April 29, 2010

My Shield

"He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me."

Psalm 144:2


"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight."

Proverbs 3:5-6


"But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

Isaiah 43:1-3



I woke up early this morning and had the most wonderful time of worship before my day started. Lately those moments have been rare but not this morning. This morning God pressed upon my heart verses that I needed to be reminded of as promises from Him.

This past Sunday at church before taking communion, we were told to think about what God is to us at this particular time in our life. Immediately comforter came to mind and so this morning, I took time to think of all the things that He has been for me during this scary time in my life.

He is my refuge, my shelter, my shield, my protector, my comfort, my fortress, my stronghold and the One who loves me like no other.

My refuge and shield: In His arms, I find safety and have no need to fear.

"I hate double-minded men,
but I love your law.

You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.

Away from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commands of my God!"

Psalm 119:113-115


My comforter: Because of God's great love for me, He bestows His comfort and compassion upon me when I hurt.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort"

1 Corinthians 1:3

My fortress: He is the foundation for which I can stand and find strength.

"But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge."

Psalm 94:22

My stronghold: He is the One I can cling to in times of trouble.

"The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble."

Psalm 37:39

I have no reason to fear though life seems scary right now, because my God is always right there with me. No matter what circumstances surround me, my trust is in Him and in that, I can find peace knowing that if I fully surrender to His will and give Him complete control of my situation, there is hope. He is my hope.

April 22, 2010

By Their Fruit

Judging Others


"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

A Tree and Its Fruit

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:30-45


Just a reminder when reading that passage that Jesus spoke those verses. He was our perfect example and we are to live our lives when we profess to be His follower in a way that is reflective of Him.


I truly believe that the way we speak to other people and about other people is a true reflection to the condition of our heart. Scripture says that we will be known by our fruit.

"Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

Matthew 7:19-21

What is our fruit? When we invite Christ into our lives, we are then filled with the Holy Spirit and thus gain the fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) What does your fruit say about you?

April 21, 2010

Strength for Today


 


 

"Do you not know? 
       Have you not heard? 
       The LORD is the everlasting God, 
       the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
       He will not grow tired or weary, 
       and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary 
       and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary, 
       and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD 
       will renew their strength. 
       They will soar on wings like eagles; 
       they will run and not grow weary, 
       they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:28-31


 

No matter how bleak my situation may look from where I stand, God ultimately has a plan prepared for my life. I can find peace in the knowledge that He knows the outcome of all things and I can trust that His ways are best for me. He may not always answer my prayers immediately and many times, I find myself waiting, for His perfect plan to unfold in His perfect time, which allows my faith in Him to grow. I can trust in His promises because I have hope in the Lord.

April 19, 2010

Crooked Path

"A fool shows his annoyance at once, 
       but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

  A truthful witness gives honest testimony, 
       but a false witness tells lies.

  Reckless words pierce like a sword, 
       but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

Proverbs 12:16-18


 

"I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you." 

1 Chronicles 29:17


 

"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity."

Proverbs 11:3


 

"The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out."

Proverbs 10:9


 

"A truthful witness gives honest testimony, 
       but a false witness tells lies."

Proverbs 12:17


 

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

Exodus 20:16


 

I spent some time talking to my kids about honesty and integrity and watched as they squirmed a little when we talked about lying. They can all quote Exodus 20:16 and do it quite often when one of them is caught in a lie but I wanted them to know that there is more behind that one verse found in the Ten Commandments.

Kids will oftentimes lie when they think they may get in trouble for something they have done and that is a horrible trait to carry into adulthood. When we choose to lie, we lose someone's trust. Once we have lost that trust, it cripples the relationship. There is a quote that says, "Trust is like a vase, once it is broken, though you can fix it the vase will never be the same again" and I find this quote to be quite true. I believe that God can fix anything but we are human and trust plays a significant role in our relationships. Once someone has lied to us, it becomes very hard for us to believe anything else that is said. It takes time to rebuild that trust and even then, there may be times we still question their words.

One thing I have taught my children is that it is always better for them to tell the truth when they have done something wrong then for me to catch them in a lie. I want them to know that in order for our relationship to be good, I have to be able to trust them. Lying destroys relationships and ruins character. Scripture tells us that a false witness will not go unpunished and that those who lie will perish. Quite a severe punishment for dishonesty but it is important to know that God takes it very seriously and that our integrity is important to Him.

"A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will perish."

Proverbs 19:9

When we lie, it speaks to the condition of our hearts. Luke 6:45 says "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
Lying speaks volumes to the state of our spiritual well-being. If we are walking in truth and know what is right then the words from our mouth are that of truth and not destruction. God tests our hearts and knows our intent and when we seek honesty, He is pleased with our character.

I watched as what I was saying finally sunk into my kids heads. You may think you are lying to mommy but God always knows the truth and nothing can be kept from Him. Better to tell me the truth and please not just mommy but God as well.


