May I Be You

Jesus, this one thing I seek to do…May I love others as you have loved me.  Break my heart for your people…may I see them as you see them.  May I be you today.  Amen

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Photo taken from Cliff Walk/Newport Rhode Island

“This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you.” ___John 15:12

“Wear My Love like a cloak of Light, covering you from head to toe.  Have no fear, for perfect Love decimates fear.  Look at other people through lenses of love; see them from My Perspective.  This is how you walk in the Light, and it pleases Me” ___ Jesus Calling/Sarah Young

 

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Walking Through Psalms: Focus

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Johnny Depp getting a better focus in Sleep Hollow

When my glasses become smudged, I’m forced to read words through a haze.  Many times I’ve taken them off my nose and used my shirt to wipe away the haze; however, it only creates a greater murkiness in which to navigate the letters upon the page.  This is frustrating.  Why doesn’t the shirt work?  Shirts are readily accessible…we wear them, for goodness sake!

Ah…but alas, it never fails, I sit down to “put words to page”-(ancient Greek for keyboard typing)- only to realize my glasses are dirty.   I usually have lens wipes close at hand for such occasions; however sometimes, I reach for one and it’s not there.  Then I remember, I used the last one at the previous sitting.  I had intended to replenish the stack but of course I forgot.

This conundrum creates a dilemma.  Do I get up and get a lens wipe or do I attempt to create my story peering through dirty glasses?  I usually try to do the latter, because the creative juices are flowing, and as a writer, I want to “get it while the getting’s good.” (okay…confession…laziness may play a small part)  Inevitably, I always get up and get the damn lens wipe, as I hate looking through dirty glasses.

I thought about this scenario, as I read Psalms 18:1, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.

In the midst of living life, it’s so easy to forget the source of our strength.  I don’t think that a sin, I just think it’s human nature.  Whenever this happens, we focus on the problem and then laboriously we try to solve the riddle.  The problem then grows, our strength falters and we are forced to acknowledge our weakness.

This can be a good thing, if it causes us to redirect our focus to Jesus.  Doing this will not make the problem go away, but it assures us we are not alone.  It assures us we are connected to a God who loves us, a God who is ever-present, a God who is working on our behalf and a God who is in control.  Dirty lenses can make us aware of our need for God.

To see clearly, our glasses need to be cleaned and cleaned often.

So get up and get the lens wipe.

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Fear not, little flock;  for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  

(Luke 12:32)

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.  

(Psalms 18:2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be On The Lookout

Psalms 16:11

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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Beth, my daughter, looking out over the Shenandoah Valley.

This morning I was reading my little devotional (Jesus Calling) and one sentence seemed to jump off the page and speak to me in a personal way.  It said, “Be on the lookout for what I am doing in your life.”

God used those words to snap me back to attention.  Those words brought immediate conviction into my heart.  I realized I had become apathetic.

Sometimes we forget why we do the things God has called us to do.  It becomes routine. I’m sure I’m not the only one who unknowingly falls into this kind of snare.  It’s easy to stay so busy that we lose sight of God’s presence.

Evidently, King David understood this struggle as he wrote,   “You [God] will show me the path of life.  In your presence is fullness of joy…at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Just to paraphrase in my own words…this is what that scripture says to me…  “Oh God..open my eyes!  Wake me up so I can see what you are doing.  Wake me up!  You are here…in the now… in this very moment!”

My joy is full when I abide in His presence.  When I know my God walks beside me…I at his right hand…my heart becomes so full of Joy that I can’t hide it…it spills over to all those around.  And that…that… dear friends, is why we do God’s work.  My church’s motto sums it up well…  “receive love.  give love. repeat”  But in order to accomplish this, “We need to be on the lookout to what He is doing in our lives.”

My prayer:  Lord, forgive me for being so lackadaisical in my daily routines.  Open my eyes and be my vision.  Help me to abide in Your presence even when I do the mundane, because You are here and You have something for me to learn.  Lord I don’t want to miss it…I want to recognize and hear your voice.  Please help me to be on the lookout for what you are doing in my life.  Thank you, Lord.  In Jesus name…amen.

