|Posted on May 21, 2019 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
Give them someone who will guide them wherever they go and will lead them into battle, so the community of the LORD will not be like a sheep without a shepherd. Numbers 27:17
The other day I saw a family sticker on the back of a car, it wasn’t the usual stick figure type this had a large Dad sheep, a medium size Mom sheep, a small sheep grazing to the left of the parents on the windshield and a black sheep grazing to the right. I couldn’t help but laugh knowing how it was to be a lone sheep without a shepherd in the wilderness of this world.
…The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with Him! Whenever you seek Him, you will find Him. But if you abandon Him, He will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought Him out, they found Him. 2 Chronicles 15:2-4
I never knew the importance that His guidance and direction provided in my life. I guess I didn’t know I was lost since wandering with no direction was my life. I thought everyone was like this that no one had a clear direction or goal. That life was just a struggle to survive not thrive. The companies I worked for gave me purpose 40 hours a week. They told me what to do and I did it. I never once asked myself about my own interest when I was busy building the dreams of others. At the end of the day my personal life, the other 128 hours of my week had no direction no planning, nothing I was striving for. I slept most of my time away and when I was awake I might as well have been asleep doing nothing productive with the “free” time I had just getting from one day to the next.
In 1 Kings 22:17 and 2 Chronicles 18:16 the prophet Micaiah tells the king “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘Their master has been killed.*(In Hebrew These people have no master.)…” When I read that believers of God are scattered I think of all the people of faith that are spread throughout the globe. Just because they believe in God does not mean they live their lives with Him as their master. I was my own god for the longest time. I did what I wanted to do which was nothing good for anyone but myself. There was no higher authority over me until I looked to Jesus to be my shepherd to lead me.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34
My life B.C. was pretty boring I worked 40 hours a week and slept as much as I could. I ate like a glutton. I drank like a drunkard. If I felt like it I maybe did chores as long as it didn’t interfere with my interest in the world. I shopped all the time though I was never in need of anything I just liked the high of getting a good deal even if I had more than enough. Truth was I was never content just to be still. Just to be at home.
I live my life a little differently now. Since I work for God my full time is more than just the straight 40 hours a week, it is every day and every chance I get to know Him more. After 11 years of studying the Word there are still things that surprise me. Food is not as important as it was, it’s true when Jesus said in John 4:34 the nourishment I receive comes from doing the will of God. I still enjoy a drink or two but not to get drunk as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 10:17 Happy is the land whose king is a noble leader and whose leaders feast at the proper time to gain strength for their work, not to get drunk.
I have a strict rule I like to call “Word before the world” it helps me not to get pulled into the trap of watching TV or surfing the internet all day. I was surprised how the world creates a trap of distraction to keep me from the things I need to be doing. I still give myself permission for these things but only after I have read my devotionals, given thanks, sang praise, watched/listened to a teaching, done my chores, ran my errands and written my blog. There was a season where I would also make sure I completed a bible study in my workbook and typed out the Word but for now those things have been put aside. I gave the world enough of my time and attention for thirty something years so now the scale has changed. I value my time in the Word over my time in the world because I know I have more to gain from it.
I am content to be still. I find myself humming a song of praise while I do the laundry or the chores in the house something I now make time to do once a day regardless of how I feel. I would rather spend an hour a day than waste an entire day on them once a week. I’m nothing like the Proverbs 31 wife but I am certainly not who I was B.C. and that’s what matters for Paul said in Galatians 6:15 that “what counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.”
I don’t always get it right and I don’t always do it perfectly but I don’t give up and stop trying to follow where He leads me. Psalm 37:23 says “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” If there is one thing I know is my Father is the God of details. Like Psalm 119:59 says I pondered the direction of my life…it had no direction and so I turned to follow God.
For the LORD is God, and He created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. “I am the LORD,” He says, “and there is no other. I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. I, the LORD, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.” Isaiah 45:18-19
And that didn’t sound like a bad direction to go so I followed.
|Posted on May 20, 2019 at 6:40 PM||comments (0)|
…”When you see the Levitical priest carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them. Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half a mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.” Joshua 3:3-4
This morning I was honored to be a witness at a high school graduation ceremony. When the honors were given I couldn’t help but think about those who came before that crossed over things in their own lives that felt like similar to what my ancestors did when they were commanded to cross over the Jordan River and begin a new chapter in their lives. They had been wondering the wilderness for 40 years unknowing if or when they would reach a place they had only ever heard of.
Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5
From preschool to high school is about a third of that time, 14 years and this is just the start of adulthood whether you continue on to college or trade school or take a year off and go straight to work, like I did. My sister went to trade school and got her data entry certification. She could type I still have to look at my keyboard to write this blog. My brother went straight into the work force from the time he was 15 and had not graduated high school. So watching their path from a safe distance did not prepare me for the stage I had crossed. It took me about a year to realize that I shouldn’t wait till fall to go back to school and instead made the poor choice of playing catch up by taking summer classes putting myself at risk of academic probation, proving that graduating high school with honors did not prepare me for entering adulthood.
