Tag Archives: Rest

Take Up Your Cross, And Smile

I’ve been meditating on and praying through the “refresh” verse of the day meditation and prayer on the YouVersion Bible App each morning. Today went into following Jesus, which led my thoughts to “take up your cross daily.”

Usually in taking up the cross, most I know – including me – talk about taking our sin / sin nature up, or our sickness or whatever malady plagues us and hinders us: bearing up under it and pressing on despite it. Even just thinking about that is hard and heavy. So I asked God about that, and He brought to me a new understanding.

Jesus bore the hard and heavy of our sin, paying the penalty once and for all. He took that sin and shame to the depths of hell and left it there along with sin’s death. He now gives us freedom from it as a gift. All we need to do is receive it. We have no need to keep bearing that which is removed far from us in Christ. We need to take up our freedom in Christ and walk in it.

Jesus also bore our stripes for sin and sickness. By His stripes, we are healed. We don’t have to take that up and carry it. He bore that for us. And He helps us bear it now while we walk to full healing, whether that healing comes in this life or the next. Our health may prove a challenge, bringing opportunity to trust God and see all He will do in the midst of our struggle, but it can’t stop God’s purpose in us. There is always a way to serve and shine for Him when we seek His heart in every opportune moment.

Jesus also tells us that we should yoke ourselves with Him. Like Simon of Cyrene, Jesus is there to help bear our cross, but He does so willingly, not because He is required to by some enemy force. He says, “My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC)

As I think on that, I realize the view God has of the cross Jesus bore. That cross was not the sin and shame, sickness and death we look at. God sees freedom for His children. He sees the humility, selflessness, and obedient heart of Christ, which now lives in us. He sees mercy made new every morning, compassion that fails not, forgiveness made free and clear. He sees a willing heart made ready for God’s will. He sees Life, abundant and full.

Our cross to bear up under is yoked with Christ. It is freedom from sin and shame, sickness and death. It is one of willing surrender to the will of God, knowing that all He calls us to, He helps, provides for, and empowers us to do. It’s a cross set to please Him, honor Him, glorify Him. It’s a cross of eternal purpose that displays grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, selflessness, courage, strength, joy, contentment, assurance, power, and more.

The cross God left His children to take up daily and bear for all the world to see is light, easy, and an honor to His holy name. It has nothing to do with our physical strength, health, or struggles in this life. Those are simply opportunities to shine His Light and experience His power made perfect in us. Our cross has everything to do with our eternal perspective and assurance; with love for God and others that does hard things made easier in Christ.

Nothing can keep us back and hold us down when our heart is set on the eternal perspective of God’s purpose, plan, and provision. We experience God as we daily take up the heart of God, the mind of Christ, and the eternal perspective of a Life made new and easy in Him. By the understanding that God will complete and fulfill His purpose through our willing surrender, we partner in the cause of Christ to carry out our ministry to the glory of His name.

Suicide: The “Why” and “What Now” – Part 2 of 3

Enemy: Fear

“And the Philistines pursued Saul and his sons, and slew Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, Saul’s sons. The battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers severely wounded him. Saul said to his armor-bearer, Draw your sword and thrust me through, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through and abuse and mock me. But his armor-bearer would not, for he was terrified. So Saul took a sword and fell upon it.” 1 Samuel 31:2-4 AMPC

Fear of being overtaken by his enemies, only to be mocked and humiliated by them, led King Saul to a soul-death that led him to commit suicide. Many in battle commit suicide rather than face their fear. Fear is a powerful enemy against the health and wellbeing of one’s soul.

Satan loves to exploit our fears. Fear makes us vulnerable. Add to that grief and feelings such as guilt, anger, blame, inadequacy, shame, loneliness, etc., and it’s a poisonous mixture to drink. Experiencing the loss of a loved one by suicide too often mixes up a brimming cup of such poison for those left in the wake of it.

Fear of one’s own inability to trust God, struggling with thoughts and feelings of anger towards Him, are enemy arrows to one’s soul. Fear that God will leave us because of our anger toward Him, failing to trust that God understands our struggle and keeps His word to be with us in trouble furthers the assault. The assault of fear can come without warning, leaving one feeling hopeless and helpless. It often attacks family members and friends who feel they should have been able to do something to prevent a beloved’s suicide.

Some believe that suicide is “the unforgivable sin”. The struggle of a loved one that led to their suicide can cause us to question whether they had a saving relationship with God. Lack of assurance that a loved one who died by suicide will be with us for eternity can cause a fear and frustration that wreaks havoc on the soul (mind/thought life, will, and emotions). The hope I would breathe into this equation is…

One: the only “unforgivable sin” I see in scripture is blasphemy (denial and belittling) of the work of the Spirit found in the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ (Matthew 12:25-32). And…

Two: salvation only takes an instant and can come in the last breath (Luke 23:39-43). As long as God is, there is hope.

The counter to fear is faith – faith to BELIEVE and TRUST God. In Hebrews, we are instructed that faith to believe and trust God brings us into His peaceful rest. In the place of God’s rest we find truths that are effective weapons to thoughts that fail to consider God’s power, presence, and provision.

Fear cannot stand where faith to trust God’s unfailing love resides. When we know God is love and His love never stops or leaves us, fear leaves. Even when we can’t “feel” Him because of our pain and grief, trust in His love assures our hearts that He never leaves nor lets go of us. Trust in His love that desires none to perish, but all to come to repentance, clings to hope for the personal work of grace leading our beloved to His mercy even in their last breath. Trust in a loving God refuses to give up on Him.

As one considers suicide – whether contemplating committing it, or being forced to cope with the aftermath of it, fear is an enemy arrow to the heart of one who must realize they are on a spiritual battlefield. Unless we realize there is an enemy of God who constantly watches for opportunity to destroy the work of God in and through us, we will fail to deal with fear as a weapon against us. Like Saul, we will give up on life and fail to trust that God can and will make a way where there seems no way. Giving up on life denies God’s faithfulness and His power.

Fear is overcome by keeping focus on God with faith’s hope, trusting His unfailing love to walk us through to victory.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

I stepped into a spiritual battle with a friend under siege, which, of course, placed me in line of fire. This is what God is firming up in me.

Take your stand and stand firm.

