Monday, August 31, 2015
He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water.
He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation.
Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me."
Verse 4 in this translation stands out to me: "Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger..." For I am sensing that there is danger coming to us and the life we have known so long. But if the Lord is my shepherd, I don't need to fear. In spite of what I see all around me, I repeat, I do need not to fear. Rather, I must draw close to Him as never before. For Jesus only is the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
In the mornings, I am fresh and ready to start my day with God, my coffee, and my Bible. But as the day wears on, I grow more irritable and seem like I have wandered from God's fold by grumbling, or falling for so called "human interest" stories that drag me away from my first love. So tonight, I want to try something different. I want to try to turn off my computer early and draw near to God once again.
Today is the last day of what I consider summer, and the month of September is slated to be unforgettable, by all I am seeing and hearing. As a nation, we have turned our back on God and on Israel, and judgment must come.This does not seem like the country I grew up in anymore. The television is full of sex and violence, and so much blatant occultism in the movies and music. Thank God we can't afford cable. The internet grabs my attention and I have a hard time disconnecting from the world wide web in the evenings. I waste time when I could be doing something much more beneficial for my own soul's sake. Lethargy creeps in as the humid last hurrahs of the season drive me away from the blinding sun outside.
And then somehow He persuades me of His love once again.
I have nothing to offer Him but only to come to Him. I am so glad to know that! He knows I am weak and utterly unable to do anything for Him that He Himself does not work in me. And so, here I come, running back to my Shepherd, who is waiting to fellowship with me. Think of it, why should the God of this universe want to have communion with any one of us down here corrupted by the Fall? And yet that is why Christ put on human flesh in the first place.
The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and thinking you'll will get different results. But I have a tender Shepherd waiting for me. He wants to meet with me, to talk with me. Oh, what an unspeakable privilege.
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed.
For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls." I Peter 2:24-25 NET
"I have wandered off like a lost sheep. Come looking for your servant, for I do not forget your commands." Psalm 119:176 NET
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the LORD endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
I Peter 1:23-25
As I went to pray this morning, an acronym for the word "Help" popped into my head. Actually I wrote "Help!" to God in my journal this morning as well, for His aid in an ongoing trial. In the unprecedented days we are living in, I know that all of God's people can use a little "H.E.L.P."
Here is what I thought for this acronym, a prayer and wish toward our Father as we live in the last days.
stands for "Hunger" as in hunger for the Word of God, a famine for the Word of God in our times. I think to myself about this, and at least in America, I would say this famine is from our own choice to neglect the Word that is so readily available to us. We are without excuse for not knowing the Word.
But take heart, even today, we can still remedy that situation! Jesus talked about soul hunger in the Beatitudes when He said in Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled."
The writer in the book of Proverbs also speaks of a hunger for wisdom, so to speak, as Solomon implores his son to get God's wisdom in Proverbs 4: 5-9
5 "Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.*
And in all your getting, get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
Oh, how we need to embrace wisdom for the confusing times we live in. And if for some reason, we find that our hearts have grown cold, and really do not want this wisdom, we can even ask God, who knows our hearts anyways, to give us a mind to want this. The Psalm writer for Psalm 119 wrote:
36 "Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way."
We can pray that prayer too!
stands for Education in the mind of Christ. Coming and learning in the school of Christ, as He told us to do in Matthew 11. If we do, He promises to give us rest for our souls and a light, not unbearable, burden.
28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn* from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to ask Him about His teachings, because he was afraid of the Pharisees finding out about it. The Pharisees, of all people, should have known about the Messiah's coming, but Jesus had to rebuke Nicodemus due to his lack of understanding. In John 3:7-10, we read:
7 "Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know* these things?"
Philippians 2:5 "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"
stands on Leaning on God for everything, all the time, instead of leaning on our own understanding.
5 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not* on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."
Instead of worrying about trials and difficulties that we face, we can cast them upon the Lord and let Him handle them for us. He does a much better job than we ever could!
In the Darby translation, Philippians 4:6-7 tells us:
"Be careful about nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God, which surpasses every understanding*, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts by Christ Jesus."
