All posts by Darlene's Ponderings

Hello, I am Darlene. My sweet husband and I have been happily married for almost 38 years as I write this. We have three wonderful children, each married to mates we love as our own. Between them, we have 11 grandchildren, counting two step-grands. I have long been a writer and author for God. A Christian for over 40 years, I love the study of His word and love to write out what He teaches me in our times together and to share His ways with others. Though I have been published in magazines, I believe the new frontier is the WW Web, having potential to reach the world long past my days on earth. That is where I sense God's call for my publications. Thus begins Darlene's Ponderings, as I seek to share with you thoughts from Scripture and from life in the hope of helping other God-seekers through Jesus Christ to know and live for Him with greater strength of character, hope and faith.

The Treasury of Good

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart….” Matthew‬ ‭12:35‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When called, “Good Teacher,” Jesus, the Perfect Lamb and very God, replied, “Why do you call Me good? No one is Good except God alone.” Mark 10:18

The good treasure of a heart that produces the good that reveals a good man is the Spirit of God, producing as fruit the very nature of God within us. Are you filled and overflowing proof of His glory at work in you?

The fruit of that good treasure is revealed as:

1. Love – God is Love. Because He loves us, He gave His Son for us and fills those who believe with His Spirit so we can love as He loves: out of who we are in Christ. (1 John 4; John 3:16; Philippians 2:1-10; Galatians 2:20)

2. Joy – the joy of the Lord is our strength: RELATIONSHIP with God, as empowered by His Spirit, is our joy and strength. (Nehemiah 8:10; John 15:5)

3. Peace – a gift from Jesus – an “umpire” sent through the Spirit, helping us make the good calls, while trusting Him for His good to come. (John 14:27; Colossians 3:15, *AMPC)

4. Patience – the fruit born of Trust in God that waits upon the Lord with belief that He is working for our good. Through trust’s belief, strengthened by the Spirit at work within us, we enter His rest finding patient endurance that builds our character. (Romans 8; Hebrew 3-4; Romans 5:1-5)

5. Kindness – God’s mercy in action. The word translated as “mercy” in OT passages like Lamentation 3:22 is chesed or hesed. Hesed can also be translated as “kindness” or “lovingkindness”. Mercy and kindness are intricately linked and are the product of the Spirit’s work, enlivened in us. It is part of our Christ cloak. Put it on. (Lamentation 3:22-23; Colossians 3:12-17; 2 Peter 1:5-9)

6. Goodness – good is only accomplished through a life productive of the Spirit-fruit, as exemplified by Jesus who would not claim goodness as His own, giving all glory for any good to the Father alone. (Mark 10:18; James 1:16-18)

7. Faithfulness – God is faithful, and His Spirit graces us with a love for Him that fertilizes a faithful life within us, placing us in the fellowship of The Faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Peter 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 1 John 1:5-7)

8. Gentleness – we show our good deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. God is the source of all true wisdom. (James 3:13, NASB; James 1:5-8; James 3:13-18)

9. Self-control – Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified Classic version of scripture Paul’s assertion says we are self-sufficient only in the sufficiency of Christ. His work in and through us makes us sufficient in all things. Our self-control is insufficient apart from His sufficiency. (2 Peter 1:2-13; 2 Timothy 1:7, AMPC; James 3:2; Philippians 4:13, *AMPC)

Beloved, all this to say, God is the treasure of a good heart. We cannot be good at bearing the fruit of godliness apart from the One True God, living it out through us. We are utterly and completely dependent on Him. The more surrendered we are to Him, the more spaces in our heart He fills and controls, the greater the abundance of Life He will pour through us as fruit that reveals Him as the source of any good we produce.

“You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:8-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭NASB

Not About Me

“The pride of man will be humbled And the loftiness of men will be abased; And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” ~ Isaiah 2:17.

Humility is when we fully realize it’s not about me, it’s all about God.

Humility bows to Him out of realization that it’s not about me, it’s all about Him.

That realization helps us evaluate every decision, every situation, every emotion and thought from His eternal perspective. That realization helps us overcome fear, embarrassment, pride, guilt, and shame, as it helps us die to self-interest that puts “me” on the throne, so I may truly die to self and fully live for Him. That realization ~ It’s not about me, it’s all about Him ~ empowers victory in a life that reveals “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” ~ Galatians 2:20.

This understanding hit my heart today as never before. I am bowed down and totally undone.

And It Will Move

I believe I was part of a miraculous event today. This is my testimony of one who believes Jesus, who said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Listen to the rain with me for just a bit, then receive my testimony.

Warning and Instruction for God’s People

“Rise up, you women who are at ease! Hear my [Isaiah’s] voice, you confident and careless daughters! Listen to what I am saying! …Happy and fortunate are you who cast your seed upon all waters [when the river overflows its banks; for the seed will sink into the mud and when the waters subside, the plant will spring up; you will find it after many days and reap an abundant harvest], you who safely send forth the ox and the donkey [to range freely].” (Isaiah 32:9, 20, AMPC)

The Spirit of God is raising up in my heart that Isaiah 32 is going to happen in our nation. The pride of D.C. Will fall and be humbled. And things will get rough in the process.

In the meantime, God’s people must stand in righteousness, resting confidently in our God. We must be good stewards of all His provision: diversifying in ways that can sprout it’s produce when the nation turns and is restored.

 

The Cleft of THE ROCK

“Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’ But He said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.’” ~ Exodus 33:18-23

Anyone who has read my materials long knows this is one of my most favorite passages of scripture. It SPEAKS! I have covered it many times, but today, led to read it as part of a devotional, something I have known in part clicks like never before to make my heart leap with more certain understanding.