  • On The Rock of salvation.
  • In the knowledge and assurance of God’s Love.
  • In the security of His promises.
  • Fully dressed in the wedding clothes of Christ.
  • Fully suited in the armor of God with spiritual weapons in hand.
  • Constantly dressed in readiness with Lamps alight.

Stand firm in Truth – know what truth is…

  • About God.
  • About God’s Word.
  • About His power, sufficiency, faithfulness, watchful care, eternal plan, and sure purpose.
  • About the situation and circumstances.
  • About heart issues.
  • About the true battlefield and enemy forces in heavenly places.

Stand firm in Trust, earnestly and watchfully believing and expecting God to be God and do God.

  • Be stilled in quiet faith – enter His rest where peace and calm prevail.
  • Cease striving in own strength.
  • Let be and know with assurance that God is God: the good God who works good in and for each of us, according to His perfect will, plan, and purpose.

Stand firm in Thankful praise and worshipful adoration.

  • God’s throne in our lives is revealed and lifted high on the praises of His people.
  • Praise bows the heart to submit to His will.
  • Grateful submission to God resists Satanic influences, causing them to back off and flee.
  • Grateful praise draws near to God who responds by drawing nearer to us, bringing us under His wings, into His shadow, hedged in by His Presence.

Stand firm as a Testimony of a faithful servant of God: keep living Him into life.

  • Be His image bearer.
  • Be His ambassador, knowing His authority over, in, and through you.
  • Be intentional in faith, love, and action.
  • Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
  • Be His witness.
  • Be found faithful at His coming.
  • Be love as He is love.
  • BE real – strive to BE simply because He is.

Tactics of Persecution

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬-‭13‬, ‭19‬

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. …

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

Satan is the author of persecution. He tempts to the dark side. It is his goal to use the things we face in day to day life to tempt us away from faith-filled trust in God. The tempter desires to tempt us away from a life that honors God as God. He wants to ruin our testimony and rob us of peace, joy, and hope so we are ineffective as Christ’s ambassadors, the image bearers of God. In doing so, he causes us to doubt our Christian faith and walk away from God.

A man once said something ugly, condemning my Christian faith, then in one breath, quickly adding, “and no: I’m not persecuting you.” I don’t remember saying anything to him before or after. He was a passer by I did not know, nor have I seen him since. He spotted me as who I was in Christ, said whatever it was he said followed by the part I remember, and walked on, leaving me looking at him with “How rude” on my stunned face.

On one hand, he was correct. He was simply the unwitting instrument in the hands of him who was using the man to persecute Christianity. On the other hand, he was allowing himself to be that instrument, seemingly without understanding it’s source and purpose.

The same is true of a deadly diagnosis, the sudden death of a loved one, or any number of tragic events that leave us wondering where God is and how He could let such evil come upon one who loves and trusts Him. Anything that tempts us to doubt, fear, and turning from God is Satanic persecution of our Christian faith.

I believe Satan’s being the author and perfector of persecution is why God warns us to realize our battle is not against flesh and blood, but demons and principalities (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not only do we tend to focus anger toward the instruments of persecution, failing to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we fail to realize enemy tactics of persecution through the temptation to doubt God that comes with our daily struggles.

This belief regarding tactics of persecution coming from the enemy of God has protected me from giving myself to fear, doubt, and unforgiveness. It has helped me separate the sin from the sinner so I can walk in God’s mandate regarding love and prayer. And it has kept me from allowing the fruit of God’s Spirit to be stolen and buried by the evil intent brought to life’s circumstances.

“… 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

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5‬:‭8‬-‭11‬‬‬

Morning Prayer: 11/29/2022

Father, thank You that You are taking me deeper in true understanding of trust in You. Trust in You does not just look for what I want and believe should be. Trust in You realizes when things look and are going all wrong, You are still doing something awesome in the situations and circumstances of our lives and the lives of those we love. We may not understand why You allow what You allow or go about things the way You do, but we can know there is good purpose in it. Help me rest things securely in Your capable hands, pressing forward in the things You call me to without fretting while waiting on You to do what only You can do. Show me when I fall away from true trust, and grow me stronger in the wait as an ally to Your will, way, plan, and purpose. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 11/20/22

Father, as You know, I didn’t feel well when I woke up this morning, so I stayed home out of the cold. Watching church online this morning, the pray-er gave thanks for those who woke up wanting to worship You: wanting to see You. Father, I desire that desire in every day and all day. I cry out for a heart of true, deep, Spirit filled worship. I cry out for a heart of earnest expectation and hope filled desire to see You active in me and my life for You. You are my first love. You are my first, most vital need and necessity. I pray my heart seek You fully, all day, every day, with full recognition of Your faithful Presence and watchful care. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 9/13/22

Father, thank You for instructing me. Thank You for leading me to have a yearly focus for spiritual growth that includes a focal verse of scripture, a fruit of Your nature being established in me, and an action word. This year’s are Psalm 23 (AMPC), the fruit of patience, and instruction to “be intentional”.

Psalm 23 took me deep into trusting You as my Lord, King, and Shepherd who cares for me. I can trust You. Being intentional in practicing obedience that flows from that trust is empowering.

Then you reminded me that a focus on patience necessitates a study on all Your Word says regarding that fruit. In researching that, You led me to several devotional series focused on bearing the fruit of patience. Thank You for the depth of understanding that taught me. I pray to remember and grow strong in the intentional, faithful practice of these truths.

Now today starts the last devotional You led me to in this focus: And the Lord Shall Be King, by Vance K. Jackson. Wow. It is not specific to patience, but I knew it would be vital to me in my journey of growth in the bearing of this fruit. I barely began the first day’s reading and the switch flipped on. Not a switch of the light of new revaluation, but the switch that opened a floodgate of greater depth of commitment.

Patience is vital to right relationship with You as King. It flows out of a trust that knows You are faithful and trustworthy. Your timing is perfect, Your ways indomitable. To be impatient is to move against You and place my ways above Yours, saying that I know best the way and the time, placing myself as king.

