Tag Archives: Focus

Repentance That Works

There are two types of repentance: worldly repentance and godly repentance. Godly repentance works the will of God, and that is what we want.

Worldly repentance is:

Self-centered – repentance flowing out of worldly concern (must change before I lose my job…my ministry…their love/respect).

Insincere – having a hardened heart to sin, repentance is only for show.

Insecure – believing God delivers from the penalty of sin, but we are still enslaved to the sin nature with no hope of freedom in this life.

Godly Repentance is:

Relational – concerned about pleasing God and protecting relationship with Him; and because of right relations with God, desiring to protect relationships with others.

Transforming – knowing that we not only possess the righteousness of Christ in the Spirit, but that the Spirit is with us, to empower our righteous acts accomplished through surrendered lives.

Eternal – knowing that God loves us at all times and will bring us into His eternal Kingdom because of Jesus, while also realizing that we are His representatives in our here and now, called and equipped as His image bearers to reveal Him to the world. Godly repentance truly desires to surrender to God’s work of making us into His image.

True repentance comes to those who know that God has a good work for us as individuals, beginning with us being His image bearers. Surrendered living with sincere effort to conform to His transforming power leads to accomplishing His purpose.

True repentance surrenders to eternal purpose through trusting faith that knows “nothing shall be impossible with God”, who so greatly desires a love relationship with us that He gave His only begotten Son to have it. And have it, He will, for His Word succeeds at accomplishing His purpose.

Take God at His Word and repent from a godly stance of faith made sure in Him.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:12-13 NASB

Faith: Secure and Sure

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 NASB.

Be careful where you put your faith.

Look carefully to where your faith for eternity lies. In Jesus’ day, many let their faith slip off of the Word Giver and land on the word given. Without God behind it, the word is nothing.

We, today, see faith slip off of God to many things:

– a continuance of the Old – placing faith in His word instead of in Him;

– in our own righteousness instead of in Him, Who is our righteousness;

– in the church we attend;

– in the strength of our faith;

– in the baptism we receive.

All of these are part of our faith walk, but, apart from Jesus, they are nothing! Make sure that your faith is standing firm on God in all His fullness, not on the things of God.

The radical God-centeredness of the Lord’s Model Prayer

“The radical God-centeredness of the Lord’s Model Prayer teaches us that man’s pride has no place before the throne of God.” (Dr. Albert Mahler, The Prayer That Turns The World Upside Down)

I have a decorative plate, given to me by my son, that misquotes the verse, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It says, “Give us this day THY daily bread.”

I’ve searched many translations, even looking through the oldest versions available to me, and none translate it that way, but I love the plate, not only because my son gave it to me, but because of the truth it reminds me to realize.

I, too often, fail to truly know what is best for me. I need the Father to instruct and form right desires and healthy appetites within me, leading me to seek after, recognize, and receive His best for me.

Pride hinders our ability to trust God for His best.

“”Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]” Matthew 6:9-13 NASB

Note: when struggling to pray, break down the outline of the Lord’s Model Prayer into its parts. Beginning with realizing that He is FATHER, who loves you and gave His all for you, let each part soak into your hurting soul to direct your heart in prayer for the trouble before you. Add to your praying the heart of Jesus that cried out in His time of agony, “Yet not my will, but THY will be done,” and you have a heart attitude God hears and responds to in amazing ways.

Opportune Times

“It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.” Luke 21:13 NASB

Speaking of end times, Jesus warns His disciples of the persecution coming to believers. Alerting them to the fact that they will be taken to court for their faith, he tells them to realize the opportunity they have in that situation to bear testimony of their faith.

As I read these words this morning, it speaks to me for the difficulties we face each day. Whether we face illness that threatens our now-life, or whether we are constantly challenged by bosses without integrity; whatever difficulty comes to our day, it brings opportunity to bear forth our testimony by a life of righteousness well lived. Though no one sees but the “cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Hebrews 12:1), the things that test our resolve bring opportunity to bear testimony that tells the truth about our faithful trust in God.

“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.” Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT

“By your endurance you will gain your lives. … Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”” Luke 21:19, 34-36 NASB

The BLESSed Trust of Being His Light

“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

If we are setting a bad example where we are, why do we tend to expect God will give us a position where we can lead others to be twice the hypocrite we are being?