In this passage, God teaches Moses, and us, great truths about His glory, the essence and evidence of Him in the earth. Here Moses asks God to show him His glory (as if he had never seen it). God gracious obliges, beginning with telling him how he can recognize the evidence of His glory:

“I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

Beloved, anytime we taste the goodness of God; any experience of His nature (revealed through His Names); every touch of His grace, compassion, and lovingkindness: all of these are the glory of God in our midst. And when that glory is sent by Him through our lives to those we touch, we become His light of glory in the earth.

Next He says that we cannot see His face, the fullness of His glory, while in our earthly boxes, because to see such pure splendor would drop us dead in our tracks. I mean, really! Just the sight of the glory and splender of an angel dropped the guards watching to see that the body of Jesus was not stolen. God’s glory is much greater than that of angels (Matthew 28:1-4). So what do we see instead? We see the backside of His glory. Every situation we face in which we wonder if God notices and is doing anything to help us, is a time when we will not realize His work until it is over and we look at it from the backside of Glory.

The thing I noticed today in my reading involves our position during that trial. Note where God put Moses:

“‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, THERE IS A PLACE BY ME, and you shall stand there on THE ROCK; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I WILL PUT YOU IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.’”

Wow! I have taught for years that Jesus is the Rock we stand on, but as I read this today, my heart flies to another passage that proves my understanding.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, AND HAS SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB

God wants us to stand on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. The right hand of the throne of God is the place of complete authority and power to rule given by God. When we stand on Jesus, we stand in the place of His full Authority and Power. Jesus then flows that power and authority to and through us. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords; the ALL in all. He is the head and not the tail, the beginning (Alpha) and the end (Omega); Savior and Majesty; what He did stands, and what He says goes. And God has made Him the Corner Stone, that upholds the foundation on which we stand.

When we are going through a time of difficulty where we feel like we are lost in the dark, beloved, get on the Rock. God told Moses, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock.” When we can’t see what is going on and figure out where to step next, we are to STAND on the place next to God, which is Jesus, the Redeemer Shepherd. Stand on what we know.

God tells us to Stand on that Rock, which is seated in the place of authority and power. It is a picture of our stance on Him who has full authority and grants to us authority and power, our being supplied with authority and power to be and do what He leads us to, while we wait for God to do what only He can. We are not to stand idle, but we are to take up the authority and provision He gives us to “not grow weary and lose heart,” but keep living what we know until the path ahead opens up and we come out into the new glory of God. Anytime God works in our lives, it opens up new opportunity to praise Him and to minister out of our experience of His glory.

Then God says, “it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I WILL PUT YOU IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK AND COVER YOU WITH MY HAND until I have passed by.” When it is too dark to see, God is moving. He has us in the cleft and His hand is covering the opening so He can do His work, bringing glory to our situations. He protects us in the Cleft of The Rock, which is Jesus. And when Light begins to dawn anew, we see the backside of His glorious work in our time of waiting.

“Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”

Are you in a season of the need to see God’s glory? STAND on the PLACE next to God: The Lord our Rock, Jesus the Christ. STAND FIRM in all you know of God, doing what You know God would have you do, being all He would have You be, trusting that in the dark of the Cleft, He is being GLORIOUS in your situation. You will see it when He lifts His hand and Light dawns to reveal the Backside of His Presence and Power.

 

Trust in the Lord Keeps Doing Good, No Matter How Long the Wait for His Answer

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 13 – Hebrews 10:35-36

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”

The first part of our passage today instructs us to “not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.” When our wait on the Lord gets long, we too easily give up on Him and either wallow in self pitty, giving up on our Hope, or push to do what we think needs done ourselves. The author of Hebrews tells us a way to brace up our patient endurance. “Remember the great reward it brings you!”

Just in our little bit of a study on trust, we see that those who trust in the Lord are blessed by God. They are established and successful, lacking no good thing. These accomplish good things of Kingdom purpose, laying possession on their territories in life, finding God to be their help and shield. Trusting God provides true security and hope for eternity. That’s just half the days covered, and we’ve only scratched the surface of the promise God gives those who faithfully trust Him. There are many more verses that speak of rewards for trust than these 13 days we touched on.

Yes, keeping eyes on God with faith in Him and His promises brings longevity to times of waiting. Then the author writes, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”

Endurance is vitally important for our ability to keep doing God’s will in the wait. With endurance, we receive God’s promises. A radio announcer pointed out an interesting fact. He said that, to God, “a thousand years is as one day. That being so, our 80 years of life is only 8/100s of a day for God.” What seems long to us on this side of The Eternal, is a mere blink to Him. So hang in there, keep faith, and watch God be God.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter ‭3:9‬ ‭NASB‬

Trust in the Lord When the Path is Dark

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 12 – Isaiah 50:10

“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.”

When we moved into our current home after 32 active years in the home in which we raised children, I was in a greatly slowed time of life. Still am, for that matter.

We were in a position to take a month getting the new home ready to move into. The kitchen needed little done, so I cleaned it and moved into it. We got a new mattress and springs for our bed and put it on the floor in our bedroom. I painted closets and moved our clothes in, and we camped out here while painting and putting in new flooring.

Shopping one day, I ran across a canvas wall hanging of a bridge path leading to a fog-covered, wooded area. Knowing that was my life at the moment and that it was significant, I bought it and keep it visible as a reminder that God’s eyes possess night vision, unhindered by any blanket of fog.

Our passage today instructs that when we are walking in the darkness of uncertain paths, trust the Lord and His servant to lead the way. Sometimes that servant is a spiritual leader (husband, pastor, president, etc.). But always the servant God desires we obey is Jesus, the Christ, and the Spirit of God within us.

