Tag Archives: Focus

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.

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“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.

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.

Necessary Fires

Read 1 Peter 1:1-9.

“…In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” ~ verses 6-9.

The thing that stands out to me as I read this is the word “necessary”. It says the trials God allows are only allowed IF NECESSARY, and that necessity has a glorious purpose: that some greatly needed “revelation of Jesus” come out of the fire with us.

The trials and tribulations God allows to touch the lives of His people He only allows out of necessity, in order to reveal Christ to and through us. For that to happen, does that not mean that Jesus is in the fire with us, even though we can’t see Him for the smoke and heat burning our proverbial eyes, and the flames blocking our view?

Take courage, Beloved of God. You, who are the “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” are not alone. God will bring Glory’s good out of the flames of adversity.

Look at what this says and be filled with the confidence of Christ.

“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.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 5

Considering the wisdom of Philippians 4:4-13 in our focus to follow the dictates of 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, which instructs us to take every thought captive, we finish up our arsenal from this Philippians passage. Beginning with joy in the Lord that brings strength, to it Paul adds the godly attitudes and temperaments of gentleness, an unselfish consideration, with forbearance, restraint, tolerance, and patience. To this Paul adds trust in God that produces peace of mind and heart, protecting against anxious thoughts. Last post Paul’s instruction added the need to make sure our thoughts dwell with God, letting His truth and perspective dictate so that we turn to thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely; thoughts of good repute, excellence, and praiseworthiness. Dwelling with such thinking causes those characteristics to work their way out in our life practices. Today we add what may well be the most needful and effective weapon for our arsenal against stinking thinking:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” ~ Verses 10-13.

Trust in God that empowers us to be content despite life’s circumstance is one of our greatest tools against skunk-thoughts. This contentment is not that fed by discouragement, but by hope. True contentment is not the passivity, apathy, or indifference that leads to us lying down to die in defeatism, instead of getting up to move forward in faith. This contentment Paul speaks of requires us to enter into the rest of God: a rest fed by faith to trust Him, leading to those actions of obedience required of us wherever we are in life; trust filled action flowing from those right and true thought processes. This active-rest holds us in God’s sure peace while believing with assurance of heart that He is in control and will get us safely to wherever He is taking us through the situation at hand (consider Hebrews 3:12-19; Philippians 3:1-14).

As I think on these things, I realize that contentment is greatly dependent on our ability to place our joy in the Lord Himself, instead of in His gifts or provision, or in our wants and desires. When we let our joy fall on what God does for us instead of realizing Him as our exceeding great reward, we will fall easily to discontent when a desire or even a perceived need goes unmet. Thus, we come full circle, beloved.

Where are you in your life journey today? Do you readily rest things in God’s capable hands, following His instruction in obedience as you walk through life’s challenges? Or do you kick against the goads of thoughts not settled and secure in God’s will and way? Let’s close with God’s words to us through James:

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.

“You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose:

“‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in 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 4:1-10 (consider the Amplified version of this passage).

Contentment in whatever circumstance life brings us begins with God being our first, most needful joy, knowing Him to be our exceeding great reward. No other perceived need or want truly sustains us.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 4

We are covering Philippians 4:4-13, seeking God’s wisdom concerning things taught here that help us take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). As a quick review of verses 4-7, covered to date, we learned the importance of rejoicing in the Lord. With God as the source of our joy, we have strength to face life’s challenges, and resource to stand firm against stinking thinking that leads to a fall. We must refuse to let anything rob us of the joy we find in our relationship with God. Nothing can rob us of that true joy that rests by faith in Him, for He holds us secure in Christ (Romans 14:4).

