, on top of the other accumulated stress, overwhelmed me. But through it all, through this whole month and a half of dark valleys, I have found fresh solace in the truths of God’s Word, especially truths I learned from Psalm 33:18-22 – that trust leads to joy, and joy leads to peace, the deep peace that comes from conscious awareness of His presence, that peace we cannot explain (Philippians 4:7).

Cause and effect . . .  obedience and blessing. During this past month or so, in the midst of cheery Christmas songs and happily decorated houses, in the midst of suggestions for New Year’s resolutions, I have fought hard not to worry and to have faith. And I have been pondering what it means to really trust God.

One truth about trusting God became clear as I studied verses 1 through 7 of Psalm 21–God keeps us in peace because we keep our thoughts on Him and because we trust Him. In verse 1 David finds joy in God’s strength because God has blessed him and given David His presence. And that happened because David had trusted, relied on, and been confident in the Lord. In cause-and-effect order, this chain of truth might be stated:

  • (verse 7) David trusted, relied on and was confident in the Lord. So,

BECAUSE OF THAT

  • he was blessing others and he was exceedingly glad with the joy of God’s presence (verse 6), and

BECAUSE OF THAT

  • David was rejoicing and feeling strong in God (verse 1),

Image result for Free Cause and Effect Anchor ChartsThe fruit of trust. This chain of thought reinforces the truth of another verse that I repeat many times each day, the blessed promise in Isaiah 26:3–God keeps us in peace because we keep our thoughts on Him and because we trust Him.

I know what it means to keep my thoughts focused on someone or something, but what does God mean by trust? The Bible shows that trust means “to commit, lean, and hope confidently.”  The clarifying phrases in the Amplified Bible (those words set off with parentheses, brackets, and dashes+) show what people speaking Hebrew or Greek would have understood was meant in the original writing. Thus when Isaiah 26:4 says “So trust in the Lord— commit yourself to Him, lean on him, hope confidently in Him. . . “,  that is where I see that trusting in God means to:  commit myself to Him, to lean on Him, and to hope confidently in Him.

The words “commit, lean, and hope confidently” clarify that trust requires action. It requires commitment, and it requires leaning on and hoping confidently in God.  I may have faith that a chair will support my weight, but I trust that chair when I actually sit in it.

Trust, joy, and the peace of His Presence. During these difficult last few weeks, I have tried hard to trust God, “. . . with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV). Why? To stay out of the pit of depression! I am working on a book about it and I wanted to be able to say that I stayed in victory after God had shown me what to do. And that was so for about a year and a half, by His grace! However, this past few weeks I kept stepping into the snare of worry and the symptoms of depression began popping up. What kept me moving forward, though I was slogging through muddy emotions, was the truths of God’s Word, and one passage in particular.

Image result for free picture of cup of coffee in handsOne morning in early December, sitting in the rocker by the window, chilled hands cuddling a cup of half-caf, I discovered Psalm 33:18-22, another passage about trust. Since that morning, my favorite Bible has been open to that passage. The truths it contains have been my anchor through many desperate moments lately. What do these verses mean to me, and to you?

Psalm 33:18. Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness. When the despicable, toothless lion of fear roars, just reading the words that “God is watching me” calms the fear and stops the worry. It gets my thoughts off of whatever caused the worry and turns my attention to the fact that God–is–here. As I keep my mind fixed on that truth by continuing to think about it, by meditating on it, I start feeling God’s peace. Then, like an undercurrent, comes the thought “Surely God IS with me right now, right here, because I do treat Him with reverence and respect, I do love and adore Him, and I do hold Him in awe. So this verse applies to me, little old weak me, right here and right now!”

How many times in the Word does God begin His messages to His loved ones by reassuring them that He is right there with them? Everything is harder to deal with when we feel alone. The Word tells us in many places that we are never alone, that God is always with us and will always, always, always be with us, no matter what.  And what is one reason why is He watching over us?

Verse 19: “To deliver them from death and to keep them alive in famine.”  This “death” God is watching over us to save us from is not just physical death but also “the effect of wickedness and sinfulness upon the natural human heart and soul in the sight of God.” (p. 134, Wilson’s Dictionary of Bible Types, 1957, Eerdmans Printing, Grand Rapids.)  God watches over us so that He can set us free and deliver us from the effects of sin. That means He watches over me so that He can set me from the consequences of my wrong thinkings as well as my wrong doings.