God tells Joshua in verse 8 ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’
I watched as my siblings crossed over enter adulthood and my sister did pretty well for herself but my brothers path would be filled with God’s favor proving it didn’t take a degree to have knowledge when you had the wisdom and counsel of those who were willing to show you how to do what they went to school for. Their feet got wet in adulthood and I was still testing the waters to see if it was cold. I didn’t want to stop and see if it would warm up I just wanted to begin this life I had heard was called being an adult.
Joshua gathers the people and announces to them “Come and listen to what the LORD your God says.” But I listened to what the world said with no direction from God so it’s as if I began another season in the wilderness, unsure and scared and unknowing of what the future held. Joshua tells them in verse 10 “Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out… and he lists their enemies or as I like to think of them as my personal struggles… Joshua says the LORD will drive them out ahead of you.” Instead I just learned to live with them. I thought they were just part of life. I never thought they were things I could overcome just things that were as Paul said thorns on my side.
In Joshua 3:13 he says to the priest “As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.” They had seen the wall of water when they crossed the Red Sea but that’s not exactly how God would do it this time. To give you an idea, the keyword here was “upstream” like miles upstream. The town of Adam where the water stopped and the town of Jericho where my ancestor crossed is over 500 miles. It doesn’t say how long they had to get their feet wet and wait till it was safe to cross but I can tell you it took me a good two years out of high school and into adulthood when I actually felt like okay I got this adult thing down. School, work, shelter, food, utilities, social life. Man were those two years slow and moving, stumbling and wiping my knees and getting back up and trying again, finding out ways not to be a responsible adult, a course they did not offer in high school or college.
Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground. Joshua 3:17
The biggest difference I learned in those years was that me and my siblings grew apart; each of us going our own path, making our own way. They got me as far as they could, they even held the waters back till I made it safely across, the last of us to cross. There was no formal ceremony at the greyhound bus stop. I wasn’t handed a certificate of adulthood completion. No songs were sung in memory. No speeches were given as I pulled away from the first half of my life and entered into new territory. As the bus pulled into what would be my Jericho, I saw the wall of the mountains in front of me and with a deep breath to gain strength for the road ahead when my destination was called I rose up from my seat and crossed into my promised place unknowing there would be more battles to face. Crossing over was just the beginning.
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6
|Posted on May 19, 2019 at 6:50 PM||comments (0)|
May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in Your Word. Psalm 119:74
The other night a pastor talked about being ready to explain your hope using 1 Peter 3:15 when it says “you must worship Christ as the Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” In his teaching he shared that we live in a world where there is little hope in God and the reason for that is the lives of followers of God don’t really make a good argument for Him. He explained it as the world was a courtroom and Jesus is on trial and we who are called to be a witness to his life in our life have not made a compelling argument that he does in fact exist in us.
Jesus said “You have stayed with me in my time of trial.” Luke 22:28
And it got me thinking if ever asked would I be ready to explain my hope? Before coming to Christ much like Paul I thought myself in 1 Timothy 1:15 to be the worst sinner of them all. I had broken all Ten Commandments multiple times so if that is what made me holy I was the absolute opposite of what holy was. If I had believed that following these laws made me right with God than the way I lived my life proved I was not living for Him. Why would He even bother to look at or even take notice of someone like me?
If that weren’t enough just like the Scriptures predicted before I even knew Scripture in Romans 1:30 I even made up new unspeakable ways to sin against Him. Yet with as wicked, devious, selfish and deceptive as I was somehow I thought I deserved a better life than the one I was living. There was still this hope in me that said just maybe if I stopped, if I stopped being this person I had become and started doing what was right maybe my life would be better than what it was.
He got my attention while driving away from committing my last intentional sin. Like my ancestor Adam and Eve He asked me where I was? And what was I doing? It was enough to make me stop as God as my witness from that day on I stopped, I stopped breaking the commands that made my life wrong and for a little bit my life was actually good. The sun was brighter, my days were more productive, I was enjoying life more, I was singing, I was dancing, I was laughing more, I was doing everything I thought I was supposed to do and then like a plane crash one day my world came crashing down on me through no fault of my own. It brought me to my hands and knees thinking God I did what you told me to do and still my life turned into this heap. It made me want nothing more than for my heart to stop beating. I couldn’t bear the weight of the pain. It was more sorrow than I had ever experienced in times before, it was soul crushing and the only way I could make it stop hurting was by crying out.