With our rejoicing in Him, we discover that He equips us to respond to people and circumstances with gentleness that expresses itself through patient forbearance and long-suffering tolerance, dictated by right attitudes of mind seen in selflessness and temperance that knows Jesus is coming and that we are to represent His interests until He gets here. As people of God who know the Lord is near, we choose to be people of faith, trusting Him, not given over to anxiety that robs of peace, but people filled with God’s peace, having hearts and minds enveloped by His protective peace that is beyond our full comprehension. Continuing Philippians 4, in verses 8-9, Paul gives this wisdom from God as a watch-list for our thought-life:

“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.”

Our next spiritual weapon is the practice of dwelling with God in our thought life. We are told in this passage to dwell on these things, the first being: truth ~ I believe that this is not just any truth, but God’s truth. God’s truth sees things as they really are, getting to the heart of the matter; and God’s truth always considers God’s supply: His presence with us, His resource for us.

One example that comes to mind is one I find myself having to remember these days. With the health issues my husband and I are dealing with, I find myself to be very tired most days, and often find rolling around in my head the thought that “I can’t”! When opportunity to meet a need arises, the feeling of being tired and the words “I can’t” move in on me so fast that I have to be careful to not just run with that evaluation. Capturing that thought requires me to do two things: 1) look at the truth of the situation to see the reality of the need; and 2) remember God’s word to Paul that I believe true for us as well, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Matthew 17:20; Philippians 3). Our thought life can hinder our participation in things God desires for us if we fail to seek Him for a right evaluation and to trust His supply for our need in accomplishing His purpose.

Paul instructs us to “dwell on (think on, meditate on)” the true, the honorable, the right, pure, and lovely things of good repute and excellence, focusing on the praise worthy things. The truly praiseworthy flows from a heart focused to honor God and please Him first and foremost. Paul’s instruction given is with the purpose that our minds may be set on the works and words worth putting into practice: “Practice these things,” Paul instructs.

Our thoughts should inspire words and actions that prove us as God’s true servants, practicing the honorable, righteous, pure, and lovely ways of God in truth, doing His will as people worthy of good repute, producing excellence worthy of praise that glorifies God as God, pleasing Him in all things. Take every thought captive, beloved, by inviting God to inspire right thinking, dwelling with God in your every thought, allowing His Spirit and Word to inspire right and true understanding leading to accomplishing His good will in His glorious way to fulfill His eternal purpose.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 3

In our consideration of the truths found in Philippians 4:4-13, we find instruction to help us take every thought captive to obey God in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

Rejoicing in the Lord despite circumstance strengthens us for a life that honors God as God, even when the road before us is rough. Finding our joy in God protects our way of viewing the situations we face, thus protecting our way of thinking about life’s challenges. Our thoughts then flow from this joy in God that trusts in Him, bringing us to respond in gentle ways that bear up under the pressure with patients, realizing the Lord’s nearness and trusting Him to guide us as He works in our lives.

Knowing that the Lord is near strengthens us when difficulty threatens our faith. God’s word reveals two ways we are to know His nearness. One is realizing that the Lord is returning and we must be ready for Him as His servants by following His will and way in our day. This understanding empowers us to keep moving forward, having minds set on our eternal relationship with Him, destined to live with Him forever. The second way we know His nearness is in trusting that He has given us His Spirit to be with us, instruct us, and empower / equip us for each challenge faced. This faith in God’s provision helps us to obey as His representatives, fulfilling His purpose, seeing challenge as opportunity to please Him. We patiently endure every difficulty as we take up the next spiritual weapon against stinking thinking that brings a fall:

“…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. …” ~ Vs. 6-7.

Besides robbing us of our joy, leading us to respond in self-protective and hurtful ways, bringing us to forget the nearness of our God, the enemy of God loves when he can tickle our minds with anxious thoughts that raise up doubt toward God and fear of the things we see in front of us. In today’s scripture, God’s Word gives instruction regarding ways of dealing with anxiety.

First, the word “be” implies that we have a choice. We do not have to be anxious people. We can choose to be people who trust in God, thus overcoming the anxious thoughts through faith. That trust reveals itself as we seek His answers regarding the path ahead through prayer. God’s word teaches us to seek Him in faith, believing He will answer (James 1:5-8, 5:13-18; Hebrews 11:1, 6).