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:7-10 NASB

God does not often put us in the position we desire until we are being that person, living the level of integrity required for it, in the place we currently hold. You want to come up higher? Live the degree of faithful, integrity required now.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” Colossians 3:23-25 NASB

The Subtle Nuances of Persecution

People have said in my presence many times that we in America don’t know what persecution is. That very statement proves it – especially of the one speaking. What they are saying is we have not had our lives threatened by people wanting us to openly denounce our God. With that definition of persecution in mind, they are correct. We do not often see that in the USA, though, in recent days, we are seeing a rise in that type of attack. But that narrow definition of the parameters of persecution causes a failure to recognize that all face persecution in some way every day.

“How is that?” you may ask. To respond fully to the how, the question we have to answer is, what is persecution? What is its purpose? What is its underlying resource? One of the oldest texts in scripture answers all these questions and gives them definition through the more subtle attacks we see there, and in our land.

What is persecution and its resource?

We find this answered in Job 1, in the discourse between God and Satan. God points out Job, his righteous life and careful care of his relationship with God, seeking always to please God. Satan questions that loyalty, accusing God of having Job so protected and cared for that he only sought to please God for what it brought to his life. He goaded God, “Remove all his blessings from You and let me at him, and he will curse You” (Darlene’s paraphrase).

Persecution, whether that seen in the life of Job, or that intended when people say we, in America, do not truly know persecution, comes through the resource of Satan, who hates God. It is his attack against God, his attempt to destroy all that God holds dear. Some is the obvious persecution we recognize as we see those who refuse to deny God having their heads removed by those through whom Satan sends his attack.

Thus, in response to the third question, what is its purpose, we see that best defined by the words spoken through Job’s wife in chapter 2:10, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Satan’s whole desire is to get us to curse God, deny Him as God and Lord, and to enter the death that comes when we refuse to fully trust Him.

That brings us to the subtle aspects of persecution that we too often fail to recognize as that. The things Satan did to Job to try to get him to fall away from his “integrity” by cursing God and turning from faith in Him came in the following ways:

  1. The death of loved ones.
  2. The removal of wealth, bringing him to poverty.
  3. Assault against his health, threatening his life.
  4. The voice of a wife who fell, in her grief, to give voice to his persecutor, Satan, goading him to curse God too.
  5. The accusations of friends, convinced that some hidden sin and failure to repent was the cause of all his trouble, thus attempting to lead him to doubt his assurance in God.

Any of this sound familiar? I see it every day in our land. In fact, my thoughts today flow to this long understood truth, not only because of my husband’s battle with cancer, but also because of learning of a young, dearly loved woman who is fighting stage 4 colon cancer. She is still raising her children, two of them young teens. Her battle against this unseen enemy that wants not only to steal her life, but hopes to steal her faith in God, is well under way. My prayer for her and for her family today is for faith to trust God more. As Job said to his wayward, grief stricken wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

Trusting God for me in my husband’s battle means trusting God’s hand of healing, whether it is experienced in this life or the next. It means trusting that God will continue to minister to my needs even if He takes my husband, who is our bread winner. It means trusting that He will help me face the days ahead with strength of faith and assurance of hope.

For my young friend, it means trusting that God has a purpose in all this. That He will help her face these days with courage and peace, joy and hope. That, if He takes her home, He will remain with her family to help them. That He will take up with her children where she leaves off, to help them be the men of God she desires. That He will help her husband stand firm of faith and be the daddy her kids need; and that God will meet him at his greatest needs.

We all hope healing in the here and now for her and for my husband. But true trust acknowledges that we cannot know all God sees in what He is doing and allowing. Trust knows that His purpose is eternal good, and His plan will succeed in accomplishing what is best for all concerned.

Our journey, whatever the struggle that comes, is made easier when faith stands firm on trust in God. That trust wins the battle against all the enemy can throw at us. That trust is what our loved ones need to see most of all, so whichever way God’s plan takes us, they are helped to have the resource of our example to help them carry on. May we be found faithfully trusting God.