 (A publication in the series “Walk Through Psalms)

Do you like spooky stuff?  Visit my other blog Creepy Reflections.

You Can’t Fix Everything

 

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Cape Neddick Lighthouse, York, Maine

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

This verse became ever apparent to me, some 28 plus years ago.  My first-born lay in an incubator attached to all sorts of life saving apparatuses.  She was a preemie baby.  I had stayed diligently by her “capsule” of a bed for days, but atlas, there came a time when I had to go home-85.6 miles away.  That night I lay in bed, wide awake, thinking of all things that could go wrong-things that could take my baby away from me.  As I lay there in the shadows, my mother’s heart ached to be by her side.  Maybe, I surmised, my presence could some how-some way, ward off the bad things and my baby would be safe.  I felt if I could only control the situation, all would be well; and so, there I lay, an hour and a half’s drive away, plotting ways keep control.  The night was dark, from a waning moon, and the shimmer of the stars-outside my bedroom window-caught my eye, mesmerizing me with all of God’s Glory.   In that moment all thoughts of control slipped away, and a gentle voice seemed to whisper…”Look at all of these I have created…I will, also take care of Beth.” Perfect peace flooded my soul and I was finally able to “let go” and fall into the sleep, I, so desperately needed.

Press the fast forward button to “Boston 2016,” and notice the  beautiful women, my daughter, sitting in her own office.  These days, Beth, with a Master’s Degree in Psychology,  cares for every one of her clients that sit upon her couch.  To say the least, I am one proud mama!

Last week, I received a phone call from Beth, in which she told me of some not-so-good-news, and immediately I became a scared mama of 22, plotting and trying to “fix” the broken things in her baby’s life. However, it wasn’t long until my Father, in His same gentle voice, whispered, “…Remember…remember those stars…it’s okay…I got this one too…”

Isaiah 26: 3-“You will keep [her] in perfect peace, whose mind in stayed on You, because [she] trusts in You-” … is just as true as it was 28 years ago.

No, I can’t fix everything, but I know Who can.

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Beth standing in front of Cape Neddick Lighthouse.

Relax in the knowledge that the One who controls your life is totally trustworthy.

(Sarah Young)

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Newport, Rhode Island

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.  (Psalms 95:2)

Corinne and I were blessed to be able to go to Newport, Rhode Island last weekend.  The weather was perfect, the food was good and the company-superb!

So restful to know, God is in control.

More Than a Feeling

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?  Psalms 11:3

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True faith is more than a feeling.  Our feelings change but the foundation of our faith never changes.  That’s not to say we can’t change our opinions, of course we can.  I once believed drinking alcohol in any fashion was sin, but I no longer hold to that opinion. I once believed only conservative, evangelical baptists were truly “saved” and “heaven-bound;” thank God, those blinders have been removed and my narrowed vision, widened.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Paul is saying as we grow we change.  As we grow in Christ, our personal convictions may change over the years, and that’s okay.  We shouldn’t be so rigid in our opinions that we become hardened to the wooing of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus once asked his disciples, ” Are your hearts hardened? Though you have eyes, do you not see? And though you have ears, do you not hear and listen [to what I have said]?”  I hate to say this, but it seems to me, the disciples could be rather dense, but to be fair, I suppose we all are, in some areas; especially when it comes to being “doers” of the Word and not “hearers” only.  Most of us only want to be “hearers” and then “tellers” of the Word.  It’s so easy to skip the “doing” part.  

Anyway, much of the time, the disciples,  just didn’t get what Jesus was trying to say. Why?  I believe it was partly because their hearts had been hardened by their own preconceived ideas and selfish desires.  When we assume we already know what’s right or what’s wrong it becomes hard for our spiritual eyes to see or our spiritual ears to hear God’s voice.  It is so important that our hearts remain tender to the voice of God. We should ask him everyday to give us understanding hearts that are receptive to His Spirit. 