Trust also reveals itself in our ability to choose to be thankful people. We may not feel thankful for the situation we are in, but we can be thankful for God and all we know of Him that will have an effect on our outcome. We can be thankful for His presence and supply that will be there for us as we walk the path ahead of us. We can be thankful for the words of wisdom He gives our hearts that overcome the anxiety threatening our ability to face the day. And we can be thankful for all we will learn about Him through our journey of faith, and all He will do in growing us to be strong as people of God.

As we choose in this way to be people of faith, not given over to anxiety, God’s word promises that He will respond with an outpouring of His peace. He gives more than just a little peace. He pours it out to and through us in ways that surpass our comprehension. That peace envelops our hearts and minds, protecting us from the anxiety and fear that seeks to defeat us by making us feel weak and worthless. Choosing to push anxiety and fear away with trust in God that seeks Him and rejoices in Him empowers us to have right thoughts within, leading to right actions, flowing out of the strength of God’s sure supply.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 2

On this journey to consider truths we need to practice, as we work to take every thought captive and bring them in line with the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6), our first divinely, powerful spiritual weapon is the possession of true joy that rests securely in the Lord. Joy in the Lord protects us from walking contrary to Him. It is not dependent on circumstance; and nothing can steal that joy away from us when we work with God in taking every thought captive to follow the example of Christ in obedience to Him, and in the likeness of His. Continuing to consider the wisdom of Philippians 4:4-13, we come to verse 5:

“…Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. …”

I see two truths here necessary to our arsenal of weapons equipping us to bring our thoughts in line with God’s ways. One is our attitude or temperament in life situations, addressed here in the call to work out of a “gentle spirit”. The classic Amplified translation defines a gentle spirit, giving other words used in translating that phrase:

“Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].”

Walking in a gentle spirit requires us to be unselfish. Consider the impact selfishness has on our thought processes. We cannot accomplish the will of God or work well with others when we care more about our own desires, needs, and comfort than we do theirs. Being unselfish equips us to work with others in harmony, as it leads us to be considerate of them, their needs, and their opinions, while bowing to the will of God.

Walking in gentleness also requires us to be forbearing. Forbearance means tolerance and restraint in the face of provocation, bearing the fruit of patience toward others. It realizes that no one is perfect, and we all have habits and ways of doing things that differ. Gentleness practices understanding patience in our ability to let others be who they are without constantly insisting we have things done our way. Forbearance is self-controlled, knowing how to motivate and influence others without belittling them.

Our ability to control our attitude and temperament greatly affects the way we think in a situation and toward others. The second thing Paul adds here to motivate us, is that we are to remember that the Lord is near. There are two potential interpretations of that. One shared in the Amplified version is that we must realize that the Lord is returning, thus, we must take care to live in a way where we are ready for Him when He gets here.

Another interpretation of the Lord’s nearness is the realization that God causes His Spirit to dwell in us, to teach us and help us live in that readiness for the soon returning Christ. Wherever we are, in whatever situation we are in, recognizing the presence of God with us and His work in us, and surrendering to that, equips our representation of Him and His interests. We bear the fruit of gentleness when we relate with others out of this realization of His presence in us through the Spirit, living in ways that reveal understanding that Jesus is returning.

People are watching, beloved. They need to see us responding to life situations in line with the nature of God at work in us through the Spirit that indwells us. Our thought life very often affects our attitude and temperament. Surrendering to the Spirit’s nudge to remember gentleness, being unselfish and considerate, while practicing forbearance toward one another, strengthens our arsenal against bad attitudes and temper flares. In this way, remembering we are His representatives, we live in readiness for His return.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 1

In 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, God’s word instructs us on the weapons of our warfare, telling us they are “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses”. Following that, verse 5 points to a particular battlefield that, left unchecked, is the opening through which enemy forces can strike in gaining access into areas of our lives where they can set up strongholds of sin and oppression. That area of battle is in our thoughts. Verse 5 instructs us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

One frequent stronghold in my life is in my eating and health practices. Realizing that I am too quick to run to food in certain situations, I focus this month to put a check on my stinking thinking, realizing that taking stress filled thoughts captive and making them bow to the Sovereign and His opinion is the pathway leading to overcoming such strongholds.

