Tag Archives: salvation

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 3 of 3

The Ministry of Comfort

There are six examples of suicide in scripture. We’ve looked at two of them. Through these six, we see the heart behind the cause of the choice: fear, anger, depression-oppression, pride, shame, a sense of failure, helplessness, hopelessness, extreme remorse, condemnation, guilt, and the list goes on. (Samuel 31:3-6, 1 Kings 16:18-19, Matthew 27:3-5 ) We even see in scripture example of the telltale signs of one planning to take their own life, as Ahithophel set his house in order before hanging himself (2 Samuel 17:23).

Suicide has been around for as long as our need of God has been met by resistance to Him. Those of us who can’t fathom taking our own life, also can’t reconcile God allowing it. Thus we have the frequent struggle those left behind face as they come to such truths as those proclaiming the sovereignty of God.

“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NASB1995

In a video devotional that went with this verse today, the teacher said our partnership with God and His participation in our lives is not a 50-50 or 70-30, our choice verses His. It is 100-100. I understand that concept, as God taught me the 100-100% principle in my married life. Successful, happy marriages are not 50-50. It’s all-in-all.

In relationship with God, He is all in our being one with Him and He with us. He is also all in for our right to choose whether we will be all in with Him and His will and way.

Right of choice is a gift from God. He does not remove our choice from us: we are allowed choice. But whatever choice we make, God is there and He causes all to accomplish His purpose, working it together for good and glory (Romans 8:28).

When we have God as our delight, we give self to His will. When we refuse Him, He does not remove our right of choice from us. He respects our boundaries against Him.

We are His delight and desire, whether or not we choose Him, for God is love, and He so loved the whole, entire world, that He gave His Son for us. He desires that none should perish, but all come to repentance: which means to align our will and desire with His will and desire for us.

God wants a loving, growing relationship with each of us. He also desires what is best for us. One of the things He sees as best for us is that we have right of choice. A love without choice is no true love at all. God wants true love relationships, so He gives us choice: God or not God, life or death, blessing or curse. God is Life and God is Blessing.

The hard thing is reconciling the fact of God’s sovereignty and His love for us with things like hard hearted Pharoah, or, closer to home, a dear friend’s family member who committed suicide. It’s hard for us to comprehend God, who is sovereign, being 100% partner with those horrendous decisions of the heart of man, and, in the case of Pharoah, even increasing his stubborn, hardened heart for God’s purpose. Our finite minds with our limited way of thinking cannot comprehend a loving God allowing, much less seemingly participating in such decisions leading to horrid outcomes. That’s where the truth stated by Joseph fits into the equation: “As for you, you meant evil…but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20 NASB1995 – https://bible.com/bible/100/gen.50.20.NASB1995).

But God! His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. He sees things beyond our comprehension. His plans reach to effect far more than our here and now. And He uses the effect of such hard things in our here and now to accomplish purposes far more eternal in nature than we can begin to realize.

Take this beloved’s suicide. I cannot even begin to think that God’s will was his suicide. What I do see is this: a long time struggle with depression-oppression and constant heartache that became unbearable for a precious man, loved by God.

I believe that, in 99.9% of suicides, there is a point where mental health loses the battle. Though he may have wanted to believe in and trust God, the constant struggle hindered him being helped by any degree of hope he managed to grasp hold of through Christ. I don’t believe God wanted his death in that way, but God did want this one He loved free from the struggle. So when this beloved of God could not grasp God and chose death, God allowed His choice and took him out of his pain. Absent from the body…home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

My understanding about this young man is that he wanted God and new Jesus as the way, the truth, the life, and the gateway. I believe God has him home with Jesus right now, no longer in pain, no longer struggling. He is now safe in the arms of God, freed from that mental turmoil. That is a hope I stand on, and encourage those suffering such loss to grasp hold of.

Now for those left behind suffering the aftermath. What now?