Believe God

‬ “And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.” Luke‬ ‭4:28-30‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The faith of Jesus seen in his journey to the cross, refusing the crown of man and the fear of every threat, because He knew the promise of God and trusted His provision on the course set before Him, amazes and inspires my own faith, as does the faith of the apostles. To believe God for each step taken in obedience to Him is my heart’s cry. I see it in those who have gone before us. I saw it lived out in my friend, Steve and in many others who set a good example through faith. I pray to walk out that faith daily as I seek the Father to trust Him more. I choose to believe God, that it will turn out exactly as He tells us it will. 
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NASB‬

Make Disciples

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Matthew‬ ‭28:18-20‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“And Ananias said to Paul ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’” Acts‬ ‭22:14-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬
This Matthew call to go and make disciples still speaks today. Note: it does not say, “Go and make converts.” A convert, untaught, will too easily fall away (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23). The work has only just begun when a person turns to Jesus, as it is more than telling about Jesus. The true call is to help each seeker grow to become a true disciple-believer, learning and growing as a Christ follower that bears His image and stands the test of time. 

We are to help others become a disciple maker. In so doing, we will one day see the Righteous One face to face. As we fulfill this call, knowing it as God’s will, our hope is to hear His voice say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Be more than just a believer. Even the demons knew Jesus was the Son of God: The Very God incarnate; one with Father and Spirit, but their belief did not change them. We must be a disciple, continually being made new as we grow strong in Christ.

Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” ~ Matthew 4:19

“Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. ~ Matthew 9:9

And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me. ~ Matthew 10:38

Stand Firm and Stay the Course

“For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].” Hebrews‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

In each of our situations that is exposing us to suffering, the temptation we face is to stop trusting God. It temps us to fail to cry out in faith, believing; to refuse His gift of Peace and not enter His Rest. It temps us to refuse putting our joy in Him, thus robbing us of our strength. 

The longevity of the trial is meant by Satan to break our resolve. But God wants to use it to reveal our perseverance and increase our hope muscles. 

The signs of our times speak loudly to this being the last days. Jesus is coming. Satan is seriously working to destroy the Church and dull God’s Light in us. It is vital that we stand firm in faith and stay the course. 

Possess That Perfection 

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” Philippians‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A FB friend wrote a post on this Philippians passage encouraging us to possess the full treasure of God’s grace and provision to, in, and through us, (see link below). My thoughts in giving an example of possessing all that is ours through Christ, flows out of hers. I’ve probably posted similar before. In this day and age, with the trouble we see in this world, I cite Paul:“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.” 2 Peter‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On to our example of possession: 

We are called to love as God loves. If we are to love others as He loves us – unconditionally and incorruptibly, then we must fully possess the love He provides us to walk out. 

God IS Love. He loves out of who He is. His love is not dependent on who we are or what we do. It depends fully on the fact of who He is; thus, Jesus paid the full price for ALL and the grace available through that sacrifice of love is held out as a gift to receive and possess as one’s own. 

The only thing about God’s love that is dependent on us is the degree to which we choose to receive it. Once we receive His Love, He has provided for us to possess that same love ability as our own through His Holy Spirit. As we possess and work out of that fruit of the Spirit expressed best in Galatians 5:22-23, we love as He loves, out of WHO WE ARE IN THE SPIRIT we possess for ourselves as He possesses us. 

He provides love for our possession so we may BE LOVE on His behalf, being His love to those He places in our sphere of influence on any given day. Thus, love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is not something we have to learn. It is something we possess as our own, flowing out of THAT which flows into us. And we possess it by letting God’s Holy Spirit fully possess us. 

“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James‬ ‭4:6-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

When we possess Him who possesses us, things like bitterness, hate, and unforgiveness find “no room at the inn” of our heart’s dwelling place.

Michelle Gray

Fast and Pray

A friend of mine wrote a beautiful FB post on the benefits of fasting prayer. It is linked below, but not sure it will open. I, too, have practiced fasting prayer many times for many reasons, and have experienced what Becky speaks of here. In fact, I have been doing some short fasts and praying, even Jerichoing our city as I pray for the desperate needs of family and friends. 

I fasted a day last week for these things, plus for God to strengthen my resolve to eat right and do what is needful to take care of me in this season with my husband’s health and other family issues. 
I am a stress eater by habit and have been so out of control, it is hurting me. My husband had me promise that I would take care of me and not let all this get me down physically from the lack of self care. Failing at that, I took a day to seek the Lord’s strength and resolve: and I believe I will keep doing so at least weekly through this season. It’s the only way I see of keeping my promise, by seeking Him who is my First, Most Vital, Need and Necessity. Without God, I can do nothing. 