That reassures me that even when I get bogged down in stinking thinking, even when I lose my self-control, even when my outer life looks like a neglected mess, that He is going to set me free from the effects of living in this fallen world, those things of the flesh that I cannot control no matter how hard I try because I am not perfect. And as far as my physical needs, God promises I will have more than enough. That promise is true even though the world might be in a time of lack or famine.

Image result for free picture of child waiting by doorVerse 20. Our inner selves wait [earnestly] for the Lord; He is our Help and our Shield. To me, this says that I can wait intensely, with all my heart, for the Lord. Picture a five-year-old, waiting at the door for Papa to return because Papa promised a trip for ice-cream when he came home. Like that little child waiting for a delightful promise that he knows will be fulfilled, when I am troubled or in trouble, I can stand by, I can wait. And while I wait there, like a child by the front door at 5:15, I can intentionally focus my thoughts and my feelings on the Lord. I can wait earnestly, knowing that my Father is coming and will do what He has promised me.

“He is our help and shield.” I can wait patiently, like that little child, because I know God will help me, and I know He will shield me. God helps me, which means He makes my life easier. God is also my shield.  A shield is something that protects you from harm, which includes danger and unpleasant experiences. God knows the enemy’s plans, and He reassures me in John 16:33 that He will protect me from harm.

Image result for free picture of biblical shieldA shield protects a person by absorbing the impact of a weapon and preventing the weapon from penetrating to reach the one who is being shielded. Lately, Holy Spirit has been highlighting verses for me on how impenetrable God is. With God as my shield, my protection is absolute, complete, total, utter and not diminished in any way. And I find great comfort in Psalm 29:11 “The Lord will give [unyielding and impenetrable] strength to his people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” (AMPC)

God Himself, Who IS our impenetrable shield, will give us that same impenetrable strength, which includes strength that is impenetrable to temptation, like my tendency to worry and slide toward discouragement and depression. Impervious is similar to impenetrable, so See the source imagevisualize water running off a duck’s back or water running down a concrete driveway. The strength God gives us is unaffected by temptation, untouched by circumstance and situation, deaf to the enemy’s lies and roars, closed to evil, and unmoved by trials, hardships, distress, and sufferings! If we are a child of the King of the world, we have His royal blood flowing in our veins and we have His strength—that mighty, invincible, all-powerful strength of God Himself–working in us.

Spend some time feasting on verses about the impenetrable strength of God. Look up these verses in the Amplified Bible: Psalm 19:14; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 29:11; Psalm 46:1; Psalm 62:7; and Psalm 68:28.  Selah, selah, selah!

 Verse 21: For in Him does our heart rejoice, because we have trusted (relied on and been confident) in His holy name. Notice that the “for” connects verse 21 with verse 20.  We are empowered to wait earnestly and confidently for Him, knowing He will help us and shield us, because of verse 21. And verse 21 explains another power-packed promise, another blessed chain of cause and effect. I can wait confidently for God BECAUSE my heart finds joy in Him and I have joy in Him BECAUSE I have relied on and been confident of His name, Notice the same pattern that is in Psalm 21:1-7? When we trust, rely on and are confident in the Lord, God gives us His presence, we bless others, we are glad and we feel strong in the Lord.

7 Attributes of GodNotice also that we trust in His holy name, which means His nature or His attributes. No one can adequately describe what God is like but He clearly tells us some of His qualities in the Word. God is all-knowing, all powerful, everywhere present, unchangeable, holy, and merciful, just to name a few of the facets of this Divine Being Who adores us and lavishes all good things on us when we walk uprightly with Him. (Psalm 84:11)

No wonder I am happy when I am depending on this Wonderful One! No wonder that I feel strong when I think about His strength! No wonder I feel loved when I think about His love!

Verse 22: Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You. I interpret this verse as an extremely loving nudge from God, to motivate me to do what is right and what will protect my heart. I interpret it as saying that God’s mercy and loving-kindness will be poured out on me in proportion to how much I wait for and hope in God. That makes me want to wait and hope in Him, with every fiber of my being, even if it seems impossibly hard.

And as I search the Scriptures, I see this cause and effect in other places, such as Psalm 37:39-40.  Verse 39 says to me that God rescues us and sets us free from harm when we are consistently righteous, when we do our best to stay in right standing with Him, and that He shelters us and keeps us safe during the difficulties we experience. Verse 40 explains why–“And the Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked, and saves them because (emphasis added) they trust and take refuge in Him.”  You can see the active aspect of trust here because “taking refuge” means to go to a place of shelter.

