Sacrifice of Praise

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2 Samuel 24:24 – “…I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt sacrifices that cost me nothing.”

Hebrews 13:15 – “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”

I missed blogging one day this week and as I was driving, the Lord whispered to my heart, “bring me the sacrifice of praise”.  I started to ponder this word sacrifice and wondered if my praise was truly a sacrifice – truly what God desired.  I am grateful that we no longer need to offer animals to pay for our sin.  I think our family dog is grateful, too.  I tease my family that we would be having barbeques 24/7 if we were still under the Old Testament law, to cover all of our iniquities.  Not barbeques with meat we casually purchase on sale from Wal-Mart, no, live animals slaughtered because of our sin.  I fear, though, that we are so far away from the Old Testament that the meaning and significance of sacrifice is lost today. Do we take for granted the high cost paid for each and every sin committed?  I want to be ever mindful of God’s very life laid down when I am tempted to sin.  I do not want to cheapen the grace given to me by permitting or excusing sin, no, the sacrifice which was completely free to me was much more costly than that kind of treatment.  It is this awareness that makes me so grateful that I burst into praise and meditate on God’s unparalleled greatness and mercy.  A sacrifice of praise.

Perhaps most of the time, though, I can go through the motions, if I really am reflective enough to consider my praise.  I have been worshiping God for over 26 years as my Savior and even though every time I have the privilege of leading worship at church and have moments of being in awe of God, I daresay it falls short of a sacrifice.  Sacrifice speaks of cost – it is not easy, it is not mere duty.  Much like a spouse would not be thrilled with a passionless love, our God deserves an all-consuming passion; He deserves our very best.

Abel understood what it meant to give his best – he was thrilled and eager to do so.  David, too, said he could not give something if it did not cost him.  How beautiful.  Today, when I am cognizant of my sin and need for God’s covering, I cannot slaughter an animal, but I can die to self.  To be a living sacrifice – dying daily to the flesh, consecrated to the Lord moment by moment, that is something that glorifies God.  The symbolism of the death in the Old Testament is lived out today as believers no longer live for their own way, but offer themselves to God and let Christ reign in them.

Mankind was the same then as today – people sometimes tried to offer crippled animals or not the best of what they had to pay the required atonement.  May God help us to never grow too familiar with His amazing gift and to endeavor to live lives worthy of His perfect sacrifice.  May we fear God and seek to give Him our first fruits and not rationalize our actions away that fall short of His glory, but instead run to Him and offer our sacrifice of praise, praying that He will once again cover us with His love.

Lord, thank You that You have forgiven my sins and shown me how to love sacrificially.  Help us to honor You with our very best and never lose our zeal.  May we worship You with all our hearts in full abandon.



A Test for the Heart

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Proverbs 17:3“The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the LORD tests the hearts.”

Jeremiah 17:10 – “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

1 Chronicles 29:17a – “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.

Deuteronomy 8:2 – “And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

Test day – usually a day of apprehension, even if you have prepared thoroughly.  Will your preparation be enough?  What if you do not pass?  What is the purpose of testing?  As a homeschool mom, it has been an amazing adventure to watch my children grow from exposure to various curricula to mastery of many subjects.  Sometimes it seems futile – “why learn all of these facts we will never use in real life?” is the repeated cry within our walls, but the application of many subjects becomes evident in time.  But testing the heart cannot be done by hooking up to a heart monitor, no, the Word of God and trials are able to shed light on the true condition of our hearts.

Sometimes a student can fantasize about supposed sinister motives of professors, seeking to entrap students and trip them up, but I love contemplating the LORD’s motives for testing us – He wants to reward us.  He is not seeking to expose our evil for exposition’s sake – He wants to rid of us our evil and then encourage us in the things that are pleasing in His sight.  What a good God!  He wants to remove the burden of sin and set us free.  Testing us reveals the inner motives that need to be purged and removes the dross from our lives.

While God allows in testing, He does not tempt anyone, nor is He tempted with evil, but when we triumph over those evil things that are permitted into our lives, He is pleased and truly glorified.  We and others see that our faith is genuine – deeply rooted in a vibrant relationship with our living God.  Rather than despising the testing, submitting to God and seeking His purpose within and responding in humility and surrender can cause the testing to be fruitful.  Resenting the testing will likely bring more tests your way and not be fun. 

