God Promises His presence IF. . . Part Three

Review: In Part One on this subject, we learned that God’s presence is often termed “God’s face”,  that He tells us to seek His face, that it is a vital need for us, and that He will help us.  Part Two covered learn basic truth’s about God’s presence and the fact that He promises His presence if we love and obey Him. In Part Three, we will examine some of the many ways we can love God.

5. HOW DO WE OBEY AND LOVE GOD?

Image result for Free Clip Art of QuestionsSo, if God tells us to seek His face: What do we do to find Him? Why do we sometimes feel aware of Him and other times not? What makes it more, or less, likely?

Summary:
How we behave when we truly love another human instructs us how to obey and love God.

  • If we love Him. . . we will obey His commands.
  • If we love Him, we will . . . meditate on the Word.
  • If we love Him, we will . . . talk with Him – all day
  • If we love Him, we will . . . live our life for Him and do our specific work for Him each day
  •  However, there is no magic formula.

Image result for Free Picture of Father In ParkHow we behave when we truly love another human instructs us how to obey and love God. We will do work for those we truly love, like a parent lovingly labors to provide for his family and does special works of love as well. A mom will stay up late, making a Ralph S. Mouse costume for book character day. A dad will take his kids to a park, even when he is exhausted.

When we love a person, we will also do what they ask, we will think about the words they say, we will talk with them when we are with them, we will sing that person’s praises to others, and we will simply dote on them, as when a parent takes a child into their lap and cuddles them or when a husband and wife embrace. If we truly love God, all these things will come naturally, just as they come naturally when we love a human.

The most important thing, however, is obedience.  God clearly says that if we do not obey Him, we do not truly love Him.

He who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.“  (John 14:21, NIV)

If we love Him. . . we will obey His commands. God told Old Testament believers how to seek Him. Psalm 24:4-5 gives God’s first requirement of those who would seek Him. We are told to have clean hands and a pure heart,  to not worship idols (be sure God is first in our life), and never tell lies (Psalm 24:4, NLT) And verse 6 in the AMPC clearly says “This is the generation [description] of those  who seek Him  . . . ) (emphasis added).

If we love Him, we will . . .  meditate on the Word. If you really love someone, you think about what they said they wanted you to do right? That holds true whether that is a child, a friend or a spouse. God tells us what He wants us to do in His Word. For every believer, it is essential to think on His Word all day. He tells us to in Deuteronomy 6:7 and numerous other places in the Bible. Why? So we will live like He wants us to rather than yielding to the temptations of the world, “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (I John 2:16, KJV)

Another reason, I believe, that God commands us to ponder on His Word constantly is that thinking about God’s Word all day keeps our human mind safe from fear and worry, which are more of a problem for some of us (like me) than others. Also, if we are always learning some new Bible truth about issues that trouble us, we will gradually learn the Bible principles pertaining to that issue or at least enough to master it with God’s grace.

Image result for Free Clip Art of ShieldGod’s Word in my mind is a shield around my mind.

If we love Him, we will . . . talk with Him – all day. Perhaps you have heard of the classic little book “The Practice of the Presence of God”? Written in the 17th century, this small book shows us how to be aware of God’s presence throughout the day, every day. Brother Lawrence, the author, shows that the most important thing is to simply to talk with God as we go about our everyday tasks of life. The Bible models this behavior for us. Consider Abraham, whom God called His friend. You certainly talk with a friend. Consider Enoch who “walked with God”; surely when we walk with someone, we talk with them! Consider David, who obviously talked with God often!

“Brother Lawrence insisted that, to be constantly aware of God’s presence, it is necessary to form the habit of continually talking with Him throughout each day.” (The Practice of the Presence of God, p. 11)

Whenever I feel distant from Him, I usually find I have stopped talking with Him during daily life, and, that simply to begin talking with Him again restores my soul. It is amazing that I so often forget this simple thing, but I can only thank God for always reminding me to talk with Him and for telling me clearly that He does not condemn my human weaknesses (Psalm 103:14).