Image result for free picture of chairTrusting is hard but. . . Trusting is indeed hard. Fortunately, the more I know about God, the stronger my trust will be. Knowing that God is strong enough to take care of me helps me to actually lean my feelings, my heart, on Him, just like knowing about a chair helps me actually sit in it and let the chair, not my own legs, support my weight.

And how do I learn more about God, enough to truly trust Him? By studying and meditating on His Word. Romans 10:17 says, “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (KJV) We can increase our faith when we accurately perceive the nature of God as we listen to teaching about the Messiah and the freedom from sin that His blood makes available to us.

 If I truly trust. . . If I truly trust that He will deliver me from all my troubles (Psalm 54:7), I can pray and ponder on the Word as I do the tasks of daily life, this one day, knowing that He is watching me, that He is right here with me, and He will deliver me from death, which includes all negative feelings. And I can wait, with confidence, helped and shielded by “The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship of the Lord. . . “ (Psalm 25:14), while He does the things I cannot do.

Safely nestled in the Rock of His presence, I can tell my soul that:

  •  We are blessed when He trains us to keep ourselves calm. (Psalm 94:12)
  • Everything will turn out for our good (Romans 8:28)
  • God IS in control. Period. Absolutely. Completely. (Psalm 115:3; Colossians 1:16; Matthew 19:26 and many, many more)
  • Nothing surprises Him. Nothing.
    • He has ordained each one of our days (Psalm 139:16-17) and
    • God IS “. . . the Alpha and the Omega,
      • the First and the Last
        • (the Before all and the End of all). (Revelations 22:13, AMPC)
  • He is looking, right now, over the entire earth to strengthen His believing children.

 “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen the hearts of those who are fully committed to Him. . . “  (2 Chronicles 16:9, AMPC)

 WE—CAN—TRUST—GOD!!

Hallelujah!

See the source imageSelah! Selah! Selah!!!

 

Look! The Lord my God is near!

Image result for free picture of fall leaves on sidewalk“Look! The LORD my God is near. . . “ I untwisted my scarf, snugged it more closely around my neck and kept walking.  The cool air felt good on my cheeks but stung my nose and bare fingers. Brown leaves tumbled over each other, scratching along the sidewalk in the intermittent breeze.

“Lord, help me have the right attitude about exercise. Help me not complain about needing to do so much walking and stretching and everything else. Help me just be grateful, Lord! Help me not be afraid about health. Help me overlook the discomfort. This body is Yours anyway, not mine! I will choose to rejoice in You and all You have done.  .  . ”

Image result for free picture of music notesI continued walking and began humming one of the 14 Christmas carols I had rephrased a year ago. To the tune of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” I began:

[Verse 1] Look! The Lord my God is near, He will keep me safe from fear.

Though the enemy roar, God is king forevermore.

I submit to God’s great hand. He will lift me up to stand.

Casting all my care on Him, on His love I can depend.

Look! The Lord my God is near, He will keep me safe from fear!

Image result for free picture of walking with Jesus “I can keep my heart controlled. . . “ As I walked, one of my stand-by verses floated into mind. “Thank You, Lord, for Your promise in Isaiah 26:3, that “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, Lord, because I know Your wonderful promise in verse 3, I am committing myself to You, I am leaning on You, and I am hoping confidently in You and I know You will strengthen me, for You alone are my source of strength (from Isaiah 26:4, AMPC).

[Verse 2] I can keep my heart controlled. God Himself indwells my soul.

I’m alert, and I watch out for the devil prowls about.

I resist him, I stand strong, though the trial might feel long.

In my weakness, He gives grace, so I rise and run my race!

I can keep my self controlled. God Himself indwells my soul!

My God covers me with peace. All my fears and worries cease!  What are you struggling with right now? Dear friend, I do not know what might trouble you most right now. But I do know that in this Christmas season of 2020 the visible world overflows with the “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” Jesus spoke of in John 16:33 (AMPC)

Your personal world might look overwhelming, too. Whatever you are facing, I pray that God pours out His mercy and loving-kindness upon you and your situation. I pray that He leads you to comforting passages in His Word.

Image result for free picture of meditating on the wordI wrote these rephrased lyrics to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” a year ago, when God was comforting and disciplining and instructing me, out of His law, so that He could grant me the power to keep myself calm and to find peace in hard times. (Psalm 95:12-13). At that time, I was learning the habit of constant meditation on the Word and His presence, which has consistently kept me far from the pit of depression. God is still training me and making me better equipped, through each trial. And He has done it through meditating on His Word.

[Verse 3] My God covers me with peace. All my fears and worries cease!

He will keep me in His rest as I think on what is best.

In my weakness, He is strong. He will keep me from all wrong.