God says, “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. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore….’” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 – https://bible.com/bible/100/jer.29.11-14.NASB1995)

Those left behind have a choice now. Trust that God’s purpose in allowing their loved one’s suicide was not death, but life. They are more set free to live than ever before, never to be troubled by depression-oppression again. Their grasp on the reality and provision of God is finally firm.

Now the ball is in our court. Will we run from God to our own struggle and hardship, or will we grab His hand, get His heart for the good He wants to work through our pain, and walk with Him to the fulfillment of the future He planned for us?

It may not be an easy road. Walking a hard path we can’t understand seldom is easy. But when we grab hold of trust in God, He always leads us to an eternal good that accomplishes through us an unfathomable glory.

So the choice is to run from God in anger and grief, which is death-though-we-live. Or run to God, where healing is found in the grief, restoration to life arises, and a greater good comes out of our pain as we who are comforted by God comfort others.

I pray you grab His hand. He will help you.

Suicide: The “Why” and “What Now” – Part 1 of 3

Trusting Love: the Cure for Soul Death

Yesterday Father led me to call a precious friend and ask a simple question regarding her coping with her beloved’s suicide: “How is your trust in God through this?” The answer was as I suspected: “Not good, Darlene.”

Then God led me to find a devotional series on coping after the suicide of a loved one, asking Him to use the thoughts therein to inspire my heart as to how to pray for this beloved family in this unfathomable time.

The first day was introductory and one paragraph sums up the path to healing. “There is help. There is hope. This help and hope is found only in Jesus Christ. He alone gives genuine comfort to your inward being. He alone gives healing to your heart. Only Christ can replace anguish and hopelessness with transcendent peace and enduring joy.” (Julie Gossack, Hope Beyond Despair)

Today covered the suicide of Samson after Delilah’s betrayal, and this one telling fact that opened my heart to a slew of understanding. The truth is this:

“It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.” (Judges 16:16 NASB1995)

They may try to grasp it, but the battle raging against their mind, will, and emotions weakens their grasp on truth, robbing their strength, and turning them to willingly receive the lie. Trapped in the vale of the shadow of soul death leads to an agony they cannot overcome on their own. Feelings of being unable to get out of their situations or to trust love, grace, and truth from family and friends, or even God, they choose death.

The truth God is giving me is that those who succumb to suicide first suffer soul death. Their own thoughts and desires over life situations nag them until their soul dies, making them feel useless, worthless, helpless, hopeless, and insecure to the point of seeing no sense in continuing on with life. Their nagging thoughts – influenced by the lies of fleshly comprehension, worldly desires, and demonic designs – get such a hold on them that they cannot believe the truth countering their beliefs given by loved ones, nor even by God.

Many who survived a suicide attempt bear testimony that in the instant physical death was upon them, they recognized the truth that their concerns were based on lies. That they can overcome the issues at hand because they are loved and cared for by a God who deems them worth the cost paid in full by Jesus Christ. Because of Him, they are not helpless. There is hope.

I believe that instant of life to their soul is God’s reality reaching them as a hand to pull them back. That being true, I believe that same hand reaches the heart of those who succeed at their suicide commitment, which gives hope to my heart that, though the hand of God did not pull them back to this life, it did pull them up to eternal life. As long as there is our loving God who desires that none perish, but all come to repentance, there is hope for God’s mercy and love to prevail, even in the instant of death.

For family and friends left behind in the wake of their beloveds suicide, here’s the thing to realize and watch for as you cope with the reality of a loved one’s self induced death. Feelings that God failed in preventing the death in such an unimaginable act is a weapon against our own faith to trust God, hindering our ability to perceive and receive His help for our grief. Struggling with our own inability to help our beloved and prevent their demise leads us into a depressive struggle with our own sense of failure, inadequacy, and helplessness that can produce hopelessness. Blaming self or others in the equation that look to be the straw that pushed our loved one to such an end produces hate, unforgiveness, and bitterness that can prevent our ability to help others, or to be helped in our grieving.