IImage result for free clip art of workf we love Him, we will . . . live our life for Him and do our specific work for Him each day.  Throughout the 29 days it has taken to write this, Holy Spirit has edited heavily! One essential truth I left out in the first few drafts was:  We find His presence so often when we are just doing our best to live our individual, simple daily life for Him (I Peter 2:12, I Thessalonians 4:11).

We also find God when we are doing our specific work for Him, letting our light shine into the darkness (Mathew 5:16). We find the joy of His presence as we serve Him.

The love, the joy, the peace, all the good fruits that He showers on us every day as we live for Him are all part of His presence, and they are Him. God is love (I John 4:8), He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14-18), His joy in us gives us His strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and on and on.

Image result for free clip art of fruits of the spirit

We cannot outgive God! When we give Him a daily life that pleases Him and when we do the work He told us to, He surprises us with good things, like awareness of His presence and the indescribable pleasures that His presence brings.

However, there is no magic formula, even when we do all we can. There is no magic formula to make ourselves aware of God’s presence. God is God! He is in heaven, and we mere humans, His creations, are here below on earth. It would be presumptuous to think we have control over anything at all, much less anything concerning God, the Almighty, the Creator, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega!  Take heed and stand in awe of God. Let us remember our proper place, at His feet, in constant, grateful worship and swift readiness to obey His slightest command.  Remember Micah 6:8? We are to walk humbly before our God.

But, let us at the same time, remember He does tell us to seek his presence and He does tell us how we can do that.  So, why are we not always aware of Him?

To be continued in Part Four.  Be blessed as you seek God’s presence today!

God Promises His Presence IF . . . Part Two

Review: In Part One on this subject, we learned that God’s presence is often termed “God’s face”,  that He tells us to seek His face, that it is a vital need for us, and that He will help us. In Part Two, we will learn basic truth’s about God’s presence, and we will see that He promises His presence if we love and obey Him.

3. BASIC TRUTHS ABOUT GODS PRESENCE.

Image result for royalty free picture of god watching over usHere are some basic truths about God’s presence. This is just a start on what is very long list.

  • God is always, always, always with us, watching over us, whether we are consciously aware of His presence or not.
  • God’s presence is a HUGE blessing.
  • God’s presence is a gift, not something we can earn.
  • God’s presence is a mystery.

God is always, always, always with us, watching over us, whether we are consciously aware of His presence or not. (Deuteronomy 31:6; Isaiah 41:10, and Zephaniah 3:17). Because we know God is always with us, we can go ahead and live our daily life, by faith, and enjoy our life, whether we feel His presence or not.  To me, Psalm 37:3 says that if we trust Him and do good, we will then (because of trusting Him and doing good) dwell in the land (which means to me, the promised land, the place where His promises are manifested in our lives.) Then, He will be faithful to us and we will definitely be taken care of.

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

God’s presence is a HUGE blessing. In Psalm 16 we hear David taking refuge in the Lord, praising God and thanking God for His goodness, which includes the joy of His presence. David affirms his commitment to the Lord and tells Him “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, AMPC). The blessings we have when we are in God’s presence are countless. Three of the most precious to me are peace (Exodus 33:14-17), the reassurance of protection (Joshua 1:5; Isaiah 43:1-2), and that joy David speaks of in Psalm 16:11.    The most important of these for me, at this moment in my life, is peace.

What blessing of God’s presence do you most need right now?

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

Image result for royalty free picture of a giftGod’s presence is a gift, not something we can earn. Being aware of God’s presence is an indescribable privilege and a gift, not to be taken lightly and not to be thought of as something we are “entitled” to or that we can earn.  We are to have an attitude of humility before the Lord.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, NIV)

In John 7:37-39, Jesus promises the Spirit to those who were thirsty for Him. Notice that those who believed in Jesus would receive the Spirit and that the Spirit would be given.

