Tag Archives: Support

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.

Commit to Fellowship

I read this verse at the end of a devotional on the importance of committed church membership, and it hit me how important it is for people to have opportunity to make that commitment known by giving themselves “first to the Lord and then to us”. I know of churches who have cut out the necessity of a person coming forward to openly join the membership and work of a local church. The church I’m at now is one.

They have their reasons for that, but I also know people who come as spectators and hide in the background, never really becoming part of the fellowship because the practice makes it easier to hide. I even met one such person who said they preferred a large church because it was easier to hide in the crowd, unnoticed. That person disappeared shortly after and I’ve never seen them again.

As I think about that, I realize that one of the main reasons people I have talked with on the subject give for failing to greet someone they don’t know when they believe they may be a visitor is because of fear of welcoming someone who’s been there for years, unnoticed. So those who are visitors leave the experience feeling unnoticed and believing the church’s members are snobbish and unfriendly.

There’s great benefit to publicly joining a fellowship. It gives the members a chance to realize and acknowledge the new family member. Many members then reach out to invite that new one to get involved in the class or group or ministry they are in. Doors get opened to the new ones, making them feel a part of the whole and encouraging their involvement in the ministry called “church”. It lets the new member know they are welcome and feel there is a place for them in the body. And it gives opportunity for love bonds to form as we cuddle one another into the fold. It also destroys the lie of the enemy that there is better fellowship and acceptance at the local bar than in the house of worship.

I’m just getting back into face to face involvement with my local fellowship after several years absence while caring for my husband, doing church at home with him. The devotional read and these thoughts gleaned help me firm up my need to not only commit myself to the church ministry I am part of, but to make that commitment known. In that, I will seek guidance as to where and how I may serve alongside them.

What about you? Have you committed yourself first to the Lord and then to a local expression of His body called the Church? Won’t you join me in devoted fellowship as part of the family of God?

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2‬:‭42‬ ‭‬‬

Be Filled and Complete

When my husband died, we were more ONE than I ever realized we could be. When he took his last breath, all my being felt like it was ripped in half. As I cried out to God, I saw in my mind a crystalline half of a heart move in to meld together with my torn half. It lit up and became one anew, and I inhaled new life.

My God fills me up and completes me. Realizing that benefit, I seek Him wholeheartedly. He is my first, most vital need and necessity. By His grace I live, breathe, and have my being (Acts 17:24-28). I am, only because He is. He is my all in all.

I still miss Johnny, and I feel his absence deeply. But I’m not doing it alone. Ishi is with me.

“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “that you will call Me Ishi (my Husband) and will no longer call Me Baali (my Master).” — Hosea 2:16

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.

God’s Light in Dark Days

I’m going through a series of devotional studies on days of darkness in life, encouraging trust in God, the knowledge that He uses such seasons to prepare us for the purpose He has for us to live out in the light. God does not take us through the deep, sunless valley without working His good will through it. I believe this season of grief in the passing of my husband from this life to the next is such a valley.

These days are filled with the grief of missing him. Giving away his clothes was hard, but it was easier than seeing them set, unused in his absence. We don’t believe in letting such needful things remain in closets and drawers, rotting, when others can get good use out of them, so giving them in his memory was a blessing in this darkness. It shined a light that helps me see the goodness of God in these days.

Reminders of Johnny are everywhere, making me smile and hurting my heart at the same time. I reach in the cabinet for a glass to find the set bought specifically for him, ones more narrow and sculpted in a way his arthritic hands could more easily grasp, and tears fill my eyes. The kids moved his chair across the room for me, because I kept looking over expecting to see him there. The heartache, eased when I see it, by this simple act of loving kindness from my kids, them being God’s light of love to me in these days.

The heartache of closing out the imprint of Johnny’s labors as he worked hard to leave me in good shape to carry on, is constant within me. Though I smile, I can only hope the Son-shine is visible, for there is no sunshine in this heartache.

Some days I feel overwhelmed and alone. But in the midst of the worst of such days, God lovingly reminds me, “Yes. Though I walk through the deep, sunless valley of the shadow of death, I fear or dread no evil for You are with me. Your rod -to protect – and Your staff – to guide, they comfort me.” And He is clearly guiding me as I deal with these financial issues. (Ps. 23:4, AMPC)

God shines His light on my next place of footfall as He uses lawyers and accountants to help me navigate the financial and property transfers. He reaches out through loving, praying friends who help bring some sunshine to my dark days. One went with me yesterday, helping me go to the clinic and tend to business there, something I was finding too hard to do on my own. Another friend called, helping gear my heart to areas of church family gatherings where I can plug in. She also asked if we can get together next week for a meal. She is an acquaintance I don’t know well, but I look forward to knowing her better. It helps when others reach out a leading, loving hand and say, “come”. It gives light in the midst of the darkness.