Since starting this routine in praying for family and friends, and now for myself, my strength and good appetite is returning, and I see the signs of God moving on behalf of family and friends. In fact, a “son” returned to his family the other day. Now for him to return to his God. 

Keep praying! And as the Spirit leads, do fast before the Lord and be strengthened.

Becky’s post

Better to Stand Alone

““And you will, even of yourself, let go of your inheritance That I gave you; And I will make you serve your enemies In the land which you do not know; For you have kindled a fire in My anger which will burn forever.”

“Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. 

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. 

“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah‬ ‭17:4-10‬ ‭NASB‬

After this revelation from God, Jeremiah cried out in verse 14, “Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise.”

God’s wrath remains kindled against sin: all that stands against God, denying His Lordship, and refusing His way, which is found in relationship with Jesus, who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Each person is judged by God’s standard, according as He sees to be their individual heart toward Him. A nation is judged according to the culmination of the judgment against its people. Thus it is better to stand alone with a right and true heart before God, than to follow the crowd into chaos. Seek the Lord through the saving grace of Jesus, the Christ, and let your heart be healed.

Heads Up!

Today is a day of prayer for Texas, and indeed for the USA. With everything going on in the world today, it’s a good day to pray and to praise the Lord for the good He has done and will do. May He lead us through all the turmoil and trouble in paths of righteousness for His names sake. 

Thankfully, our joy does not depend on things going on around us. Despite the day’s news of trouble, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 

“Be anxious for 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 all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9

“You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.” Psalms‬ ‭92:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The Son of God Appeared for this Purpose

Are storms evil? No. Storms happen because they are keeping the law. There are laws in nature that determine when it rains, snows, hails, when the wind blows and how hard, where the lightening strikes or tornadoes form. These things, in themselves, are not evil, though they can bring great destruction; nor are they necessarily good, though they can bring good and needful things to the earth. However, storms can be used for evil, or they can lead to great good. 

When a storm produces destruction, we see one of two things come from those effected: 
Some come out to take advantage of others out of selfishness and avarice. 
Others come, even out of their own extreme poverty, to help those in need and to build anew. 
I read a devotional that eluded to this passage of scripture and the purpose for Christ expressed here:
“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 
“No one who ABIDES in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who PRACTICES righteousness (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice out of love for God and allegiance to Jesus) is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who PRACTICES sin (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice, which is rebellion against God and His chosen King) is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. 
“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil (sin and all that stands in opposition to God, His will, His way, His sovereignty). No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John ‭3:4-9‬ ‭NASB‬ (my understanding)
The storm is not evil or good: but the force behind it and the spirit it brings can produce great evil, or healing balms of good through the actions and reactions of people effected by the storm. A person reveals his heart in such seasons. 
Jesus came to destroy the work of Satan that leads people to do the evil seen in such times. With Job, when His children were killed in a tornado, the purpose of Satan and the trap of temptation set by him was to prove Job would lose faith in God and rebel against Him. That is what Satan seeks to accomplish through the storms of life. 
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John ‭10:10‬ ‭NASB‬
To die, in God’s value of things, is to turn away from Him in lack of faith to trust Him in the storm. It is to rebel against Him out of anger, self-centeredness, pride, greed, or any number of evils that get a controlling hold on our hearts and lead us to turn against God’s way. 
Life, in God’s economy, is this relationship with Him from a heart that trusts and follows Him despite the tricks of the devil. We don’t easily and habitually give in to temptations to sin out of fear or because of stressors to faith in God. We stand with God and for God, no matter the length of our waiting for His hand to move, and we find Him faithful. This is the Life, abundant and full, that Jesus provides. 
The abundance Jesus provides is peace beyond measure; joy unrelated to circumstance; faith fed by deep pools of belief’s hope; and a River of love flowing to and through us, all fed by God, who is love. Evil that seeks destruction cannot win when God’s people stand firmly planted on Him. 
“Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.” Psalms ‭37:1-9‬ ‭NASB‬
“My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. 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. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs ‭3:1-8‬ ‭NASB‬
‭Yes, Satan used a storm and other devastations in Job’s life, intending it for evil; but God allowed it, knowing it would produce the good He desired. The question is, on which side of the equation will we stand? ‬

The Smoke

“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke” ~ Joel 2:30.