“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (NIV)

God’s presence is a mystery.  As a human, I cannot expect to completely understand the mystery of being aware of God’s presence. Job 24 says that the wonders God does with the sky and seas are but the “outskirts of his ways or the mere fringes of His force”  so “Who dares contemplate or who can understand the thunders of His full, magnificent power? (Job 26:14 AMPC).  I can only reverently ponder God’s mysteries and be grateful for His mercies and His lovingkindness.

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” Psalm 109:6, NIV.

In my opinion if we did understand it more, or could in some measure control it, we would likely misuse it, like we humans have misused our advanced understanding of human sexuality. I will be content with God’s reassurance that

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3, NIV.)

However, I will continue to seek His face – always!

4. GOD PROMISES HIS PRESENCE IF WE LOVE AND OBEY HIM

If God promises something, we can be assured He will keep his promise. God does not lie, He does not change His mind, and He does what He says He will do. (I Samuel 15:29)

  • One purpose of the Upper Room Discourse.
  • God promises He will reveal himself to us and let Himself be clearly seen by us.
  • God promises He will make his home in us.

Image result for royalty free picture of upper roomOne purpose of the Upper Room Discourse.  Chapters 13-17 of the gospel of John are called the Upper Room Discourse, the last time Jesus addressed His disciples as a group. He invited them into a closer, more intimate relationship with Him. And He clearly told them, and us, how to have that intimate relationship. Ponder that fact. Jesus knew the disciples would especially remember what He said to them on that night, and He chose that time to invite them into a closer relationship with Him.  Why?

At the end of his discourse, Jesus explains why He had said these things.

“I have told you these things so that (emphasis added) in Me you have [perfect] and complete peace and confidence. In the world, you will have tribulation and trial and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, secure, and undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (John 16:33, AMPC).

Jesus knew what His disciples would face, and He was making sure they would know how to find His peace.

Jesus knew the trials each of us would face in this world, and He told us clearly how to live in His peace.

Image result for royalty free picture of fogGod promises He will reveal himself to us and let Himself be clearly seen by us. Jesus told his disciples:

“The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]” (John 14:21, AMPC)

This was one of the verses that helped me overcome depression and fear that had lasted two years. During the healing process, I learned the benefit of meditating on the Word all day long. I carried this verse, and others, everywhere. I repeated the last part of this promise– that He would let me see Him clearly–over and over. That brought comfort when nothing else seemed to.

Knowing I would be able to feel His presence gave me hope, because I knew from experience that the slightest touch from God brings deep peace and joy.

I desperately needed to be aware of God’s presence during those long months and moments of emotional turmoil.  During those moments when all I could feel was fear and sadness and hopelessness, that verse always gave hope and a measure of peace, because I knew God would keep His promise, even if it took a while. Sometimes that “while” was part of a day, sometimes much longer, but He always did—and still does—allow me the unspeakable privilege of seeing Him clearly. He helps me feel I am not alone.

God promises He will make His Home in us. Jesus promises that if we love God and obey His commandments, He will make his home in us.  Jesus gave one of the most comforting promises possible when He said

“. . . If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching[; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him.” (John 14:23)

Image result for royalty free picture of child opening doorThat means, that even when we cannot feel His presence, He IS living in us and He IS with us. He is always with us because He makes his home, his living place, with us. I liken that to when a child walks through the front door, calling out “Mama!” That child knows Mama is there—because Mama is always there. Mama lives there, Mama makes her home there, with that child, and that child knows if he calls to her, he will hear her voice and he can go find her.

I think (and this is just my idea, not a specific example from the Bible) it could be like God and I live in the same home, but sometimes we are not in the same room, and I have to go find him or, the other way around!  We are with Him and He is with us in the same house, but we are not in His presence until we go to where He is. And, like the perfect parent He is, He always responds to our calling out for Him. If we go where He is, we will see His face.