So, have I lost my faith because I no longer believe everything taught to me as a child?  Of course not. Do I have to be “right” in all my opinions to have true faith.  Absolutely not. When it’s all said and done my faith rests on this one simple concept:  My God loves me.  No matter how I feel, no matter my interpretation of “certain” passages of scripture, and no matter what I perceive to be or not to be sin, this one thing is ever constant; God loves me.  (And you should know that He loves you too!)  The fact, God loves us, should be rooted within our inner most being, and should be the foundation, upon which, everything else is built upon.

I John 4:19 tells us, “We love him, because he first loved us.”  When a person truly realizes just how much God loves them, they can’t help but fall madly in love with Him.  It doesn’t happen overnight because it takes us time to grasp the full spectrum of God’s love; However, the more we meditate and dwell in God’s love the more we grow to love him. Jesus says in John 15:9, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”  He admonishes us to abide [live] in His love for good reason.  In the very next verse he says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”   And so, the benefit of abiding in God’s love is joy, and the proof that we are abiding in God’s love is our love for others.

Oswald Chambers suggests that our faith must be tried and tested through the “everyday realities of life,” and until that occurs, our faith is  only sustained by feelings and blessings. How easy it is to have faith when there’s an abundant supply of God’s blessings in our life. Or when our emotions are quickened, so much so, that we feel on fire for God.  How strong we feel in our faith during those times!  I love those mountain top experiences.  Don’t you?

But, what do we do when all of that is stripped away? What happens when God’s blessings are ripped from our lives?  What happens when we feel alone and it seems that God is no where to be found?  If our faith is based on our feelings, then we are left naked, bare, and of men, most miserable.

David in Psalms 11:3 laments, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  The key word from David’s question is “foundations.”  What or who is the foundation of our faith?  Is it a feeling, or is it Christ?

It’s a law of physics, (or should be if not) when the foundation crumbles the house will fall. There’s a song I used to sing as child about two men who built, for themselves a house.  The foolish man built his house upon sand and when the stormy rains came, the foundation was swept away and his house fell.  The wise man, built his house upon a rock and when the stormy rains came, his house withstood and stayed firm upon the rock.  The lesson, of course, being, make sure you build your faith upon the right foundation, because the storms will come and our faith will be tested.   It is inevitable.  Of this, Oswald Chambers writes, “But once we get there [the trying of our faith], no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life.”

Faith placed in God’s love will never fail because God’s love for us never changes.   Even during the hardest of times, when we “feel” all is lost, we can know our faith stands, because faith is more than a feeling.  Feelings change with the wind, but God never changes, and because He never changes our faith remains when all else fails.

Each trial, of our faith, makes us stronger.  James 1:3-4, Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].  And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.”  

What does, all of  this mean, and how can we, actually apply it in our daily life?

We can, and should, exercise our faith, and it would be wise to do it before we have to face the “big trials and tribulations.”  Our faith is tested, in small ways, every day, and if we are conscious of this, we can exercise our faith and it will begin to grow on a daily basis.  From Charisma Magazine, Joyce Meyer, writes,

“Faith can grow, but it only grows when we use it. It’s like a muscle. The way you build a bigger muscle is through effort—you have to use it.  As it grows, you have to use heavier weights or exercises that require greater effort to keep it growing.

It’s the same way with our faith. We put our faith in God to get through a challenge or trial, and later on, another harder trial comes along. Eventually we find that things that used to bother us or were hard to deal with aren’t a problem for us anymore because our faith has grown.”