These issues open us to constantly struggle with the why, what, and who questions that can put us in an onslaught of our own troubled thoughts, leading us into our own soul death situation. This struggle is, at least in part, a reason we too often see suicide come to groups in multiples. It explains why many fall away from loving relationships after suicide and even leave faith in a good God. Turning from faith, family, and friends removes from our lives the very things we need for help in healing, which robs us of the support that is needed to keep us safe from a soul death battle.

My prayer for my friend and her family is that trust in God be restored and firmed up. God constantly reaches to us, offering Himself to us and placing His resources in our path to pull us back from the brink. He does not force Himself on us: trusting Him is a choice He will not remove from us. If we earnestly seek Him, taking time for a close examination will reveal His presence reaching a hand out. If you’re reading these words from God’s instruction to me, this is His hand reaching out to you, giving insight and understanding that will help if you can grasp it. And God will help your grasp if you choose to trust Him in the midst of your struggle.

Friends speaking concern and trying to connect are also God’s hand reaching out to help you find soul life. God’s word touching your life is His loving presence set to draw you to Himself. But it is our choice to grasp the hand and open up to God and those He sends to help us.

If you are one who lost a loved one to soul death leading to suicide, God’s love for them leaves hope that His hand of love pulled them into eternal life in an instant of their own realization and acceptance of His loving care. If your grief is causing a thought life and emotional onslaught of bitterness and anger leading to the beginnings of your own soul death, grasp God’s love for You. Let Him lift you from death to life. Trust in God’s unfailing love is life, abundant and full. No one and nothing can rob this truth from us who choose to rest in His grasp through believing faith.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” — Deuteronomy 30:19

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: 12/7/22

Father, life is filled with continuum experiences, granting us understanding. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, mainly that You are good and we cannot fully understand Your goodness this side of glory. Evil is the opposite end of that continuum. As we do not know the fullness of Your goodness, we cannot fathom how evil bad can get.

Your call for us to overcome evil with good is vital to our days, Lord. Grant us daily to draw in closer to You so our understanding of what “good” is grows.

Out of the heart flows the wellsprings of Life. May our hearts be cleansed and made good as You are good, and may that goodness flow freely from our lives surrendered to You who are good, the source of good, and the only one who can make us truly good. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 11/12/22

Lord we need You. You are our first, most vital need and necessity whether or not we recognize our deep destitution apart from You. Please sweep across this nation bringing about a mighty spiritual awakening and great revival. Open our eyes to see You, our ears to hear You, our minds to know You, and our hearts to understand You and Your ways with believing faith. Make us to know our true need and our deepest shortfalls. Cause our hearts to turn to You through earnest repentance, truly seeking Your face. Remove our heart of stone and grant us a heart that is circumcised to You and pliable in Your hands. Forgive our great sin against You and, by Your faithfulness to Your word, heal this land. Restore our strength, renew our minds, and banish everything in us that is not of You. Then glorify Yourself, granting us godly leaders and making us a light of Your goodness, grace, and might in the earth. Until Jesus comes, we seek You with earnest expectation and hope in Your mercy made new every morning and Your unfailing love and compassion toward us who believe.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen!

Morning Prayer: 10/9/22

Let God’s Love Transform Lives

Father, thank You. You led me through a study on patience, the fruit born by Your Spirit in us and lived out through us in Christlikeness. That led to a deep study of love, for “love is patient.” Which led me to this devotional study aid. Love lets Your love transform lives: my own and those around me. Love is patient, trusting Your transforming power and the transformation process.

Love, a bookend flavor of Spirit fruit – it with self-control, holding all other fruit together; love for You first, then for all others as one should love self; love, out of which all other fruit flavors flow. Love patiently waits for Your transforming power to accomplish it’s purpose in those around us and in oneself.

Love is patient. And because it is patient, it chooses to forgive, not holding a grudge or tallying insults, but trusting and praying for Your transformation to be fully accomplished in self and in those we patiently love. Father, I pray to love as You love, not wishing any to perish, but all to come to repentance and be transformed.