So what should be our response?  Delight hardly seems plausible or genuine, but perhaps our view of delight is skewed.  I remember making a deal with the LORD when I was a new Christian.  I would serve Him if I never had a miscarriage and never had any children with severe allergies.  Laugh out loud.  Embarrassing to admit, but true.  When I lost my second child due to a miscarriage, God warned me ahead of time and the trust and peace I had in Him when it happened amazed me.  “In His faithfulness, He afflicts those He loves.”  Of course I was sad and did not want to suffer such a loss, but I never felt more loved by my God.  Make sense to the world?  Probably not, but I had learned in that trial to trust God’s hand and purposes even in suffering. I would later find that my firstborn was afflicted with Celiac Disease – far worse than allergies.  What a merciful God to reveal the disease, that we might help heal her.  Perspective.

If everything was easy and we never sought to challenge ourselves, how would we grow?  And character growth is a beautiful sight to behold, indeed.  Testing produces good fruit for those engage in the process.  Pop quizzes are not fun at all – they seem unfair in that one did not have sufficient time to prepare.  Likewise, perhaps the next trial to come will take you by surprise, but it doesn’t surprise God – He already knows it completely and knows the end.  Let the peace of Christ fall on us in that promise.  Preparation for whatever the future holds is now.  Seize the day and invest your life in God.  The word you memorize today might be the grace you need tomorrow. 

Lord, help us to recognize our need for growth and to yield to You in the process of trials that come our way.  Thank You that Your purposes are always good in them and that we will come out of the trial refined like silver for Your glory!

Children of the Promise

Galatians 4:22, 23, 28-31

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.  23  But one, the son by the slave woman, was born by natural descent, while the other, the son by the free woman, was born through the promise.  28  But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac.  29  But just as at that time the one born by natural descent persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is now.  30  But what does the Scripture say?  “Throw out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son” of the free woman.  31  Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.

Sibling rivalry.  Nonsensical and yet so commonplace.  It was present in the first two brothers in all creation, Cain and Abel.  It is present now, played out on the world stage in the Middle East.  Envy was at the root then and it is now.  As a parent, I seek to stamp it out, but it is hard to convince our flesh that it is ok when one is seemingly blessed more than another.  Man shakes his fist accusingly at God when he thinks that he has been unfairly treated, and yet what does it mean for us to be fairly treated?  Why would any of us ever deserve favor from God?  But I digress.

Each day as I open God’s word, I see evidences of God’s favor and the resulting envy on the part of those not a part of His promise.  I see it on the evening news.  People perceiving that they are owed something.  People blaming another people group pretty much for existing.  What is difficult for man to accept is that God chose a people – His people – to be the apple of His eye.  It is His prerogative to choose – He is the Creator, after all. He chose to grant Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac.  They took matters into their own hands and had Ishmael.  But God was not going to bless the action done outside of His will.  He knew from the beginning what His plan was and His plans have never gone unfulfilled.

The amazing thing these other people groups neglect to see is that all people groups can be a part of the promise.  It was through Israel that all nations would be blessed.  I am a part of the promise, though I am not Jewish.  Grafted in, adopted as one of His own – I will never understand why such undeserved mercy was granted to me.  While the favor God granted to the Israelites might appear unfair – we all want to be chosen as the captain of the team – God knew Abraham’s heart – He is omniscient and His purposes are so far above ours.

The spirit behind the envy is the same spirit as the ancient enemy of our souls – he was jealous of God’s place and wanted to be like the Most High.  So the enemies of God’s people foolishly think they can take the place of God’s chosen.  Their plot is evil and will end up with the same result as the devil – forever cursed to hell.  May God open their eyes to see that the One they are persecuting is God Himself. 

Lord, help us to shine Your light and love to all peoples.  Anyone Who calls on the Name of the Lord may be saved.  The days are evil, but You are still calling people to Yourself.  Please use even this evil circumstance to draw even more to Yourself.  You are good, God, all the time!

The Strength of Weakness

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Galatians 4:13

“But you know it was because of a physical illness that I first proclaimed the gospel to you, and though my physical condition put you to the test, you did not despise or reject me.”

Weakness.  Despised by our culture and not something to be proud of.  Yet it was physical infirmity that first propelled Paul to share the Gospel with the Galatians.  Paul’s weakness is not known – perhaps the recent stoning he was subjected to, or a sickness of some sort.  Either way, it was an uncomfortable distraction that God used.  God had chosen to use weak vessels before.  He even came as an infant Himself – the most fragile state of humanity, in a crude rustic dwelling.  Why?  It does not make sense to our sophisticated culture or ways that God, Who is Almighty God and Creator, would allow Himself to be taken care of by weak humans.