Faith, like our muscles, grow when when exercised.  How do we exercise our faith? Well, here are some practical ways in which I try to exercise my faith on a daily basis…

  • Start early.  In the mornings, before I roll our to bed, I try to remember to spend a few moments with God.  It can be as simple as telling him “good morning” or thanking him for a safe night.  Maybe, I’ll use this time to ask for guidance, or better yet, just to tell him how much I love him.  The key point is to acknowledge God early in your day.
  • Commit to having a thankful heart.  I try to be conscious and thankful for the little things that make my life better. Such things as, having a bathroom in which all I have to do is use and flush.  Some don’t have that luxury.  In the mornings, I enjoy coffee in my cup, butter on my toast and wind-chimes playing in the breeze.  God gives us these things because He loves us and He wants us to enjoy our life.  Since it’s so easy to take these things for granted, I try to, “on purpose” commit to having a thankful attitude throughout my day.
  • Resist temptation.  Be aware of the little things that trip us up.   The Song of Solomon warns us it’s “the little foxes that spoil the vines.”  Just to name a few of the “little foxes” we all need to be wary of:  Our thought life…Are our thoughts positive or negative?  Are they moral or immoral?  Our love life…How am I treating my spouse?  My children?  Or the driver who cut me off in traffic?  Our eating habits…Am I going to stop eating when I’m full or will I go for round two?  Do I make wise choices in the kinds of foods I eat?  Am I sensitive to God’s voice in this matter or do I just go with my cravings, and eat whatever I want?  Taking care of the body God gave you…  Do I exercise?  What if I don’t feel like taking that walk?  Do I give in to my feelings or do I exercise my faith and just do it?  Laziness…Do I clean my house or stay on Facebook?  (Ouch)  How much do I give in to procrastination?  (Double Ouch)  Our mouth…What comes out of my mouth?  Do I praise God or do I brag about myself?  Am I “haughty” in my speech, or do I try to use humility?  Am I gossiping? Do my words lift up or tear down?
  • Live out the word.  The only way we can do this is to read God’s word.  I try to set aside a time each day to do this, even if it’s only five minutes.  Sometimes, we become legalistic and try to commit to so many chapters or so many hours a day. That’s never worked for me, in fact, it only served to keep me away from God’s word. Reading God’s word shouldn’t be a burden.  We should go to his word with the expectation of God speaking.  It doesn’t take God a whole chapter to speak to us; sometimes one verse will suffice.  We just need to listen to him and follow his guidance
  • Listen to God.  Ask God to make your heart tender to his voice.  God speaks to us in many different ways.  Of course he speaks through his word but he also uses people and circumstances to convey his will to us.  He has given us his Holy Spirit which communes with our hearts, that’s why it’s important to ask God to open the eyes and ears of our hearts, so we may hear.  Ask God to speak and then listen expectantly.
  • Remain in the spirit of prayer.    I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.”  Prayer doesn’t really consist of being on your knees and keeping your eyes closed. Prayer is simply talking to God and this can be done quietly in our mind.  Talk to God often throughout your day.  We can talk to God anywhere and during any situation.  When an ambulance passes, ask God to help that one in need.  When someone asks for prayer, pray for them right then and there within your heart. Sometimes, when I’m looking for a parking space, I’ll say to God, “Lord, it sure would be awesome to find a good parking space…”  When I’m nervous about something, I simply say to God, “Help me, Lord.”  Psalms 46:1 tells us God is, “a very present help” in our time of need.  “Help me” is probably the simplest but best prayer we can pray through out the day.

Every time we exercise our faith it becomes stronger.  The more we daily live our faith the better equipped we will be to face the harsh storms of life.  With our faith anchored in Christ, we can be certain our foundation will stand.  Sometimes we feel our faith, but sometimes we do not.  No worries, my friend, because our faith is much more than a feeling!

My Prayer:  Father, help me to walk in faith, throughout my day.  Keep my heart tender to your voice.  Help me, not only to hear your word but to live it as well.  Jesus, I accept your peace; show me how to walk in it.  May I love all those around me just as you have loved me.  All praise, honor and glory belong to you, Jesus.  Amen.

...our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life…Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life._____ Oswald Chambers

(This is a publication of “Walk Through Psalms” series)

(Also in participation of Devotional Friday Event  and Scripture Sabbath Challenge )

When Life Sucks, Faith Doesn’t Come Easy

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I chose this photo because it made me smile…no other reason.