This L-O-N-G season of fog laden paths we have walked since moving into our home has taught me greater faith to trust the Lord. None of my fog ladened journey has taught me more than our current situation with my husband’s health status that may well take him from me. The New American Standard version of Isaiah 50:10 puts it this way:

“Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

“Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely on his God.” When walking dark paths, the greatest challenge is trusting that God is with us. His names: Jehovah (Yahweh, I AM – Exodus 3:14), Immanuel (God with us – Matthew 1:23), Jehovah-Shammah (I Am Present – Ezekiel 48:35) , El Roi (The Strong One who sees – Genesis 16:13), Jehovah-Raah (The Lord my Shepherd – Psalm 23), and so many more that speak of God’s watch-keep over us and His faithfulness to be God. This is the God we call upon and trust at all times, especially when we can’t see our hand in front of our faces.

Our bedroom is that dark. When the light goes out, I literally can place my palm against my nose and not see even an outline of my hand. But there is something awesome I note every night as I get ready to shut my eyes in that darkness. There is a cloud-like, illumination I can see all through that deep darkness, reminding me that God is there. He is with me; He sees; He is my ever-living, ever-loving, ever-faithful Ebenezer (Rock of Help – 1 Samuel 7:12).

Trust in the Lord on those uncertain paths, beloved. He is with you and for you.

~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~

“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions and be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have; for He God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down relaxing My hold on you! Assuredly not! Hebrews 13:5,AMPC

Trust in the Lord Waits on Him

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 11 – Isaiah 40:31, NLT

“Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. ”

Today’s “trust in the Lord”, found in the New Living Translation (NLT) says that trust will “gain new strength.” As I consider this, the New American Standard (NASB) translation draws my attention.

“Yet those who WAIT for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”

Failing to truly and fully trust God can make waiting on Him extremely difficult. That’s when my fix-it mentality kicks in and I wear myself out running circles I think will improve a situation. That’s also when I manage to get in God’s way and mess things up.

God has plans for us and those we love; and He knows what is needed to get us where we need to be for their fulfillment. Trust empowers our ability to wait with “active patience”.

Again, patriarch Joseph comes to mind: he did not sit idle in waiting for his promised greatness. He worked hard where he was, honoring his God by being the best at everything required of him by his taskmasters.

Active waiting empowers our strength, both for the days of waiting, and for the time when God’s hand moves and our future begins.

Trust in the Lord Our Rock Produces Unshakable Peace

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 10 – Isaiah 26:3-4

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.”

Unshakable faith that fully trusts and relies on our unshakable God produces within the heart of the believer an unshakable, irrepressible peace. This peace comes to the heart of the one steadfast in mind. As I think on this, my mind turns to two things:

First I think on God’s word concerning seeking wisdom, given us through James. It is promised that seeking God’s wisdom with sincere faith to trust Him will see our need of it met. Second, is James’ warning to not waver in faith, being double minded in following the wisdom given. We cannot fully follow God and be double minded.

But what about Gideon’s encounter with the angel of the Lord? His faith was small and unstable, so he sought God twice for a sign that the word sent was indeed from Him and that He would fulfill it. God patiently honored Gideon’s need for assurance. Once Gideon grasped hold of God’s instruction with faith secured, his faith to heed the wise instruction of the Lord, as strange to him as some of it was, could not be stopped, and the testimony of a miraculous deliverance encourages us still today.

In my first paragraph I pointed out that this unshakable, irrepressible peace comes to the heart of the one steadfast in mind. God worked with Gideon until he was convinced of God, in essence being of the same mind or thought with Him. Agreement with God’s revealed will for us, denying our flesh-mind its doubts and fears, prevents our fall to a double-minded struggle of the flesh against the Spirit.

Though God hates to see doubt in the heart of His followers, He willingly works to strengthen our faith, making us stable and steadfast to trust Him who is the Rock foundation under our feet. The greater our trust in God, our Rock, the more profound our peace of mind and heart, and the faster our obedience in receiving, believing, and following His wise counsel.

Trust in the Lord Leads to Straight Paths

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 9 – Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

The first thing we see in today’s passage is instruction to realize and remember that God’s thoughts and ways are not like ours, so we can’t lean on our own understanding apart from Him. His thoughts are higher, greater, and more marvelous than we can even begin to understand. And His ways often take us in directions we would not dream of going.

Take the patriarch, Joseph, for example. In his dreams, God shows Joseph how great he is destined to be; then, in a weird twist I’m sure Joseph never fathomed walking, God sent him to live the life of a slave. While faithfully walking that seeming crook of a life-path, God did three major things in Joseph: He grew in him a great faith, trust, and appreciation for God that was not stopped or shaken by hardship or trouble; He grew Joseph’s skills as a trustworthy steward-leader; and he gave him a reputation that led to his being noticed by Pharaoh, who then placed him in the very position promised him by God.

Now I don’t believe that path looked like a straight one from Joseph’s point of view, but God was not even once caught surprised by the twists and turns in Joseph’s journey to greatness. God knew exactly what it would take to fashion Joseph into the man of God for the hour of need, and He led Joseph STRAIGHT through the training course of His life. If Joseph failed to trust God each time it surely appeared to him that his life was off course again, it’s very likely his path would have given way to a crooked one leading nowhere.

So, my friend, despite that which may seem off course to you, put trust in God. Lean not on your own understanding, but know that God is making crooked places to lead you straight to where He destined you to be, made fully ready to do the great things He planned for you from the beginning.

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6, AMPC

Those Who Trust in the Lord Stand Firm

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 8 – Psalm 125:1

“Those who trust in, lean on, and confidently hope in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides and stands fast forever.”