Keeping You as Lord, waiting on You, moving with You, trusting Your ways and Your timing is vital to a life well lived. I know this. Help me better live it. I pray for the fruit of patience to be a vital aspect of my who as I bow before You. Grant me ability to intentionally be still, cease striving, be quiet, know and let You be God. Otherwise I wear myself out trying to do Your part as well as my own, doing harm instead of good. This I pray, knowing it is the heart desire of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭‬‬

“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.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭‬‬

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:7-8‬ ‭‬‬

“Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭AMPC‬‬ (Read in several versions)

Morning Prayer: 9/10/22

“God has better plans for us than just giving us comfort. He wants us to have shalom, a Hebrew word that means “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.”” Alisa Keeton, The Wellness Revelation

Father, I pray Shalom for each of us and ours today. As I have come to understand it, great shalom only comes as we fully trust our God. Lack of trust in You breeds unrest. May we rest in peace now, while we have breath to live and thrive for Your glory and praise. In Jesus, amen.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭‬‬
💗🤗🙏🏼

Morning Prayer: 8/9/22

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. This also will be my salvation, For a godless man may not come before His presence. Listen carefully to my speech, And let my declaration fill your ears. Behold now, I have prepared my case; I know that I will be vindicated.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭13:15-18‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

Father, I have several friends who are hurting so bad today. Their pain is unfathomable; it’s cause, unbearable. I cry out to You for their ability to take a posture before You that bows in surrendered acknowledgement of Your Who. I pray they can, by Your grace, be still and know YOU.

Remind their hearts who You are and of Your faithfulness to Your Word and to them. Grant them to know Your presence. Grant them Your power for each new day, new challenge, their next breath. In Jesus I pray, amaze us by Your reality working in each of us and the pain we face. Amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/5/22

Father, they could not enter Your REST because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:18-19). Remembrance of all You have done, both in days of old and in our days, holding to You with earnest expectation and hope that You, who have shown Yourself strong before are still strong and working on our behalf for Your glory today, increases our faith to believe and trust You in the here and now challenges of life. The things we remember and choose to set our mind, heart, and hope on is vital to our ability to REST in Your faithfulness. Help us, Father, to have right thoughts within us so we believe You and trust You more. Help us to set ourselves apart to You, knowing You will use us and work good in us, to us, and through us as we wait on You and walk faithfully with You. In Jesus, amen.

God is Faithful

“One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was that in order to seek God consistently, you need His assistance. The truth is we have an adversary. There exists a being that does not want us to succeed or to grow deeper in God.” Jovita Sheppard

I know many parents who are in deep grief over choices made and hardship suffered by their kids and grandkids in these days. I know that, for me, I have wondered what on earth happened; what I did wrong: such thoughts leading me to feeling like a failure as a parent.

None of us are perfect, and I certainly had my childhood baggage to get rid of as I learned more godly parenting skills. As Christians, we all realize our own issues and growing pains as followers of Christ and as parents, and we all hope and long to give our kids godly resources that help them live life stronger and better. When they don’t succeed at seeking and trusting God, we grieve and feel the failure. So, the other day, crying out to God again, He came clearly to my mind with this clear understanding:

“You were not a bad mother. You prayed to Me for your children and grandchildren from before they were birthed, giving them to Me. You spoke of Me to them and took them to My Word. You got them into church, and you instructed them in My ways. You continue to encourage them to seek Me. You live your faith before them and love them with My love. You have trusted My lead and followed Me as a parent. Trust me now.

“Stop beating yourself up and keep doing what I taught you to do: loving, praying, encouraging, instructing at every opportunity. They need you to be an ally and support. Don’t allow the enemy of your soul to take you into a defeated spirit where you cannot do these things with confidence in Me.

“I got you through all you experienced in life, using it to get you where you are and make you who you are. I will do exceedingly abundantly in their lives as well. You keep trusting them to Me and My glory will be known.”

Maybe you, like me, were not raised in church or taught about God and His ways. Perhaps, like me, you had to learn godly parenting through on the job training. Keep doing what God taught you to do, knowing He will not fail His good purpose and plan. He will bring good out of the mess we see.

Perhaps you have only recently become a Christian. It is not too late. Seek God and lay your cause at His feet. Trust Him to instruct you. Keep praying for those you love and live the faith you have boldly and unapologetically. Watch with earnest expectation and hope to see what God will do.

May God bless you and yours in these strategic days.

Morning Prayer: 7/16/22

Ephesians‬ ‭5:22-33‬ ‭‬‬

Father, thank You for my love relationship with Johnny. Thank You that he loves me in deep, abiding ways that satisfies my need. Help me, by Your grace, to respect him in ways that satisfy his needs. Help me…
R – Respond properly to him, Rejoice over his successes, and Recognize the good You’ve placed in him.
E – Edify that good, Encourage his strengths, and Exemplify him, following his lead and acting in tandem with him.
S – Set my heart to Satisfy his needs and desires as aligns with Your will and way, Satiate his needs above and beyond his expectations, Supplement him by being the helpmeet he needs as he needs help.
P – Set my heart to Protect his reputation by speaking highly of him, Promoting his good, and Proving him worthy of respect.
E – May I cooperate with You as You Establish him as a leader among men, Enhancing his strengths where I am able, working with You to Expand his borders of influence, and doing all I can to help Equip him for success.
C – Help my focus to Commune with him – listening fully with hearing ears and open heart, being careful to Communicate righteousness, truth, and love to him. May I practice Continence in my actions and reactions, adding strength to his own self-control and self-restraint, and lift my Countenance toward him in ways that lift his toward You.
T – make me faithful to Toast his successes and righteous effort, Tout his good, and be always available to help Tote his load, partnering with him throughout life.
In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/14/22

“Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭AMPC‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/8/1th.5.16-18.AMPC

Father God, thank You for teaching me the joy of a grateful heart. Thank you for instructing me to know that no one can take that joy from me, and that, even in grievous circumstances, the joy of a thankful heart flourishes, for that heart knows You. That heart believes the truth about You and Your faithfulness at all times. That heart trusts Your Word, believes Your promises, accepts Your ways, walks with You in earnest expectation and hope, knowing that You always work for the good of the one whose heart loves You and who is living a life that follows You with heart desire to fulfill Your purpose.