I sat down to my computer, wanting to write a more upbeat blog than the last; as the last was kind of depressing.  So, I opened my Bible to Psalms chapter 10, since it’s the next chapter in our series entitled, “Walk Through Psalms.”   As I read, I began to realize chapter 10 was a continuation of chapter 9; which had dealt with the subject of oppression. I  tried to bask in every ray of sunshine within the chapter, but just as I started to warm, the clouds of gloom rolled over to obscure the light.

The chapter opens with David questioning God.   He prays, “Lord why do you stay so far away?  Why do you hide from people in times of trouble?”  The human part of me wants to cheer David on by saying, “Good question, David, I’d like to know the answer too!”   I looked to verse 2 to obtain the Lord’s answer;  however none was given.  In fact, God is silent throughout the whole chapter, making David’s conversation seemingly one-sided.

I hate those kinds of conversations!  Don’t you?  As an introvert, silent spaces make me extremely uncomfortable.  I feel the need to fill the gap; but the problem being, most of the time I fill the gap with something stupid, idiotic and sounding like it came from the Twilight Zone.

Oh, and voice messages are the worst!  I freaking never know how to end my message.  As I ramble on, scenes of the “hearer” laughing at my idiotic message, pop in my head, and I blush.  I actually blush!

Such is the life of an introvert. Phones are not our friend… (except for taking pictures and checking Facebook)   However, in such situations, I’ve learned to laugh at myself and pat myself on the back with the thought of…”…well…at least you made someone laugh.”  It helps, a little, but not a perfect antidote to cover the shame.  Aren’t we suppose to embrace our weirdness!  Weirdos Unite!  ….I digress….

Sometimes, as Christians,  when it comes to our prayer life, the conversations feel a bit one-sided.  We pray and God is silent. Often those silent moments become extremely long, and it’s so uncomfortable.  We want answers and we want them now, but when it comes time for God’s reply all we hear are crickets.  Silence.  What do we do when God is silent?

Of course the answer is: “Just have faith!”  Easier said than done. Having faith can become difficult in any christian’s life.  It doesn’t matter how strong of a christian you are, the bottom line is;  “When life sucks, faith doesn’t come easy.”  We can’t conjure it up on our own; God has to give us faith, but when he is silent…then what?

I remember years ago, when I had a miscarriage; some well-meaning christian quoted Romans 8:28–“…all things work together for good…” or Philippians 4:28–“…I can do all things through Christ…”  Let me tell you, that was the last thing I wanted or needed to hear. The flippant answer of “well…just have faith” is not what someone, who’s life has just been turned upside-down, needs to hear.  Instead, they need someone to cry with them, someone to hold their hand, someone to say it isn’t fair, and someone to say it sucks!   They need someone to “be Jesus” rather than attempting to “talk” like Jesus.  The old sayings, “talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder than words” are very relevant in these situations.  Easy solutions to a broken heart, only serve to “devalue” rather than “diminish” pain.

So what must we do with the silence?   Let’s make it practical…I’ve said before I love “practical Christianity.”  After all, if you can’t use Christianity  in your everyday life then what good is it?  Our salvation is so much more than a “get out of hell free” ticket.   Jesus said, ” I came that [you] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” He cares about our life…here…right now…on this earth!  He desires a personal relationship with each of us; therefore, he cares about our daily lives.  If He didn’t, he wouldn’t know the number of hairs on our head.  He wouldn’t assure us that He’s ever present, by saying… He even sees when a sparrow falls to the ground.  He tells us all of these things, because He wants us to know, He cares about our life…our everyday life.