Christians are not stubborn. We are CONVINCED. We have experienced God enough to truly and fully trust in the Lord. Truly trusting in Him, makes that person a rock on firm foundation. I see two things in today’s passage:

1) People who truly trust God cannot be moved from their position. Whatever life throws at them, they will not depart from God’s way. They trust Him with their past, present, and future, knowing that He is faithful to His Word. They are not tempted away from following God’s directives. God’s opinion is more important than the opinion of any person. God is Lord in their lives.

2) They abide on that firm foundation. To abide means to remain on/in – to live it. The person who truly trusts God not only stands on His faithfulness to His Word, trusting Him to be God, faithful to fulfill His promises, but they consistently apply His Word to their living and breathing. Every decision is dictated by God’s opinion as found in His Word to us.

Therefore, these truly desire and work toward being faithful in all things as He is. They are the ones you can go to and count on. They will speak the truth to you in love, helping you solidify your stance. They will be there to love and help in the hour of need wherever your need and God’s provision through them meet up. They are faithful as He is faithful, responding to His calling and equipping with wholehearted and willing fervor.

“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,” Philippians 1:25 (see vs. 21-30)

Trust in the Lord as Our Help and Shield

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 7 – Psalm 115:11

“You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.”

I don’t know about you, but our family has weathered a lot of life storms the past few years. Deaths, health issues, relationship struggles, bad decisions of some that effect the whole, and more. About the time we get past one, another roles in, each one bringing a greater challenge to our trust in the Lord. Yet here we stand.

Out of all these challenges I have learned greater faith. I’ve learned that true trust in God does not demand it’s way and refuse peace and comfort until the answer we picture comes. True trust in the Lord says, “Yet not my will, but Yours be done.” True trust is content and peaceful in the midst of the storm, knowing that God is on His throne and that He will help us as He directs each step through to its conclusion.

Help comes to make us STAND in the midst of the storm, filling us with right and true thought, directing our steps to a final destination that makes us stronger in Christ. As we sincerely trust and seek the Father’s will, He shields us from eternal harm, while working in us for our eternal good.

Are you in a storm? Hang in there! Trust the Lord. He will see you through to the good He has for you while ultimately working for the glory of His name.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Trust in the Lord Empowers Possession of Our Lands

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 6 – Psalm 37:9.

“For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”

Yes, this is talking about laying claim to the land on which we live. Individually, it’s our homes; corporately it’s our cities, states, and nations. But there are other types of “lands” that are ours to possess out of faith in God.

Scripture tells us that God is the One who gives the ability to work and earn wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). Any work we do is to be done as if for the Lord as Master, giving Him glory from grateful hearts. In being the best worker possible out of this heart attitude, we possess that land. As we show ourselves faithful in the small things, God blesses us with advances to higher and better.

Also, God gives talents and abilities for use in service and ministry. As we recognize His good gifts to us and use them as unto the Lord in blessing those in our sphere of influence, we possess that land to the glory of God and He blesses with increase.

Correct use of finances and resources as good stewards of God’s gracious supply; correct understanding and application of His good word to us; all that God gives is ours to possess for His glory and His Kingdom purpose. Faithfulness to do so, rejoicing in His gracious supply, being content where we are, while patiently waiting for His increase to us, being grateful for His supply, brings blessing for the faithfulness we POSSESS.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Possess this life God gives you, and live it as the holy people of God, possessed by Him for His glory.

Trust in The Lord and Choose The Good

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 5.

Trust in the Lord chooses His idea of good, cultivating faithfulness wherever we are.

Our verse today is Psalm 37:3, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” The next verse in Psalm 37 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (vs. 4).

I believe that, when we trust the Lord enough to dwell where we are in faithfulness to Him, delighting in Him, that trust opens our hearts to His will. He is able then to fulfill our desires because they line up with His own.

When Jesus faced the cross of Calvary, we are told the stress of what he faced was such that it caused him to sweat blood. Did He dread the pain He would feel in His flesh body? Did He dread the mobs who would reject Him? Did He dread the weight of all the sin of humankind being placed on His shoulders? Or was it the knowledge that, in that moment, God would turn His back away from that sin, leaving Jesus to know the heart of one forsaken and alone?

All of that weighed heavy on Him, causing Him to cry out for the Father to remove that cup and not make Him drink it. Dread attacked The Christ for a bit, but it was trust in God, knowing Father truly does know best, that fed His response to the stressor. Desiring God’s will done God’s way led to the cry, “Yet not My will, But Thy will be done.”

Trust in the Lord aligns our heart’s desires to Him and His will, so we can do the good He desires with the provision of His supply.

Those Who Trust the Lord Lack No Good Thing

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 4.

“Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10

True trust learns contentment where one is, while waiting with hope in God for that which comes next.

I learned years ago that God wants us to be grateful for what we have – whether fancy or meager, unashamed to use our little for His glory, being good stewards of His supply, giving out of that to help others in true need.

True contentment recognizes the sufficiency trusted to us. And when God’s supply exceeds our need, trust-filled gratitude seeks His wisdom in the use of that supply for the glory of God, the furtherance of His Kingdom purpose, and the aid of those in any need.

Today, as I go to prepare this post, I am led to look at the passage in context and find that there’s more to see about this trust that finds its need met.

“Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear Him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” (Vs. 9-10)

This trust is sister to the fear of the Lord. This trust that brings us to lack nothing, being content with God’s provision, does not question God out of a heart of discontent. It does not look at others and accuse God of lack of provision because we “don’t have what they have.”

Discontent disrespects God as Lord. Such discontent, which is a lack of gratitude, says to God that He and His provision are not good enough. It is the heart attitude that kept Israel in that wilderness.

I read something today that grabbed my attention, giving light to this subject.

