Psalm 5:12 - For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.
As I continue with the Psalms we will see similarities. It's all about believing in, trusting in, praising and worshiping our God. If David writes about these things, maybe there is very good reason. It might have to do with those He will hear when they cry out.
God hears the cries of His people toward Him...if they first have that belief in Him and have allowed Jesus to become a part of everyday lives. If we have given ourselves over to Him and truly trust Him in all things, He will bend a ear toward us when we cry out to Him in our distress.
Distress for David was mainly enemies not holding strong to his God, who desired his death. But David maintained his focus on the LORD. He made it a point to call out to Him first thing in the morning. He took the time to worship Him, generally with musical instruments and dancing. Worship today might be song, or just praising Him, calling on Him, talking with Him, spending time meditating on His Word. These are all forms of worship. Anything that puts our focus on Him.
Our stresses or distresses are multitudinous! Finances, illness, enemies to those who do good, relationships, even mundane daily issues of life.
Like David, we are to thank Him in all circumstances. We are to maintain righteousness. He sees our devotion and He directs our paths, keeps us safe, gives us peace and strength and gets us through if we are focused on Him.
Things God does not delight in: wickedness, deceit, those who lie or kill. He will bring a guilty sentence upon these people some day. Even if they go through natural life without punishment, it's the sentence after death that they/we should be concerned about.
If we have belief, trust and confidence in the Lord, we can rejoice all our days. Who wouldn't want this assurance? Rejoice even in the midst of trouble because our God is greater...because we trust in Him we will be held in the palm of His hand--even in death.
If we have trouble, He is there to be our defender. Give it over to Him and let Him straighten things out in His perfect way. He does this for any who take Him seriously, who love Him. He will bless the righteous. Though we don't see Him, if we know Him with all our heart and deep within our soul, He will be our protection and shield. That's called faith.
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 5:11 - But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you...” "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," says the Lord, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 1:5, Jeremiah 29:11)
We can sometimes feel because of words, situations or actions that we are less than what God thinks we are. This is just one ploy of the devil to minimize who we truly are in Christ. And all we need do is cast that negative thought out of our mind, in the name of Jesus!
I am in awe of how great my God is, how much He loves me. I'm reminded that there was a day when I found out His name is Jesus! He is my all in all. He is my Creator. He called my name. He showed me the Way to salvation. He gave me a perfect peace (that sometimes gets disturbed by words, situations or actions...but which He also restores!). He has given me a hope and a future and His Spirit. Most importantly, which is a difficult thing to understand, but I believe by faith alone, He is alive and lives IN me, in my heart and soul. The God of this huge universe desires to be as close as that!
I had such occasion recently where seeds of this dreadful and toxic doubt occurred. But I'm so thankful for this merciful God who longs to remind me who He has said I am in Him.
I received three very unexpected kind and encouraging words in church last Sunday. As I gave thought to them later I heard the still small voice, "This was to show you how much I love you." We should never consider ourselves losers in the Lord! But we are to consider ourselves, instead, loved by the Lord (who also disciplines). He has taken the time to call me to Himself and unless I absolutely disregard instruction or walk away from Him, I am His. And so are you.
Had I been able to do so at that very moment those words were "spoken," I would have fallen to my knees in worship but I was in my car...! All I could do, which seemed so small a thing, was to thank Him and praise Him as I drove.
I'll tell you, I wish I had more powerful words to vocalize instead of just writing. But for now I must stay content with prose, I guess. But it makes for a very difficult time when blogs run through my mind while I'm in my car! Even a recorder causes me to stammer and sputter, stutter! No fooling.
We do serve an awesome God. He does not expect each of us to fill the same shoes. He does not compare apples with oranges. While both might be sweet they have very different flavors...and so do we. HE has created us and although we will be in a process of sanctification our entire lives and might occasionally miss a mark, He does not throw the baby out with the bath water. We are none perfect. I'm thankful He does not get frustrated with our misplacements and determine to turn His back on us. No, He works stuff out in us. He perfects as we go along. Only He will always stand beside us.
He desires to change hearts, lives and desires, to become His workmanship...in order that all might be blessed and be in step with His heart for each person. His heart that sees who we truly are. In Him we can be an apple or an orange...for Him! He has a unique new person in store, one that He will cultivate, prune and grow into what WE are meant to be in His kingdom here on earth and again some day in heaven. Again, His name is Jesus. Praise the name of Jesus.