I will walk with Him in love. I will keep my mind above.

My God covers me with peace. All my fears and worries cease!

Image result for free picture of gods hand on earth“God Himself has full control. He Who rules earth rules my soul!” The small e-book “Carols for Consecration” (see the “Books and More” tab on this website) was written in the late fall of last year while I was desperately meditating on Scriptures about peace and security, while God was comforting and instructing me. “Carols for Consecration” contains 14 rephrased lyrics to beloved Christmas carols. The rephrased lyrics are filled with Biblical truths upon which I was meditating. A list of those verses is included in the book.

I pray Holy Spirit uses these rephrased lyrics to imprint His truths more deeply upon your heart. May Holy Spirit help you and me, more than ever, find delight in and desire the law of the Lord,

so that we habitually study and ponder His teachings and instructions,

so that we will be like a tree firmly planted and tended by streams of water, ready to bring forth fruit in its season (adapted from Psalm 1).

May we both declare, and know with certainty, that . . .

[Verse 4] God Himself has full control. He who rules earth rules my soul!

He will give me grace to fight. We will win o’er darkest night!

Nothing that attacks me stands, for He holds me in His hand!

God is faithful. He will save!  This the banner that I wave!

God Himself has full control. He who rules earth rules my soul!

In this season, when we celebrate Jesus, our reason for living, let us “make a joyful noise to the Lord, serve Him with gladness and come before Him with singing (Psalm 100:1a, 2, KJV). Our God is good! Life is indeed hard, but our God, the God who made heaven and earth, our God is, INDEED, good!   Let us “give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever! (Psalm 118:1,AMPC)

  • May we “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:19a, NIV)
  • May we “sing and make music from our hearts to the LORD (Ephesians 5:19b, NIV), “for He is good!”

 

Image result for free picture of victorian carolers

Our never, never, never failing God

“. . . be satisfied with what you have for He, (God) Himself, has said:

I will not, in any way,  

fail you, 

nor give you up, 

nor leave you without support.

[I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not]

in any degree

leave you helpless,

nor forsake you,

nor let you down [relax My hold on you]

Assuredly not!

So,  we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say:

The LORD is my helper.

I will not be seized with alarm.

[I will not fear

or dread

or be terrified] 

What  can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6 AMPC) (Emphasis added to words in bold and underlined)

“Nana, can we play outside afta’ you exacise?” I smiled down at my grandson and gently stroked the back of his head.“ Of course, darlin’.” 

Image result for free picture of daycare roomPondering the Word. I watched him put his Garfield water bottle and hoodie into one of the red and yellow cubbies lining one wall of the playroom, then walk over to the table where the childcare worker was tracing little hands onto white paper plates. I smiled. I knew what Ansel would proudly give me in an hour and a half when I finished my “exacise”. 

“Thank You, Father, thank You, thank You, thank You that I live close to my grandsons. Thank You for the privilege of helping care for them.” 

I walked down the hall and into the kitchen area, filled my own, non-Garfield, water bottle and added an energy/vitamin powder. The familiarity of the kitchen and lounge area of the big, window-walled YMCA enveloped me. A twenty-something woman sat in one of the cushy chairs near the silenced TV, yellow baby blanket draped from shoulder to lap, caressing little feet in tiny lace-topped socks as she talked to another mom opening snack boxes of grapes and cheese for the two toddlers staring at the Cookie Monster.

I nodded and smiled at the retired couple sitting at one of the four countertop-height tables. As usual, he was reading the paper and she was working the crossword, several copies of which were  set out each morning for the many seniors who frequented the YMCA, some of us by choice and others of us, like me, to combat arthritis and keep some body parts from further loss of function.

After putting my gym bag and water bottle into their usual spot in the corner by the rack of weights, I spread a mat on the floor, sat down cross-legged and put the stack of hand-written papers on the floor so I could look at them while I stretched my quads. For the next twenty minutes of stretching, I looked at the top paper in the stack, moving it from one side to the other as I twisted and turned, repositioning legs, arms and torso, reading one phrase, doing one stretch then glancing at the paper again to be sure I had that phrase right, then moving on to the next phrase as I held the next stretch for fifteen or so seconds.

Two weeks earlier, I had started studying, desperately, Bible verses about peace, my area of greatest need. Heeding the sound teaching of Joyce Meyer and Derek Prince to take the Word of God like the medicine it is and to meditate constantly on verses in my areas of need, I had used a rickety card table as my desk, perusing the Word as if for a test.  I copied the verses in longhand so I could carry them everywhere and use them as the sword and shield they actually are, to fight back against fear and other negative feelings.