But the wisdom of God confounds our supposed insight and ways.  It seems to me that Paul could have done even more for the kingdom of God if he were physically well, but then sometimes when we operate in our own strength we do not see our need of God and take for granted the health we do have.  Sickness humbles you and that is a gift in disguise.  Oh, I know, I sound so pious saying it is a gift – surely I cannot mean it.  But it is, in fact, in the midst of some of the most humbling health challenges that I have felt the closest to God.  Now that makes it all worth it.  Add to that being able to help another soul struggling along because you have been there – incomparable to having a perfect pain-free life. 

Oh, sure, it hurts, and sometimes I wonder why.  But the struggle is part of living – the highs and lows, the joys, triumphs and sorrows.  Where would I know the comfort of God if it were not for those precious moments of deep pain?   Oh, I could wish that I would not have to feel the throbbing sting of impertinent diseases, but I trust my Savior’s hand, and I know that I know He will never let a trial or a pain go unused for my good and His glory.  I find myself in a similar situation as Paul. God still births songs and devotions in my heart to share with people, and simultaneously I am battling physical battles, as well.  I am not sure if autoimmune diseases were around in Paul’s time, but whatever affliction Paul had, it was significant and it affected him.  His illness made sharing the Gospel harder, but it was also a catalyst for his mission and the growth of the church in Galatia.

Why does God allow in sickness, hardship, things which are a stigma in our culture?  The rain falls on the good and the bad.  Now, I am not calling myself good – God calls righteous those who are covered by the blood of His Son.  If unbelievers see the rain falling on Christians, who turn around and praise God while it is raining, doesn’t that provide a beautiful display of God’s grace in the fire?  So it’s raining right now, and I am choosing to sing in the rain.  My body hurts and it makes it harder to do normal things, but I will praise His Name and look for His deliverance!  If you feel like you cannot keep going on, lean harder on Jesus and know that He is able to grant you strength beyond what you could ever imagine.  You never know, you might even find yourself doing something crazy like thanking Him for the very thing you despised.

Jehovah Rapha, I thank You that You are my Healer.  You have healed me before and I look to You again as my Healer – spiritually and physically.  I thank you for this thorn in my flesh and pray that You are honored and glorified in it.  Please help those who are hurting and doubting Your goodness when life is challenging.  Give them Your hope and joy.


The Trusting Fool

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Jeremiah 17:5, 7

“The Lord says, ‘I will put a curse on people who trust in mere human beings, who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, and whose hearts have turned away from the LORD.  7 My blessing is on those people who trust in me, who put their confidence in me.  10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds.  I examine people’s hearts.  I deal with each person according to how he has behaved.  I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.'”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6

Trusting in a God who is not visible seems impractical in our sophisticated world.  Laughter perhaps emerges from others over our foolishness to place our faith in God as our Deliverer rather than something or someone seen.  It seems naive, fantasaical, maybe even crazy.  It is far easier to depend on flesh and blood – a relative, a friend, a government.  But what happens when these are unreliable?  Seeking to protect ourselves from being let down by others, we attempt to be self-sufficient.  That does not work for long, either.  What are we afraid of?  Why not trust God with every aspect of our lives?  Perhaps we are even afraid of God letting us down.  Is He really good?  Does He really control everything?  Why does He permit difficulties in our lives and seemingly tolerate evil?  Can He be trusted?

It might seem harsh to think of being cursed by God for leaning on someone else.  Depending on a friend or a family member seems harmless enough.  In fact, a brother is born for times of adversity.  So why such strong language in the above verse?  The hearts of God’s people had turned away from the LORD – because of looking to someone else for salvation.  Worshiping the false god Baal, God’s people stooped to offering their own children in flames and participating in cannibalism.  While the level they sank to seems like something we would never do, are we guilty of equivalent actions by our heart serving false gods, too?  Are we diligent to protect our children from the influence of the world, or do we offer them up to the god of this culture – materialism, entertainment or comfort?