Ephesians 2:10 - For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Psalm 4:1 - Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
God is our protection. He listens to those called by His name when we call on Him. He will relieve us of our distresses. He also provides. I know I write a lot about these things. They are an important part of knowing Him and trusting in Him.
In Psalm 4 David is reminded that God does hear him when he calls out. He is praising God for the knowledge of these things. He speaks of being relieved in his distress. He is experiencing an attack by those who do not know God and live worthless and false lives (verse 2).
But David is fully aware that God hears him because he is considered godly in His eyes. He offers the suggestion that we can be angry with our enemy but we are not to sin but to continue a righteous life, trusting in the Lord for protection. This can only be as a result of our giving our lives to Christ and allowing Him to give us righteousness. This righteousness is not an arrogant thing. It comes from God; it is nothing we deserve, but through Christ's death for our sins, we can attain it if we truly put our trust in Him and allow Him to change our lives in the process.
Trusting in God means looking up to Him and not focusing on the situation. I heard someone on the radio the other morning say she drives past a field of sunflowers every day on her way to and from work. Sunflower heads follow the path of the sun throughout the day...their heads always looking up. She was reminded of the very thing I mentioned...staying focused on Him...all throughout the day. Praising Him and thanking Him for all things, all circumstances.
When we do that He will lift up the light of His countenance upon us (verse 6). When we maintain that focus on the Lord we cannot help but be filled with gladness (verse 7). Obviously, when we are filled with gladness we have peace and restful nights (verse 8). We are able to maintain contentment in our days, even when there is some distress. Remain focused on Him. Know He will not abandon you. Know He has you in the palm of His hand. And if you slip and allow the troubles to overcome, and they will, take your focus off the situation and look up. Trust that He knows what you're going through and has it all under control...if you trust in Him. Then you will find your peace again. You will again return to the dwelling of safety, knowing God has been there all along.
Psalm 4:8 - I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
2Corinthians 1:20 - For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
God's promise are yes and amen. That's like the beginning and the end. It encompasses all. From the time the promise is made till the end result. No need to fret. No need to wonder when the promise will be fulfilled. No need to question the validity. If God promised, He will not reneg.
If you have received a promise from God...that you know that you know...it will happen, no ifs ands or buts. Maybe it won't happen soon enough in your time, maybe you won't see the promise come to fruition if it's not about you, but God will be faithful and right on His time. Events are still being played out in the background of life and when the moment is perfect, God will do His work.
Continue in prayer. Hold fast to the promise. Rest in God's words. When anxiety or frustration arise, recall the words (or vision) and remind God (although He doesn't forget) what He revealed to you.
Psalm 119:49 - Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Psalm 3 - Our Shield
Psalm 3:8 - Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah
We all go through times of trials and testing. It's part of life.
I think of Job who lost all he had. He did not stop trusting in the Lord. I think about those in our own church who have prayer needs that seem to have gone unanswered and it's easy to wonder, God, why? And yet these people's lives, despite difficult situations and maybe even frustration, continue. They still hold fast, even if with wonder at how God will help them. Provision may not be exactly as they wish, but it is there for them, by God's hand. I think of my own seemingly small troubles and think either I am not struggling like others or I view my struggles differently...through the peace of God.
On the other hand, we have seen about four miraculous healings occur with members of our church over the past year. Prayers for these people were endless. And God was faithful. Why He chooses some and not others or all is only something He understands. He has reasons. We continue to trust in Him.
In Psalm 3 David was calling out to God for his life because of those who were against him as king, including his own ungrateful son, Absalom. Like Job he never let his trust and faith in God end. Instead, David continues to proclaim his God as a shield (he was not defeated). He realizes God hears his cries and he persists in praising Him for the peace and rest in these times of turmoil, for His provision, for His protection.
If we allow ourselves to praise Him in our times of stress, unsurety, anxiety, He will do the same for us. We will have that perfect peace knowing that no matter what happens, whether we are cut down by our enemy, destroyed by disease, in financial straits, or whatever is our turmoil, we can know where our strength and peace can come from.
David knew and trusted the Lord. He calls us all to do the same. He will hear the cries of our hearts, remind us of His promises, give us a peace that is indescribable. But these only come when we are focused on Him. We must first give up our own ideas of doing in our own strength and rely on God's. That only comes when we have received Him as our true Savior and know what He desires for us.