Let Love – God is love – abound in me, producing patience that practices kindness; not being jealous or arrogant. Let Your love empower me to act becomingly; not seeking my own desire, nor being easily provoked, nor taking into account a tally of wrongs suffered, but rejoicing in righteousness and truth. Fill me with that love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, knowing that true, godly love never fails. This I pray in Jesus holy name, amen.

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬‬‬

Choose Now

Choose Now

The Message

I have a message for you:
Your sins are already forgiven.

Matthew 12:22-32

Jesus paid for all sin, past, present, and future; and God accepted His payment on our behalf.

God is not shocked or surprised by your sin. He knows it all and has seen it all before, yet He still sent His Son, loving us all enough to let His Son choose to pay the price we owe for the evils He did not do. And Jesus did so willingly out of love, delivering all who receive His gift of saving grace, delivering us from sin’s death – separation from God, desiring to give us life with God for all eternity.

There’s only one sin God will not forgive and Jesus doesn’t cover: the sin of refusing to believe and trust the truth of the work of God’s Spirit in birthing Christ to a virgin; living through Him, performing miracles and teaching truth; letting Him die on a cruel cross on our behalf so He (the Spirit Power of God) could raise Him to life again; taking Him up in ascension to sit on God’s throne as King of kings and Lord of lords. If we refuse to believe these truths of the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension to Lordship of Jesus Christ, only possible because of God’s work through the power of His Spirit, we cannot possess eternal life with God the Father. When we possess eternal life in Christ, He gives us the Spirit Power of God, making us a new creation, bearing the fruit of the nature and image of God in us. Eternity begins when we let God in.

Your sins are forgiven. Receive your gift by believing in Christ, receiving Him as Lord, and you will be saved to eternal Life.

Trust God’s Plow

Past hurts, traumas, insults, bitterness, etc., harden us. We can let God deliver us and turn experience into a victory that ministers healing to others, or we can set in our hardened condition and use our past as excuse for being bitter, angry, hardened, untrusting, etc.. Our past can enslave us or we can walk free.

It may not be easy: bringing the ugly to the surface where it can be properly dealt with can hurt for a bit. It can take time as God works here a little, there a little to free us up. But the pain caused by the work of healing is better than sitting in our hardened state, becoming harder, and bringing others with us into a state of hard heartedness as we hurt them.

Matthew 13:18-23

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: 8/24/22

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭45:1-4‬ ‭‬‬

Father, may our words always be founded on the good theme of godliness, righteousness, truth, and love, honoring You with every word. May our words flow from Your heart, knowing You are first to hear, know, and receive our every thought, bringing blessing or curse to Your name. I surrender my tongue to You as Your pen: the pen of the Ready Writer. May I be known as one belonging to You by my words.

Pour forth grace upon my lips, making Your message through me a blessing to those who hear, blessing me in Christ forever. Help me remember that the words of my tongue are a sword, piercing the heart of the listener for good or for evil. May I faithfully gird the Sword of the Spirit on my thigh, O Mighty One, using it properly for Your splendor and Your majesty! In Your majesty ride on victoriously, through my words from You and for You, for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness. Let the right hand, bearing the Sword of Your Word in the power of Your Spirit, teach me awesome things. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/13/22

Yes! This ⬇️

Father, we tend to fight the wrong battles, focus on the wrong enemy, and walk as defeatists while condemning others. The fight before us is not against flesh and blood pawns. It is demons and principalities that deceive and mislead.

As long as there is life and breath, as long as God is, there is hope. We are tasked to fight the good fight of faith until Jesus comes and the final victory is won. We’re not to stop living, loving, hoping, trusting, and sharing the Good News of faith until that Day and Hour.

We wear ourselves out in the fight, not realizing all we have to do is stand firm in You who are able to make Your servant stand. We tend to look at the battle ground when focus on You and Your glory enthrones You and encases us in Your victory. Forgive us this failure.