Back to practicality…what can we do?  Remember, I claim to be no scholar,  but these have helped me in the past…so maybe, they’ll help you too…

  • Realize it’s okay to question, wonder, doubt or even be mad as hell.  Sometimes we just need to “be”…  Wherever you find yourself, just be.  Validate your feelings whatever they are.  Jesus did this when he spoke these words in the garden of Gethsemane, “…let this cup pass from me,” and again on the cross when he questioned God, “…why have you forsaken me…?”  Feelings need to be validated because it’s the only way in which we work through them.  Anything and everything you and I can feel Jesus has already felt it.  Hebrews says this of Jesus, “…[He] is able to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses…infirmities…temptations, …[He] has been tempted in every respect as we are…”
  • Realize Jesus has overcome.  We have a champion in Christ. Not only has he experienced everything we can ever  experience, but He has made it through to the other side.  Jesus tells us…” In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
  • Don’t expect quick solutions.  Sometimes they occur, but more often than not, it takes time  and a lot of it.  I struggled with my faith for years.   Early on, doubt and fear seeded itself in my mind; it took root, spread, and ran rampant.  It started as a child, and continued throughout much of  my young adult years.  I constantly doubted my salvation and it was horrible feeling.  I never, truly, had peace until I finally saw just,  “who” I was in Christ.  I realized my salvation had nothing to do with me but everything to do with Christ.  I know, it’s a simple concept, but it took me years of God’s silence for me to understand…  “it’s not about me.”   So, what am I saying?  I’m saying, God is silent for a reason, and often the reason is, He’s trying to teach you something, that will make you stronger and happier.  Most of the time “getting to the other-side of a problem” takes time and whole lot of work; and that’s why flippant solutions and quick quotes of scripture, mean near to nothing.  We need more understanding and less quick fixes.
  • Seek out help from those who truly understand…those who have gone through similar trials.  Solomon, one of the wisest men ever to live, wrote, “…  a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.”  (Proverbs 27:9)  The key-word there, being “friend.”  A true friend will share the burden rather than trying to quick-fix it. We have a tremendous resource of encouragement from others who have walked the same path.  God encourages us to use that resource and then to give it out as well.
  • Pray.  Just keep praying.  There will be times when your prayers feel as mumbled words falling uselessly to the ground.  Pray any way.  I learned this from my mom.  Know in your heart that God does hear. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”__ James 5:16  Pray and don’t stop, no matter what.  God honors prayer.  God is listening whether you feel it or not.  As humans, the only constant of “our feelings” is change, but God never changes.  He is the North of our compass.  Pray, Pray and pray even more.
  • Stay in the word.  My dad use to say that all the time.  Just as it helps to be diligent in our prayers we should be diligent in studying God’s word.  Often, especially when we’re angry, it’s the last thing we want to do, but faith comes by “hearing” the word of God.  If you’re sick of trying to read and understand scripture on your own, find a good teacher and listen to them.  Joyce Meyer has been that voice for me.  She’s the queen of “practical Christianity,” and as Martha Stewart says, “…that’s a good thing.”  If her particular teaching style doesn’t mesh with you, that’s okay…find someone  who does. There’s so many good teachers out there. The main point is to get the word of God inside of you whether it’s by reading or hearing.  Singing is another good option!

 

I’m sure there are many many other ways to help us navigate God’s silence.  I’m still learning, as I’m sure, I will be for the rest of my life.  We are all a work in progress, and God knows what He’s doing…even if we don’t.  So be kind to yourself!

 

My Prayer:  Lord, I depend too much on feelings, and when I do I’m tossed to and fro like a feather in the wind.  God, remind me that you never change,  that your love, grace and mercy are constants in my life, even when I don’t feel them. Lord, give me faith when you are silent, and open my heart that I may learn what you teaching.  Lead me to those you’ve called to help me and may I also be a help to them.  Thank you Lord, for never leaving me…never forsaking me.  Thank you that nothing can separate me from your love.  All of this I ask in Jesus’s name.  Amen.

 

(A publication of “Walk Through Psalms”)

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How Majestic is Your Name

Psalms 8

In song…

O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

 All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,

 The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.