So there I was on my back porch begging a God I couldn’t see on my hands and knees, eyes clenched from weeping a flood of tears I cried out “I believe You sent Your son to die for me! I believe he paid the price for my sins! I believe he paid the penalty for my sins!” In a vision I remember it felt like I was there at his crucifixion a witness in the crowd the tears that fell were no longer for me, my tears were for him because I knew everything single thing I did he took for me. Then what felt like a shadow that came over me. The weight of a robe draped over me, the vision of a Roman soldier on one bended knee beside me with his left hand on my back as if to comfort me and his right hand held up to the sky protecting me from forces I couldn’t see “Enough!” he commanded “She is mine!” he exclaimed.
Having never had a vision I could feel I was scared to open my eyes like a dream I wanted to see to completion. Then a single raindrop fell on my outstretched hand. And my first thought was oh great here I am pouring my heart out and it’s going to rain. It was enough to distract me, pull me out of my vision and bring me to my present moment where I finally had the courage to look up to what I thought would be rain clouds only to see a bright blue cloudless sky above me.
My hope is that Jesus is who he said he is. That he died for my sins because even if I started today I know I could never make up for the things I have done. This world convinced me to believe I deserved nothing less than to live a life filled with guilt, shame and condemnation. But my faith says that Christ came that I might have a rich and satisfying life and that is what my hope is in. To believe in what the world taught me is to believe that Christ did not die for my sins that I still have to make up for each and every one of them.
I know that I have a choice to trust in this world or place my life in His Word. I also know that if the world were to be my judge, the world would show no mercy, there would be no forgiveness because the world knows nothing of grace. So now I put my life is the hands of God who is merciful, quick to forgive, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. By His grace He sent His son to cover a cost I could not pay, to endure a penalty I could not bear.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make me right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:20-21
In a vision I was there and I know what he did and what it cost, in that same vision he knelt beside me and I know that the dead do not save their own like a man drowning they pull you under with them. I was like a wounded soldier caught in the crossfire of a war over something greater than this body and for reasons I may never know that day he saved me and claimed me as his own and that is the hope I believe in.
|Posted on May 18, 2019 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
Sometime later, the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” Genesis 15:1
Abram replied to God in verse 2 “O Sovereign LORD, what good are these blessings when I don’t even have a son?” In Genesis 4:5-6 Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
The vision God gave me when I was afraid was for me to be still and know that He was. That He was with me. That He had my back. That I had been protected all my life and even at that moment He was with me. He didn’t throw in that by coming to know Him my reward would be great why bother to repeat Himself. I was just honored to be in the presence of the One who created me. I was in awe that the One who controls the whole world stopped from everything going on in the world to assure me that I was not alone, that I would be okay. I had my foolish doubts before then but in that moment He confirmed to me that He existed and His existence was not dependent on my belief.
Like the woman at well in John 4 when Jesus asked her to get her husband and she replied she didn’t have a husband he confirmed what she had said was right and even went on to tell her even more of who she was in verse 17-18. The woman responded in verse 29 by telling everyone in the village “Come and see a man who told me everything I did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?”
That day when He invited me to “Be still and know that I Am” my thoughts were anything but still they were going 90 miles a minute like gusty winds in a storm overwhelming me. And in that moment when He placed his hand on me He stilled my thoughts, He calmed the thoughts to a distant whisper. He brought to my memory in what seemed like a flashback sequence of my entire life all the times He was with me, all the times I could have lost my life but how He orchestrated things and events for me to be where I was that day.
I wept thinking “You know me exactly and still You choose to speak to a sinner like me. Who am I that You would allow me to hear You? You invite me to come to know You even when you know I have no clue who You are. Someone I hadn’t even cared or acknowledged to know in over 30 something years of my life, yet here You are beside me, showing me that my life, this life is living proof of Your existence.”
I wonder if that is how Abram felt when God spoke to him the first time. Like my ancestor I left my home to find a better way of life and though much of that journey was spent wandering in the wilderness it was better than any life I had left behind. I was several years into my walk of faith when I came to actually know God or should I say when He came to reveal Himself to me. I had sat in sermons and read about Him but I never heard from Him personally. I had listened to teaching about Him but I never experienced His presence for myself. So I understand when people don’t have a true encounter with God and just go through the motions of trusting Him but never really do anything to display that trust. Truth is whatever I can do alone am I really trusting in God for? But on this particular juncture in my life it was the first time I heard His still small voice in me and like my ancestor Abraham I trusted God had no intent on harming me.
Unlike Abraham at the time I did have a son. So my cry wasn’t “what good is all that I have if I had no one to give it to.” My cry was for the life of my son. I knew firsthand the damage divorce had caused in my own family life spanning two generations. The whole reason I had given my life to God was because I was following in the same footsteps that had been handed down to me and it needed to stop because a life lived for my own satisfaction can only end in destruction and division.