“It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will), Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and ADDICTED to [such practices].” (Colossians 3:6-7)

Sins that oppose the Divine will are an addiction to having one’s own will and way. An addict is never satisfied for long. There is always a greater fix to be had. Discontent, dissatisfaction with God and His provision, feeds into our sin addiction, whatever it is. The solution?

“If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory. So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God).” (Colossians 3:1-5, AMPC)

For [ALL] of that (sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness) is idolatry – the deifying of self and other created things instead of God.

Father, show me the things in my life that are there because I am addicted to the deifying of self and other created things. Forgive my idolatry and discontent that fails to trust and fear You alone as God and Lord. Empower me to kill, deaden, deprive of power, the evil desire lurking within my flesh. Grant me a heart that seeks after You and the rich, eternal treasures that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Increase in me the possession of the very mind of Christ and fill me to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit so that I may set my mind and keep it set on what is above, the higher things of Your will and way. In Jesus’ Holy and beloved Name above all names, amen.

Trust Obeys God First

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 3: trust in the Lord lives righteousness as a sacrifice of savory aroma to God.

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the Lord.” Psalm 4:5

Trust obeys God. When we fail to trust God, that is when we choose to take things in to our own hands and do things our own way. True trust knows that doing things God’s way is best, even when it may bring us to a difficult time.

Joseph of old is a perfect example. Serving in top position over Potiphar’s household, he knew it was God’s blessing that put him there. Trust in God gave him courage to stand firm in obedience to God when Potiphar’s wife tempted him to sin. Thus he was able to respond with “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).

Fleeing her presence, he chose righteousness as sacrifice to God, rather than the fleeting pleasures of sin. Though he wound up in prison anyway, God’s blessing continued because Joseph trusted God enough to do things His way, even when it hurt. God used the attack by false accusations to put him in a position to be discovered by Pharaoh.

The sacrifice of righteousness honors God as God, trusting the outcome of obedience to Him, knowing that God is working a plan we may not yet fathom.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)

Trust In The Lord and Be Established

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 2: 2 Chronicles 20:20

“…put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”

The Lord will “establish” the person who truly and fully trusts in Him. There is no need to feel like you cannot fit in, like there is no room for you, no place or position that is yours to possess, when you wholeheartedly trust the Lord to establish you. He has your spot ready, and He wants to prepare you for your spot. To fully comprehend this promise, let’s look at what it means to be established, and then we will touch on steps needed to get there.

Established means to set up on a firm or permanent basis; to cause to become regular or usual; to receive permanent acceptance or recognition; to cause to be able to grow or thrive; to show something to be true or certain by determining the facts.

God establishes us by growing us up in Christ, by training us and making us faithful to Him as first in all things, causing us to stand out in the gifts, talents, and abilities He is establishing in us. So our first responsibility in cooperating with Him is to be the best student of His flock.

As we show ourselves faithful students and servants of God, He causes us to stand out to those in authority, whether in a church or secular setting. These call on us as the one God has ready to meet a need. No matter how small the opportunity may look, if God inspires us to take it as an assignment from Him, our responsibility then is to jump in wholeheartedly, doing the work as unto the Lord, with joy of heart, putting our best effort into it, knowing we represent Him in all we do.

These are the things that make us known in His Kingdom work and in life. Whether our job is within a Christian organization or in the secular workforce, we represent Him in all we do. All He puts in our heart to do, every opportunity He leads us to, prepares and establishes us.

God’s promises are backed by the honor of His name. We can trust Him in all things to fulfill His promises for His Name’s sake.

In like fashion, we are to be people of reputation, having a good name as being a trustworthy person of notable character, integrity, and work-ethic, rightly representing Him wherever we are. These are the things that lead to promotion, establishing us as the people of God, keeping Him first in all things.

Psalm 37:23-24 “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”

God Blesses Those Who Trust Him

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 1: Jeremiah 17:7

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.”

God blesses us in every way as we trust in Him: Body, Labors, Emotional/Economic, Social, Spiritual. That is the promise I see in this introductory verse to our look at the subject of trusting God. As we begin, the fist thing we need to grasp is what trust truly is, so that we know that we are truly trusting.

First: trust is in God, He is our hope.

One mistake I see over and over is people decide what they want from God and inadvertently put faith in their desire instead of in God to do what is best. Trust in God sees a need and knows God, Himself, is the answer. Disappointment comes when our desired outcome overshadows trust in God’s sovereign will.

Second: full confidence is in God.

In this past year, God is teaching me greater depth of confident trust. My husband is in a fight with prostate cancer – stage 5. Even before we had a diagnosis, God began bringing my heart to confidence in Him.

I know God CAN heal Johnny if He is willing, and the Spirit says to my heart that He is willing. I just don’t know if that healing will be this side of eternity. Why? The confident hope God led us to grasp is Acts 17:24-28.

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since HE Himself GIVES TO ALL PEOPLE LIFE and BREATH and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, HAVING DETERMINED THEIR APPOINTED TIMES and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for IN HIM WE LIVE and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’”

My confidence is the truth that it is God who gives life, breath, and all things, empowering us to live move and exist, and He long ago laid out the course and habitation of Johnny’s life. Knowing God can heal and is willing to do so is my confident hope. Trusting God, who has determined our appointed times and the boundaries of our habitation to accomplish His will in Johnny’s course, is the test of faith’s trust before me. It is confidence in God that empowers one to pray as Jesus did, “Lord, this is too hard a cup to drink. Please spare me if possible. Yet not my will, but Thy will be done.”

Confident trust knows God can give us our desire and prays with hope for it, while simultaneously knowing God is working His eternal purpose. Bowing to His will, it trusts His best to be done. Waiting patiently for it, this trust walks confidently into God’s will, God’s way.