 O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

My Prayer:  

Oh Lord, my Lord…lover of my soul!  How truly majestic is your name!  Who am I, Lord, that you should consider?  And yet you love me!  You loved me so much, you gave your only begotten son to die in my stead.  I humbled before you, oh my Lord.  “Thank you”… just doesn’t seem enough, but what else can I say…there are no words…  Oh lover of my soul, I praise your name.  Oh Lord, my Lord, how excellent is your name.  Selah.

(A publication in the “Walk Through Psalms” series)

Knowing The Enemy

Psalms 7:1-2

O Lord my God, in You I take refuge;
Save me and rescue me from all those who pursue me,

So that my enemy will not tear me like a lion,
Dragging me away while there is no one to rescue [me].

Knowing-your-enemy1

In any battle it is advantageous to know your enemy.  In order to set up the proper defenses it’s wise to know how and where the enemy will attack.  In our scripture today David speaks of his enemy and likens him unto a lion with the ability to tear his flesh and drag him away.  David knew his enemy.

I am so very hesitate to speak of Satan and the devil.  I’m afraid my friends will assume I’ve totally lost my mind.  So, instead of talking about Satan, I refer to the “sin” or the “weaknesses” that cause me to struggle; and the enemy is cool with that.  He would prefer that most disbelieve his existence because it makes his job easier.  He’s sneaky that way, but be assured Satan knows you and he knows you by name.  Job 1:6-12 tells of the time when Satan came before the Lord in heaven and requested permission to test Job.  He knew Job’s name.  At that particular meeting God spoke to Satan.  Let’s take a listen to their conversation:

 Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them.

And the Lord said to Satan, “From where did you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it.”

Satan told God that he had been busy walking all over the earth, the very same earth that He [God] had created. I ask myself this question, “Why?”  Why is he traversing the earth and what the heck is he looking for?  The answer is given to us in I Peter 5:8, “…your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.”  And that’s exactly what he’s still doing today; looking for someone to devour.  Jesus once told Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.”  Satan knew Simon’s name and just as with Job, he specifically sought him out to test him, or as Jesus says, to sift him as wheat. Sifting wheat is extremely violent.  The process beats, bends and thrashes the wheat until it has separated the chaff from the grain.  Surely not a pleasant experience for Simon Peter or us, for that matter.

Satan desires to do the same thing to us that he did to Job and Simon Peter.  The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  

Therefore, our enemy is not man, but rather Satan along with his fallen angels.  Knowing this, should we cower and be afraid?  No.  We shouldn’t give them that power over us.  God tells us exactly what we need to do, and the first being, to know your enemy and how he works.  After that we need to realize that Jesus himself has already prayed for us; “But I [Jesus] have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”  Knowing that God, Himself, has prayed for me gives me so much confidence.  Notice I didn’t say “self” confidence because within myself I have no power over Satan.  Our confidence is “God confidence” because it is God who will come to our aide, God who will bring us through.  Afterward, when our time of testing ends and our faith has been strengthened, Christ asks us to encourage and support others in their times of testing.

So, brothers and sisters, we are not, alone.  We have each other, and we should readily make use of that resource.  What else can we do?  James chapter 4 tells us to “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”   Well, that’s all well and good, but just how, does one go about resisting the devil?  Good question!  The answer is found within the very same verse; “Submit yourselves therefore to God… [then] Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”    

We must first submit ourselves to God.  If we do, He promises,“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8)  We have this promise as well; “The Lord is with you when you are with him.  If you look for him, you will find him.” (II Chronicles 15:2)  Jesus tells us to, “…seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  So, Jesus is there,and prepared to help us, all we have to do is knock and He promises to open the door.  How do we knock?  Simply through prayer…we draw close to him through prayer.

Should we fear the devil?  I say no, because, “Greater  is he that is in me than he that is in the world.”  We have God in us.  We are the temple of God.  God placed his Holy Spirit within us when we accepted His free gift of salvation.  Lastly and best of all God has already won the war!  He is on our side.  If God is for us who can stand against us?  No one, not even our enemy, Satan.