It can start easily enough – we are tired and worn – maybe a little entertainment will bring some relief.  The gradual drift away from running to God becomes a craving to be numb from pain, maybe sprinkled with a little country club Christianity or religion.  But these things were never meant to satisfy the God-placed hole in our heart that can only be satisfied by knowing God.  God does not want us to be deceived – He alone is the One Who supplies all we need. He used other people and organizations to provide for us, but it is Him – the One Who made us, the One Who saved us, who we need to place our trust in.  A job is not our Provider – it is a vehicle of provision.  A generous friend or family member is not our Savior – God moved on their heart to bless.  So how do we place our trust and confidence in God?  By going before Him, crying out and searching His Word.

There are so many testimonies of God’s goodness and answers to prayers, I could fill a novel.  But one case in particular, I hope will encourage your heart that God is trustworthy and will never let you down.  His answer might not be what you want, but He will carry you through all of life’s trials.  I was twenty-six and expecting with my daughter, Deborah, when the doctors informed me that the pregnancy was going to end in another miscarriage.  My spirit said differently.  I opened God’s Word and placed my trust and confidence in Him.  I also did practical things such as resting, but the blood work continued to show that the pregnancy was not viable.  The doctors insisted that they would need to give me a shot to reabsorb the fetus – it was not a valid pregnancy.  I declined their solution and told them I knew God was going to save my child.  They called me a fool for trusting God.  Deborah is now a lovely 18-year-old with a lot of wisdom and love for God.  I thank God for His promises and for being a living God, an ever-present help in times of trouble.

There are also testimonies of God allowing hardship in, but amazing faith and grace to walk through them.  Comfortable?  No – but at peace.  Do you need hope today?  It can be hard to keep that optimistic spirit alive when troubles abound, but our confidence can be in the Alpha and Omega, the One Who has always been and will always be.  No matter what surrounds us, we can trust in and be encompassed about by the living God.  There are a lot of fools who have gone before us – who did not belong to this world and who lived lives that glorified God.  This great cloud of witnesses might not have been esteemed by man, but the fellowship with God they shared sustained them and ultimately led them to eternal bliss in Heaven.  God loves us so very much, and wants to walk through this amazing gift called life with us.  We can trust Him because of His character – He is Who He says He is – trustworthy, faithful and loving.  Let’s put down the false idols and trust solely in God!

Lord, thank you that you are trustworthy.  Thank you for modeling dependency on the Father and help us to walk with You.

Thoughtful Thursday: Forgiveness


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Proverbs 17:9

“The one who forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends.”

Proverbs 17:9

“The one who loves a quarrel loves transgression; whoever builds his gate high seeks destruction.”

Proverb 18:18

“A toss of a coin ends disputes, and settles the issue between strong opponents.:

Proverbs 18:19

“A relative offended is harder to reach than a strong city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a fortified citadel.”

Driving to court once again in a vicious court battle, I heard the same song I heard every time I was headed to court, protecting my children: “Forgiveness” by Matthew West.  My children and I had been wronged, then we were dragged to court, but what God wanted most from me was to let go of any bitterness and to forgive.  Right smack dab in the middle of being the recipient of more false accusations and the agony of court, God wanted me to let the hurt, anger and bitterness go.  I did.  Even more difficult to let go of was wishing the other side would apologize for the drama they put us through.  But seeking satisfaction by wanting someone else to say you are right can be self-worship and narcissistic.  The dispute really is not what it appears on the surface.

Solomon reports on the folly of quarrels and reveals the hidden motives and attitudes.  If we love to quarrel, we love sin?  Wow.  But sometimes, despite the fact that you have communicated forgiveness, a relative can remain offended.  (Side note – isn’t it funny that it is a relative?  It can also, of course, be a stranger or a friend).  Or sometimes boundaries have to be in place to protect you from further offense.  What then?  In one breath I wish we could do as verse 18 says and flip a coin.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Heads – the matter is resolved in your favor.  But would that satisfy our inner desire to be right?  Would that stop all harmful behavior?  What if the coin toss was not in our favor?  The lot is cast and its every decision is from the LORD – could we accept that?  Probably not.  Even winning in court does not resolve the matter.  

We want justification, we want disagreements fairly resolved.  But perhaps our sense of justice is not just?  If we repeat a matter over and over again seeking justification, perhaps we are trying to not just prove it to ourselves but garner and groom an audience for our glory?  Yuck.  Being right is not as beautiful as it once seemed.  Assuredly, there are times when a disagreement was truly more one person’s fault than the other, but the liberation that comes from laying down an unresolved dispute is sweet.  Give it over to the only perfectly wise, all-knowing God.  Let go of pursuing vindication in anyone’s eyes but His.