He came to save the world. We need to go to Him to be saved. He doesn't force us. It's our choice. Our troubles will not miraculously disappear but we will know where all hope lies. We will receive His blessings in this act of salvation. Take hold of it. Seek the Lord and He will lift up your head and provide the wherewithal to live your days in His perfect peace. Hard to explain, hard to comprehend, but it happens.
Psalm 3:3 - But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Ephesians 1:17-18 - [I pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints...
What is the hope of His calling? Are you washed in His blood? Do you know in Whom your salvation lies? Do you know for sure you will be in heaven one day with the Lord? Do you know that your redemption draws near?
All very important questions to consider. Some are seeing the world crumbling around us. Some see strife and turmoil. Some choose not to notice but rather pull the covers over their eyes, put their heads in the sand or purposely distract themselves in other ways to not notice. However, daily we read about things we don’t want to think about...loss of freedom, socialism arising in our own country, a new world order, pushing all things of God away. We are, as the Bible states, living in perilous times (2Timothy 3:1).
We may be living every day as though these things are so very far away but I believe, because the Bible predicts it, that these days are numbered. What will happen if we don't have an honest answer to all those questions? We need to know the answers. We cannot take lightly the things of God.
The hope of His calling. If we are not heeding the words of God or embracing them, not asking Him to spend His day helping us with even the mundane things in our life, we don't know Him. We haven’t a clue what the hope of His calling is. We don't know the love He has for us...all people, all of us who ARE sinners. We don't know the power He has in our lives, how He can protect us. This is important to know we have in the days ahead. The hope of His calling is death to life. Eternal life...as opposed to eternal death. Yes, eternal death. Check it out.
Washed in His blood. If we have not taken seriously God’s call to confess His Son Jesus and allow God’s Spirit to change the way we view things, the way we live, we are not washed in His blood. This is serious stuff, people. We don’t share His inheritance if we do not take this step. It’s simple...confess you are a sinner, since we all are, and ask Jesus to reign supreme in your life. Will we ever be perfect? No. But we are to daily walk in the light of Jesus, in His truth. We are to listen for His voice and allow the nudging of His Holy Spirit to direct our paths.
Where our salvation lies. Our salvation does not lie in what church we go to or how many good deed we do. Like I said above, we are all sinners. No one denomination can claim they are better than another. We are ALL sinners. Period. And we all are in need of a Savior for our salvation, for our eternal life’s direction. Do you know that you know Jesus? Say what? Have you asked Him into your life, into your heart? Have you felt the true need for Him as part of your life? Or are you still wandering through life in your own strength, being directed by your own wisdom and knowledge instead of asking Him to guide you?
Do you know you will go to heaven? A church can’t tell you for certain you will if you adhere to these doctrines, pray these prayers, do these deeds. Only a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ can bring the assurance of a heavenly home. Again, it’s giving yourself to Jesus, confessing Him, letting down walls of unforgiveness, pride, addiction, any sinful thing, and confessing your need for Him and leaving your old life behind for a new life in Christ.
Our redemption draws near. I alluded to the state of this world above. We see turmoil on a world level, country level, state level...and many see it in a personal, physical level. In the last days, the Bible also says, this will escalate. Things will grow darker with no end of evil in sight. Tyrants will gain momentum. Evil will replace (and already is) all that was good. And when we think it can’t get any worse, it will. Maybe in our lifetime. If not, do you wish this to happen in your children’s lifetime? Our redemption is Jesus. Time is getting short.
Salvation comes from the Lord. It secures our heavenly home. It secures our righteousness by His blood. It IS the hope of His calling. Is He calling you? Do you want to know that no matter what happens in this life He is beside you and will take you unto Himself when necessary? He won’t take everyone, though. He will only take those who have listened for His call, seriously considered the risks of not knowing Him and living on the wide road instead of considering the narrow road that Jesus walks. That narrow road is fraught with rejection and opposition, but comes with the greatest end if adhered to.
Revelation 14:9-11 tells us that: If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. If we choose to live our own way, and that is bluntly the way of the world as Romans 12:2 tells us (Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.) God would prefer that we live with His help and strength and stop worshiping something (which is all worldly things) other than Him. He will turn His back on those who choose to do this.