When I bring my grandsons back to their house after a visit, they call out “Mama! Papa!” as soon as they walk through the door. Papa might be in the back yard, and Mama might be using the computer in the bedroom, but my grandsons know their parents are somewhere in the house, ready with a hug and an ear to hear what they did. And my grandsons want to be in their presence, to see Mama and Papa – face to face.

Image result for royalty free picture of FATHER AND SON

 

God Promises His Presence IF. . . – Part One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. GOD TELLS US TO SEEK HIS FACE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for royalty free picture of david sheperd boyo

My spiritual emergency kit

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

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

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

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

God must train us to keep ourselves calm in hard times. With the “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration” of this world (John 16:33, AMPC), we Christ followers must be able to keep ourselves calm.  This essential ability comes only with training. “Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law that You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.” (Psalm 94:12-13, AMPC). 

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

. . . so that we will wobble. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for royalty free picture of kitten sleepingh

 

 

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

 

 

Think about Eden

“Think About Eden”

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

He dims the light

softens the sound

cools the air

and flames heaven with patterned colors,

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

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

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

Pause in your rush to do. Listen.

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

Honor His love for you.

Pay attention.

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

Let Him delight your ear with birdsong and thrumming silence.

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

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

Let Him give your body rest.

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

And thank Him.

You will feel His presence.

You will know His love.

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

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

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

Image result for royalty free picture of the garden of eden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Parents Hand Reaching Out To Child

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Time to go, but remember this!

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

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

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

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

All-Seeing, All-Knowing

Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of Quill PenThis writing thing. Well, fellow pilgrim, I must say this writing thing is an adventure, with many twists and turns along the way. I intended this poem to be an easy blog post because, lately, writing time has been reduced. Then, I found an answer to something I  have pondered for years– how to make poetry more useful.

Writing poetry blesses me because Bible truths come to my mind, but I could not see how to ensure readers saw the underlying Bible truths. Today, I saw the obvious, i.e., just add the explanation into the  poem. So, here we go.  First, the entire poem alone, and then the poem with Bible truths added in.

And would you do me a favor please? Let me know what you think about this format, either in the comment section below this post or by sending me an email (on the “Email me” tab.) God bless you as you read!

“All Seeing, All Knowing”

All seeing, all knowing, how great is Your name!
It wipes out all fear, all guilt, and all shame.
Oh! Thank You, my Dearest, my beloved Sweet One,
for new life in my soul, through Jesus, Your Son.

May He live deep within by the Spirit’s great grace.
May He guide and correct as I run this great race.
He’ll help me press on. In His strength I’m made whole
forgetting the past, made new in my soul!

No more of old me! That person is dead.
I’m risen with new life, Lord, just as You said!

I’m risen with . . .

. . . new life that arises and shines from within,
that shines through the darkness and keeps me from sin,
that reveals the desires of the flesh and the eyes,
that reveals deadly pride and helps me walk wise.

How I thank You, my Jesus, for all that You’ve done,
for abounding new life, for making us one!
No more are we split by sin’s great divide,
We’re one in the blood that flowed from Your side,

Yes, when I walk in Your way,
when I carry Your Name,
all things are made new, yes, nothing’s the same!

“All Seeing, All Knowing” — Bible Truths Included

All seeing, all knowing, how great is Your name!
It wipes out all fear, all guilt, and all shame.
God sees and knows everything. (Isaiah 40:28-29) That is His nature, part of His name or attributes. A name is a word by which we know or describe someone or something. God’s name means His nature. This is helpful to remember when pondering Scriptures with the “name” of God. For example, Psalm 33:22 (“In him our hearts rejoice for we trust in his holy name”) shows that when we trust in the name, or nature of God, in His good qualities, our hearts will be happy.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of CrownWhen we are adopted into His kingdom, when we bear His name, all fear, guilt, and shame are wiped out. (I John 1:7)

Oh! Thank You, my Dearest, my beloved Sweet One,
for new life in my soul, through Jesus, Your Son.
May God, who gave us new life through the blood His only begotten Son Jesus, shed on Calvary (John 3:16), be the “Fairest of Ten Thousand” to our souls, as the 1881 hymn “The Lilly of the Valley” by Charles Fry says.