Father, teach us to pray. Teach us to praise. Teach us Your way to fight the good fight of faith. Bless us with strength and perseverance, and grant us eyes that see Your army surrounding us, fighting alongside us against the true enemies that come against Your glory, Your truth, Your righteousness, and Your justice. Grant us perseverance, faithfulness, and trust until Jesus comes and the fight is done. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/10/22

Oh, Father. I know the pain of the work of evil in family, and I know several families who are suffering the destructive force of the hand of evil. I pray You fill them with Your love, and deliver them from the self destructive power of hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, even blame toward self and feelings of guilt gets an ugly grip where it is not truth. Evil destroys lives and families if not dealt with properly. Please grant wise counsel to the hearts and minds of each family member. May they seek Your face as never before and help each other recover.

A thought came out of my mouth the other day when talking about the need to forgive. “I can’t afford to not forgive.” When I heard myself say that, Father, I knew deeper than ever the truth of that fact. Forgiveness is for my own sake, putting no obstacle between me and You who are my first, most vital need and necessity if I am to be of any use to others struck by the evil we face. In Jesus, empower these to love the unlovable for Your names sake and bring to these full healing and restoration in the process, enabling them to forgive those snared and used to work the evil done. 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.

The Fear of The Lord

“The Lord favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭147:11‬ ‭‬‬

I read this and ask God, “Do I fear You as I should? What does fearing You mean?”

How would you define “fear of the Lord”? I don’t quake before Him. Hebrews says I can come boldly before the throne of grace. He is my Father. I enjoy His presence. There is not a quaking fear there.

I look around at things going on in the world and quake at the fate of all involved in it when God moves against it. Do I quake enough to reach out a warning hand ready to pull them out of their pit of destruction? Is my fear of the Lord the righteous fear He calls for, expects, and is worthy of receiving? A fear that acknowledges His worthiness, respects His authority, and recognizes His justice and His right as the true Supreme Justice?

Holy Spirit, You come teaching me of sin, righteousness, and judgement. Is the understanding of these truths and humility it brings that causes my heart to crumble before Him “the fear of the Lord”? If this is it, I am there.

Father, I acknowledge Your worthiness, respect Your authority, and recognize Your right and responsibility to delve out justice. I quake at the thought of an eternity without You, Your love, Your mercy, Your grace, Your presence. Father, I need You and I cry out for those wallowing in the pit of a world set against You.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner in need of Your merciful grace. Let this “fear of the Lord” cause me to recognize the difference between the path of sin, the path of righteousness, and the consequences that come with Your judgment. I bow to You, my Daddy-King Jehovah in the name of my Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, our Jehovah-Tsidkenu. 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: 7/12/22

Thank You that Your compassions fail not, and You, Abba-Father, lovingly discipline those You claim as a son or daughter. Your discipline proves our relationship with You as Father. I am grateful that You faithfully discipline me and I watch for Your loving hand that guides me on paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake.

Father, it is true. You already know everything about us, so we can come to You humbly with each sin in our lives without fear of shocking You who already know, and we can earnestly seek Your forgiveness and grace knowing it is already there for us through Jesus Christ our Lord. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life made for us by You who make a way where there is no way. You are faithful, so we need not fear.

However, I want more of You, so I ask for courage to truly humble myself and let You search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any evil, hurtful way in me and lead me in Your still more excellent ways. I know when I sincerely seek You to create in me a clean heart, You will shock me with the findings and amaze me with Your mercies made new every morning. In Jesus, make it so in me, I pray. Amen.

Glorify God in Your Body

“… Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. …” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Many take the portion of this passage that relates to sexual sin, meant as an example of what immortality looks like in our relationship with God, and apply it’s text only to that. The immoral person that sins against their own body includes those who sin against the sexual purity God expects us to practice, but this passage is so much deeper than relations between one man and one woman. Our union with God is a marriage covenant, and any sin against God is a sin against that union. It hurts our body – our Spirit union.

Immorality: The character of being immoral; transgression of the moral law; immoral thought or action; wickedness; dissoluteness; licentiousness.