So the end of the matter?  Crucify the flesh and give up the right to be right.  Lay it down at the Master’s feet and forgive.  Do what you can to promote unity, but have boundaries.  Sometimes the relationship just isn’t healthy and no amount of coin tossing or extensive conversations could ever resolve the matter.  Simply put, everyone is not going to like you.  Every disagreement does not end happily.  People can choose to remove you from their lives, or you have to remove them from your life if it is a toxic relationship.  Get over it and focus on what is really important – living to please God and loving those God has placed in your life.  Move on from harboring resentment and focus on the positive things in your life.  Instead of turning thoughts and discussions over in your mind, dwell on Scriptures.  After some time and distance has transpired since the situation, go afresh to God and see if there was any wrong you committed.  Confess it and forgive yourself.  We can communicate love and forgiveness, but sometimes the person who has chosen to hate you or hold a grudge against you prefers their assumed victim status, or maybe, just maybe, we were the problem, after all.  Ultimately, a clear conscience is far more rewarding than living a fantasy full of bitterness.

Lord, help us to surrender our desire to be proved right.  You are the only One Righteous One.  May we forgive others as You have so freely forgiven us.

The Worthy One

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Psalm 86:10, 15

“For You are great and do amazing things.  You alone are God.  15  But You, O LORD, are a compassionate and merciful God.  You are patient and demonstrate great loyal love and faithfulness.”

Buried in a mountain of paperwork all day, I had to emerge with the intent of my heart this morning of blogging what I discovered with the Psalmist today, on this wonderful “Worshipful Wednesday”.  As I was reflecting on what it means to worship God – really worship Him, I was reminded of the definition of worship.  The first definition that popped up on Google was interesting – “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity”.  Wow.  In today’s society we worship many things – comfort, food, clothing, fashion, materialism, but this definition got it mostly right – only a deity – rather, THE one true Deity, God Almighty, is worthy of worship and the rightful recipient of worship.

God is worthy of our worship, but I daresay we miss the privilege of reflecting on that worth often as we barely tarry long enough in His presence.  So what is worship?  For me it is my eyes filled with tears daily as I write these devotionals, as I marvel at how good God is.  It is an inner joy and delight when I think of Him.  It is gratitude filling my soul to the brim.  It is contentment when sorrow is overwhelming.  It is simply thinking on Him and His word and proclaiming in my spirit and out loud truths about how worthy of praise God is.  It is choosing to worship Him when my soul is burdened.  He is too much for me to fully contemplate or comprehend.  Why, oh why, did He choose to have mercy on me? I am undone.

Words are casually used today.  People proclaim that objects, people or circumstances are “amazing” or “awesome”.  We can quickly apply such terms to God, but if it is not sincere, it become an overused term lacking passion, zeal and the love that God deserves.  Pause and take time to read the verse above.  Really read it.  What great and amazing things has God done in, for and through you?  Have we recognized His amazing acts or have they gone unnoticed?  Do we take for granted the goodness of God?  Our gardens should grow, our cars should work, our bank accounts should be full . . . but when things things do not come to pass, do we still worship Him?  Or are we sunshine Christians who worship halfheartedly or only when things are blessed in our eyes?

Oh, savor His compassion and mercy, that He did not destroy us.  His patience, forbearance, loyalty and faithfulness that are so much more than we deserve. 

Oh God, I worship You alone!  I proclaim Your worth, Your magnificent Holiness!  Draw us near to You that we may worship You in spirit and in truth!


He is Enough

Exodus 16:12 “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites.  Tell them, ‘During the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread, so that you may know that I am the LORD your God.‘  19  “Moses said to them, ‘no one is to keep any of it until morning.’  20 But they did not listen to Moses; some kept part of it until morning, and it was full of worms and began to stink, and Moses was angry with them.” 

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Enough.  What is enough?  Who determines what is enough?  I can relate to the Israelites here – our tendency is to judge them for not trusting and trying to gather more – kind of gluttonous – but I daresay we all do the same thing.  With a miracle like bread coming from the sky and God promising to give them just what they need, one could rest secure, right?  Yet with similar provision from God that might appear less miraculous, we also can resist dependence on God and place our confidence in our own ability to make enough preparations. 