May He live deep within by the Spirit’s great grace.
May He guide and correct as I run this great race.
Before Jesus left this earth, He told us that if we truly love Him and obey His teachings, He and the Father will love us and make their home in our heart. (John 14:23)

Image result for royalty free clip art of feet runningLet us long for Holy Spirit’s guidance as we endeavor, like Paul, “. . . to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with patience the race set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

He’ll help me press on. In His strength I’m made whole
forgetting the past, made new in my soul!
Like Paul, let us remember that although we will never attain perfection on earth, we can “press on” toward maturity, putting all our confidence in Christ as we strive to “. . . take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of” us. (Philippians 3:14)

 No more of old me! That person is dead.
I’m risen with new life, Lord, just as You said!
As we learn in Romans 6:1-23, when we were baptized into Christ Jesus, our old self was “. . . crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be done away with in order that “we should no longer be slaves to sin “ (v. 4- 6)

So, we can “count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore . . . “ we do not have to let sin reign in our mortal bodies. (v. 11) As we follow Jesus, He frees us from enslavement to sin. We are free from its power. (NLT)

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Empty TombI’m risen with . . .
. . . new life that arises and shines from within,
What a promise 2 Corinthians 5:17 contains. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (NKJV) The AMPC says, “. . . the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away.”

that shines through the darkness and keeps me from sin,
God’s Word cuts through the darkness of our world and lights the way for my next few steps (“Your Word is a lamp to my feet. . . ”) and it also shines light further away, along the path (. . . and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105.) Jesus is the Living Word and when He lives in our hearts – what a bright light we are privileged to have! As I John 1:5b teaches us “. . . God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him [no, not in any way]” AMPC.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Lamp On Dark Path

that reveals the desires of the flesh and the eyes,
that reveals deadly pride and helps me walk wise
With the light of God–Light that is God–in our hearts, our eyes are enlightened to see sin as sin. And when we use the Sword of God’s Word (Ephesians 6:17), that Living Word penetrates to the deepest part of our hearts and shows us whether the thoughts and purposes of our hearts are good or evil.

“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immoral] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, AMPC)

How I thank You, my Jesus, for all that You’ve done,
for abounding new life, for making us one!
Although the enemy of our souls, the devil, always seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, Jesus came to give us a “rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10, ESV) We have that life when we are one with Him. “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (I Corinthians 6:17, ESV)

No more are we split by sin’s great divide,
We’re one in the blood that flowed from Your side,
Sin separates us from God. It is a huge chasm we cannot cross on our own. Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our iniquities have separated us from God; our sins have hidden His face from us, so that He will not hear. But, when we are united in purpose with Jesus, when we are one with Him, when we strive to live like Him and pour out our life for others as He did, our life is united with Him in His life, His blood.

Image result for royalty free picture of walking with jesusYes, when I walk in Your way,
when I carry Your Name,
all things are made new, yes, nothing’s the same!
When we strive, with all our heart, soul and mind, to walk, or live, like Jesus did, when we make His purposes the focus of our life, we share in His likeness. We carry His likeness, His nature, His Name, to the world. As God shines His light and love through us, He uses us for the sake of His Kingdom. And His presence in our life overflows us with blessings.

Once we give up our old life of sin, we are new creatures, and nothing is ever the same again. It just gets “sweeter as the days go by”, as James Poyser attested in his famous song. May we strive to be “. . . to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15, Berean Study Bible).

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Need help memorizing?

Image result for free clip art of memoryNeed help memorizing? Memory work is hard for most everyone, me included! But hiding God’s Word in my heart so that I could meditate on it all day long was the main thing God used to heal me of severe depression and anxiety. Diagramming the Word helped with memory. It also helped me find God’s promises and learn how to walk in those promises.