Image result for free picture of a hand writing on paperAs I copied the verses, I put groups of phrases that went together, on a separate line, anything to help me deeply understand what God was saying and to ensure God’s imprinted Word came to mind when negative feelings surged. That little stack of handwritten verses had become my lifeline and that morning, while Ansel played and I stretched, lifted weights and then bicycled, I thought about what God was saying in Hebrews 13:5-6. 

The context of Hebrews 13:5-6.  Hebrews 13 opens with instructions about loving each other, practicing hospitality, and the surety of God’s judgement on adultery. Verse 5 begins with the warning to not love money, but rather to be satisfied with what you have because God would never fail or abandon us and that, because of that, we can confidently say “God is my helper, so I will not fear. What can people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6, NLT) . By God’s grace, thirty-plus years of experiencing His faithfulness had molded a trusting heart, and years of consistent effort to be thankful had molded a grateful heart. However, I was now desperately pondering God’s faithfulness to provide for my biggest need, which was emotional. I glanced at the page as I leaned sideways, arms overhead.

“. . . be satisfied with what you have for He, (God) Himself, has said: . . . “ “So, satisfied means content, which brings to mind a cud-chewing, peaceful, cow, one that has ceased grazing and is not fretting about the next mouthful of grass, simply enjoying what she now has.  So, I reflected as I leaned to the other side, to be content emotionally I should relax where I am right now and stop searching.  I inhaled deeply. And I can do that because God, God Himself, the Amplified version says, is making the rest of promises I have copied down. God Himself, the One Who created and sustains the entire universe, is here with me, He Himself.  I repeated those words several times — “God Himself”. 

“I will not, in any way, fail you nor give you up, nor leave you without support . . . “ “Father, those three beautiful words, “in any way”, cover everything. How reassuring! And You have, in every way, taken care of me and Sharon for so many years. And not just materially. You sent godly men to be father figures for her, kind-hearted people to initiate friendships in my years of painful shyness, the energy to finish school and get a good job, and a wonderful husband for Sharon. And then You brought me here to Austin when she had Ansel’s older brother. 

            I paused as I flipped on my back for crunches.  “Lord, I am certain that the words ‘in any way’ include healing my heart of depression and fear and teaching me to stay in peace, though that seems impossible right now. I choose to believe that, Lord.  no matter my feelings.”

Image result for free picture of support            . . . fail me, nor give me up, nor leave me without support.  My margin note from Webster’s 1828 dictionary defined fail as “to become deficient, to decay or decline or to be entirely exhausted” (http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/fail).  “Well Lord, You are the exact opposite. You are all-sufficient, never-ending, ever the same, and without limits. Failing is impossible for You, and You say You will never fail me.

            And regarding giving up, that sounds like giving someone up to an enemy, and I know You would never do that, because the enemy of my soul is Your enemy. I need to ponder on that some more, but the promise of never leaving me without support brought hope and comfort the first time I saw it. You know, Lord, how often ‘I can’t do this!” comes to mind. In just the three days I’ve been pondering this verse You have already done something because now, as soon as that thought comes, this truth of Yours overrides the lie, and I think of You right beside me, helping me. Then I do not feel so alone or scared. I know that in You, with Your support, in any way I need it, I can do anything You want me to (Phillippians 4:13) and that includes sitting down with the bills, getting the car fixed, and hanging on to Your Word until depression is only a memory.  

[I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not. I held the papers in my hand as I did leg extensions. “Bible teachers and preachers consistently say pay close attention when You repeat something three times, Lord. Thank You for focusing my attention on that. It speaks of the fierceness and determination of Your love for us. And it strengthens all of these promises.”

Image result for free picture of degrees of a circle“in any degree” I know that degree can mean part of something or how much of something is present. It is also a term in geometry, like the smallest parts of an angle or circle. And Your Word has lots of references about how You encircle us or surround us or compass us about. That is another way of saying You have us completely covered.

. . . leave you helpless, nor forsake you, nor let you down [relax My hold on you]. “ Lord, that is so comforting! You know how often I feel helpless and like everyone has given up on me. You know how dreadfully alone I feel sometimes. Help me hear, with my heart, how intensely You are saying in these verses that You will take care of every single aspect of every single thing I need.

“Assuredly not!” I put the papers on the floor by the biceps machine as I read the next phrase and thought: As if He had not already made it clear, with this “Assuredly not!”, God is reinforcing, like rebar undergirding concrete, everything He said before. He is saying that He will DEFINITELY take care of me.