As I seek the Father to adjust my thought life, bringing all in agreement with His teachings, following the example we have in Christ, my heart turns to the teachings of Paul found in Philippians 4. There I find a treasure-trove of wisdom to help me on my journey of capturing stinking thinking that hinders my Life practices. Beginning with verse 4, I will spend several days considering the truths found here and how they apply to my journey of capturing wrong thinking and bringing it into agreement with Scriptural principles.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! …” ~ Philippians 4:4-14.

As I begin looking at this focal passage, I see several areas of life-practices that can influence our way of thinking and, when we fail to practice these truths, it makes us vulnerable to thought processes leading to a downfall. The first is this need to find our joy in the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy we find in God – in who He is, in our relationship with Him, and our following after Him – is what gives us strength for life.

“Then he said to them, ‘Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”

The enemy of God loves when he can rob us of this true joy because it weakens us. It is easiest for him to do that when our joy is misplaced. Finding our joy in the things of this life is easily disturbed when those things that bring us joy become difficult, are out of our reach, or fail us. Placing our joy in God protects us, as our ability to face hardship abounds in Him who is our source of true strength and security. Nothing in this life can overcome our joy when it is set securely in Him who is trustworthy and faithful. Such trust in our God and the joy of relationship that trust brings to us empowers us to face difficulty with the strength of two, as He faithfully helps us surpass our weakness.

Rejoicing in the Lord despite circumstances greatly helps our perseverance. A heart attitude of joy in the Lord is a weapon against the doubt and fear set to take our thoughts captive and lead us to a fall that rises up as a stronghold in our lives. Rejoicing in all we know of our God breaks that cycle of doubt and fear.

When your thoughts are disturbed within you, the first thing to do is rejoice in the Lord. Let all that He is and the benefit He provides be your focus, beloved, and rejoice. Again I say, “Rejoice!” and find your Strength.

Walking the Word, Trusting the Promise

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it’” ~ Isaiah 55:6-11.

WOW! This speaks to me the vital importance of us making sure to seek the Lord for right thoughts that are in line with His, leading us to right ways on the paths of His choosing. Coming in line with God’s way of thinking on any issue of life, while recognizing thought as being the words in one’s mind that dictate beliefs and actions, such a practice walks in this promise of God. When God’s thoughts, found in scripture and raised up as reminders to direct our paths, dictate our own with trust in His word to us leading us to walk in His ways, this passage promises us that His word flowing to and in us will accomplish His purpose.

Taking every thought captive in Christlike obedience, we walk in the Light as He is in the Light. In that way, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 John 1:7).

Walking God’s word out in our lives assures us of a successful journey that fulfills His purpose in us.

Ever Present Peace

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Paul often opened and closed his letters with a blessing of peace and hope of the realization of God’s presence for the reader. He knew it was vital for the heart of the person to trust the presence of the Lord in life and circumstance so they would walk in the peace of God.

Peace disturbed signals that the mind’s eyes shifted focal point, turning from trust in God and His presence in life to the problems inherent in life’s difficulties. Peter sank when his eyes shifted from Jesus to the enormous waves coming at them, faith disturbed by his eye’s understanding of the situation. As a baby learning to walk, falls when looking away from the outstretched arms of the parent, so we find ourselves stumbling through life when we fail to fix our eyes on Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Trouble in life is often overwhelming, for when in the midst of it, it is difficult to see the path through it. Turning eyes to God, knowing He sees and knows all fully, while trusting His greatness that far exceeds any trouble, quiets the soul. Realizing His closeness to us, His presence in our day-to-day lives, His trustworthiness toward us who look to Him, brings His gift of peace and the assurance of His hand made ready to move on our behalf. Looking to Him stills us so that we may know God and receive from Him the wisdom needed to face the storm. With eyes on Him, we hear the voice of the Lord speak to our storm, “Peace! Be still” (Mark 4:35-41, KJV).