Diagramming is difficult to do as a blog post, so the diagram of Psalm 91 is on the Resources page of this website. If you cannot download the Word file, email me and I will email the document to you.

Why Psalm 91? It is an all-time favorite, and it gives clear instructions on how to dwell in God’s presence and protection. Keeping God’s Word in my heart has been like God’s rod and staff, giving precious guidance and comfort daily. I pray this aid to memory helps you find the still waters God has prepared for you.

So, go to the Resource tab and please let me know if this helps you in your pursuit of God’s Word.

Love and prayers,

Freda

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God busies Himself with your details

Little details are BIG. I signed in at the office and walked down the hall, gazing fondly at pages taped to walls, grouped by classroom, thickly-penciled letters sprawling above and below that distinctive blue-lined paper, with red dots splitting each line. The mashed-potatoes-and-baking-bread smell led me to the cafeteria, filled with mostly empty metal folding chairs.

“Whew!” I took a seat on the front row. Waiting for fifteen minutes was a small price to ensure Haskell saw me. I touched the gold-plated spiral pin clipped to the neck of my tank top and tugged my long skort forward to cover more of two pudgy knees. Haskell would think I was gorgeous, that was all that mattered.

I talked with the mom who joined me on the front row, musing that she was about the age of my daughter, who had to work this morning. Then, students filed in, class by class, the principal welcomed everyone to the award ceremony, and called the two kindergarten classes to the stage.

Haskell was the twelfth kindergartner in line. When he turned around, wide eyes searching the audience, I stuck my hand up high and waved. He smiled a tight, close-lipped smile and waved back, lifting his hand just above his waist.

“Had the teacher told them not to wave?” I wondered.

Then Haskell touched his neck, at the spot where I wore the pin and smiled the wide, full-hearted smile I loved. Tears sprang to my eyes as I touched my hand to the clip at my neck, nodded, and gave him two thumbs-up. After he had spotted that clip in Nana’s joo-ree box a few months ago, I had worn it, whenever he asked, which was often, and wherever he wanted, which included the gym and the grocery, and while vacuuming, delighted that he wanted to decorate his Nana.

“Thank You, Lord, that I remembered this little detail. It is huge to him!”

Image result for royalty free clip art of footstepsTeach me gratitude, Lord, for Your daily attention to details of my life. As I drove back home, I reflected on what I remembered of Psalm 37:23, that God busies himself with the steps of the righteous. When I got home, I looked it up:

“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. (Psalm 37:23, AMPC)

“Oh, Father” I said. “I was overjoyed when Haskell noticed I had worn our special pin. His smiling face said ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you, Nana!’ Father, help me remember to thank You, with my whole heart and a big smile, for the countless details of everyday life You prepare just for me, like songs on the radio, a text from a friend and smiles from strangers, just when I need them. You truly do arrange every detail of the life we share, don’t You, Lord?”

Teach me gratitude, Lord, for Your new mercies that come every day. “And make me more mindful for the big things You give day after day, like the breath of life, food, a home, a loving family, and most of all the privilege of knowing You. Truly, Father, Your faithfulness is great, just like You show us in Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

I paused, seeing the dining table of my childhood, Daddy at the head of the table, orange knotty pine wall behind him, lengthening late afternoon shadows visible through the window, the view partly obscured by drapes embossed with turquoise flowers. Daddy taught us to thank Mother for supper, and my two brothers and I did, in our own words, and, as I recall, using the same words each time – “Thanks Mother. It was good.” “Thank you, Mother. ‘ppreciate it.” and “Thank you, Mother, for a good supper.” She had always smiled and given each of us a sincere “You’re welcome!”

“But how much more would she have appreciated our thanks,” I pondered, “If we had said, ‘The meatloaf was great tonight!’ or ‘Your biscuits and gravy are the best!’ or ‘That fried chicken was sooo good!”