The immoral person is not moral; they are inconsistent with rectitude, purity, or good morals; they work contrary to conscience or the divine law, forgetting and neglecting union with God. These are wicked; unjust; dishonest; vicious; licentious. When we profess unity with God through Christ, yet behave immorally, we do harm to our own body, ripping at the core of that union.

Looking at this full passage, what does it say?

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

There are many things in life that we can choose, do, or have within the borders of God’s Law, dictated by His moral compass, but not everything will profit us in our relationship with God. For example, we can have money. Being rich in this life is not sin. Having a storehouse of goods to see us through difficult times is not sin. But letting that treasure trove of God’s supply rule us, the trove becoming the end means, is sin. It gets between us and our God, becoming our greatest trust, our mistress, and robbing God of our affection and commitment. This is an immorality. It hurts our relationship with God and sins against our oneness with Him.

We are to be good stewards of all God blesses us to have. Rightly using the provision God blesses us to have, clinging to Him and trusting Him with and for that supply, sharing with those who have need as God leads, reveals good stewardship that God blesses with more supply, so we have plenty for our own need, and a surplus to help those in any need. Such collaboration with God, following His lead, feeds our union, making us strong in Him.

“Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.”

Our relationship with God is eternal. It is our lasting treasure. He is our exceedingly great reward. Anything that works against that truth puts a wall up in our relationship with God, just as “even looking at another woman (or man) to lust after” them puts a wall between us and our mate, robbing them of affections that rightly belong to them alone. It hurts our union with God, breaking trust, just as it does our mate in marriage. It is immoral.

“Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”

Anything in life that separates us from God, robbing Him of our affection, commitment, loyalty, etc., no matter how good or innocent that thing may be, becomes a prostitute when it comes between us and God. It breaks trust. It is giving self to another in a way that rightly belongs only to God.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

Journey to Redemption

“The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah…. Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. ….” Matthew 1:1-17

The lineage of Jesus is a picture of the redemptive power of God, how God takes those who commit great evil and works good out of it, and how good and evil alike ultimately work the will of God into this world experience. Looking at the kings of Israel is a roller coaster ride between good and evil. For me, as I read the names of all theses who struggled in this life and yet were included in the bringing of the Christ to us, it gives assurance to God’s ability to use even me. Just looking at the five women mentioned in Jesus’s family lineup is such a beautiful picture of redemption.

Tamar – the daughter-in-law of Judah who tricked Judah into fulfilling the law of birthing a child to carry on the name of the deceased don, who was her husband. She played the harlot in tricking Judah into lying with her so she could conceive and birth one of the fathers of Jesus. Despite the trickery she felt forced to practice in order to receive her due, Tamar was counted more righteous than Judah who refused his last son to her out of fear. Through her story we see deception, trickery, fear, faith, hope, and restoration.

Rahab – a harlot in Jericho who helped the spies of Israel escape and was protected on the day the walls fell and God’s people took possession of that land. She and her family were saved, and she was taken as a wife by Salmon, rewarded by God as one added to the line of Christ. Through her story we see harlotry, mercy, and redemption.

Ruth – the Moabitis daughter-in-law of Naomi. After the death of Naomi’s husband and two sons, Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side and committed herself to follow Naomi and her God, no matter where that led her. It led her through commitment, faithfulness, and redemption to the pages of the history of Israel and its coming King.

Bathsheba – wife of Uriah, taken in adultery by King David who tried to hide the sin leading to pregnancy, even having Uriah killed in his attempts. But the prophet of God knew. The child born was taken in sickness, leading David to repent his sin. God’s grace to David and Bathsheba brought Solomon to life. We see lust, adultery, deception, murder, repentance, comfort, grace, and redemption.

Mary – believed to be of teenage years, was a virgin, considered a woman in her time frame, betrothed to Joseph. Found with child before the consummation of their marriage vows, no one believed her story of miraculous conception by the work of God’s Holy Spirit. If found out, she was destined to death by stoning for out of wedlock relations; the growing fetus considered proof of indiscretion. But God.