Don’t get me wrong – preparation is not a bad thing.  Boy Scouts everywhere boast of the necessity of being prepared.  (o:  In fact, lack of preparation is being slack and not a good character quality at all.  But what I am talking about is more a motive of the heart than diligence.  God permitted the Israelites to gather twice the amount before the Sabbath so they could rest – and the worms did not come, nor did the stench reminiscent of gathering too much on previous days.  God had them work to gather food, but He was the source of that food.  He wanted to be their Provider in relationship with His creation. 

Perhaps it is not about trusting whether or not God will provide, but whether or not His provision will line up with what we think we need.  Trusting His goodness, wisdom and sovereignty to see our need and meet it.  When my husband was laid off in 2012, we had no savings.  Poor planning, you might say, but difficult circumstances had acquired any extra income and now we were facing an uncertain time.  Would God provide?  Oh yes!  Just days later, we would receive income sufficient for the time God had placed on my heart – 8 months with no steady income.  Random checks in the mail, a booming garden, and miraculous gifts of food that were exactly what my heart desired, proved to me that God cared about the little details.  Friends could not have known that I missed feta cheese and coconut oil, for I had only told the LORD that – but I received those two items from several friends who felt “led” to give them to me.  We had so much in the garden that I was able to bless people back who had blessed us.

I look back at that time with gratitude and joy.  Uncertain times, but a peace and faith that God granted in the midst.  The Israelites had just experienced God’s amazing deliverance by His parting of the sea.  Now God was testing their hearts – He wanted them to know that He was the Lord their God.  If the trials and testings never came, we would not value the provision that God sends.  We would not be satisfied if we never knew want.  The element of trusting in God and His promises for provision is the core message.  We all do not like to be uncomfortable and our flesh can quickly accuse God when He allows in discomfort, until we recognize it is His loving hand and a heart that desires to have fellowship with us.

One last thing – when someone makes a promise to provide, one usually would want to know for certain that they have the ability to provide.  A borrower wants to be assured that the lender is able to supply his request.  To doubt the capability of the living God to provide – Creator of all and the owner of all on this planet – is lunacy.  He has more than enough and is able to do far beyond what we ever could imagine.  To doubt His goodness to provide is also insanity.  Goodness does not equal giving us everything we want.  We might not be able to go see a movie or go out to eat whenever we want, but that pales in comparison to true needs.  Don’t despise the moments of needing to lean on God more.  Recognizing our need of Him is the greatest gift of all.

Dear Lord, please grant us perspective to see Your purposes and not just the surface we are experiencing.  Thank You that You provided Your Son when we were yet Your enemies.  Thank You for Your steadfast love and care.


The Gift of Law

The Law

Galatians 3:19, 22, 24 “Why then was the law given?  It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise has been made.  22  But the Scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin that the promise could be given – because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ – to those who believe.  24  Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. 

Psalm 119:97-98 “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine.…”.

The wise Psalmist realized it was a blessing to have God’s law.   Paul saw the gift of the law, leading us to the Promise of God.  Kenneth Starr proclaimed those same words, “I love the law” during the Clinton impeachment hearings/investigation.  Persecuted because he would not acquiesce to the political correctness or the dumbed-down lines of what is right or wrong, he stood firmly on the side of truth.  But not everyone feels the same about the law. 

Our natural flesh recoils at the word “law”.  Images of children defying the boundaries laid out for them because they do not want their spirit to be ruled are similar to the very real rebellion we have today.  Seeking freedom from control, our society is ironically controlled by our lack of control – enslaved by the very chains we were trying to break. Seemingly confining, the law is an enigmatic blessing; it imposes a righteous standard, exposes our sinfulness and need of a Savior.  Without the law I would not know what is right or be able to see my sin.  Lawlessness would rule and violations would escalate. 

With boundaries comes freedom.  Monetarily, if I stay within my budget and have leftovers, I am free to use that money toward ends not defined.  Conversely, if I resent a budget and go into debt thinking I deserve that freedom, I become enslaved to the lender.  Teenagers are loved when a parent tries to impede sin, but sadly, sometimes they deem that covering as a burden and remove the umbrella of protection God intended, electing a harsher road.

So it is with our souls.  We want to be free, but do not understand what freedom is.  In Psalms 16:6, David said, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”  David was hiding from Saul when he penned this Psalm, fearing for his very life.  He was grateful that God spared him once again.  He did not get angry with God that He permitted such circumstances, but was praising God for His Deliverance in the midst of dire times.  Humility and gratitude for what good God allowed…not resentment for the pain and troubles God also allowed.  God in His infinite wisdom knows what good we can reap even from the hideous things that seem of no value at all.