She never got tired of hearing us thank her, and You never get tired of hearing us thank You either, do you Lord? So thank You, Father, again, for my family, thank You that I have a car to drive to Haskell’s school, thank You . . . “

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Teach me gratitude that You are the loving Father who teaches us. I sat at my desk and opened the three Bibles I use most often when I write. I wanted to check my memory. As I read verse 22, I saw it was connected to verse 23. Psalm 37:22-23 said:

  • (New Living) “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.”
  • (New International) “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD holds him with his hand.”
  • (Amplified Classic) “The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.” (Psalm 37:23-24, AMPC)

As I compared translations, I marveled again at how Holy Spirit deepens our understanding when we focus and try earnestly to understand God’s Words. As I read and reread the verses, cause and effect linkages emerged:

[1] When we live a godly life, God delights in our way, or our manner of life.

[2] When God delights in how we are living, He busies Himself with every detail of our lives,

[3] Because of [1] and [2], even though we stumble and fall, we will not stay down because the LORD holds our hand and supports, sustains, and strengthens us.

At first glance, the NIV and NLT, which said we would never fall, seemed to disagree with the AMPC, which indicated we would fall.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Father And CHILD Walking“Hmmm, Lord? What is the key to understanding this? Well, if I think of a father holding the hand of a little child as they walk together, that child could stumble and fall, but a loving, attentive father, like You are, Lord, would grasp that little hand even more tightly the moment the child began falling so that the child would fall only to his knees and not all the way to the ground, as he would have if the father were not holding his hand and pulling him back up.

Oh, Father! Teach me to always, always, always hold on to Your mighty hand! Let me be grateful You hold my hand. Let me not resist but agree willingly when Your hand tugs me in a specific direction. Keep teaching me to have the same mind as You, to agree with You, so that we can walk together (Amos 3:3). Keep my feet on the paths of righteousness that lead to eternal life. (Proverbs 12:28) What comforting reassurance these verses bring! Thank You, Lord!

Image result for royalty free PICTURE OF SCROLLTeach me to rightly divide Your Word. I closed my eyes and searched for words to express my gratitude. “Thank You, Father, for teaching me to look at more than just one verse. Otherwise, today, I would have missed the connection between verse 22 and verse 23.”

Recently, God had impressed on me the importance of studying out the context of verses I memorized and ones that reappeared in teachings and sermons I heard.

At minimum, I had learned to scan several verses before and after any one verse, checking for connecting words and phrases that indicated cause and effect, words like for, because, therefore, and so that. Ideally, I wanted to know the main message of the book of the Bible the verse was in, the historical, Biblical, and cultural context, a broad outline of the book and a detailed outline of the chapter.

“Well, no, I pondered. “Not just one chapter. I have learned that the original writings were not divided into chapter and verse. I see both missed blessings and danger in letting the thoughts of men, no matter how learned and holy they were, rather than Holy Spirit, determine for me where to “divide” the Truth.

Father, I will study out 2 Timothy 2:15 more but I do believe part of the meaning of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” is to keep the passages that are all of one piece, as one piece in our thinking, rather than picking one or two verses here or there.

However, I do know that just one or two verses or brief passages can accurately be taught if the pastor or Bible teacher has followed 2 Timothy 2:15 and done the diligent, time-consuming study necessary for proper understanding. That is the spoon-feeding I had lapsed into for so long. Thank You, Father, for using fear and depression to make me desperate enough to study Your Word, diligently, for my personal needs.

Thank You, Father, for busying Yourself with the details of my life today by teaching me how to better study Your Word. It feels like You put truths there just for me, just like I wore that pin so that Haskell would know I was thinking about him, and so he could see that what was important to him was important to me. What a loving Father You are, Lord!

Thank You for Your great grace and Your mercies, which are new every morning, as You say in Lamentations 3:23. . . and I see that verse 22 says, “It is because of the LORD’s great love that we are not consumed because Your compassions never fail. And actually, that whole Chapter Three of Lamentations is so instructive, let’s see . . . let’s start at verse one and recall that the author is probably Jeremiah and that he was writing about. . .

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