We can always give thanks from a truly grateful heart because You are the source and cause of our gratitude. It is You we give thanks for as we remember You in every circumstance, rejoicing over the potential and assurance of experiencing You in this life, through the troubling and the good. You never leave nor forsake us. You are for us and not against us. Even in hardship and tribulation, You grow us strong as we trust in You, making us ready for the fulfillment of Your purpose and plan, as You bring us to completion, made ready and adequately prepared for our Bridegroom and King. Thank You that You are always the one we can be grateful for in every circumstance.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for loving us all the way to the cross, and for showing us the way to take up our cross of obedience to God at all cost, and to daily follow You with every step committed to the Father’s will and way. Thank You for taking all sin onto Your shoulders and experiencing the turning back of God’s rejection for us, so we who believe and receive Your gift of eternal grace never have to know that fate. And thank You, Father, for loving us and desiring this Parent-child relationship so much that You gave Your only begotten Son to accomplish it. May we forever keep our eyes on You with grateful heart. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/13/22

Torn and tattered, but still smiling.

What a beautiful mess. Thank You, Father, for the half inch of rain that allowed me to turn the sprinklers off last night. And even for the moisture from all that tiny hail that filled the lawn and crunched under my feet in last night’s video. What joy it is to step out into the beauty after the storm.

Thank You for the beauty after the storm and the picture of life carrying on that it gives. Thank You that out of destruction, much can be salvaged, and out of damage, strength reveals itself as restoration begins. Thank You for signs of Your protective cover.

Thank You that we can exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because Your love has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Thank You for Your faithfulness. I love You, Lord, and look forward to the future with You as we watch for the beauty You bring out of ashes.

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬‬‬
Last night’s video.

5/10/22 Prayer

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭‬‬

Father, anxiety over the horrors going on in these days is a plague to our hearts. It is too easy to become anxious over so many evils and atrocities we see happening in our day. Your word wisely warns us to not anxiously look around at these things and be overcome by fear, but to remember that You are God. Through trusting belief that knows You are working for our good, even bringing good out of things Your enemy intends for evil, we enter Your rest and find peace that umpires our hearts in these days. Only in keeping our eyes on You can we walk through evil days in ways that honor and glorify You.

Thank You, Lord, that as we turn our hearts to focus on Your faithful truth, You bless us with strength to persevere as we experience Your trustworthy help. Thank You that You uphold us with Your righteous right hand of power, protection, and provision. In Jesus, I rest myself in You and find your peace that passes all comprehensive understanding. Let Umpire Peace lead me in paths of righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with You, not for my earning it, but for Your name’s sake. In Christ, Amen.

He Makes Me

From the 23rd Psalm, AMPC

I have had Psalm 23 in the classic Amplified version of scripture as my focus for meditation since the 1st of this year. A friend asked me the other day to share any insights I have in it. Awakened by a noise this morning at about 3:30 AM, I started reciting the chapter in my attempt to get back to sleep. Suddenly, as I quoted one line, new understanding grabbed me, opening up this beautiful passage as never before.

“The Lord is my Shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me: I shall not lack.”

This is God’s “who”. He is the Good Shepherd, not because it’s what He does, but because it’s who He is. It is His nature to feed, guide and shield.

The shield is everything from the Warriors shield, including the armor of God, with its helmet of salvation; to the anointing oil with its protective cover and healing balm; to the shield of shelter that hides us under His wing from enemy attach and the worldly elements of heat, cold, rain, sleet, and snow; hate, menace, and torment.

This is His “Who”. From provision of every need, to guidance – wisdom, discernment, to shielding, whether shelter or protective cover: we have no lack of Him – The Shepherd of our soul.

“He makes me…” “He makes me to…”. This is not force over me. It is action and purpose in me.

“He makes me to lie down in fresh, tender, green pastures.” He made us as receptacles. We are created for Him to pour Himself into us. He gives His first and best to us, satisfying and satiating us so that we lie down full and ready to enter His rest, sensing that we are safe and secure in Him. I am awestruck by the assurance He gives that causes my entire being to rest itself in Him.

“He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” This is not rapidly moving waters that can sound wonderful and make you want to kick back and mellow in the peace of it. It’s another place of provision and protection.

Sheep’s wool gets heavy and is very absorbent. When they get wet in deeper water, the weight becomes too great for their legs. Falling over, unable to get up, they drown. The Good Shepherd finds shallow, still or gently flowing watering spots where sheep can drink without drowning.

He does not “leave” them beside still waters. He “leads” them, remaining nearby and watchful, ready to help them up should they fall. Whether we bear the weight of this world, the weight of our responsibilities, or whatever weight is weighing us down and drowning us, the Good Shepherd is our Lifeguard, standing at the ready to respond to our need.

In these places of provision, guidance, and protection, “He refreshes and restores my life: my self.” “My soul (NASB).” The essence of who I am. We learn who we are – who He created us to be, as we walk with Him, knowing His Who at work in us. Then, as we get good at that…

“He leads me in paths of righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with Him, NOT for my earning it, BUT for His name’s sake.”

He directs us into righteousness for His reputation. As we follow Him, we don’t have to fret our ups and downs; only trust that He will get us where we need to be for the glory of His name. Our reputation should express His effective work in our lives.

I think of Moses prayer in Exodus 33. “And Moses said to the Lord, ‘If Your Presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here! For by what shall it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight? Is it not in Your going with us so that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the other people upon the face of the earth?’” (Exodus 33:15-16)

“Yes! Though I walk through the deep, sunless {or Son-less} valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me! Your rod to protect and Your staff to guide, they comfort me.”

No matter how bad things are in the world around us, God is and ALWAYS will be God – The Good Shepherd who feeds, guides, and shields us. I shall not lack! So there is no need for me to fear any evil or dread anything I might possibly find or have to face in the valley. In that valley…

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

He still Shepherds us in desolate, wilderness places of dark shadows. When the enemy is raising a raucous all around us, we can lie down, satisfied, satiated, safe, secure, and rested in Him. Though we may be unable to clearly perceive Him in dark, sunless places, we can trust He is there, working on our behalf. That is His Who and He is always doing Himself. Trusting that will strengthen our stance in dark places, for as He is, so also are we. Keep doing yourself in Christ.

“You anoint my head with oil!” This is a mighty shield of protection, I would liken to the helmet of salvation.