The Word says in 1Timothy 2:15 that women are saved through childbearing* (Or will be saved by accepting their role as mothers, or will be saved by the birth of the Child), assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness and modesty. After having my son I did not live in faith or love or holiness or modesty. I was the complete opposite of these things. I was saved when I finally accepted that the birth and life of God’s son was real and the only way to know God was to know Jesus. That the purpose of his death on the cross was to save me. It took me five years after my son was born to finally accept and embrace my role as a mother. The kind of love it would take to lay my life down is as close as I will ever get here on earth to experiencing the love Christ had for me. To care for my son greater than I cared to what happened to me. To put my own wants and needs second to his own. To look not just to this present moment but to his future just like Christ did for all of us.
Everything I did from that moment on was to protect my son from harm, sacrificing all that I had for his life to be well. That day I was the only one that could control what happened next and I needed to trust in something greater than my own ability. My previous experience with betrayal in relationship was to break, punch, yell, curse and kick. But this time I remained completely silent for a week before saying anything. I remained silent waiting on God to speak or at least give me the words to say. I knew that entire week that God was in me that He was with me because I knew how I handled things B.C. and there was nothing stopping me from handling them the same way before except that Christ was the difference in me.
What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again. Ecclesiastes 3:15
This wasn’t my first experience and it would not be my last. I had squandered thirty something years of chances. I had lived it on my terms and I had screwed it up royally. There was only one hope now and that hope was for my son. That whatever became of this moment between H and I would not be what defines our sons life. He would not carry the weight of rejection. He would not bear the weight of un-forgiveness, I would forgive because Christ forgave me. He would not bear the weight of division I would put aside my pride and my shame to allow H to be as much as he wanted to be in his life, he would not grow up without his father this stops with me.
After hearing from God that things would be well. I went inside and asked my husband for a divorce. To put the past and the pain behind us, I forgave him. That was also God in me, because I know me all too well. Four years later we recommitted our vows and two years later I would be faced with betrayal again only this time the whole truth would come out. The truth that would set us free. So in all this, was this God’s way making things well? Well that’s the thing, God works in ways I can never begin to understand Proverbs 20:24 and Isaiah 55:9.
I was asked earlier this week to look at the good that came out of my shipwrecked life in reference to when Paul was shipwrecked in Acts 27. God sent an angel to Paul with this message in Acts 27:24-26 “Don’t be afraid Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Cesar! What’s more, God in His goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.” “So take courage!” Paul says to the people on board the ship “For I believe God. It will be just as He said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.”
The good that came out of my shipwreck was from the day I heard God say to me “Be still and know that I Am” was for the first time in my life I set out on a course to really get to know Him. As a result I got to retire from the world at the same age my mother was when she left this world. I got to pursue my passion of sharing my love of the Word and what I have learned on this walk of faith with people all over the globe. I was able to be by H’s side for the 4 months it took from the time he fell to the time he returned to work. God allowed me to be a witness to his medical miracle. I got to see God carry us through the sea of medical debt that year and over the mountain of personal debt the following year. And now I get to see how God is working in a man who only ever depended on himself until the time came for him to see what God was really capable of.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its saving power? Now you will see whether or not my words come true!” Numbers 11:23
He said to me “Be still and know that I Am” and I was stilled that day and have come to know that He is true to every word He has spoken. He will not take back a single word. In His holiness He cannot lie. I often think to myself, why would God speak to me that day and show me that I would be alright in spite of the shipwreck I faced, I believe it was so that I would know without a doubt He is who He says He is and He would do everything He said He would do and like Abraham and Paul by faith I believe it will be just as He said.
Not a single on of all the good promises the LORD had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything He had spoken came true. Joshua 21:45
|Posted on May 17, 2019 at 6:25 PM||comments (0)|
Submit to God’s royal son, or he will be angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities- for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him! 2:12
I submit to Jesus because I know that nothing I could ever do from this very moment on can be enough to make up for all the wrong I have done. Leviticus 17:11 explains that the life of the body is in its blood. It is the blood on the altar that purifies us making us right with the LORD. It is the blood that is given in exchange for life that makes purification possible. And I know it wasn’t my blood I sacrificed. Hebrews 9:13-14 under the old system the blood of goats and bulls could cleanse us, how much more will the blood of Christ who gave his life once and for all time to purify us making us right with God. Hebrews 9:22 “For without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” This world has declared me guilty of sin, in fact it even says I should die for the things I have done and I am assured death will eventually come.