Sounds harsh but it’s really God’s perfect plan for our eternal life, our safety and provision. He does not rule with an iron fist. He is not some tyrannical God. We are not to fear Him. He knows what we need better than we do, but we tend to think otherwise. We are to have a reverent fear of Him, but that’s based on our knowledge of His love for us...and we return that love by reverently fearing Him.
It’s all about relationship with the God who created all things. I can’t get over that. The greatest Being in the world who is so hugely talented, hugely wise, hugely powerful...and He wants to be in relationship with us. He doesn’t want denominations to get in the way. He wants people. He wants all people. We cannot be in the right church or the best person or do the most and greatest things to get His attention. No. He wants us, as we are, to love on Him, to obey Him, to seek Him...to know His Son Jesus with every fiber of our being. He wants us in relationship with Him. I know, I sound like I’m harping on this. I am because it’s true!
We reject Him if we do not come into this relationship and take hold of this new life in Christ and live for Him, share Him with others, trust in Him for our lives, provision, protection. But we must confess Him, not just hear about Him, not just say we know who He, that we call ourselves Christians, but say we KNOW Him deep within our hearts and souls. There’s a quotation I’d like to add: Just because you go to church doesn't mean you're a Christian. I can go sit in the garage all day and it doesn't make me a car. - Joyce Meyer.
Do you hear Him speak? Are you touched by His words? Do you love to hear about Him? Do you talk to Him? Have you ever felt His arms wrapped around you when you've needed it most? If not, you don't really know Him. Has your view of things in the world changed or do you live under the assumption that the way things are now will always be? Do you believe that one day He WILL return to reign with His saints on earth or is that just something that doesn't compute? If the Bible said it will happen, it will.
Jesus said that following Him would be a narrow way of life. There's no compromise with Him. He has made us new and He expects us to live that out as best as possible. The rewards are great when we do this. He will be the rock we stand on. He will be the firm foundation. He will be our exceeding joy. He will be our strength and our shield. He will stick closer than a brother. After all, He died a horrific death for you and me. This should be an encouragement. Know the hope of His calling...
Colossians 2:2 - My purpose is that [you] may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that [you] may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that [you] may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Psalm 15:1-3 - LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend...
We in Wisconsin have been inundated for months over the attempted recall of our governor, Scott Walker. There is one thing that is not broadcast about Governor Walker that many people may not know. He is a man of God and all he does, I believe, is what the Lord would want any man or woman of God to do...be honest, have integrity, have God's wisdom and stand courageously for what is right and true. This is Scott Walker.
I'm not going to dwell on the recall. We've listened to months of angry words. I just want to recall what God says about living in an upright manner. It bodes well with God! And that's the most important thing. Do we do, do we say things that He would be pleased with?
I've watched Governor Walker being raked through the coals over the past few months and every time he is interviewed his demeanor is neither frazzled nor angry. Instead he had (and still has) a look of peace and determination. The peace that passes all understanding and a determination born out of knowing what he does is the right thing. A peace that comes with Godly wisdom. There was a hand made poster everyone could see while Walker was giving his speech: You Can't ReCall Courage... How appropriate. This man is courageous, standing against his opponents for what is right.
I had an email devotion show up this morning, whether coincidence or not, that seemed to have been written just for Walker, although I know it's for the nation as well. The one thing it said that struck me most was a sentence regarding political leaders who do not look just to their own future but the future of generations to come. And that is just what Walker alluded to in his acceptance speech.
He believes in the Constitution's words "by the people, for the people." He IS for the people. He is only trying to do that which is good for all. Later in his speech he said he had just spoken with the Mayor of Milwaukee who was running against him. A series of "boo's" began to erupt and he nipped it in the bud. "No, no, no, no, no, no..." he said waggling his finger at the crowd, "the election is over." He is committed to working with our mayor to move forward. He had no desire to attack.
Such deep animosity from opponents. There seems to be little peace in their lives, only a desire for revenge. When one has a relationship with God, with Jesus, one has the peace that passes all understanding. Revenge should not be an issue. You accept your "enemy" as they are and move on. You do what you know is right. Sometimes we fail in the attempt because we are overpowered by the opposition, but sometimes God helps us win our battles. I love when that happens! We are allowed a righteous indignation for our opposers, but we are called to love them and pray for them, that they be changed by the only Person who can take the anger, fear, vengeful feelings away.