~*~

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” ~ Hebrews 13:20-21.

See also John 14:1; 23-27; Hebrews 13: 5, AMPC; Psalm 37:3-9; Psalm 46.

Called to Possess: On the Authority of God’s Word

I truly appreciate the word “POSSESS”. My computer’s grammar checker sure dislikes it. Grammar checking programs often underline the word “POSSESS”, encouraging the author to choose a simpler, more acceptable word. God, however, desires we come into our possession, to lay hold of all He desires and provides for us.

In the past several years, God inspired in me an increased understanding of His call for His people to “POSSESS” and fully walk in all He gives us. Possessing all God calls us to, with the authority He gives us to lay hold on His provision with the full power He supplies, is a vital practice for these troubling days. Learning our authority in Christ and possessing all that is ours to lay hold of empowers us to face each day with the strength of God’s supply. Thinking on this underlined, grammatical undesirable, leads me to my next series of Ponderings: Called to POSSESS.

Beginning today with defining the word “possess”, we come to understand the full impact of God’s call and equipping our possession. Following posts will take us through several passages over the days to come that instruct our heart in all God’s calls us to possess: revealing His good desires for us in this life, and the next.

“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart” ~ Psalms 37:4.

Delighting in the Lord leads us away from fleshly desires to hearts that desire the good He has for us to possess. The dictionary of English words defines “possess” as follows:

POS·SESS  (pə-zĕs′) tr.v. pos·sessed, pos·sess·ing, pos·sess·es: 1. a. To have as property; own. b. To have under one’s power or control. 2. a. To have as a quality, characteristic, or other attribute. b. To have mastery or knowledge of. 3. a. To gain control or power over. b. To occupy fully the mind or feelings of. …. d. To control or maintain (one’s nature) in a particular condition. 4. To cause (oneself) to own, hold, or master something, such as property or knowledge. 5. To gain or seize.

Thus, for the purposes of our study, as we look at all God calls us to possess, the meaning we will apply to this word is to take hold of with power to control, occupy, or maintain in a particular state or condition: to master, as one with authority.

Having these defining parameters, we begin in our next post to look at some passages of scripture that instruct in things God expects us to possess on the authority of His Word, in obedience to Him with the authority that obedience provides us, and in honoring Him as God.

“You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]” ~ Psalm 27:8, AMPC.

On the Authority of God’s Word, we seek after and take possession of His good gifts to us.

~*~

(Note by way of reminder: My husband is battling cancer, which dictates our calendars right now. I will get each post out as quickly as possible. Thank you for your continued support when time constraints in this season hinders those timely posts. BLESSings to you, Beloved of God and me, Darlene)

Pray For Those Who Hurt You

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” ~ Luke 6:27-28, NLT.

God speaks this passage as reminder to me today, especially the command to “Pray FOR those who hurt you. Check how you are praying, Darlene.”

People hurt people. There are many causes that lead people to hurt one another, some malicious, some incidental and unintended. Some hurt comes with the best of intentions. We all struggle in various ways that can lead us to carry our feelings as on our shoulders, where the actions and words of others easily knock us around: fear of rejection and other such insecurities. Some carry their “feelings” on their shoulders because they are walking in an ungodly lifestyle, they know it, and they don’t want anyone telling them about it. People who struggle in any of the above tend to hurt those around them out of their own struggle and insecurities. Those trapped in the common sins of our day tend to hurt those around them in the very practice of their lifestyles: drug addicts steal from those they love most; adulterers destroy their own families; etc. We hurt each other, and praying properly for those who hurt us is often a challenge.