After many years of trying to carry my own burdens and use my own human logic to reason to myself why I should or should not worry in any given situation, I find it refreshing that I can cast my burden on the Lord and trust that in His perfect wisdom He will handle it for me. Not that I always understand what He is doing, because I don't. Because I know the Word says He is reliable and trustworthy, and the proof of His love was demonstrated by dying for me on the cross,so I make a faith choice to accept His promises as true. In that, I find rest for my soul.
Isaiah 40: 29-31 29 "He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."
stands for Pursuit. The Apostle Paul boiled down his life to just one thing: knowing Him! Our days on earth are few and numbered, we see the things of this earth vanishing away before our very eyes. Why not make our last years count in this life for His glory? In the end, we will find that nothing else did satisfy, because our hearts were made to first and foremost have a relationship with the One who created us:
7 "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him* and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
In this hour, let us run to Him every day for H.E.L.P. He is graciously waiting for us to do so:
"Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him."
* Isaiah 30:18
Do you have a way that God "H.E.L.P.s you? I would love to hear it!
* denotes my own emphasis
Monday, August 17, 2015
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devo.ured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
I have reached a point in my life where I find I must run to the Word in times of disappointment, frustration, or brokenness. And it is miraculous how God is so faithful to bring me to just the right Scriptures to carry on and not quit.
This morning was one of those times. I need quiet when I read, and so I went to the front porch. Although the day is slated to be a hot one, there were still cool breezes blowing and the mourning dove said hello by her constant cooing. I felt like I wanted to cry, but I asked the Lord, "Please, encourage me once again through Your Scriptures of truth."
Sometimes it seems that the enemy whispers to me that I am reading the Word out of a sense of obligation, and that I will get no blessing from it, or that I am just being a goody-goody. But he is such a liar. For the past year or so, I have been doing my Bible readings in a different way. One day, I searched on the net for a Bible reading schedule that was different than just reading it through in one or two years. I wanted something different, and this is what I found:
It appears that there are online programs now to go along with this system, but I don't use them. I just read 1 chapter from ten different sections of the Bible each day. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. The point of this blog today is not so much to talk about the system, which I heartily encourage anyone to try, but about how God is so faithful to bring me just what I need when I need it.
I knew I could not get myself out of the sense of despair, but specific Scriptures did just that. I took out my journal along with my Bible and even wrote how upset I felt inside it. I wrote, "Oh God, You must rescue me again from this crushing disappointment, from feeling sorry for myself, from my own self-induced misery."
One of my readings today was in I John, chapter 2. Suddenly this verse popped out at me:
25 "And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life."
I thought to myself, "I have eternal life, right now." I am not waiting for it as some pie in the sky in the future, but right as I sit here on my front porch with my Bible and my morning coffee. That thought in itself started to lift my head. I read on:
28 "And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming."
I thought to myself, "I do not want to be ashamed on that Day when He comes." All I need do is to continue to abide in Him. And how do I abide in Him? By meditating on His Word.
I continued on with my readings and found this gem in Proverbs 13:7
7 "There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing;
And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches."
I immediately thought of what Jesus said in the first Beatitude: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3
I felt even more encouragement. If I realize that in and of myself I am poor and needy, and cannot even lift my own head, then the Lord is faithful to come in with His great empathy in my situation. He is not against me. He is for me, right here, right now!
I also read in Psalms, and in II Samuel, David weeping over the death of his son Absalom. In Jeremiah 17, I could not believe how the Spirit reminded me that it is impossible for me to pull myself out of my condition in my own strength. Jeremiah wrote:
5 "Thus says the LORD:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the LORD.
6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit."
I cannot trust myself but I can trust Him, that He is good, and that He lives inside me as I abide in His Word.
Finally, I came upon what I thought was the clincher for the day. Jeremiah struggled, just as we all do, and he wept as he saw his beloved nation going into captivity. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that our own country is in terrible trouble, and sometimes I want to weep just like Jeremiah did, for we are certain to face God's judgment soon. But Jeremiah said:
17 "Do not be a terror to me;
You are my hope in the day of doom."