Image result for free picture of gift“So, we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say: The LORD is my helper. . .”  Hmm, that “so” is there because it connects these thoughts, meaning that everything in the previous verse, I am empowered to take comfort. And I notice the word “take.” God offers it, but I must take it. That is a choice. So, because of everything else God has just said, I can be comforted and encouraged . I can know God will help with whatever I am doing and I can have confidence to say boldly. . .

I will not be seized with alarm. [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What  can man do to me?”     I pondered that phrase and the whole passage during the next thirty minutes on the recumbent bicycle. Then, I put my verses in my gym bag and walked toward the Child Watch room, pondering the phrase “seized with alarm.” “Lord, that is what the fear feels like. It feels like someone has grabbed me. So, maybe that means if I give in to fear, if I think about the problems instead of You, the enemy uses fear to grab and control my heart. Help me think about that, Lord.”

Image result for free picture of children on playgroundGod Himself. .  . I signed Ansel out then followed his eager feet down the hall to the playground. With him seated on the bench next to me, swinging his legs, I opened the package of cream-cheese and chives crackers and made a circle of the six crackers on the napkin in his lap. He leaned against my left shoulder, I opened my baggie of grapes, and we had our usual snack as we watched other children run up the ramps and giggle on the see-saw.  Grandfather oaks interlocked thick branches overhead, grackles flew under the shaded canopy  from one tree to another, and butterflies zigzagged above the tall grass at the distant edge of the play area, all as familiar to me as my own bedroom.

“And to Ansel”, I reflected. “He is at ease here with me. Although he cannot verbalize it yet, he feels safe and he is fully immersed in the moment. He is not afraid of anything here, he is not dreading anything, and if something does scare him, I will not let his fear turn to terror because I will take care of whatever has troubled his little heart.  I will not let anything happen to him. I have the power to do that. He is safe and content because I have never, never, no never, failed him in any way. Assuredly not! And don’t I tell him over and over “I love you, I love you, I love you”? And don’t I show it a thousand ways?”

Image result for free picture of grandmother and child on park benchA soft breeze whispered in my ear and I turned to the side to be sure the paper plate was securely nestled in the top of my open gym bag, safe from any gust of wind. I placed my hand over the little hand print traced in the center, encircled by paper flowers with white glue bulging around the edges.

“Yes, Lord, and don’t You tell me You love me in a thousand different ways? And don’t You take care of me a thousand different ways? I will be content, Father, right here where I am, with You, with You Yourself. That is more than my mind can comprehend, Father. Thank You! Help me have more faith, faith like a little child.”  

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“Troubles, trials, distress, and frustration.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor], all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (AMPC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for free picture of father holding childs hand

God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sample of How to Use Key Word Sentences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gods Arsenal for Peace and Security

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

 

 

 

God notices you – always

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A personal request

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for free picture of bible study

 

 

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

 

 

God Promises His Presence IF . . . Part Five

Review:Image result for Free Picture of Clouds

  • Part One – God’s presence is often termed “God’s face”, He tells us to seek His face, it is a vital need for us, and He will help us.
  • Part Two – Basic truth’s about God’s presence. He promises His presence if we love and obey Him.
  • Part Three – Some of the many ways we can love God.
  • Part Four –  We sometimes see God’s face and sometimes not because God is sovereign. He initiates our awareness of His presence, He responds to our reaching out, and He withdraws temporarily. There are also hindrances to His presence over which we have some control.

PART FIVE: HINDRANCES TO AWARENESS OF GOD’S PRESENCE

Unfortunately, in our less than perfect world, many things can block us from being aware of God’s presence, even though He is right there with us. Here are a few we will consider.

  • Sin.
  • Our lack of love.
  • Our physical condition.
  • Our soul’s condition.
  • Our lack of experience or knowledge.
  • Pride must go.
  • Hidden sin we of which we are unaware.
  • Sometimes we just have to wait.
  • Lies from the enemy.  (Part Six)

Image result for Free Clip Art of SinSinWhen I reviewed the final draft of this blog post, it grieved me that I had first labelled this heading “Disobedience.” It is easier to think of ourselves as disobedient to God, rather than thinking what is true, that we sin against God. What a dangerous and damaging trend when “less offensive” or
“politically correct” vocabulary is used instead of the stern vocabulary of the Bible, which includes words like sin, iniquity, evil, guilt, and damnation. If God had wanted to use gentle words and thoughts when talking about sin, He would have used the tender, loving words He uses in, for example, Zephaniah 3:17 or Psalm 103:14. Sin is serious. It IS a matter of eternal life and death. God wants us to take it seriously. He came to earth and died for us because of our sin, as He says in John 3:16. I believe that God makes hearing about sin unpleasant to us so that we will pay attention and do all we can to avoid  it.