What does it mean to pray for those who hurt us? Too often, in praying for someone who hurt me, I find myself truly praying for me: praying selfishly.

“Lord, they falsely accused me. Make them know the truth and apologize.”

“Lord, they stole from me. Make them repent and pay it back.”

Problem is that their heart intent may be nowhere near my comprehension of the truth of their heart. I may have misunderstood their words. I may be reading between the lines and comprehending an accusation they never meant. I may receive insult from actions that truly were not aimed at me as I stepped between them and their target. Praying for others out of our hurt can lead to selfish requests that God cannot answer. Our best, most effective praying seeks the heart of God for His truth regarding the need of the one whose actions / reactions hurt our feelings or did harm to our life, reputation, or sense of security.

We can learn a lot from how Jesus prayed FOR those hurting Him. He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Praying for others realizes truth: Jesus proclaiming “they know not what they do”. Praying for others refuses to give preference for one’s own desire, right, or recompense. Praying for others seeks God and His desire for them. Praying for others focuses on their deepest, truest needs. We all need God’s grace sufficient for us. We all need truth that sets us free from any lie. We all need repentant hearts that seek wholeheartedly after God.

Until we can pray for others, our own heart toward them will fall short of truly loving and caring for their need. Until we can pray for God to forgive them, just as Jesus did, and mean it, our own ability to forgive will fall short. Until we can pray for them to know His love, our ability to love those who hurt us truly will suffer loss. Until we can pray for eyes that see as God sees, compassion will fail us, transforming-truth will escape us, and love will find no roost for new growth.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good…” ~ Romans 12:9-13 (Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a; Romans 13:7-14).

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 10

God desires unity for His people, that we may be one as He is One. Our flesh, the ways of this world and demonic influences constantly work against that unity, seeking to destroy the work of God in and through us. The Apostle Paul calls the solution to our relationship issues, the “still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:11), the way that fulfills the law of God (Romans 13:8). Last post, we left our series with the following thought:

“But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” ~ Ephesians 4:15.

Realizing and walking in the truth brings healing to one’s own life and makes us more like Christ. Walking in truth accomplishes His work in our situations.

Series on topics like this are difficult to address as we don’t always like seeing the truth about ourselves. We live in a day when many focus on God’s love and grace to the point that we tend to shun any words used of the Spirit to point to sin issues in need of change. This series is disciplining me on my own issues seen in the course of the study, but the blessing of coming into agreement with God in a way that helps me adjust to Him far outweighs the struggle.  When my struggle helps others in the process, that fruit born in others is glorious!

Controversy between people is like the old quarters with the gold colored strip in the center. There are two sides to every situation between two people. The truth is in the gold strip between them, found only in seeking God, who knows the heart of each involved. He faithfully leads us to know our habitual responses that promote separation. He helps us to work our way to the gold strip where unity and peace reside. I am thankful for the truth God is teaching me about myself in this series; and I am watching for His word to come to pass that He highlighted for me in promise for the produce of this series:

“This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” ~ Psalm 102:18.

I read this promise and I see families, friendships, and churches working their way to healing that will have an effect on future generations, leading to their worship of God. Thus, we continue today to our conclusion.

Have you read the scripture that talks of iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17)? When we have a habitual sin that causes trouble and separates us from God, as well as from others, God often puts people in our lives that rub that area raw. His purpose is to help us let go of old ways of the flesh and walk in the new, testing / proving our obedience. The question is, will we realize God’s purpose and cooperate with His Spirit in taking off the old to dawn the new?

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” ~ 1 Peter 1:22.

Truth purifies the soul, making us fertile soil for God’s love to produce a crop through us. There are two things I find God constantly working on me to accomplish: one is my ability to forgive as He forgives. The other is my ability to love as He loves.