Flies, gnats, and other pests swarm the head of sheep. They lay their eggs in the skin, eyes, and ears. These form itchy sores as the larva eat the flesh and begin to burst forth. It causes the sheep to go nuts. They will thrash around, hitting their heads on rocks, trying to get relief and kill the infestation, even killing themselves in the process. Oil protects from the insects being successful at laying their eggs, kills and heals infested, infected areas, and protects the head from injury in head butts – whether in the battle, in discord, or at play with other sheep.

As we experience God feeding us and protecting us even in the midst of a swarming enemy, “My brimming cup runs over.”

We are the cup. The living water of God gushes from us to role downhill to other sheep, some not of His fold, drawing them in, refreshing them, helping them know, “He makes me to lie down….”

“Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

The original language’s first word, given here as “surely or only” can be translated to either surely or only: so take the “or” out.

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

Back in Exodus 33, in verse 18 Moses requests God to show him His glory. God replies, “I will make all My GOODNESS pass before you, and I will proclaim My name, THE Lord, before you; for I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness on whom I will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness.” (Exodus 33:19 AMPC)

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!” We are meant to know, recognize, and express the glory of God. He who feeds, guides, and shields us does so in ways that expresses His glory and makes His name known…for His name’s sake.

“And through the length of my days, the house of the Lord and His presence shall be my dwelling place.” The house of the Lord…the Temple of God: that is what you and I are, corporately and individually.

His presence is in the house, Beloved. My brimming cup runs over. This is what He makes the “me” I am. He makes me.

I’m Praying for You

“Most people have never heard their name and God’s mentioned in a prayer. You may be surprised how willing a friend will be to accept your offer to pray for them.” From a NeedHim.org devotional

This is so hard for me to fathom, being from the Bible Belt and having many praying friends and acquaintances, but the fact is, though many have a belief that there is a God, few truly know Him or understand that He is ONE. And fewer still think of Him daily, much less constantly. We often don’t think to pray for ourselves, and may find it hard to believe that anyone cares enough to pray for us.

My prayer for each one today is that we know Him who is God, that we seek Him for ourselves, and that we each have at least one person we know we can call on with any need and they will be faithful to pray.

I often leave the blessing of Numbers 6:24-27, praying it over people even though I don’t know if they believe. It doesn’t matter if the one prayed for believes. It’s the faithfulness of God to keep His Word and the faith of the one praying that moves the heart of God. So be faithful to pray, and please know you can call on me anytime. I count it a privilege to pray for you by name. 💗🤗🙏🏼

“What are you trusting God for today?”

A friend, sensing God’s lead to do so, asked our group this question this morning: “What are you trusting God for today?”

God and I were talking about this very thing between 4:20 and 6:20 AM. After watching a video a friend sent, concern for my own living and breathing health came on me.

When I woke up at 4:20, a tune was tumbling through my brain that I didn’t recognize at that moment. Finally, after laying there awhile, just listening to the incessant tune, not really thinking about anything, I asked God what on earth was keeping me awake, and why this tune is flowing through me over and over. “What are You wanting me to realize?”

He helped me discern that I was worrying about my life because of the decision to take that vaccine I did not have peace about. I had peace in the decision to take it, once I truly asked God’s opinion-direction and knew I had it. I trust my God and His will for me, but I still don’t trust the vaccine, or more truly, the people leading us to it.

The video pointed out concerns about the vaccine, which I’ve heard before, but this one made a more clear case outlining the causes for concern. It made me distrust the vaccine and those making and pushing it still more, and that made me ask God to confirm the works of my hands in my truly hearing from and following Him in my decision.

Then I recognized the tune: that Big Daddy Weave version of Trust and Obey.

My God is trustworthy, despite the plots, plans, and fouled attempts of fleshly beings. What man intends for evil, God means for good. He will amaze us as we see how He uses our obedience to follow and trust Him.

So, I rest in His capable hands knowing that it is God who gives life, breath, and all things. He is the One who determines our appointed times (seasons, opportunities, epochs) and the boundaries of our habitation. We are not where we are by mistake. God has a purpose and plan, and He calls us to trust and obey Him who faithfully directs our steps and determines our paths. (Acts 17:24-28)

How about you? What are you trusting God for today?

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭NASB

Prep with Assurance

Luke‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NASB

Some people believe prep practices point to ungodliness; that it is a sign of the love of money. Sometimes this is true. Realizing this, God calls me to check my motives. Am I after wealth and resource in a righteous, healthy way? Am I following Godly wisdom, trusting His lead and supply? Or am I after wealth and resource as an end to itself? Is my reliance on wealth and supply? Or is my reliance on God and His wise directives?

Chasing after wealth and supply as our hope for survival is a trap, a snare that enslaves. It will keep us running after it constantly, with ever growing fervency, while never quite being enough, effectively pulling us further away from the One True God who is our hope and help. That is the way of false gods.

But when we chase after God and His wise counsel, not only does He lead us to readiness for what is coming, but He frees us to realize that even if our storehouses fail, His will cover us. He who is with us and for us will be there to guide and direct us to His pastures of provision. He will supply strength, power, protection, and amaze us as He meets our need.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at Noah, who built a big boat and loaded it with supplies as God directed, providing for himself and all for whose care he was charged. And he did it even though his mind could not fully comprehend the coming storm or the full need.

And what about the Israelites? They left their captivity with all God charged them to collect. As their supply waned, God’s undeniable provision kicked in. For forty years in that wilderness, they did not fall to malnourishment; thirst did not kill them; and their shoes and clothing never wore out.

So don’t worry about tomorrow. If He is pointing you to the storm that’s raging and beaconing you to prepare for it, ask God’s direction for your path to readiness. Ask how much to store for the need. If you run out of space and He is still pressing your collection, ask wisdom and provision for its storage. He will make you ready for yourself and those charged to your care, even though you may not fully comprehend the scope of it all.

Enter His rest as you obey, knowing that He in whom You trust will not leave you alone in your need. He will help you just as He did those before us. And when scoffers scoff at you, smile as you remember, “… wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Matthew‬ ‭11:19‬ ‭NASB)

“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 (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭AMPC‬‬)

Follow God

His science is flawless.