God is helping me: protectively leading and guiding me. I’m seeing His light peeking through the heavy cover of this deep, sunless valley, shining, ever beaconing me through the darkness, assuring me that the other side is drawing closer.

There will always be days when missing my sweet man will bring the shadow. But life abundant and full continues as I trust God to do His good work in and through me. Even in this darkness, God is faithful, who will also do it. (Ps. 37:5)

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5‬:‭24‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Choose Now

Choose Now

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: 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.

Overeating vs. Biblical Gluttony

I am truly enjoying the devotional study by Alisa Keaton, The Wellness Revelation, 40 Day Journey. She makes excellent points that are helping me turn my heart to a healthier lifestyle. However, I disagree with some points on day 9. Knowing many who teach this understanding of overeating being the biblical sin of gluttony, I give my opinion based on past studies years ago by people whose names escape me, but who foever changed my focus on this battleground.

On day 9, covering what the author calls the sin of gluttony: This teaching I take issue with. The dictionary definition of gluttony as overeating used in this devo is not the biblical view of gluttony.

In Bible days, people would come together for celebrations that lasted days and centered around a constant supply of food and drink. In the guise of celebrating, many would drink to drunkenness and eat until they were so full they couldn’t take another bite. But the glutton didn’t stop there. These would make themselves throw up, emptying the stomach specifically so that they could continue their gluttonous celebration. This is not the illness experienced by the person struggling with bulimia, but the sin of the party animal. This is gluttony.

There are many issues in our lives that can lead to our overeating: bad habits formed from childhood; emotions centered on self; sin or health issues that need to be discovered having nothing to do with gluttony. Overeating is more often out of bad habits like the tendency to eat too fast, or a symptom of unrecognized sin or some mental or physical health issue that needs to be addressed.

Focusing a person on a lesser definition of gluttony when that is not the underlying issue causes their focus on food to turn to a whole different level of struggle, with the wrong enemy of their flesh targeted. And the person fighting a false understanding of biblical gluttony, who cannot get control because of ignoring the underlying cause of their symptom of overeating, falls to feelings of defeat and gives up a fight they never truly engaged in because they were standing on a battle line that was never the issue.

To win the battle of the bulge, we must discern the true issues we as individuals need to address and point our arrows at that target. Lifestyle changes take time and there are many victories on the way to the desired goals. Find a habit or a trigger point in your life with food and drink. Start there. Win that hill, then move to the next habit, sin, or health issue and target that. Maintain possession of victories won while focusing on the next goal. Little by little, hill by hill, feel better and grow stronger.

By the grace of God, you and He together have got this.

The Wellness Revelation 40-Day Journey’. Check it out here:

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: 8/9/22

“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.

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: 7/12/22

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.

Choose Love and Grace

“…heal instead of becoming bitter so you can act from your heart, not your pain.”

From experience I have learned that, my being prone to feelings of rejection or a sense of being judged by others because of past hurts, if I am not careful, I will choose to be offended where no offense was intended. Then I become the one who is passing judgment based on my sense of offense rather than seeking God’s truth regarding the other person and their opinion. Doing so closes my ears and causes me to refuse to seek God’s opinion about the insights and concerns of others, and then to deal improperly with a person who may be His messenger to my need. When that happens, I too easily become the offender. The hurting heart tends to hurt hearts.

God continues to teach me to choose love (1 Corinthians 13) and trust God to reveal truth. I am learning that sometimes others see something I am missing or refusing to realize. I need to allow God to help me evaluate their concerns and show me if it is wisdom and instruction from Him. My course has been rightly corrected many times as I refuse offense and seek God’s evaluation.

And there have been times when God showed me the misjudgment of another’s opinion, firming up my resolve. In these times, God always leads me to forgive the other person any offense I may feel, to keep loving and praying for them, remaining in right relationship with them.

The devil uses our tendency to offense to divide and conquer. God directs through wise discernment and love to unite and strengthen. Always choose love and grace over hate and offense. Let God deal with offense (Romans 12:14-21).

PS: I speak my concerns to people I feel love and care for. When I speak, it is out of a sense of God’s leading to do so. Offense is never my intent. Loving and encouraging others in wisdom and righteousness is my intent. I do so with prayer, trusting that I am speaking His truth, not my opinion, and with faith that God will lead the other person to His truth and His way for their situation. And I do so knowing that words from Him will prove true. God’s truth is all that matters.