This body will die because of my sins because there is no undoing what I have already done. I can’t go back and change time, make the wrong I did right. The only thing I can do is move forward and trust in what Jesus did before I came, before I sinned. That by his blood my crimes against God are covered and I can boldly approach the throne of my Father without a single fault you heard right because I believe that God sent His son to save me from His anger, an anger that would have been justified. God is holy and I could not come as I was there had to be blood. I believe He sent His son to protect me from being destroyed by my sins. He sent His son to stand beside me so that when I approach Him it is not just me who stands alone, I am standing with His son like a bride stands with her groom. All My Father sees is my brothers righteous acts not my own he sees his sons’ perfect sacrifice for my imperfect self and He invites me to approach. Jeremiah 30:21
O, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 32:1
It is a joy to know that I have been forgiven not by this world who could give two (well you know what) about me. I can trust that by the blood of Jesus my sins have been put out of the sight of God. Jeremiah said in 11:12 idols will not save me when disaster strikes. Ezekiel said in 33:12 my righteous behavior will not save me if I turn to sin Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:20 not a single person on earth is always good and never sins. Even if I claimed to be sinless that would be a lie 1 John 1:10. Zephaniah said 1:18 not even my money can save me. And Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 8:8 in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue the wicked. So the only chance I have of making it out of death alive is the one who did, Jesus.
Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! 32:2
I thank God for clearing my guilt by sending His son so that I could turn from my wicked ways and live a life of truth. It’s easy to live in complete honesty when your life is an open book. Jesus said in John 3:19 that judgement is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. I can admit that every evil act I did was in the dark where I hid behind closed doors. Where I thought no one could see me so that I could get away with it. And now the only thing I do in the dark these days is sleep. Which isn’t a bad thing, God has called us to rest, in fact I believe He commands it Deuteronomy 5:15.
What joy for the nation whose God is the LORD, whose people He has chosen as His inheritance. 33:12
Nation is translated as people “what joy for the people whose God is the LORD.” A nation is not a land mass or a border or a fence that separates us we are all human beings made of flesh and blood that have the same Father Malachi 2:10 Hebrews 2:14. He has chosen for me to know Him because for thirty something years I was oblivious of His presence in my life. I didn’t see all the ways He was with me till He placed His hand on me and made me to remember all the times He was there even when I didn’t believe He was. He said in Isaiah 43:10 “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God- there never has been and there never will be.” And his son said in John 15:16 “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you…” and in 15:19 “I chose you to come out of this world” Trust me I was never the little girl who prayed by her bed and hoped one day I would grow up and study His Word and share it with world. Sorry to say I wasn’t saved since birth like my brother was God had a different path for me. I didn’t even come from a religious family. So when God says He chose me, I believe. When my brother says “I chose you” I believe that too. Being chosen is an inheritance that has eternal benefits not just in this life but the one to come.
What joy for those You choose to bring near, those who live in Your holy courts. What festivities await us inside Your holy Temple. 65:4
It is a joy to seek God first thing in my day to spend hours with Him reading, studying and listening to His Word. To be inspired to dance like King David in 2 Samuel 6:14 while brushing my teeth just because I can’t help but to celebrate this new life He has given to me. Oh the festivities that take place in this holy Temple where my Father and brother are the light and the joy in me.
What joy for those who can live in Your house, always singing Your praises. Interlude 84:4
Song is an every part of my day just like washing my hands and face, brushing my teeth, combing my hair, getting dressed if I take so much care and consistency to clean the outside of me song cleanses the inside of me. God has said He has made his home with me in Ezekiel 37:27 and Joel 3:21. Jesus said in John 14:23 that he and his Father will make their home with each of us. So when I sing I am singing for no one but them who hear me.
What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 84:5
I know how weak I am, I know my own abilities, I know what I can and cannot do so when I have done things I never thought I could do I know that isn’t me, that’s all God. He gives me the inner strength to keep going, keep enduring and keep persevering. Death is the end of my race if I am still alive than I am still running in the race. My race is against time. I have less time in front than what I have left behind. And only 11 of those years have I spent learning to know the LORD and even still I haven’t come close to who He is. I still forget. I still get tested. I still stumble. I am still not perfected. Yet I have set my mind on this one thing to live a life of peace in the Spirit Romans 8:6 no matter what it takes. I have spent more years of my life wasted on confusion, frustration, depression, fear, worry, stress and anxiety these things I am an expert in. God has given me strength for one thing, that is to hang on to the life His son died to give me and put up a good fight when the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy the peace in me.
O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in You. 84:12
What joy it is to trust in the LORD, He has never failed or forsaken me. What joy it is to know that I don’t need to trust in this world or the people of this world I can trust that God has me and He will see to it the making of me is complete correctly because He that begin the work will finish it. He never leaves anything out or undone.
Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy! Psalm 126:3
I can look over these last 11 years and think Wow the LORD has done amazing things for me. I can look back on the battles I triumphed over with God. The sorrows I faced and the overwhelming joy of His salvation. The giants I defeated in Jesus name. The mountains I struggled to climb that I never thought I could, when He reached His hand to hold my arms up high when we reached the top. It hasn’t been easy but I wouldn’t change a thing. I am stronger than I was when I began this walk of faith. I have more endurance for whatever is ahead with God. There is an undeniable faith in me that the word joy doesn’t begin to express but as my brother said in John 16:22 I rejoice and nothing in this world can rob me of that joy…and what joy it is!
|Posted on May 16, 2019 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. Genesis 8:22
I read this verse today and thought as long as I remain on the earth, my life will always consist of planting and harvesting. Reaping and sowing, in other words the fruit in my life will be the result of what I think, speak and do in my life. My actions are never completely random. I thought about them before I did the things I did. I even spoke about them out loud before I actually did them. I didn’t just one day do something I hadn’t thought or talked about first.
The tongue can bring death and life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21
As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person. Proverbs 27:19
This verse tells me that every year regardless of age that my perspective of this world will constantly be changed by the things I experience in this life. I can’t un-know what I learn. I can’t un-see the things my eyes have seen. Be untold the things I have heard. Or even un-read the things I have read. All these memories and experiences will shape me into who I am to become. I may not be able to control everything that comes into view of my eyes or what I hear with me ears but I can certainly take control what I choose to dwell on, lean into, ingrain in my mind.
Search for the LORD and for His strength; continually seek Him. Remember the wonders He has performed, His miracles, and the rulings He has given, you children of Israel, you descendants of Jacob, His chosen ones. 1 Chronicles 16:11-13
Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your whole body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your body is filled with darkness. Luke 11:34
There are some experiences that will harden my heart, turn it cold and callus toward the ways of this world that are considered evil in His sight. While other experiences that will feel like my life is set on fire by them; they will ignite a passion in me and a desire He has placed in my heart to keep seeking after more of what is His good and pleasing and perfect will for my life. Romans 12:2
My mental and emotional state of being will be like the seasons, some seasons of my life will feel like fall where the change gives way to new life. When I am coming off the high of a productive and fruitful summer I may come into the slump of a slow winter or come out of the dry season into a flourishing one like spring. What matters is everything I experience will be seasonal, nothing will remain the same as I grow so does my perspective. I must remember that a season is not a lifetime. Take time to enjoy what each season in my life has to offer and the wisdom it brings. The cold will always give way to warmer days and the day will always break the night. Even if emotionally and mentally it may feel like it is always dark, God has promised there would always be light, look for it in every season of my life.
Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place- until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines* (Or rises) in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19
O LORD, you are my lamp. The LORD lights up my darkness. 2 Samuel 22:29
Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
|Posted on May 15, 2019 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
Always be joyful. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
There is a joy that comes from knowing from the moment I wake up that God is with me. That I don’t have to go about this day alone. He is beside me, He goes before me, He is all around me. For He said in Leviticus 26:11 I will live among you, and I will not despise you. I will walk among you; I will be your God and you will be my people. So when I wake up it doesn’t cost a thing for me smile knowing something most don’t know that God is with me. It doesn’t take any amount of strenuous effort to think Father, are you there? And to hear Him respond I am. And so the conversation begins, a declaration really, I give my life to you today Psalm 25:1. You know the plans I have today, some things I want to do but I am willing to lay them down for You. Give me eyes that see You more clearly in my day. Give me ears that hear You more loudly. Give me a mind that understands You and Give me a heart the receives You. Nothing I do today is more important than the time I get to spend with You. Help me to always be aware of Your presence in my life.
Never stop praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
H had the last two days off and though most hours we spent apart when we did finally come into each other’s view there was always something between us that was said an announcement of what we wanted to do, an opinion of something, an upcoming plan, gratitude, hope shared. Just random conversation nothing specific really. There were times of silence when we were both watching something on TV or listening to a song in the car or watching a teaching or reading beside each other. That is how it is with God. When I am aware of His presence I never stop praying, never stop talking to Him. Sometimes I speak aloud; sometimes I speak in my mind. The only time I don’t talk to God is if I am listening, reading or watching for Him. They say you can only think one thing at a time. I try to fix those thoughts on Him because everything else is truly white noise. Colossians 3:2-3 says “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God” so it makes perfect sense that I should share my life with Him.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
As I said yesterday my circumstance may not be exactly as I want it…but my life isn’t on the Burger King menu either, it is not going to be as I want it. I can still find reasons to be thankful. Like the weather it’s constantly shifting and changing. I am learning to shift and change with it. I’m still growing, I am not as I was, not the same as I was yesterday and something may happen today that makes me a different person tomorrow. If change is the consistency than gratitude is my stability.
Paul said in Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything….and trust me I know that is easier said than done. When my mind is so fixed on my worry I have written down many reasons to be thankful so that I can turn to them when I can’t think of something to be thankful for. So I can look to them when my mind clouds my thinking and makes me unable to see all the reasons I should be thanking God instead of fixing my thoughts on my worry.