I hear it every day, people boasting the science concerning COVID, both for and against the truths concerning the disease and the treatments, including the vaccine. Here’s what I know: no one fully knows. Science is a learning tool. It helps figure out truth, but until truth proves out through consistent, broad range, experience, science is theoretical. They don’t fully know one way or the other.

But GOD.

God fully knows, not only the disease and the treatments, but the reason and purpose behind its source: whether sent by an enemy intent on destruction, or brought about by God in fulfilling His plans and purposes. God fully knows my body and yours. He knows how the disease will effect each individual. He knows what each treatment will do and which my body will respond best to. He comprehensively understands the science behind the vaccine and the disease.

So, instead of looking at constantly changing scientific theory before it knows, ask the God-who-knows-all His opinion for your dealings with the disease and it’s potential remedies – healing aids. He promises to give needed wisdom to us when we ask with faith to follow His response. Once you get His response, trust Him for the outcome. Trust His purpose and plan. He is always working in and through us for eternal good.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Double-minded: tossed to and fro by the mind of one’s flesh arguing with the mind of Christ given in the power of God’s Spirit.)
— James 1:5-8

First Order of Preparedness

I am a member of a group of preppers, seeing the signs of the times and making ready for whatever may come. As a Christian, though I believe in practicing wisdom to be prepared for every kind of storm in life, ready to take care of mine and to help others, I know that all my preparations can be gone in an instant. Thus, it’s vital to remember that my hope is not in my supply, but my Supplier.

People say first priority for preparedness is water. I agree. And first priority in water supply is the Living Water, Jesus. I believe that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. All our preparation and learning to live off the land will fail without God’s support, grace, and favor. He grants wisdom for life choices, direction for our feet, protection in the storm, and favor with Himself and with man. He gives supply that gives us safety into the eternal. And He promises that though money may fail us, He will never leave nor forsake us.

We can guess at what is coming and work to be ready, but He knows what is coming to each day and is already there making a way for us. However, there is one thing we know is coming to all of us: death of this shell. How sad it would be to prepare for storms of nature or man, but fail to be prepared for eternity.

God is my hope. He is my help in the day of trouble, my strength in the battle, my shelter in the storm, my Shepherd for the path, my Savior for all eternity. He gives me eyes to see, a mind to know, and a heart to understand; and He brings to my remembrance the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding stored in the banks of my mind at the moment of my need.

Make sure you are one with His vine and that your tendrils are attached to Him as first priority; that you are lapping freely of the Living, Life giving Water. Then make wise preparations with faith that He will be with you and guide you through every challenge until we meet Him in the air.

Robin Meadows says, “Just as tendrils are trained to hold to the fence for support, we need to train our hearts and minds to be entwined with Him and hold to Him. Dependent on Him, we gain supernatural strength to endure even the mightiest storms of life.

“Where does your strength come from? Are you attaching to people or things hoping to find fulfillment and security? Or are you training your heart to be connected to the One who is Strength?”

Enter this, your Rest, and get ready for all that is coming.

Lessons From My Garden: Day 6 • Devotional

Good, Good Father

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB1995

It’s easy to look around the world today and think there’s nothing good going on. It seems there is unfathomable turmoil around every corner. Something unthinkable happens, leaving us stunned with nothing good that is readily apparent to our flesh mind and emotions, and we plummet to despair. Yes, I’ve been there many times, and here’s what I’ve learned, and am learning, even as I write.

First, we don’t think or see things like God does. His thoughts are higher, meaning smarter than ours, having greater perspective of the full picture than us, and always possessing eternal purpose. He does not allow anything to hit our lives without there being purpose in it, and His desire is that we know and trust Him with the absolute assurance that He is accomplishing something for someone’s eternal good in fulfilling that purpose.

His ways are higher than our ways. When He allows trauma into our lives, there are many things going on at one time.

* It gives us opportunity to shine as people who know and trust Him, giving those around us visual proof of faith’s aid in walking through troubled waters.

* It gives us opportunity to recognize where we still struggle in our faith walk and fruit bearing so we may grow stronger in those areas. It’s one thing to realize we are human, subject to slip into fleshly impulse. It’s another to let that knowledge become excuse for surrendering to it. Like with Job, in our stubborn resistance to deny our fleshly dictates, God will get as hard on us as our stubbornness requires, because He loves us and desires our best. That best is to grow stronger agreement and cooperation with the dictates of His Spirit

* Trouble tests our heart’s soil in areas of fleshly indulgeance, pride, and arrogance, revealing whether the seeds for growth, maturity and fruit bearing can thrive there.

* And trouble gives us life experience of our God that provides a testimony of His faithfulness and goodness and comfort we can use as His instrument in helping others when trauma hits.

This Father, from whom every good comes, always brings good out of trouble for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. When God allows His child to walk into troubled waters, He always has a purpose in it that becomes a call for us to walk with Him in fulfilling it. We, who are saved by grace through faith, are called according to His purpose and equipped by Him for EVERY good work. Trouble is always a door to us, affording us this opportunity.

God is doing a good work in us, and He WILL do it right up until Jesus comes for us. God will complete His work, will, and purpose in us. Thrashing against trouble is fighting against God, saying, “No. I don’t want it” to His will, way, and purpose.

Our response when trouble hits, flows out of not only our degree of surrender to our fleshly impulse, but out of the degree of our habitually practice of faith to trust God, believe these truths about Him, and enter the rest He supplies us when we successfully practice this faith. Falling to the flesh in a moment of sudden trauma is common to all. The thing that shows our maturity in faith is how quickly we recoup, drawing near to God, submitting to Him, and finding supply to control that fleshly impulse and enter God’s rest.

When we are in the flesh, responding to our emotions, it can be very frustrating to us for people to point us to these truths about God. We know these truths, but we’re not ready to hear it yet. We want to scream and holler, or cry and waller, and we want others to commiserate with us.

The problem with that is, the call of God to His people is to encourage our righteousness, turn us from the dictates of flesh to the Spirit, and help us turn our thoughts toward the higher things of God and His ways. Those of us who believe the quicker we turn to God’s way of thinking, sometimes move too quick with encouragement to come up higher. In our desire for the person’s Power for the journey, we forget that God also tells us to weep with those who weep. And so, our zeal hitting their trauma comes across as preachy or better than thou.