All throughout the Bible are stories about the kings of nations and what happened when they followed after God's way and tore down altars and idols and they brought the people back to living for their God. There was a time of peace and prosperity when that happened. When the kings chose not to heed God's commands wars erupted, there was unrest. Which do we desire?? Where is God in our society today? Despite this one man's success here in Wisconsin, it's just one small incident. There will be other attempts and some successes, but if there are so truly people opposed to the good things, who demand control and oppression...and removal of God's name and commands...we can still fall as a nation. God can still turn His back on us. I'm just thankful for the promises God keeps for His people.
God is always seeking those who desire to do what is right and just in this world. He seeks people to come into relationship with Him that hearts would change and become right, not only with Him, but in the world. He desires people to have His peace, protection and guidance. There is enough evil in this life. It only seems to get worse...and will only get worse, despite the few who desire doing right, despite the small forward, good movements like what has transpired in Wisconsin. But if we do right, God will see and bless. He has told us He will watch over and protect His children, those who have laid aside their lives in this world and seek Him in all areas of their lives.
Praise God for this man of integrity...and courage. In Psalm 119:1-3 describes this kind of man: Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways.
My prayer is that other politicians will catch on and stand strong for what is right and be as courageous and determined as Scott Walker! Bless him and bless those who do the same. Bless those who are on the side of goodness. And let God work in the hearts of those less inclined to believe in what is good and true and just, according to biblical standards. Let us not condemn them but let us pray their eyes would be opened and hearts changed.
Isaiah 33:15-16 - He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: he will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
As I was thinking about and praying for the woman whose husband recently died a myriad of thoughts surrounded me. I recalled a time when while I was out of town when I was still working. A man I'd met and known, for half an hour, died tragically. There was no one to rely on apart from a few strangers in the form of a police officer, a chaplain and a victim's advocate, after this tragedy struck. In the midst of it all I began to draw my strength from the Lord.
As I thought about this woman I knew where she was drawing her strength. I talked with her briefly Tuesday on the phone and then more extensively Thursday at her home and despite her sorrow there was strength in her voice. Yes, she's grieving her loss but I know from experience that there is a supernatural power that will be with her to guide her, to give her peace and comfort. As we chatted you could hear the peace in her voice. She knew where her husband was. And she knew she would join him some day. And she's relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to show her which way her new life is to go.
I know, too, that in our trials, in our pain, is when some gather an even greater power to speak of Jesus, to share with others the joy of knowing Him and having Him be our strength and comfort in these times. It is our witness. I am naturally an introspective person and as I mentioned in other blogs it's often through our trials that we open up just a little more, or even a lot more, about His love and strength and comfort. His glory is then revealed! Maybe that's why as followers of Christ we are not without difficulties. It keeps us closer to God.
I know that in our hardest struggles when we have and rely on Jesus He truly does give us what we need. We might not recognize it immediately but when looking back it can be seen. It comes in the form of a scripture or devotion, in a word of comfort or the help of a stranger or two. You might even look at someone you know you've never met and feel as though you knew them...only to feel days later you may have looked into the face of Jesus through a stranger. You recognize His love.
This is what Jesus does. We receive Him into our lives, He shows up in the oddest ways! He knows what we need when we need it. It just always is all about Him. How can I express this any other way?? All of life is all about Him. How can we hear His voice if we first don't know Him as a Savior, Redeemer, Friend, our provision, strength, peace, guide?
We cannot say we have faith in Him if we don't know Him intimately. We cannot rely on His strength if we don't give Him our weaknesses. We cannot let Him in until we've allowed the walls around our hearts to fall. We cannot hear Him if we don't allow His Spirit or the words He has written for us into our spirits.
Jesus is so very real. He is alive. He is no longer on the cross. He has risen and He does live today in the hearts and lives of those who ask Him to become part of them. Him is the risen Lord still seeking to save the lost. He has always been and will be forever. He lives to draw others to Him.
His Spirit, His presence is for real. It comes in the moments of peace, the times of supernatural strength, in words we say when we least expect to speak them and they touch someone else's life even if for a moment. He lives and He lives in those who know Him.
There will come a day when we all will need this kind of strength, security and peace. It's all about Jesus. These are words that seem to be so prevalent in my spirit these days. When all others fail, He is the rock we can stand on, the cleft of the rock we can crawl into, the wings that will shelter us, the arms and hands that will hold us when we need it most. It's all about Jesus. Jesus.
[Jesus] said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (And later...) Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (Matthew 16:15-16, John 6:68)