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.”

Comforted by God

Have you ever heard a hummingbird bark? I didn’t even know they did such until our dear friend, Steve Cook, last visited us. He was a missionary in Jericho, West Bank (or Israel, dependent on who you ask). When he came home for a respite, he would stay with us as a home base. He told us his last visit here about the hummingbird’s bark.

Several weeks after he returned to Jericho, I went on a Christian Heart Quest retreat. The morning after our arrival to the retreat site, they put me through to a call from my husband, who let me know that Steve passed away from an aortic aneurism. He offered to drive down to get me, so I could tend to needful things, as I was Steve’s stateside office manager. Steve was so excited when I told him about the retreat, I knew he would want me to stay, so I did.

While our retreat leadership was setting things up for our week, we were tasked to go out into the countryside for a time of fasting and prayer. I was crippled by sciatica at that time, leaning heavily on a cane, so Johnny ordered me a scooter for that day. I didn’t go far, but was able to get out a ways.

Sitting under a group of trees, letting the Lord minister to my grieving heart as I prepared for a week of intense study of His Word and seeking His face, I hear what sounded like a huge bee, behind my hot pink hat on my head. I ignored it, keeping my thoughts Godward. Shortly I hear the same, rapid-wing noise above and to the left. Looking up, there is a beautiful hummingbird hovering over me. As I catch site of Him, he starts barking at me as if to say, “That’s a beautiful color on your head, but it’s not nice of you to trick me so.”

I laughed for joy over the sound of a barking hummingbird that came to me as a hug of comfort from my God.

Reading scripture:

I enjoy the study of the scriptures, but when life is stressful and my mind struggles to focus, digging in can be difficult at best. With this fight against cancer we are in, focus is especially difficult, so God laid it on my heart to simply read His Word. I’m not to worry about how long it takes me or how much I get done in a day. Nor am I to fret if my mind wonders as the word prompts thoughts and prayers over things in life. I’m simply to trust the Lord to commune with me through His word, bringing my heart to rest all with Him.

I’ve read through the scriptures many times in my years, so I excitedly began my journey in January of last year as our battle with cancer began. Numerous years ago, a Sunday school teacher recommended a 5:1 method of reading: 5X through the New, 1X end to end. It goes like this:

1. John through Revelation
2. Matthew, skip to Acts through Revelation
3. Mark, skip to Acts through Revelation
4. Luke, skip to Acts through Revelation
5. John through Revelation
6. Genesis through Revelation
Repeat 1-6.

I read 5 times through the New Testament last year. How peaceful I found just reading God’s word to be on my weary heart. In January of this year I started with Genesis.

Reading from end to end straight through can be difficult. Books like Numbers and the Chronicles of the kings, with long genealogy lists of hard to read names, and repetitive job/exploits descriptions are taxing on my brain. So rather than straight through, I’ll read a book in order, then I’ll read a minor prophet book or a NT letter, then back to the next book in line. Sometimes, like with 1 Chronicles, I have to read two books simultaneously, a little in 1 Chronicles then I read a little in Romans. I finished Romans, and now I am finishing up 1 Chronicles.

My goal is 3-4 books each month, which should have me finished by end of year. I divided the Psalms into thirds, each third counting as 1 book. And I read through Psalm 119 separately, reading through it numerous times, a segment each day, praying for God to open His Word to me and me to Him.

Though a lot of the OT hurts my heart for the people then and now, I still find great peace in the reading of God’s word. Reading God’s word with a heart open to align with Him brings God’s peace to rest on the sincere seeker, despite the storm tossed seas of life.

All That I Am

“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will. Bless the Lord, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the Lord, O my soul!” (Psalm 103:19-22, NASB)

This is my greatest need, to bless the Lord in all things, praising Him with all that I am: to seek after, search out, and know my God. There is no greater need I have than to seek Him, find Him, and serve Him with a “yet not my will, but Thy will be done” heart. With this fulfilled, no matter the storms all around me, “it is well, it is well with my soul.”

Upon This Rock

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18

The name “Peter” means rock. Some believe that Jesus is telling Peter that he is the rock upon which He will build His church, but that is not what Jesus is saying here. The true meaning of this statement is found both in the context of the passage and the subtle differences in the words Jesus used for “Peter” and “rock”.

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:13-18

In this passage, Jesus is checking the understanding of His followers concerning who Jesus is. To Peter’s correct answer about Jesus being the expected Christ, promised by God, Jesus responds with a proclamation meant to deepen His followers comprehension of who He is and their vital relationship with him:

“I also say to you that you are Peter (Petros – a piece of rock), and upon this rock (Petra – mass of rock, complete boulder) I will build My church….”

Peter was part of God’s plan for building Christ’s church, and yes, Peter was a main leader in that. But I believe Paul defines what Jesus meant by His proclamation.

“And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:17-22

The apostles and prophets are the foundation, each one being a piece of The Rock; but Jesus is The Rock upon which the foundation is secured, the cornerstone upon which all is secured as one. Then each of us who are firmly secured into our place in Christ form the building blocks of His church. Together we are ONE in CHRIST, each part of the whole.

The apostles and prophets of the foundation signify the Word of God sent through them. Jesus being The Word makes the foundation one whole with the Cornerstone. Each one of us who are firmly seated on the foundation of truth taught through these founding fathers, are secured by Christ, the Cornerstone. He will not let us fall or fail. The more we become one with Christ and The Word, the greater our unity as The Church.

Added thought: Jesus called Peter “Simon Barjona” when he responded correctly to His query. Simon was Peter’s birth name. Barjona means “to stab” as with a Sword. May we be Swords in the Lord’s army, stabbing hearts with the truth of God so others may be secured to the firm foundation.