The ability to forgive is vital to a love relationship that lasts. Forgiveness must be from the heart as God forgives. God, our example, taught me long ago to forgive “for my own sake” as He does (Isaiah 43:25 Note that Israel was unrepentant when God professed His grace toward them).

The purpose of choosing forgiveness “for my own sake” is so we can move on in life, be all God desires, accomplishing His work as one who is truly able to love even those who hurt us. Our choosing to forgive protects from bitterness, anger, and other emotional snares that hinder love, destroy relationship with God and people, and rob of effectiveness in ministry.

God is our hope and help in every relationship issue. He desires our unity, especially with those who are brothers and sisters with us in Christ. Our true enemy is our own sin nature that opens us to the influence of demons and principalities that work against God, separating brothers, and destroying our witness as God’s people.

In any discord between people of God, we see that battle continue when we fail to realize the true enemy and wind up fighting against each other. The enemy of our soul realizes our fleshly impulses that lead to discord and makes sure, when relationship issues come, our minds keep returning to “what they did to me.” Therefore, when we have a habit that makes us vulnerable to God’s enemy, God puts iron in life to sharpen and hone our character.

The love God calls each to possess as His child is a type we can freely give even to those we struggle to get along with. That love desires what is best for those we love, seeking to help them achieve all the great potential God places within them, leading them to God, and encouraging them to come up higher in Christlikeness. That love is unconditional: not hindered or harmed by insult. It is also incorruptible: it does not act unbecomingly toward the object of love, nor lead the one loved into sin. The very heart of a factious nature seeks to lead others to disunity for ungodly reasons that oppose love.

The love God calls us to possess in likeness to Him does not keep a count of all we believe a person has done to hurt us, bringing that back into play every time a new situation arises. Love, coupled with forgiveness given for one’s own sake, deals with the situation at hand, puts it to rest (RIP), and wipes the slate clean. This is healing, and this series pictures a love-walk God can use for His glory.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” ~ Jude 1:24-25.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 7

“These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” ~ Jude 1:19.

Who are “these” our author refers to? Verse 18 says these are “mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” Verse 16 defines those ungodly attributes that produce division:

“These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”

Here we find warning, alerting us to watch against grumbling, fault-finding, feeding one’s own lusts, speaking arrogantly, and speaking to flatter with hope of gaining an advantage. Acting out of these worldly-minded habits that are not Spirit led and fed, we cause division. Taking action to avert these habits protects unity and heals relationships.

Grumbling and fault-finding

If we learn little else in the books of Moses, we learn how destructive grumbling, complaining, and fault-finding are to ones relationship with God and other people. These habits fail to see what God can and will do in our situation; they refuse to appreciate the good He does and accomplishes for us; and they deny any good in those around us. A focus on the negatives seen in grumbling, complaining, and fault-finding robs us of the ability to find, know, and appreciate what we have in front of us.

During a time of difficulty in our marriage following the death of his mother, the negatives my husband exhibited snared my mind. I learned later the things he was doing are commonly seen in men grieving the loss of a mother. God gradually revealed how my grumbling mind and mouth were hurting the situation. One day, He clearly led me to purchase one of those two-year pocket calendars. He instructed my heart to write in each day something I saw to appreciate in my husband. By the end of a year, I had a new appreciation for my husband, my thoughts focused on his good attributes. Reading the year’s entries, I found 365 different positives about my man. God inspired me to give the calendar for him to use the second year. He told me later that he made his entries keeping his time in his calendar section, and then he read what I wrote on that date the previous year. During that year, he determined to major on those things I appreciated in him. That calendar remained in his lunch box, safely kept in a Ziplock bag, for five years of daily reading. God restored our relationship by changing my focus, and I found my faith in God strengthened by the experience.