Our intent is to help the traumatized one to come quickly to Colossians 3:1-2 thinking, so they can have right thoughts within them, thoughts that increase one’s coping skills and strengthen us for the days we face. Thoughts that help us recognize the good gifts of God to be found in the rubble of trouble. But we must take care to acknowledge their trauma and the pain they are in. This is an area where I need work.

The fact of the matter for all within the sphere of our turmoil, both us who hurt, and those trying to encourage, is that God’s desire and purpose is to build a new relationship with us – a deeper, more vital and effective relationship with us. As the perfect Father, God wants only the best for His child, and our approach to trouble, whether in facing our own or in encouraging those we reach to help, always presents us opportunity to grow and come up higher into that love and security. May we surrender to Him, enter His rest, and enjoy the good gift of His faithfulness.

“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.” Colossians 3:1-2 AMPC

Peace, Be Still.

In these days, so many are finding themselves struggling with worry, fretting, depression, fear, and so many emotional issues that hinder function and ability to know Wisdom. We need peace of mind, heart, soul. But if we keep looking at things outside ourselves to bring it, we will continue to miss it, thinking it something we must chase after when, truly, if we know The Christ and are home to His Spirit, Peace – True Peace is within us, ready to flow to us and through us as a fresh, spring flow of Living Water.

We don’t have to chase it, learn it, or grapple for it. We only have to be still, cease striving, let be and know God, and He will give it – His good gift, pressed down, shaken together, and running over for others to feed off of while in our presence.

We can’t give others what we, ourselves, do not have, and we can’t truly possess that which we fail to recognize as belonging to us. Love, joy, peace PATIENCE, and all the nine flavors of the Spirit are our personal possession because we are His and He is within us. Take a deep Breath of stillness, receive your Peace, and have a BLESSed day.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-25‬ ‭NASB‬‬

True Forgiveness: an Agapé Love Action

“If you never forgive yourself how can you forgive others. Just a thought.” (Aleshia Beth Barnett)

“Forgiveness being a love action: how can we love others when we can’t love ourselves.” (My thought-reply in response)

Pictured is a post from a dear friend, daughter to one of my best friends, who struggles as I have. I know many who have struggled to love through forgiveness. Her statement took me immediately to what God has taught me that has delivered me so mightily, setting me free to love as He loves.

With her permission, stemming off her ponderings, I share with you this freedom that is yours in Christ. Only Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, can give this love to and through us.

Here’s my advice to those struggling to forgive self and others: Learn of God’s love. Not only so you can rest in Him and in His presence, free from the fear of eternal punishment, but because THAT is the love He places in us and causes to flow through us. So we should learn all we can to know His love and seek daily to grow strong His image of Love in us.

God’s Agapé Love is the only love strong enough to equip us to forgive our enemies and do good to them, as God desires; and His gift to us in the Spirit is the only love by which we can truly forgive self and those we love, the way we want and need to. To get there, ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes, ears, mind, and heart to believe, receive, and possess this gift. Then work through the following passages. May God bless you, in the power of His love to and through you. By the living power of God in Jesus, The Christ. Amen

John 15:1-17 NASB

Abiding: God in Christ living through us by the power of the Spirit in us and us possessing Life in Him by the work of His Spirit in and through us, is vital.

Galatians 5:16-26 NASB

Bearing the fruit of God’s image, being as He is by surrender to the work of the Spirit in us, is vital.

1 John 4:7-21 NASB

Being Love, as He is Love in us, is vital.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NASB

Note the actions of love listed that require forgiveness. Understanding what Love looks and acts like is vital.

Luke 6:27-36 NASB

Being Love depends on who “I” am and what “I” desire to be, not on what others do to “me”. Committing to this truth and walking it even toward one called “enemy” is vital to our obedience in rightly portraying God’s image in us.

Romans 12:9-21 NASB

It is vital to realize that Love fulfills the Law, trusting God to be God toward us and those we love, even when they hurt, steal, kill, and seek to destroy us, being enemies to us. Love is first toward God, trusting His Love to do right in all that concerns us.

A little footnote here, for those who might wonder: Love should prevail even in war against those who, as an enemy, would force a fight. We do so, going to the fight out of love for those we fight to protect. And we do so, out of love for God as a people who stand for right as God sees it.

We fight against an enemy for righteousness sake. And we do so as guided by Love, not out of vengeance, hate, bitterness, and anger, but desiring righteousness and trusting God to handle the consequences to those who wish us harm, on whom our weapons of war fall.

Choosing to be love as He is Love, even in war, protects us from hate, bitterness, and anger, that harms self, by destroying God’s image of Love in us. Love: true, deep, abiding Love that forms our “who” to be as He Is, is vital for all occasions.

Trust in The Lord

And Do Good

Do you truly trust God as Lord of all, Beloved? It is times like these days in which we live that truly test the caliber of our faith, belief, and trust in God and His word to us.

In these days, the questions we must personally ask ourselves are these:

* Do I truly believe that God is working an eternal plan that includes me? …and that even things meant for evil against me, and bad things that come at me are sifted through God’s capable hands for His purposes in my life and ministry to the glory of His beautiful Name?

* Do I truly believe that God knows what He is doing, and that He has a good plan that includes me, personally and intimately?

* Do I truly believe God’s promises and that they are for me, personally: that He is with ME and for ME; that He never leaves nor forsakes ME; that He cares for ME affectionately and cares about ME watchfully, looking after every minute detail of His good plan for ME; that every challenge He allows to touch MY life carries opportunity for ME to be His witness, His ambassador in the World – His Light, shining in the darkness around ME?

* Do I trust, as Jesus did, that not one breath will leave MY earthly body before the time He has set for ME?

* Do I believe that not one enemy, even a viral one, can have its way in MY life, apart from God’s watchful care as the Potter who forms ME and the Goldsmith who tends the heat and clears the dross from MY life and being?

* Beloved, do you believe and trust God’s Love for you through Jesus Christ, our Lord, and that He is preparing an eternal dwelling where you – personally – will join Him for all eternity? Do you trust that God sees and honors the righteousness of Christ imputed to you? Have you possessed that blessed sacrifice as your own gift from God Almighty who loves you that much?