Smoke: Cloud. The steam rising above one of our local fuel or fertilizer plants; the plume from some distant fire; the trail left by some long gone jet: it all draws my attention and begs the taking of a picture for posterity. God, getting my attention?

It happens most when I am praying around the city, seeking His hand of healing for family, friends, church, and nation. Does God want me to discern something about smoke? These questions have hit my heart several times, thus I pause to see how smoke might link with God in scripture. My findings?

First, smoke in the following passages and many more like them are a symbol of God’s presence, His touch (work) among us, His glory all around us. Smoke represents the revelation of God who is with us: it signifies who He is, what He does, His praiseworthiness.

“Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently” ~ Exodus 19:18.

“He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke” ~ Psalm 104:32.

“… I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” ~ Isaiah 6:1-4.

Please permit me a little side note here, before pressing on to the second important reason for God’s revealed Presence in smoke and cloud. This is important for us to realize as we seek Him.

Note all that is going on in the Presence of God’s glory. The Seraphim are in the positions of God’s choosing, standing, for God is able to make His servants stand, doing all that they are called to do in this scene. They are gifted with six wings that give a picture I believe to be a vital message for all who stand in the Smoke or Cloud of God’s Presence.

First we are told that, with two wings they covered their faces. I believe this is because we cannot look upon the Lord to see His face and live. This is the reason that God put Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand until He passed by, to protect Moses’ life (Exodus 33). Such reverence for God is a weapon of warfare that protects our lives.

Next we are told that two wings covered their feet. I believe this is a picture of humility, because where God is, that place is HOLY GROUND. Realizing that, apart from Christ, we are unholy and unworthy to enter into the Presence of God is a vital weapon of warfare, for apart from Him we can do nothing. Only those covered by Jesus can enter through the veil removed by Him, granting us full access to the very Presence of the Holy One: Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.

Also note in the picture presented us, that, as the angels stood before God in humble reverence and awe, worshiping His Holiness, the temple filled with Smoke. We are the temple of God in the earth today, and His Spirit fills us with His glory. Wherever we are is Holy Ground, because where we are, He is. Behaving accordingly is vital to our victory.

Finally, with two wings, they flew. Why? I believe it signifies the fact that reverence for and awe of God produces movements that glorify Him as God: we do what He calls us to, fulfilling our good purpose, because we reverence God and hold Him in awe as Holy and worthy of full and complete commitment to Him. In this way we surrender ourselves to Him as sanctified vessels, set apart for service.

“HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME” ~ Revelation 4:8.

On with the Smoke or Cloud of God we go…

The second thing noted is that smoke represents God’s judgment: God’s hand in the wrath to come against the sons of disobedience. All who refuse to bow to His Lordship will meet the smoke of His wrath as death (eternal separation from God) swallows up the sons of disobedience.

“He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit” ~ Revelation 9:2.

Note also that the smoke of His judgment includes those times when His people cry out for Him to rescue us from the accusations and attack of enemy forces that come to condemn us or stop our successful following after the Lord. He judges between us and our accusers, and He rescues us.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears. Then the earth shook and quaked, The foundations of heaven were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up out of His nostrils, Fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet. And He rode on a cherub and flew; And He appeared on the wings of the wind. And He made darkness canopies around Him, A mass of waters, thick clouds of the sky. From the brightness before Him Coals of fire were kindled. The Lord thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice. And He sent out arrows, and scattered them, Lightning, and routed them” ~ Psalm 18:7-15

Before leaving this thought, I am struck by the fact in the previous passage, that as God comes against those who come against us, “coals are kindled!” Coals, believers that have gone cold because of hearts melted within them; or because of discouragement due to over-worked lives that have grown weary. God will kindle and set aflame the discouraged people around us, as they see the work of the Lord on our behalf, and are encouraged that God is still with us and for us.

Who can stand against us?

Third, smoke is seen in warfare, especially as a city is overtaken and possessed by the people in victory.

“Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that they would make a great cloud of smoke rise from the city. Then the men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike and kill about thirty men of Israel, for they said, ‘Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle.’ But when the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, Benjamin looked behind them; and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to heaven.” ~ Judges 20:38-40 (also Joshua 8:20-21).

In the Spirit, as we are praying over our city and making full use of every spiritual weapon at our disposal, the victory will reveal itself as smoke going up to the Lord. We will see God’s reality, His Presence made clear. We will see His glory assert itself, making His holiness evident in ways that humble us and press us on in the work at hand. The revelation of His Holiness will work to reveal sin, righteousness, and judgment in the earth, the work of the Spirit in our midst. We will see enemy strongholds crumble and the tongues of our accusers hushed, as the righteous judgment of the Lord becomes clear to all.

In closing:

img_2211

“For I have become like a bottle – a wineskin, blackened and shriveled in the smoke in which it hangs, yet do I not forget Your statutes.” ~ Psalm 119:83, AMPC.

Over and over, as I traveled the outskirts of our city, my eye was caught with awe at the strange beauty of the blackened carbon black plants, their smoke column wafting above. Now, as I read this verse, I understand why God is highlighting these plays as something that is beautiful. It is this picture of a wineskin, blackened and shriveled in the Smoke.

We are wineskins, made new in Christ and filled with the wine of His presence. And we are surrounded by Him at all times, experiencing the Smoke of His Presence with us.

Apparently, wineskins that hang constantly in the presence of smoke become blackened – covered with its soot, and they shrivel. What does this mean for us as wineskins that hold the Living Wine of God’s presence and power? Two things about this blacken and shrivel us:

The realization of His glory humbles and shrivels us to size as we learn to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought; surrendering fully to His Lordship.

The smoke of His judgments humble and shrivel us as we are transformed and made new by our surrender to His opinion of us: both bringing us to repentance in the areas of sin, and lifting us up in the areas of our confident hope.

img_2213Just as these pipes and brackets are blackened by their constant exposure to the billowing smoke of carbon black production, the blanket caused by standing in His presence covers us completely, our flesh-being, hidden from view, so that His holy eyes only see the sacrificial covering of Christ’s image in us.

Beloved, the “soot” of God’s smoke is His glory.  The nearer to Him we stay, He takes us from glory to ever greater depths of His glory. 

The Power of God is among us, prayer warriors. So keep seeking the Lord, standing in His presence fully clothed, bowed down in complete surrendered trust of Him, assured of His work in our midst that will reveal itself in smoke for many days to come.

“The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words: ‘He is good! His faithful love endures forever!’ At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.” ~ 2 Chronicles 5:13-14.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16.

“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. [Ps. 110:1.] 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.” Colossians‬ ‭3:1-4‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Beauty: Not Beyond the Reach of Grace

These are beautiful!

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I saw this plant come into view, and my heart leapt! It was just beautiful to me. 

These carbon black plants have been here for multiplied-decades, the last remnants of many more that used to be here. I remember momma stepping out to see which way the wind was blowing before daring to hang laundry. And heaven forbid the wind to change directions! 

Through the years I’ve heard people express joy in the smell of laundry, dried on outdoor lines. I never understood that. Ours always smelled of carbon and fossil fuels. LOL

As I look at these stacks and the criss-crossed sections of pipelines darkened by decades of carbon soot, I note the mostly white steam escaping the shoots, and my heart rejoices in the Hope of Christ. 

You see, no matter how many decades of sin and shame covers our lifespan, we are not beyond the reach of His saving grace. And even in the earliest stages of our surrender and commitment to Him, His Spirit moves in, fills us up, and begins the lifetime work of cleansing, purifying, and transforming us to be the vessel God planned from before time began. 

Even in our earthen vessels marred by passing sin, the glory of the Lord seeps out of us who are His, like steam rising to draw the eyes of others in need of a fresh view of Splendor’s beauty and grace. The greater our surrendered commitment to God through Christ, the purer our cleansing flow will be. Rising up as testimony of our relationship with God, His cleansing, Life-giving flow reaches out to touch others in need of His grace, sufficient for them too.

We each choose daily the steam flowing forth: either the dark stench of sin, or the purifying flow of Love’s grace at work in us. Which do you want those you love to be covered by when they are near to or up wind from you?

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, AMPC

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19-20‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

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.

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 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

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.

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 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.