When we fall to the habits of grumbling, complaining, and fault-finding, we leave our First Love, failing to trust God and the good He works through our days of struggle. In our complaint, we become part of the problem instead of the solution, pushing people away or causing factions to form a line of dissenters with us that dishonor God. Making the choice to focus one’s mind and heart to discover the good God has hidden within our situations and the people around us equips us to serve as His instrument for healing, unity, and peace.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 5

“[As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him]” ~ Titus 3:10, AMP.

Answering the question, what do we do about a person that we love when a factious mindset threatens the relationship? How can we reject a contentious, divisive fellowship without leaving the relationship? To answer that, I think of the things God taught me over many years of dealing with my sweet daddy.

In his later years, my daddy suffered depression and paranoia common to aging. He was hard of hearing and often misheard or misinterpreted things. That fed his paranoia, leading to discord with family members. His actions and attitudes became factious, as he freely shared his beliefs about “what people are doing to me”, based on his misunderstanding of truth. There was no consoling him, and no changing his mind about the things he believed. It was very difficult some days to be around him. But I love my daddy, who is now with the Lord, and through that time of dealing with him, God taught me another way to reject the factious fellowship.

  1. First, realize the truth of the person’s mental, physical, and emotional state. What is going on in their life that is wearing them down? What is going on that may have them constantly meditating on the false information, further feeding the falsehood? Put yourself in their shoes and get a little compassion flowing toward them.
  2. Try to speak truth to the situation if you know it, in an effort to console, impart wisdom, and give peace, with hope of correcting the misunderstanding. Point to God’s ability to reveal truth and heal the situation.
  3. If they will not be consoled, try to change the subject.
  4. If they keep returning to their complaint and you cannot get them off the subject, excuse yourself with promise to return another day.
  5. Do not participate in a lie that is feeding discord. We tend to want to let one sharing their contentions have their way and pretend to agree with them hoping they will go on to some other topic of discussion: I.e., saying, “Yeah, that was horrible for them to do that,” when we know the other person did not do the stated deed. That just gives fuel for a factious spirit to use in breeding more discord.

Dealing with people in my dad’s situation, where they truly do not realize what they are doing and the harm it is bringing to relationships can be difficult. Those who do not have a mental issue causing them to behave factiously can be even harder to cope with; but if you want to maintain relationship without taking part in the divisive misinformation, knowing when to leave the conversation and change the subject is crucial.

So is watching oneself to be sure you are not inadvertently adding to the problem by talking with others about the situation with your loved one, inadvertently participating in the battle with a factious spirit of your own. In another situation where a person would not believe I did not do the thing accused of, they shut me out of their life. In my own hurt, when people would ask me how that person was doing, I would respond, “I don’t know.” Dependent on who it was, I would tell why I did not know, “They believe I did something I did not do and have shut me out of their life.” Then one day God inspired my heart to quit telling people about the other person’s insult to my heart or talking about the problem. He instructed that in doing so, I was hurting their reputation and relationship with others, and the reliving of the account was keeping the scab ripped off my own wounds. Following God’s instruction freed me to work toward loving that person anyway.

In another situation, I thought the other party was hearing me incorrectly. Then I realized that I said just what they said I did. With that revelation, it was time for a very sincere and heart-felt apology, first to God, and then to them. God reveals the truth. When He does, we must be ready to deal with it appropriately so that healing and restoration can begin.

Beloved, in whatever situation you find yourself, seek the wisdom of the Lord in dealing with it. Find truth as God sees it. Realize people’s life situation and their tendency to return to old coping mechanisms when wounded. Give yourself that same courtesy, realizing that we learn coping mechanisms over time, and may be walking in old ways that fail to glorify God. Find the truth as God reveals it and walk in the fellowship of His light, learning new ways of coping and dealing with such trouble. Be a peacemaker where you can, shining the light on God and His word, coming into agreement with Him. And most importantly, remember, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]” ~ 1 Peter 4:8, AMP.

“The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! He knows the truth, and may (God’s people) know it, too! …” Joshua 22:22, NLT (author’s translation).