God has taught me, if I am speaking His truth out of His leading with a right heart attitude and motive, a person refusing my words is truly a rejection of Him, not me. So, if my words are rejected, I have no need to be offended. God will prove whether the words are mine or His.

The thing that hurts more than the rejection of a person is when God tells me to stop speaking His truth to them. When God says to knock the dust off our feet and stop casting the pearls of His truths before those who trample them under foot, that is heart breaking.

We must be careful about choosing offense. Our offense may offend God.

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:37‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭33:33‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭28:9‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

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.

Draw Near to God

Looking out the kitchen window to the hill blocking view of the valley below, I recognize the need to top the hill if I want to know the valley layout. God is atop the hill of the deep, sunless valleys of life. Stick close to the Good Shepherd, and he will reveal the paths of life and point the way through the valley.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In difficult times, when it’s hard to see our blessings through the smokescreen of trouble, we must remember that “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.”

By His grace we have jobs and strength to work it. By His grace, He blesses our hands to put food on the table. For His glory we have family and friends to lift us up and bring joy to our days. Whatever little bit of good you see, thank God for it, knowing that God blesses us as we acknowledge our need of Him and recognize every good He gives, with gratefulness to Him for it.

God desires our good “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Our calling is to grow strong in our ability to recognize and trust the good that comes from Him, and to trust Him in the wait as He works good in the midst of trouble. So find every good today and give thanks to The Giver of Light to see by. 💗🤗🙏🏼

‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NASB; Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NASB

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. 💗🤗🙏🏼

Encourage Righteousness

“… Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:1-14‬ ‭NASB

I believe that Jesus loved the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day, enough-so that He refused to fear insulting them for their good and the good of those looking to their instruction. Our teaching, exemplary lives, and testimonies of faith matter to God the Father. To me, the greater insult and act of hate is to see a professing Christian bear a testimony that leads others away from God and say nothing for fear of offending them. Better for them to be offended by me, and me by them, than to face God after living offensively toward His Lordship, will, and way.

I also know that we are called to deal with our own issues first and to take care that our attempts to help another is not an act of hypocrisy. We are always to act out of sincere love and care, for the good of others and the glory of God. And I know that we do not always know and judge our own heart rightly. Sin is so deceptive, our own hearts so deceived, that we don’t often realize the sin we practice. Thus, encouraging and building one another up in love is vital when God the Father directs it.

Anytime I am led to encourage a loved one to rethink a position taken or word said, it makes me look at self and make adjustments too. Hope of encouraging righteous living in others, encourages and strengthens self first, as I apply the truths professed to my own life.

It is vital any word of encouragement to look at ones self and adjust direction be based on God’s judgment, standing in agreement with His Word of law, will, and way, and not one’s own ideology. Why should another be dictated by my personal sensitivities, or me, theirs. But all must bow to God’s will and way. Judgment must always be based on what God has already judged.

In these days of lawlessness and evil, self-reliance and personal offensiveness, it is vital that we help one another realize when we are walking in the ways of this world instead of on the paths of righteousness that honors God as God. So if you love me and care about my relationship with God and the testimony I bear, love me enough to encourage my righteousness, even though it may insult or offend me for a moment. If your viewpoint aligns with God’s, He will help me see that and change my ways. And I pray to love you enough to speak truth, according to God’s Word, to you in kind.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:15-17‬ ‭NASB

“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

When Jesus says “You”

“But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; YOU give them something to eat!”” (Matthew‬ ‭14:16‬ ‭NASB)

This instruction from Jesus to the disciples grabbed me today as the word “you” jumped off the page at me. I don’t believe God would have told His disciples to do something without a plan for their success. Yes. It’s a faith lesson for them – and for us. Do we trust God and have the faith of a mustard seed, capable of growth; and do we believe that God will respond to our faith, however small, so as to move the mountains that challenge us?

Have you ever had a time when someone showed up unexpectedly, just as you were finishing cooking dinner and were ready to sit down to it? Did God instruct your heart to feed the unexpected guests, though you knew there was insufficient supply? I have, several times. And God has not failed to amaze me as that food somehow was more than sufficient, even leaving leftovers.

If you have faith in God and the wisdom of the ants to receive His instruction and follow His lead in storing up for the coming “winter” (the season of life when supply will not meet the need for life without a storehouse), do so with faith. Trust Him to direct you in your saving for the time of need. And trust Him for His supply for those He might tell you to feed.