 


 


 

April 12, 2010

Double-minded man

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

James 1:2-8


I have never experienced this passage more than I am right now. God is testing my faith in Him through one of the biggest trials I have ever experienced in my life. I am standing on the edge in this very moment and I must choose whether to grab His hand and trust that He will provide and get me through or just completely stand on my own and hope I can do it better.

God allows these moments to come in order for us to learn how to totally rely on Him. We cannot rely on human strength to get us through the hard times because we cannot see the big picture, the total outcome of our situation. God has a plan and knows exactly what He is doing and so there is peace and strength to endure if we choose to fall into His arms and let Him take control of our situation.

This is much easier said than done, I know. It requires completely letting go and surrendering every part of our situation to Him. It is being assured that He knows what is best for me and only wants good for my life. I do not have to walk blindly through my circumstances but instead trust that with each step I take, He is right there beside me, showing me which way to go, holding my hand and loving me. When the world turns its back, He is there walking right along side of me.

Because I know He is there, there is a peace that passes all understanding and I am able to persevere even through the toughest of times. I have no reason to be anxious because I know that when I present by requests to Him, He hears me and will guard my heart and mind. For this, I have a reason to rejoice!!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:4-7

April 8, 2010

Turn from evil

My world has been turned upside down and tonight I have spent time looking up verses on peace. It is amazing how spending time in God's word can calm the heart. There are evil people in this world deceived by the lies of Satan that will justify the hurt that they cause to others. It is a sad and lonely place to find yourself but God's justice will one day rectify the hurt that has been caused.

"Thank you God for Your love and peace to calm my hurt and fear during such troubling times. Soften the heart of those that have become hardened towards You and help them to find their way back. Amen"


And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:14-16


But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:26-27



the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;

the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace." '

Numbers 6:25-26



I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.

My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.

This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,

keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.

Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;

the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;

he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.

The LORD redeems his servants;
no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him

Psalms 34


A patient man has great understanding,
but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 14:29-31

April 2, 2010

Filthy Rags

Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and made us waste away because of our sins.

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look upon us, we pray,
for we are all your people.

Isaiah 64:4-9


Who are we to think that we can stand before a Holy God? Who are we to think that anything we do, any work we accomplish is good in the eyes of God? Not one of us "is good" or "does good" in the sight of God.

A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother."

"All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"

Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!"

"I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."

Luke 18:18-30

Though we may think that we are living in a godly and upright way, all that we do, "all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags". (Isaiah 63:6) There is nothing in life that we can do which makes us righteous before God. We are sinful creatures and no matter how hard we attempt to live an honest, moral life, we will always fail.


We all are unclean and filthy from our sin and cannot stand in the presence of God on our own. Because God loved us so incredibly much, He sent His only Son Jesus to die in our place so that our sins would be forgiven. The blood of Christ covers us and we are made clean.


Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
"Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him."

Romans 4:4-8


It is only because of the blood of Christ that our feeble attempts at being righteous become enough. Nothing that we do makes us presentable before God but because of the blood of Christ, our sins are forgiven, and we are clean, pure, and blameless before Him.


"Doing the right thing" will never be enough before God. Though we are not holy, we are called to live a holy life that is pleasing to God (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)
and only because of the blood of Christ and His work, His death on the cross are we presentable before God.


We are finite in our thinking. We read the Bible and think that what we interpret it to say is what it is and if others do not follow or believe exactly as we do then they must be lost or completely wrong in their thinking. This was my thinking for many years. I thought I had a clear understanding of all God wanted from me and knew exactly what He wanted me to do. At times I chose to listen to those around me for direction because I thought they knew just like I did about what God wanted for me but God has shown me differently. I have spent years making decisions based on what other people would think about me, not wanting to disappoint or look bad but over the past year God has clearly shown me that my choices should only matter to Him. I've learned that only God knows my heart, He knows every tear I have cried, every struggle I have had to endure, every circumstance in my life making only Him capable of telling me which way it is I am to go.


Through the commotion of "the crowd" around me wanting to give advice, I am reminded that they too, just like me are sinful and filthy before God. I cannot trust every word that comes from the mouth of another because they are not God and do not know every detail that has taken place within the circumstances that surround me. There is only one voice above the chatter of the crowd saying to me…..


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight."

Proverbs 3:5-6


"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, they are plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:6-7


I have realized that the place I have found myself recently is because of choices I have made over many years. I believe God's hand has been on me but that He allowed me to choose my own way. Many times the choices I made were wrong and have led me down a winding path where I have ended up lost, confused, and not sure which way to go. There are many voices calling out trying to get me to do what they think is best and sometimes those voices only lead me deeper into confusion. Scripture tells me that in order for my path to be straight, I must acknowledge God and trust Him will all of my heart. He alone knows the plans that He has for my life and though I may have detoured from the original path that He set before me, by choosing to listen to Him and trusting His ways now, He will not harm me and will give me hope and a future. Knowing those things, I have no reason to be anxious about all the decisions that are surrounding me at this time in my life.


With each step I take, I know that as I present every need and request to God, His peace will fill my life in a way that only I and no one else will understand. He will guard my heart and my mind because He is God, He does love me, and He knows my every need, my every hurt, my every tear, my every circumstance.