Isaiah 59:1-2 motivates me, mightily. It teaches me that sin separates me from God, hides His face from me, and stops His ears from hearing me. That motivates me to love God with all my heart and strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Love includes obedience. In Chapters 56 through 59 of Isaiah, God is speaking about the horrific sins of Israel during those times, such as “. . . the profaning of the Sabbath, the gluttony of Israel’s leaders, its widespread idolatry with its vile practices, the punctilious fasting while practicing flagrant injustice”, (Halley’s Bible handbook, page 389). And He explains for us the consequences of sin. He says:

“Surely, the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear, BUT (emphasis added) your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. (Isaiah 59:2,NIV).“

Oh, Lord! Help us all to live a life pleasing to You!

Our lack of love. I had heard the story of the sinful woman who was so grateful for Jesus forgiving her many sins that she poured costly perfume on His feet and kissed and wiped his feet with her hair. (Luke 7:36-50).  When others criticized her extravagant display of love for Jesus, Jesus taught His listeners that people who have had a great debt paid for them, love greatly but that  “. . . he who has been forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke7 :47b, NIV).

In my opinion, one implication of that is that if we are aware of the immeasurable debt Jesus paid for us while we were yet sinners, if we remember what He suffered for each of us, we will have deep, passionate love and gratitude for Him.

Image result for free picture of woman kissing the feet of jesusThat love will be deep, whether we found Jesus at a young age or when older. I know people who were saved while still preschoolers who have a passionate love for Jesus. In my own case, because I did not accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior until the age of 29, I had experienced walking in darkness. I desperately wanted to stay in His light, and I was desperately grateful. I also fell desperately in love with Jesus. Like the sinful woman in Luke 7, I was keenly aware of how sinful my life had been.

Oh, Father! Help each of us remember the price Jesus paid and help us seek to love You accordingly!

One of the biggest blessings of writing is that it makes me really search the Scripture and seek God for understanding for myself. In seeking to understand this story about loving God, I noticed the cause and effect indicated in Verse 47a: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for (emphasis added) she loved much.”  To me, this says that part of why our sins are forgiven is that we love God.  And just look at the promise Jesus gives her.

 “But Jesus said to the woman. Your faith has saved you; go (enter) into peace [in freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin] (Emphasis added). (John 7:50, AMPC)

Image result for free clip art of healthy habisOur physical condition. Sometimes conditions of our body block our awareness of His presence. Poor health, mental and emotional stresses such as depression and anxiety, fatigue, grief, and loss all affect the body which affects the brain. It is much easier to be aware of God’s presence when I have adequate rest, follow a healthy diet, and reduce stress as much as possible. And God always helps when I try to take care of my earthly temple.

Our soul’s condition. Sometimes our soul is simply disturbed.  Distractions, some we can stop and some we cannot stop, steal our awareness of God’s presence. We cannot control the world, but we can ask God to help us reduce distractions in our life, so we can focus on Him better. Some things that steal my peace are a messy house and surroundings; when I am lazy or neglect to do what I know I should; and sloppiness in daily life, or not doing things with excellence.  I can see that each of these is disobedience. God does things orderly (I Corinthians 14:33—He is a God of peace, not confusion);  He tells us to do our work (Ephesians 4:28), and He says do whatever we are doing as if we were doing it for Him (Ecclesiastes 9:10, and Colossians 3:23).

What things in particular disturb your soul that you can ask God to help you change?

Image result for free picture of child with hurt kneeOur spiritual condition.  If a spiritual matter is blocking our awareness of God, it is essential to get quiet and alone with Him so that we can hear Him and so that He can show us our spiritual condition. If we stay busy, even if we are desperately searching for Him the best we can, we might not hear Him until we find a measure of His peace. In that peace, we can hear Him. We can be like a small child crying and screaming over a scraped knee, when all we need to do is calm down and let God take care of us. He tells us “Seek peace and pursue it.” (I Peter 3:10-12; Psalm 34:12-16).

I am learning that anger in particular blocks my awareness of God’s presence. And my anger is so often childish. When I calm down and take a realistic, adult view of the situation, I usually can see my wrong thinking or else, if need be, can express my upsetting feelings to God, ask for forgiveness if needed, and accept His love and His help to be at peace again.