He goes onto say “Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” I don’t know about you but I have forty something years of reasons to be thankful for something He has done in my life and just because this one area or thing in my life is not as I want it doesn’t mean my whole life is defined by that one thing. Why must we be thankful? He goes onto say “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” I don’t need to understand why being thankful instead of worrying about my problem, situation, circumstance fills me with peace but the truth is I don’t need to understand how something works in order to do it. I use electricity every day and I have no clue the science behind it but I still use it. If I can take a pill for pain relief than God who created this body knows that gratitude relieves my mind of worry. I just need to know that when I praise God, He works for me.
“His peace will guard my heart and mind as I live in Christ Jesus.” I would correct that and say “as I live like Christ Jesus”. When my brother fed the hungry multitudes he thanked God for the little provision that was provided. When the people of religious law were trying to trick him He thanked God for hiding His wisdom from those who thought themselves wise and revealing Himself to His children, those with childlike trust. That God is who He says He is, our Father and He would do what He says He will do, not by what we do but because of our faith that He is indeed a Father who wants what is best, who does what is best for those He calls His own.
At the last supper before his suffering began he broke the bread and gave thanks to God for it knowing the pain ahead with eager anticipation to meet the end of his time on earth like an athlete at the finish line I believe his gratitude came from knowing that soon his life would be an example for many to follow they would come to God the way he did, in gratitude Psalm 100:4. When he rolled away the stone in front of Lazarus grave he thanked God for hearing him. The peace of mind and heart that Jesus gave to me in John 14:27 came from knowing that no matter my circumstance I need not be troubled or afraid. It was God’s will for Jesus to overcome this world. As God’s child, I will overcome this world too as I live like Jesus did, thanking my Father for all the circumstances that make up this beautiful life.
|Posted on May 14, 2019 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. Philippians 4:11
“I have learned to be content” Paul writes. In other words contentment is not something I am just naturally born to be, it is something I have to decide to be, learn to be. Content is defined as a state of peaceful happiness. Can you imagine going through life content. Being un-phased by whatever comes our way.
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing let us be content. 1 Timothy 6:6
We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. Ecclesiastes 5:15
Though my situation has not changed I have weaned myself from the situation that was causing me discontentment. I have learned to accept things as they are because they cannot be changed overnight. I have learned to be content with the way things are today, knowing they weren’t as they were yesterday. Things aren’t exactly as I would want them to be but my joy has never been contingent on the way things are but who is with me. I have food and I have clothes what more could I want. I have more than I need for today and I am content even it is not with what I think I need, even when I think I need more to be content.
Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you or abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 *He said that in Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 and Joshua 1:5
God has not failed to keep His Word or failed to keep any promise He has made to me. Even my ancestors in 1 Kings 4:20 were described as being content with just plenty to eat and drink. Solomon warned in Ecclesiastes 1:8 “Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.” His advice was “be happy” in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
Jesus once said in Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58 “the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Yet even he was still content to just be in whatever situation God had him in. Everything he became was so that I might become. And being content, in a peaceful state of being is what he would want of me. That even if things aren’t as I would prefer them to be that I can be content trusting in God and knowing that He is still with me and He will complete the work He began in me, even if that means I am not made complete today I can be content with the progress already made.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
|Posted on May 13, 2019 at 1:55 PM||comments (0)|
Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to the world. Revelation 3:10
My Father commands me to persevere. This word is defined as “to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.” Yesterday I needed strength today I need to persevere. To keep going even when I want to give up and give in. I have been waiting and hoping for a prayer to an answer that has yet to be fulfilled in me. Like I said yesterday there was a time I used to pray for God to remove these obstacles but I now I pray for the strength to endure them. It feels like forever since I have seen relief from this obstacle I face.
Like the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 69:3 I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. 88:9 My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to You for mercy.
His grace is all I need. His grace is all I need. I feel like my life as a whole has been a great time of testing. One test after another, when I come out of one, I am studying for the next one. When will I be ready Father? When will my life be complete needing nothing? Not today He says. I must continue to persevere for this life that I was promised this life He told me in a vision I would have one day.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
I prayed to the LORD and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; He surrounds and defends all who fear Him. Psalm 34:4-7
My faith is tested daily. Hope and courage keep moving me forward. Not hope in this world or anyone of it but hope in my LORD to save me, to rescue me from the things I face. Isaiah writes in 8:20 Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict His word are completely in the dark. I am no longer in the dark, I seek His Word to comfort and reassure me that salvation will surely come because he came, He is with me. I am not alone in this dark world.