Angelic messengers, sent by God, prepare the couple for their journey of faith. Gabriel lets Mary know of her chosen estate, which she willing accepts by faith, despite the danger to her life. An angel in a dream brings Joseph into the loop of understanding the calling of God on them. And our Savior was born. Mary’s and Joseph’s story is a one of faith, humility, courage, hope, intrigue, anticipation, and, yes, redemption, as God protects mom and Babe, seeing Jesus safely to His destiny as redeemer of the world.

Redemption is throughout the history that brought the time of Christ to the earth. Now we have a part in His story. Jesus paid the price of sin that separates us from God, giving us a way to Him anew. His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension removed power from sin’s death, granting all humans opportunity to choose life – relationship with God for all eternity. All sin is paid for, but each person must choose to believe and receive the gift of Christ for themselves. The only sin that continues to separate us from the Father is refusal to believe and receive the truth of Jesus, the redeemer. By grace through faith we are saved. And once we choose Him, we become part of His redemptive story. What are you writing on His pages with your life?

Morning Prayer: 6/30/22

Father, Your love and grace amazes me, yet I’ve only touched the hem of it. I can’t wait for the face to face. Thank You for loving us Jesus-much. We are indeed blessed.

Father, I cry out for those yet to reach Your hem. Shine Your light and draw their reach to You. We need You to do that now, before it is too late. Bring about a great spiritual awakening as never before, and bring Your people into a life altering revival before love grows cold in these days when evil abounds.

I especially pray for children and grandchildren to the thousandth generation. By Your grace, as You have given utterance, I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved me may be in them, so they may know, receive, and possess Jesus for themselves. This I ask of You, Father, let not one of them perish. This is Your heart, too, according to Your Word. Thus I ask with trusting faith for You to have Your desire in these we so greatly love. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 6/28/22

Father, thank You that You, knowing our frame, are mindful that we are but dust. We are Your creation, given breath, life, strength, and purpose by You. We can do nothing of eternal worth and true goodness apart from You. Only with You as our true supply of wisdom, direction, and power sourcing can we accomplish the work You prepared for us to do and succeed at fulfilling Your divine purpose and plan. You know how difficult it is for mere dust to maintain focus and not be blown off course by every wind.

Thank You for making The Way of redemption through The Truth of Christ, giving us The Life You desire we possess. He is our anchor that holds us, the wind of Your Spirit directing us on paths of righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with You, for Your Name’s sake, as pleases You. Thank You that our past is behind us, covered by Christ, and You use the lessons from it to bring us to a good end. May we not be stuck in the mud of dead dust. In Christ, we are free indeed.

Come Quickly, Lord!

I look around at the trouble and turmoil in all the earth today, and I cry out, “Lord, come quickly! Surely Jesus is coming now, for it cannot possibly get worse on the earth. Surely evil has completed it’s appointed course.” But looking back at 200ish years ago, the time of the plagues and warring crusades; or a hundred years ago, with WWI, the Spanish flu, and WWII, we find the same cry of the heart that cannot fathom evil could possibly get worse.

Here’s the facts: evil has brought its trouble to the earth since Adam and Eve fell to it’s influence and were sent out of that glorious garden of God. Evil remained through the days of Christ, even as Jesus paid a price none of us could even begin to pay. Evil will remain and grow ever stronger until Jesus returns and ushers His own back into that garden of God. Each age watches for Him, calls for His “soon” return, and expects Him in our today, unable to fathom that evil will possibly get worse.

But only The Father knows the day or hour when He will say, “enough” to evil’s trouble, and send Christ to usher in the eternal Kingdom. Ours is not to know the day or the hour, but to live in such a way as to be ready, should His coming be our now. If, in a hundred years, some child of God looks back from their own trouble with thought of, “Surely today, Lord,” may they see faith and faithfulness in our life story to help them stand firm in the wait.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:42-44‬ ‭‬‬

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.