The Practice of Focus

MY sweet husband, in pain, says, “This is the worst day yet,” as he struggles to move. Then he begins thanking me for my care for him. That’s my husband: realize the struggle, but focus on the blessings in the midst of it.

The Apostle Paul of the Holy Bible encourages us to realize the importance of contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4). One of the greatest aids to contentment when trouble screams for our attention is the practice of focusing on the blessings all around us, being grateful for the good that trouble seeks to rob from us. Learning to see the beauty in life and taking time to smell the roses helps us walk a life of contentment in the midst of pain.

Oh, Those Bath Days!

Today is Missy’s bath day. She is too big to bathe in the sink, and too heavy for me, getting her out of the tub: plus, my knees don’t handle that well any more, so off she goes to the vet for a spa day every 2 weeks.

Getting her ready to go is not a problem. She hears her leash come off it’s hook, and the excitement is on. She loves a good road trip and pulls me readily to the car. Seated happily in Johnny’s lap, she eyes every site and takes in all the smells.

This morning, as I pull into a parking spot, she starts sniffing the air vent like crazy. Obvious recognition in her eyes, her happy face drooping with every breath, she glares at me, “I don’t like where you parked!” I know that’s what she said.

Getting her reluctant body out of the car, I sit her down and the battle is on. She wants back in the car immediately! When that doesn’t happen, her goal becomes that of getting me to change course. Fighting her over the threshold, she wearily follows me to the desk. While I take care of business, she stands like a pointer, leash taught, making sure I know where the door is and begging, “Please! Help me.” Little does she know that she stinks, and my nose keeps me pointed toward her bath.

This morning, as our ritual dance at the desk plays out, she suddenly grabs my attention with some extra exuberant tugs on the line. Looking back, she points intently at the door. A woman, just stepping to the door, reaches the handle and pulls. Missy’s excited eyes and joyful tug scream, “Hurry! The door is open. Now’s our chance.” 😂

Missy is a lot of laughs for us. She is so expressive and so smart. But there are times when we know what is best for her, so we fight to get her where she needs to be. It is the same with God and us mere mortals. We so often tug against something God is leading us to, not liking the discomfort of getting there. I wonder if He laughs at us like we do Missy.

Jeremiah 29:10-11 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'”

I don’t know if you have ever read Jeremiah. It is worth the read, if not. In it, God calls His people to willingly go into captivity, promising those who do will find His faithful presence and provision while going through a designated timeout from their destiny because of corporate sin. Many, the prophet Daniel being one, went willingly and found God’s faithfulness. Others, like the King of the day, refused to willingly follow God’s path. Most of them lost their lives  the King lost his eyes, his freedom, and his throne. Kicking against goads God sets in our path only hurts our feet. And, as Missy will tell you, fighting the Master’s pull only chokes us down. Better we go willingly into the Father’s plan.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

That’s a promise. God is faithful to His Word. Question is, do we believe and trust Him, even when the road gets rough? If we choose faith and a willingness to walk His way, we will find ourselves shining like gold and smelling like a rose on the other side of the difficulty we dread.

Greetings, Mighty Warrior of God

“…The LORD is with you, mighty warrior…. Go in the strength you have…” – Judges 6:12-14.

“The Lord with you” is the strength of the mighty. Nothing will be impossible with God. Even contentment in every circumstance is empowered in those who remember “the Lord is with you”. He will get you to His plan for you as you trust in the Lord and do the good He strengthens you to do. So press forward, Mighty Warrior, and have a BLESSed day!

Surrendered Faith

People say we are all made in the image of God. That was true in the beginning, but then came sin that distorted the image. From Adam on, all are born with this birth defect that is only healed in Christ.

I wish I could learn everything with ease and readily cooperate with God’s Spirit as He works to make in me that image made new through Christ. I must admit that some days are a struggle when I fail to remember the old me is dead, and live in the new creature Christ quickened in me. One thing I have noticed, in hard times that come, God’s presence in it makes the truth of who He is most evident to me. In those times, I learn of Him, and with greater surrender to the seed He is growing in me, desiring to be a faithful image bearer in Christ, more of me looks more like Him day by day.

As He changes me, I find greater ease in responding as He desires to the challenges found on the path of life. Never has that been more true than now, as I watch my dear husband fight a cancer that is out for his life. The peace I have in this season has me rested in my God who instructed me to trust His Word of promise:

Acts 17:24-26 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”

This cancer is not in control. God is. He gives life and breath and all things to us, having determined our appointed times, setting in place the boundaries of our habitation. Nothing can move the boundaries set by God one second before the time appointed by Him, except our failure to trust and follow Him. Sin kills.

Our only care is to live each day, trusting in God, and making the most of the life and breath and all things He so graciously gives, while surrendering to His healing of our birth defect, making us to bear His image more clearly each day. I am grateful for the good and the hard, where God reveals Himself; and for Jesus, who paid the price of sin so I can be healed; and for His Spirit that heals the Image in me. Surrendered faith in God quickens for life more abundant and full.

For Joy, Endure

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB.
 
Reading this passage, the fact the Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” grabs my attention, as it has grabbed me many times before. Jesus took up a cross that truly belongs to such a wretch as I, for the joy it would lead to. As I read this today, three questions come to heart for me to ponder:
 
1. What “joys” might have been on the heart of Jesus as He took up that cross?
2. What life challenge or sin that so easily entangles am I in that requires me to take a stand of endurance against it?
3. What joys lie before me that, fixing my eyes on them, will strengthen my endurance?
 
In this passage alone, I see hint of several things that may form some of the joys Jesus looked to.
 