How is it I have not seen that before? If I am living near to the day of doom, I still have God, err, He has me. In His Word, today, I will hope.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
"And the LORD shall
utter His voice
before his army:
for his camp is
very great: for He
is strong that executeth
His word: for the
day of the LORD is great
and very terrible; and
who can abide it?"
Driving home from babysitting the other day, I felt weary and fatigued. I spotted from the side of the road a precious black dog that looked like he had wandered from his home. He meandered happily, yet dangerously close to the highway. “Oh dear baby,” I thought, “Please run away home to your master. You will only be hurt out here.”
For some reason, my eyes began to tear up as I thought of all the innocent animals. They did not know that their time was near as they attempted to cross the busy street. The graceful deer lying lifeless, her strength and surefooted ways forever gone. The robins smashed, run over in the street, and the trillions of lifeless birds that never quite hatched from their nest, as their surrounding casement lies crushed on the ground. Their lifeless beaks, still forming, will not sing to their Creator, at least on this side of eternity. But one day, I believe they will, for in Romans 8:21 we are told, “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Emphasis mine.)
Creation is groaning for the Creator to come and set things right upon this little planet spinning as a speck of dust in an infinite universe. From somewhere, light years beyond this place, there was One who saw each creature, and cared for them for it was impossible for Him to do otherwise, for He is love in His essence. To believe otherwise is to be without hope.
"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." (I John 4:8)
Yet, something has gone horribly wrong with the world the Creator made, and even the creatures know it is true. It seems all of them are sitting with baited breath just waiting for their Creator to break through the boundary that has kept us from Him for two thousand years. One might want to blame Him for all the things that have gone wrong, and even shake their fist at God. But without these tragedies, man would not have a free choice to place his or her faith in a benevolent God, and not exist as an automated robot. The one thing that is required is faith.
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6
If I, a fallen human, could feel sadness over this loss of life, how much more their Creator, the One who endowed them with their beauty, the one who planned the delicate coloring that covered them: whether fur, or feathers, or scales? No matter what we see, we must trust that God is good!
And now, the shades of night fall deeper and deeper upon the unsuspecting, as we humans are lulled into careless ease. The lies of the enemy suggest that all is well, but deep down, we know (many with despair in empty hearts) that it is not. A society overtaken by technology has replaced that feeling of humanity which bound us together for centuries. Man is being taken over by machine, they are blending together until it will be hard to distinguish one from the other. Yet God will not allow that to come to total fruition. The Son will break through those clouds over Planet Earth and dissipate all the darkness, all the arrogance of man, in the twinkling of an eye.
"Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen." Revelation 1:7
As I wanted to protect the innocent creature that ran at the side of the road, with his breath and covering graciously lent to Him by God, the Savior is coming to redeem our fallen planet. Oh, so quickly will He come, to take His children on out of this world of danger and destruction, death and despair. He longs for His table to be filled for the coming celebration. No creature would want to miss this celebration once they behold Him in His glory.
He beckons, He pleads, He cajoles. Jesus says,"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) He knows we His creatures are like the dog who dithered at death’s door. There is safety only with Him.
Soon a storm like never before will blow upon this planet, a torrent of destruction, a tempest of judgment for every innocent drop of blood that was shed upon our sod. But now we may come inside His ark of salvation which he has perfectly prepared. Once He shuts the door, it will be too late.
I have a portion of this blessed One who lives inside of me, not because of anything I have done except to run like hell from the darkness to His light by believing in Him, grasping and clinging to Him. Now, He pleads through me, a weak and fragile voice. Come, precious fellow humans, still outside in the gloom, come join the bright light of salvation’s Day and safety of Jesus’s ark. He wants you to be with Him forever, for it is not His will that even one would perish.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." II Peter 3:9
Will you listen to the Spirit’s call? I urge you with all that is in me. In the final chapter of His book, in Revelation, He implores: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely… He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:17,20 (emphasis mine)