If you can answer “yes” to all these truths from and about our Holy Father, Jehovah-Ishi (The Lord our Husband), then enter His rest and face this day with the strength of His supply to you for such a time as this. If you cannot answer yes to any of these facts, I recommend a visit with a godly, Christian friend you trust to help you receive and grow your faith in God during these days.

“Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; Do not fret ….” ~ Psalms 37:7 AMPC, NASB

“Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause {Rest yourself in Him, acknowledging and trusting His care for you}, and calmly think of that]!” ~ Psalm 46:10-11 AMPC {Darlene’s understanding}

The Mighty Mustard Seed

“When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They *said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.”” Matthew 9:28-29 NASB

“It shall be done to you according to your faith” is not talking about the degree of faith, but the presence and focus of faith. Jesus also said that the smallest seed of faith can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).

When people try to convince us that God didn’t answer the way we wanted because our faith is too small, they don’t understand the scriptures. Such a focus makes “faith” a little-g god and our will the master.

Faith that believes says, “LORD, if You are WILLING, I know You CAN …” (Matthew 8:2; Mark9:22-23). The mustard seed of faith to believe clings to His Lordship and trusts His will. Those with believing trust will not be disappointed (Romans 10:11), whatever the answer, for trust knows His Love does what is best.

Do you believe God can do what you ask. Then whatever amount of faith that comes with belief is enough. God responds to all that is within His will for us. Only believe and let faith grow strong.

Father, I believe! Help my unbelief. In Jesus, amen.

Run, or Trust

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.

Written by Darlene I. Davis (c)

April 20,2017

The “Then” Keys

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:8-9 NKJV)

I love Isaiah 58. It is one of my favorite passages of scripture, filled with promises from God and instruction to us for a sincere heart of fasting before the Lord.

In verses 1-7 begins instruction on the fast, which expresses the “Then Key” to obtaining the Promises. It expresses the fast God has chosen, which in short is to die to self; laying down one’s own life for others; counting the lowest, most destitute above self; taking up our cross of self-denial to follow Jesus.

And what are the promises we can unlock and possess with these keys?

Then keys unlock:

🗝 your light which breaks forth like the morning.

🗝 your healing, springing forth speedily.

🗝 your Righteousness, going before you;

🗝 The glory of the LORD as your rear guard.

🗝 you shall call, and the LORD will answer;

🗝 you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

The chapter is full of keys of selfless fasting that gains the keys to unlock the BLESSings of abundant life. Read it often. Practice it with every breath. And watch in scripture for other Kingdom keys.

Finding Favor

I love the story of Noah. He was good at everything I aspire to.

When everyone else catered to thoughts snared by mortal flesh, he held to thoughts of God and His ways. While everyone else catered to the ways of the world and fitting in with friends, Noah loved God and ran hard after Him.

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, being numbered by Him as “a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time”. And “he walked in close fellowship with God.” (Genesis 6:9 NLT)

Noah was so close to God that God not only let him in on His plans to destroy the evil, but entrusted to him the job of saving the good and preserving life. Noah’s relationship with God pictures everything I want my relationship with Him to portray. The last verse of Genesis, chapter 6, gives the clue needed for achieving this life goal:

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22 NLT)

We’re not told whether Noah questioned God. What we are told is that Noah obeyed. He TRUSTED God and followed His every dictate out of that trust. This fellowship with God is possible for you and me, too. God has provided for us to possess this relationship.

“I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I (Jesus) go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…” (John 16:7-8 NASB)

God gives us His Spirit so, through Him, we may fellowship with God. This Spirit empowers us to live lives that cooperate with God in accomplishing His will, His way. Our Spirit filled and led love work with God to convict the world of sin that separates from God, righteousness that unites with God, and the coming judgement that is already set against this world of sin. It is this knowledge imparted to us that led us to choose The Christ and receive the seal of His Spirit. And how does He do that?

Through the Spirits work in us, we learn of God, His will and His ways. And by that Spirit power, we choose obedience. We see it in this same work of the Spirit: granting understanding of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Once we understand our sin nature and God’s provision of righteousness in Christ, receiving that gift to escape the power of the judgment of sins death, the Spirit works in us for change and transformation. As we grow in fellowship with the Father in the power of His Spirit, the Spirit empowers us to look through God’s eyes at every choice that comes. He empowers us to discern the path of sin, evil, death, and the path of righteousness, goodness, Life. He imparts good judgment to us so we may choose the path of obedience to God. Our lives become a testimony to those watching this change in us, making us partners with God in saving some.

Beloved, who is your hero of faith. Like me, you may have many. Look at their lives and realize that God makes a way for us to follow their example. By grace, in the power of God’s Spirit, we, too, find favor with God in following hard after Jesus, empowered by the Helper Spirit of God.

Gifts That Last

“I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you…!”” (Acts 3:6 NASB – http://bible.com/100/act.3.6.nasb)

We don’t have to go into debt to give the perfect gift. Peter and John gave the gift of healing. My sweet husband gives me joy and laughter, love and encouragement everyday: like today, as He dawns my homemade, glove potholder like a hat. 😂🤪😂

There are two things mentioned in our Acts verse that is important to gift giving:

First give what you have.

Doing such huge gifts that it puts us in debt for a year is not necessary. It can cause stress that tears at the core of relationships. And it can rob of time with those we love as we work overtime to clear the debt in time for next Christmas.

Most of all, high dollar giving feeds cravings for this world’s goods and hinders growth in the importance of contentment with what we have. Thoughtful, loving, gift giving within budget, given out of love and care, will carry greater value in the long run, breeding a contentment that keeps us free from stress, debt, and greed.

Second, gifting in the name of Jesus, as represents Him, His ways, His love, carries eternal worth into the giving.

The greatest gift I received this year was the gift of three weekends from my granddaughter. She came to help me and be with me. That is priceless. She and her sister gave the gift of taking responsibility for the Thanksgiving meal, freeing me of stress and blessing with rest, love, and joy. My heart flutters still.

The top gifts in life: debt free, joy-filled, love. It ministers to hearts, heals, strengthens, forms strong bonds, and makes long lasting memories that uplift and encourage for ages to come.

Happy gift giving! Merry Christmas!