I’ve seen several express concern for those who don’t have the wisdom of ants for preparing for challenges we see coming. If you believe in God and know He has called you to prepare, let Him lead you to the amount you are to store up. Then trust Him. If He tells your heart, “YOU feed them,” “YOU clothe them,” “YOU tend to their need,” know He will be faithful to make provision for your obedience.

And if He does not impress on you to help someone yanking at your heart strings, believe that God, who knows what is best, has His purpose in withholding your aid. God may want them to turn to Him for supply. Or there may be another person in their life God wants to use.

The bottom line is, trust God, and follow His lead to the good He would have YOU do. And, as you follow Him, know that He has a plan to make your obedience adequate for His purpose.

‭‭James‬ ‭2:14-26‬ ‭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)

Serve God with Your Wealth

We cannot serve God and wealth, but we can, and should, serve God with our wealth. God is the one who graces us with the ability to make wealth, and He instructs us to be good stewards of it as servants of His manifold provision. When we look to making money as the means of meeting our needs, chasing money takes the place of God. When we chase God and seek to please and serve Him with all He supplies, He opens doors for the provision of all we need.

The better we are at serving God and keeping wealth as resource in that work for Him, the more He trusts us to handle the riches of this life for His glory. He doesn’t promise that we will be rich in this life, as the world measures riches, but He does promise our true needs will be met as He opens the storehouses of His provision to our faithful service to Him as God.

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

Unmerited Favor: All Powerful Supply

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭

Many people see grace and mercy as being the same things, but they aren’t. Scripturally, grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, distinctly different, and both necessary for redemption, sanctification, and the work of completion.

Mercy is what most use to define both. Mercy is unmerited favor. It is God’s work to protect, provide, and direct to good that we do not deserve – at all, nor can we. Mercy has nothing to do with our ‘do’ and everything to do with God’s ‘Who’. He loves us, therefore He gives us His mercy. He loves us, thus we experience Him deliver us from consequences our actions and choices deserve. When we are spared a just outcome to unrighteous choices and actions, that is mercy. Woo! The stories of mercy I could tell.

Grace is God’s power made perfect in our weakness, giving us strength and ability (2 Cor. 12:9). We cannot produce the fruit of God in our lives apart from His grace at work in and through us. We cannot serve God or know and do His will, His way without His grace powering it. We cannot even possess and work out of faith in God apart from His grace to power our faith. Mercy gifts us a measure of faith; grace empowers us to use that faith.

We cannot be saved apart from Mercy. And we cannot live Christ apart from grace. We cannot be right within ourselves without mercy; we cannot live outwardly the right mercy produces in us apart from grace pouring through us. Mercy saves. Grace sanctifies.

Selah

Pause, Ponder, Pray, Praise, Practice His Presence

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalms 1:1-2 NASB

The Selah moments in scripture are calls to practice Psalm 1:2. It is opportunity to meditate on what one just read. Meditation is only truly effective when done so as to place within our hearts the truths of God for use in living Him out into our daily lives. If the Selah does not change us and direct us, it is wasted.

Psalms are chalked full of Selah pauses, but the Spirit of God also calls us to “Selah” – stopping us at some passage we need to understand in facing the day or a situation in life. We must be alert to God’s call to Selah: pause-ponder-pray-praise-practice so as to put on Christ.

One such moment happened to me while reading in Isaiah. In chapter 46, the Spirit of God tweaked my heart as I read verse 25. I recognized that sensation and noted the verse, but continued on. God’s Spirit wouldn’t have that. He kept drawing me back to it, 5 times, 6 times, until I finally stopped with a “What? What, Lord? What are you trying to show me?” That is the day I learned that forgiving as God forgives means forgiving “for my own sake,” so my effectiveness in fulfilling the purposes of God in relationships is not hindered or stopped by bitterness, anger, or such show-stopping issues as a desire for vengeance.

Selah moments are vital for spiritual growth and commitment to following God through life’s challenges. Selah moments grow us in areas significant for things coming into our lives. Selah moments empower knowledge of God and His ways, making us more like Him.

When God inspires a Selah moment: Pause and reread it; Ponder what is said; Pray for understanding of what God desires to teach you and how it fits in your day; Praise God for truths revealed and for His love in teaching you; Put on Christ by putting the truths revealed into Practice. Write it down or bookmark it to revisit it until satisfied that our Spirit-Teacher is finished instructing our hearts. This is Selah.

We are going to spend some time looking at the Selah moments in Psalms. And I may share some personal Selahs with you along the way. The goal is to fine tune our seeking after God through the ministry of The Teacher. God sent His inspired, Living, Life giving Word to teach us about Himself and His ways. Selah, pause and calmly think on that. Are you an effective student of God’s Word under the tutelage of His Holy Presence?

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