My mercy and justice are coming soon. My salvation is on the way. My strong arm will bring justice to the nations. All distant lands will look to me and wait in hope for My powerful arm. Isaiah 51:5
I am told that when I wait I am I the company of many who had waited before me. Noah didn’t know when the storm was going to come yet daily he prepared the boat. Abraham had no clue where God was leading him yet he continued on his journey to find a better home. Jacob didn’t know when he would be set free from his imprisonment he just kept being his best while the LORD tested his character through each trial he faced. My ancestors didn’t know how long they would be slaves to the Egyptians when God would send Moses to free them. And when he did they didn’t know when they would reach the land promised to them and yet each day they gathered their belongings and hoped.
Joshua didn’t know when he was going to get his portion of the land when they got there. Yet he fought for it till he was well into retirement age. Even when my ancestors disobeyed God to clear out their enemies in the Promised Land, and allowed their enemies to live among them they waited in hope that deliverance would rise up and save them. Ruth had no idea how long her and her mother in law Naomi would see relief from the famine yet every day she went out to the field faithfully and picked what she could for the both of them. Samuel had no idea how long before God would pick another king when he didn’t find a righteous one to lead his people in Saul. David didn’t know it would be twenty years from the time he was anointed to be king till he actually took the throne. Of all His children his son Solomon had no clue when he would assume the role but he hoped.
Ezra didn’t know how long it would take to rebuild what was destroyed in times of war and Nehemiah had no clue that it would take a mere 52 days to finish rebuilding a wall that surrounded the Temple. Yet when the people joined together with one purpose, with one mind and one heart for the same thing anything was possible. There was nothing they couldn’t do. But they had no clue from day one that it would take 51 days.
With these examples and plenty more I take my things and hope even more. Hope for a better today. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope that one day I will see the completion of all these prayers and hopes. And while I wait I keep walking it out, I keep building a better home, I keep praying, keep believing in a God that can turn my circumstance around in a single day if He wanted to. I keep getting up and do what I can today in hopes that one day I will look back and all this hoping took the place of the waiting till my joy overflowed.
So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting His glorious miracles and obeying His commands. Psalm 78:7
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. Romans 5:3-5
|Posted on May 12, 2019 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6
This is my command- be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the LORD is finished correctly. 1 Chronicles 28:20
“Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of [your enemy and his mighty army], for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” 2 Chronicles 32:7-8
So be strong and courageous, all who put your hope in the LORD! Psalms 31:24
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” Daniel 10:19
But now the LORD says: ‘Be strong…Be strong…Be strong all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.’ Haggai 2:4-5
Be on guard. Stand firm in faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Ephesians 6:10
…be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1
Stand firm against the enemy, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:9
There are days I just need to bathe in the strength I know that God has placed in me. Remind myself by His Words that I can be strong in Him even when I feel weak and tired. That if I am still living in this land than I am still a warrior in this battle of choosing to do what is good over what is evil, what is right over what is wrong. Galatians 5:17
I thank my Father for verses like Psalm 121:3-4 that remind me He will not let me stumble; the One who watches over me will not slumber. Indeed, He who watches over me never slumbers or sleeps because I know that darkness never takes a day off. It starts from the moment I wake up, it is relentless in its pursuit till what is good becomes a distant memory, like a story being told from long ago that begins with “there was a time things were good...”
If there is a battle taking place that means the enemy hasn’t won. If there is a struggle I still have yet to overcome, a mountain I have yet to climb than I am to be as relentless as that which stands against me. He is after all called the LORD of Heaven’s “Armies” not the LORD of people of complacency. I believe He once called us His “forces” in Exodus 7:4. I know that if I am to share in his glory I must also share in his suffering Romans 8:17 that another way to perceive suffering is it is a qualifier of a soldier of Christ 2 Timothy 2:3. Yes, strength is a requirement in life.
I used to live begging for God to take away the pain, take away the struggle, take away the trial, take away the hardship. Anything I thought I couldn’t put up with, couldn’t take and couldn’t deal with. My grace is all you need He told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 So now these days I pray for the strength to endure it. If He brought me to it He equipped me to get through it. For whatever reason He saw fit to include this in my story it is for His glory. As Christ said in John 12:27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.”
Now I pray that I can endure come what may, what Christ endured for me. I know that had God taken away any part of the process of suffering from Christ how could he be the perfect example of endurance for me to look to today Hebrews 2:10 and absolutely nothing I suffer will ever be in equal comparison to that. If I am not enduring something, striving toward something, working toward being better than I was yesterday. If there isn’t a hope in me for greater than I should probably take another look because whatever it is I am doing must not be a threat to my enemy of this war. I always say being a follower of Christ is the hardest thing I have ever had to do because being faithful and true isn’t just something I am born to do, it’s something I have to decide to fight and pursue every single day on earth.
…Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith…1 Timothy 6:11-12
…pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. 2 Timothy 2:22
Then I saw heave opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. Revelations 19:11