God wants us to be aware of our enemy.  To understand that he is sneaky and deceitful, and he will try anything to trip us up.  That is why we must be diligent in prayer to Christ, who is our strength.

To break it down into practical terms…and I love practical Christianity…

  1. Know the enemy.
  2. Submit to God in prayer.
  3. Draw close to God through prayer and his Word.
  4. Resist the Devil.
  5. Help others that are going through trials that you’ve overcome.
  6. Realize we are not alone; we have the support of other Christians.
  7. Know that God has already won the war!

 

Today, Let us pray with David,

O Lord my God, in You I take refuge;
Save me and rescue me from all those who pursue me.”

 

My Prayer:  Dear Lord, I pray as David, be my refuge and protect me from the  enemy. Lord, bless my family and bless my friends and protect them as well.  May I be a help to them and they a help to me.  Go before me this day and show me how to walk in the way that you’ve prepared for me.  Lord, I love you and I want to be as close to you as possible.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Renewed Spirit

“…but establish the righteous; for You, Who try the hearts and emotions and thinking powers, are a righteous God.”  (Psalms 7:9)

My emotions are fickle.  One day I’m confident and then the next I’m doubtful.  One moment I’m in love and the next I’m angry.  Sometimes I’m on the verge of tears for no reason at all and then other times when I should cry my heart is cold.  I used to latch onto every feeling and ride it’s course and then jump train to ride the next emotion going in the opposite direction.

We are not our emotions and we are not our feelings.  It took me a long time to understand this, and so for years I lived on an emotional roller-coaster.  If I awoke in the morning feeling a certain way I would think…   “Well…this is going to be one of days…” and sure enough it was, one of those days; but it didn’t have to be.  I had the power to renew my mind–to actually think in another way– that would alter the outcome of my day for the better.  God has shown me that I don’t have to be subject to my feelings.

Feelings strongly woo us, so it’s wise to evaluate and question their validity; and the sooner we do this the better.  The longer I ponder over a negative thought, the deeper it’s grounded in my psyche and the harder it is to get rid of.  Guess what?  It works the same way with positive thoughts!  The more you nourish and cultivate them the more they take root and grow.  II Corinthians says that our “…inward man is renewed day by day.”

Psalms 84 tells us that it is possible to “go from strength to strength” in our thought life. This meaning that whatever we feed will grow, and the more we feed it the stronger it becomes.

Paul in Ephesians encourages us to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”  

This renewal process, unlike salvation, is not a one time process, but rather something that should be done everyday, and for myself, multiple times a day. Quoting scripture I’ve committed to memory also helps me to renew my mind.  One such verse is Romans 12:2,

“And be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

My goal, and I often fall short, is to try to emulate the mind of Christ.  Philippians 2:5 says,

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

That’s why it’s so important to study the life of Christ.  So many Christians think they know Christ, but haven’t really taken the time to truly learn of Him for themselves.  It’s time we throw away all of our preconceived ideas and come to Christ with an open mind; prepared to meet him for the first time.

God is righteous, and as a righteous God he will ground and establish our hearts if we commit our thoughts and emotions to him.

Let us with David say,

“…establish the righteous, for you, who try the hearts and emotions and thinking powers, are a righteous God.”

We can trust him.

“When you relate to Me in confident trust, there is no limit to how much I can strengthen you.  Remember that I am your Song.  I want you to share My Joy, living in conscious awareness of My Presence.  Rejoice as we journey together toward heaven; join Me in singing my Song.” __ Jesus  (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

My Prayer:  Dear Lord, I submit my mind to you.  Establish and ground me this day, so that I can see and love others, just as you did, when you walked this earth.  Christ I want to know you…please teach me.  Help me to be aware of your presence. Thank you for your unconditional love, a love that led you to take my place on an old rugged cross.  Thank you for the victory we have in your Resurrection. In your powerful name I make these requests, Amen.

(A publication of “Walking Through Psalms” series)

(A participation in Scripture Sabbath event)

(A participation of Devotional Friday event)