The law creates a vacuum – all pronounced guilty, we look to the hope that somewhere we can be excused from our guilt.  The discomfort is increased when violations begin to stack up.  We self-righteously try to find incidences in which we actually obeyed the law – surely there is a commandment of God’s we have not broken!  We compare ourselves to a worse transgressor than ourselves, thinking that will give us the relief we long for.  Or perhaps we attempt to redefine the boundaries with our new, higher wisdom, which is no different than the same tricks mankind played centuries and a millennia ago.

Cease striving, friend.  God loves You and knows you could never meet His righteous requirements.  I thank God for His sweet law.  I thank God that He is Holy and Good.  I thank God for the day when I realized I was a sinner.  I used to mock the term “born again” until God found me.  My spirit did not enjoy seeing how vile a creature I was, but in that moment of pain there was the greatest liberation of my soul.  God did not leave me there in condemnation; while He could not excuse my sin, He convicted me and then pronounced a sentence of “not guilty”!  He alone is my Righteousness.  I do not deserve that grace, but it is FREE.  He made the law and He fulfilled it – hallelujah!  If you have not accepted this provision for your sin, friend, please do.  He can set you free today!

Oh God, thank You for Your law.  Thank You that You never change.  Thank You that You set standards because You want to free us from sin and death – because You love us.  You are so good and I worship You!  Help our country to see the law as a blessing and to return to the foundation which was laid for it.  Help the citizens of our country to bow their knee to Your law and be saved.

Fear and Illusive Safety

Proverbs 16:17

“The highway of the upright is to turn from evil; the one who guards his way safeguards his life.”

Proverbs 3:24
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.”

Proverbs 18:10
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.”

Job 5:22
“You shall laugh at destruction and famine, And you shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth.”

Psalms 112:7
“He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

Psalms 91:9,10
“Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;”

Isaiah 43:1,2
“…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

In an uncertain world, it is amazing anyone of us feels safe.  Just yesterday I heard of a friend who was making funnel cakes in a tent when all of a sudden a tree fell out of nowhere upon him and he was hospitalized.  Crazy.  It was not even raining outside.  Evil villains slaughter innocent children and blame their radical so-called faith for their actions, people loot stores and threaten violence because of a perceived injustice; yes friends, fear is still a tool used by the enemy daily, seeking to rob us of security.  Even if it is not crazed people terrorizing the general public, earthquakes, hurricanes, natural disasters and accidents happen daily.  So what is a Christian to do?  Be afraid?  Maybe.  Give in to fear?  Never.

Fear of flying can keep you from venturing through the sky, fear of water can keep you from exploring the sea, fear of criminals can keep you in at night, fear of well almost anything can steal your joy and make you feel unsafe.  But isn’t it so wonderful that as Christians we do not need to fear ANYTHING except for only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).  You may say, “bad things happen to Christians, too”.  Yes, the rain falls on the good and the bad, but perfect love casts out fear.

What is this perfect love?  Amazing grace to uphold you when the fire is hot and the waters are deep.  Strength beyond what you ever thought you were capable of when you felt weak.  The will to endure when trials are long and arduous.  And more . . . much more.  Until you have walked through the pain and sting of real fear and threats, one cannot contemplate how very real the presence of God is in those moments.  His promise to be with us during those moments is the singular most significant difference we have when compared with unbelievers walking through the same trials.

My hope is that in this very difficult time with so much tumult throughout the world, that whoever reads this blog will find comfort in the midst.  He is our refuge, our dwelling place, our strong tower.  We are safe when we run to Him.  Shadrach and his pals saw God’s amazing intervention and deliverance from the fire; Daniel did, too, in the lion’s Den.  The Israelites saw God part the Red Sea then swallow up their enemies.  God can do that for you, too.  But even if He in His perfect sovereignty does not choose to deliver you FROM the fear or hardship, He very well might deliver you THROUGH it.

Fear not – rely on God and His mighty arm today!  He is able to strengthen us and will accomplish His purposes all for His glory and our good.  What an amazing God.

Lord, help us to trust in You and that You will not give us more than we can bear, but will grant us strength to bear through it.  You are good, Lord, and we want to shine genuine faith to a world that suffers alongside us.  Thank you for being our refuge and very real ever-present help in times of trouble.