1. Joy in the cloud of witnesses that would come forth because of His endurance.
2. Joy in the victory His endurance would produce in us as we overcome the cumbersome trouble this life too often holds.
3. Joy in the deliverance from sin His endurance would provide us.
4. Joy in the endurance we would possess as we set our eyes on His example to us.
5. Joy in the relationship with each of us that would come to Him and the Father because of His endurance.
6. Joy in the gift of grace available to us because He despised the shame and bore the cross in our place.
7. Joy in the fulfilling of the Father’s purpose, leading to His privileged position at God’s side.
 
There is much more we can add to this list of joys that had the focus of Jesus, strengthening His endurance. I don’t know about you, but there are many troubling situations and temptations to sin that I need this walk of endurance for, if I am to overcome and press through them in fulfilling God’s purpose and accomplishing His desire for me. Today, following Christ’s example, I set my sights on the joy before me that will strengthen my endurance, to the glory of His Name and the fulfilling of His purpose.
 
Assignment: Reading through Proverbs this month, I turn to chapter 3 and find there the call to persevere in several areas, followed by promised joy for successful endurance. Read Proverbs 3 and note there the call to stand firm. What “joy” do you see as a focus to aid endurance in the successful practice for each area of instruction? Now do this with your own life: List areas where your endurance is challenged. Next, list benefits of endurance that you can look forward to attaining as the joy set before you.

God is at Work

God has me reading the book of Philippians each day to the end of this month. He really has me meditating on 1:18-2:8. Then today, 2:12-13 stands out.

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

All going on in my life right now coming to heart as I read it, God inspires me to consider whether I truly believe verse 13 to be true in the midst of all these trials and the struggle they bring to a life of faith.

“…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Do I truly believe this? Then, in whatever circumstance I am in, rejoice, trust the Lord, and do the good that is before me.

Here am I, O God.

Walk in Newness

I have been thinking about the song that says, “You (person) see broken; I (God) see mended.” (Mended, by Matthew West – https://youtu.be/JdIW0El0VBU) It is a very encouraging song, full of truth that strengthens the weary soul.

The song artist speaks of us “becoming new creations,” which is true if we fail to realize and walk in the fact that, in Christ, we ARE ALREADY a new creation, even now. If God has placed His Holy Spirit in us, like filling wine skins, we must be new skins made ready to receive Him.

God sees “new”; and so must we, if we are to be fitting skins for His Holy Presence within. As we put off the old by realizing we are in Christ, we become the new God already sees by the blood of the Lamb.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

URGENT WARNING FOR MEN EVERYWHERE!

Get Your “Oil Checked” Yearly! (Johnny’s terminology)

I just wrote the following to a friend and realized there are many of our friends who do not know the journey we are walking, so I am copying this note here to encourage all men to neglect not that vital, yearly physical.

Johnny and I spent last year fighting prostate cancer. Our fight continues as, short of a miracle from God, there is no cure and he will, from now on, be on meds to keep the cancer at bay.

Johnny had the highest PSA any of his doctors have ever seen: >10,000 (normal is 1-4: no zeroes behind that). His last PSA was under 300. WooHoo! We are watching to see that it continues to drop while he continues to heal.

The only symptom Johnny had was lymphedema in his left leg. It was believed to be related to his hip replacement done numerous years ago. For numerous months, they treated the lymphedema as normal for the suspected cause. Only when a lymph node swelled up in his neck during a sinus infection, being unaffected by antibiotics, did reason to think different rise up. The doctor suspected a lymphoma, but a biopsy of the lymph node revealed the cancer to be prostatic in origin. That led to the oil and PSA check. If it were not for the biopsy and his PSA count, they still would have missed it as his prostate felt normal, except for a small knot that was there in past exams that included a normal PSA. Scans of the area also revealed a normal looking prostate gland.

While waiting on the biopsy and results, scans of his torso were ordered to see what was going on between Johnny’s leg and the node in his neck. That revealed a huge lymph node pressing on the vessels of the hip and causing sluggish emptying of fluids on that leg, thus causing the lymphedema. In fact, the torso scan revealed that he had lymph nodes greatly engorged all the way up to the one in his neck. These engorged nodes were pushing vital organs out of place and one had one of his kidneys nearly plugged off as it kinked up the “hose”. Johnny was a walking miracle, and until about a month before the node in the neck, he felt great.

We are sharing Johnny’s journey with all who will listen, encouraging all men to not neglect to get the oil checked and your PSA done yearly. One of Johnny’s friends just had his done because of Johnny’s warning. His PSA came back at a whopping 8 (no zeroes behind that). They sent him immediately to a specialist who ordered a biopsy and other tests as they decide on a treatment plan for his prostate cancer. His prognosis is great, expecting an easy treatment and full recovery because they caught it early.

Johnny neglected that vital test for five years and it almost cost him his life. Having none of the typical symptoms to warn him, it grabbed him unawares and he was at stage 4(+) when he started his treatment. It made for a challenging, but very greatly blessed year as we drew nearer to God and each other. He’s considered in partial remission right now: cancer still evident and on a stabilized treatment regimen. We remain in the Father’s hands, as he uses the hands of the oncology staff at Texas Oncology in Amarillo. They have encouraged our hope every step of the way.

Will Johnny be with us long. We hope so, but only God knows. However long he has, we will be a voice crying out to men, “Get your oil checked!”

Everyone, please share our experience with your friends. Make sure they are aware and encouraged to take care of themselves while it’s early (better an 8 that is manageable). Ladies, if there are men in your life, share this now and encourage them to get the oil checked yearly. While we’re at it, ladies, have you been to your OB-GYN lately?

Love to all!

Johnny and Darlene