In what ways are you consciously pursuing peace?
Do you regularly take time to just sit in silence with God?

Our lack of experience or knowledge. I clearly remember as a young believer craving the steady peace and victorious living I saw in older saints. So, I read and obeyed what I learned about God’s presence. It took a while but, it has been worth each moment a thousand times over. Unfortunately, the enemy tries to steal this blessing, because that is his nature (John 10:10) and he sometimes does that by shooting arrows, or fiery darts–lies. (Ephesians 6:16) The enemy does not want us to be aware of God’s presence. (Part Five addresses that important topic).

Image result for free clip art of god hates pridePride must go!  Satan so often works through our pride. I think that might be because he knows that James 4:6b tells us clearly: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV) Proverbs 6:16-19 lists things God hates; at the top of the list is a proud or haughty attitude. We do well to ask God to reveal pride in our hearts.

Hidden sin we are unaware of – a personal example. I had a personal  struggle for several days – with pride unbeknownst!  Funny, I began this blog post 29 days ago, feeling upbeat and confident about finding the Lord’s presence. Since then, I felt up and down emotionally for several days, sometimes sensing His presence, but more often not. And day by day, I became more discouraged in general than I had been in a long while.

I thought I could finish this writing in two days, but as the days stretched on, every time I sat at my desk, I felt worse and worse, miserable that I was not feeling God’s presence, like I usually do when I write. And the more I focused on that, the less I felt His presence – AND – the more out of balance the rest of daily life became, especially in the areas that disturb my peace the most – a messy house and not keeping on top of things.

Therein, I think, is an essential lesson. We are to seek God, not feelings, just as we are to live by faith, not by feelings. Day by day, as I was writing about this topic, my foot got caught in the snare of going by feelings, and I became frustrated because I could not feel His presence like and when I wanted.  It is good to want to feel His presence– of course But, if you analyze it too much or overthink it, AND if you think you SHOULD be able to feel Him, AND/OR  if you subconsciously think that you deserve to feel His presence because you have in the past and you are doing so many good things for Him and being so good—you find less and less. At least I did.

Thankfully, as I trusted God, He released my foot from that particular snare (Psalm 91:3). When I got to the end of my emotional rope, I gave up, had a good cry with the Lord, and just asked God for His help to restore my soul (Psalm 23:2). Only then did I see how my pride, as described above, had hidden His face (Isaiah 59:2). I confessed my pride and asked God to cleanse that.

As I write this, I can only say “Thank You, Lord!”  for continually cleaning and pruning us. Our own hearts deceive us because they are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Only God can clean us up. While I was in fact being prideful, I did not think I was. Also, I did not realize I was feeling entitled. Surprise! We are in grave danger when we think we are doing fine (I Corinthians 10:12). Only God knows what is really inside our human hearts.

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10, NIV

Confession is, indeed, good for the soul. As I sit here now, writing, nothing external in my world has changed but it all looks okay again because I am focused on God, trusting in Him, not myself, and doing my work of writing for Him. When we trust Him and do good–whether that “good”  is our own particular work for Him or the business of a daily life that reveals God to unbelievers (I Peter 2:12) –then we can “dwell in the land and enjoy safe pastures.” (Psalm 37:3, NIV).  And truly we are then fed and well fed!

Image result for Free Picture of Child WaitingSometimes we just have to wait. Lamentations 3:1-20 talks of the trials Jeremiah has endured, even to the point that he said “Perished is my strength and my expectation from the Lord.” (v. 18, AMPC). However, when Jeremiah changes his focus in verse 21 he says,

“But this I recall, therefore have I hope and expectation: It is of the Lord’s mercies and loving-kindnesses that we are not consumed, because His (tender) mercies fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness” (v. 21-23)

In verses 24-25, Jeremiah then sets his mind to wait and hope for the Lord.  Verses 24-25 give great comfort and strength while we wait. The NIV phrases it this way: “I will say to myself ‘the Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”  The rest of Lamentations 3 explains why it is good to hope quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Read it and see for yourself!

So, in times when we do not feel God’s presence or His peace, we can bring to mind that it is because of His great love that we are not consumed. Then, like Jeremiah, we can wait for Him with confident expectancy because we know “the LORD is good and His love endures forever; his faithfulness throughout all generations (Psalm 100:5, NIV)

Image result for Free clipart of God's QualitiesWe can wait for God with confident expectancy because we understand His nature.   

 

 

 

 

 

In Part Five, we will look at some of the flaming arrows (lies) the enemy uses to keep us from dwelling in the shelter of the Most High, and from resting in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91)