Love has Already Chosen You

You may not choose God, but He has chosen you. How do I know that?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

He loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son to pay a price you cannot pay, so you can choose a reward you cannot earn: eternity with Him as Father God. If you refuse Him, He will still love you, for He is Love and He cannot deny Himself. He will still love you even while you deny the gift of His Son and choose eternity separated from Him.

However, there will come a time when we all stand before Him. Those who accept His gift while there is still time will enter eternity in His Kingdom. Those who refused His gift will enter an eternity separated from Him. Will they know his hate as they go?

God is love. He does not hate those His Son died to save: all the people of the world. I believe those who refuse Him will know beyond a doubt the fullness of God’s love for them before they are removed from His presence forever, a love we all long for but cannot know except in Him. All who do not choose Him in Christ now will know exactly what they refused: love made full and complete.

Which are you? Are you one who has believed and received this gift of God and are now walking in His love to eternity with Him? Or are you one who has refused His love? It’s your God given choice. No one else can make that choice for you.

Don’t wait until it is too late. Don’t wait until you stand before Him, knowing for the first time the fulness of that love, only to be cast into outer darkness, never to be touched by pure love again. Don’t be one left with nothing but longing for a touch of His love through an eternal hell of knowing His love is out there, just beyond your reach forvermore.

One, Unhindered

One may have to fight for the right of religion, but faith is a heart issue that cannot be dictated, hindered, or stopped.

One may have to fight for the right of assembly, but worship praise and prayer is a personal and private intimacy that cannot be dictated, hindered, or stopped.

One may have to fight for the right to speak what we believe, but belief is a personal choice that cannot be dictated hindered or stopped.

Faith in God is an intimate relationship, a personal choice and discipline with God that no worldly, fleshly, demonic force can dictate, hinder, or stop.

When individuals praise, worship and pray, they do so in the personal and real Presence of God, even in the quiet of our souls, where we are transported to the throne room of the Father, made one with Him and each other. Worship assembles us as one before God, inseparable for all eternity, now and forever, whether we stand under the same roof, or seemingly separated, but truly in one heart.

This deep, abiding, personal relationship cannot be dictated, hindered, or stopped. Not even death can separate us from this love life with God that makes us One. Stand Firm in Faith, and do not grow weary in well doing.

Pardoned and Redeemed

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Psalms‬ ‭103:2-5‬ ‭‬‬

This in verse 4 really struck me. Forgiveness 1: participates with Christ’s redemptive work toward the person we forgive. We accept Christ’s payment for the sin done against us. He bought it, so the sin done against us is no longer ours to punish or exact payment for through vengeance. It’s God’s to deal with. Let it go. And then…

2: He crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion, not only covering us with His, but crowning us with responsibility, authority and resource to give our love and compassion in His name to those we forgive. His mercy is new every morning. His compassions fail not. This is the reservoir – the River – of resource we work out of as we practice forgiveness toward others.

Father, thank You for empowering forgiveness in me through Your redemptive work toward those who sin against me. I accept the price You paid and relinquish their debt to You. Now pour forth through me Your lovingkindness and compassion to them. Make it new and fresh every morning, and may they see You in my eyes and feel You in my love actions. In Jesus, amen.

The anointing of the cleansed leper

Leviticus‬ ‭14:13-18‬ ‭‬‬

I don’t recall ever noticing the anointing of the cleansed leper’s right ear lobe, thumb, and big toe with blood as is done for the priest, and I especially do not recall the anointing oil applied in each spot over the blood: all done on the right side, the side of imputed power and authority from God. How powerful a picture of not only cleansing, but supply of power, authority, ability.

Then to look up the significance of each body part: the ear for empowered hearing, not only to hear one another, but more importantly, to hear God; the thumb representing authority in ministry and service; the big toe, empowering a stable, strong, straight walk. So powerful.

Father, thank You for cleansing me of the spiritual leprosy of sin that separates us from You. I praise You for the blood of Jesus that fully covers us, and pray the powerful anointing of your Spirit for hearing, service, and a powerful walk with You. In Jesus, 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.