Worshipful Wednesday: Our Prince of Peace

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Search for peace, and you will not find it, but search for God and you will find peace.

Scripture of the Day:

Luke 2:13-14

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Peace. Just the word itself calms my soul. Tumult, troubles and protests are breaking out in multiple cities across our country and zealots threaten to wipe Jewish and Christian folk alike off the face of the earth.  How can we say peace?  Because He said it. In the verse above He gives it to those who are pleasing to God.

A serene scene by a still lake; a porch swing overlooking a sunny day; children laughing and playing, snow quietly falling on tree limbs.  An elderly couple walking hand in hand. All of these images evoke the idea of peace to me.  But stones create ripples in the water, sunny days give way to wilder weather, snow melts and we all eventually fade away.  Peace is not lasting as prescribed by the world, anyway.

No, Christ alone is our peace – our Prince of peace. We who have accepted the free gift of Jesus can have peace – not as the world gives, but as God can give.  A peace that brings security and hope, which are not dependent upon circumstances or emotions. Busy times, hard times, Christmas preparations, hardship, persecution – none of these things can rob us of peace unless we let them.  Right now, where you are at, quiet your mind and heart and focus on what Christ came to bring – peace to our souls. Reading His love letter to us brings a peace that no counsel on this earth ever could.

From the time he came as a baby, peacefully in the midst of chaos, to His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, Christ accomplished peace with God for us who were far away from Him.  Not perfect comfort on this earth, but complete peace.  Many will cry out for peace in this world, thinking that a leader or a country could bring lasting peace, but they will never achieve it.  True peace is only found in a relationship with God.  Search for peace, and you will not find it, but search for God and you will find peace.

Peace to you all this Christmas season.

Lord, quiet our souls and help us to rest in You at all times.  

Day 4: The Grief Process: Finding Our Way & Thriving in the Desert

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The secret of the desert is to not look at all the pain around us, but to look to the One Who made the desert.

Scriptures of the Day:

Job 17:15

“Where then is my hope – who can see any hope for me?”

Romans 15:13

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Isaiah 35:1

“Let the desert and dry region be happy; let the wilderness rejoice and bloom like a lily!”

Isaiah 43:19

“Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it? Yes, I will make a road in the desert and paths in the wilderness.”

Hosea 13:5

“I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land.”

Jeremiah 2:6

“They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and of pits, Through a land of drought and of deep darkness, Through a land that no one crossed And where no man dwelt?'”


The desert is a beautiful place if we have eyes to see it. Some just see the dust and the dearth of anything green and lush. There seems to be no life there. Some fear the scary critters lurking and slithering all around. Others see the majestic mountains in the backdrop, and the brave life that sneaks up through the cracks in the ground, bursting forth with promise.

I grew up out west and New Mexico left a big impact on me. Or maybe on my derriere. I recall vividly walking on top of a fence (because this is what sensible people do) and falling to my demise right on top of a cactus. The hours spent having someone else pull needles out of my bum taught me a lesson that I have not forgotten – the desert hurts.

The scorpions and tarantulas added to my distaste of the desert, too. Walking home from school with the mighty March winds stinging my legs while dodging flying tumbleweeds, I confess that while the terrain was beautiful in this desert, it was harsh, too.

God’s people knew the desert well – they spent a lot of time there. They did not appreciate it and complained about God’s provision while they were there.They remembered the provision they had while enslaved and favored that place of shame and suffering instead of being dependent upon God in a dry season. Not a lot has changed with the people of God. We, too, wonder why we have to spend time there at all.

The desert serves as such a palpable analogy to the spiritual desert that we often find ourselves in and out of in this life.

Sometimes we bring the desert on ourselves by forgetting God. And sometimes we are surprised by the sudden appearance of desert all around us. We did not plan to go there. Things might have been going well for awhile … then. Then the other shoe drops and there is nothing but death seemingly in front of us.

When my children and I were trying to navigate the new terrain of life we were thrust into, we did not know the way. The only map we had was God and His Word – oh, and many people offering counsel. Some good, some not so good.

Trying to acclimate to the spiritual desert we were in, it seemed like we just kept falling on cacti. One night, a little over a year of being in the desert, the LORD gave me a strong impression that I needed to pray for protection over my children and I. I stayed up until 4:00 in the morning praying and the next morning a friend called to ask what was going on in our world – she had begun praying at 4:00 in the morning the very same words I had been praying. A robbery had happened that night a couple doors down and my next door neighbor witnessed someone standing at the end of my driveway in the middle of the night.

I still shudder when I consider the mercy of God, calling me to pray fervently and His protection over us. A couple weeks later, I witnessed eight men in two cars coming out of a neighbor’s home. Another robbery. My heart melted within me. My son told me it was time I got a gun . . .

In the midst of an endless court battle, being falsely accused and sued by family members who felt they had a right to invade our lives while we suffered immensely, my health also took a turn for the worse. Autoimmune diseases all flared up, my strength was succumbing to the stress all around me. Finances were a wreck, our home was foreclosed upon, the robberies intensified our feelings of insecurity in an abyss of problems, so I went to buy a gun to protect my children and I.

Little did I know there was fine print on the back of a court document that said I could not purchase any firearms. Later this court error was fixed, but the trauma of this gun toting homeschool mama being arrested, handcuffed and brought to jail was another thorn in the desert that I will not soon forget.

Oh God – do you see me? Do you see this turmoil we are in? How do You receive glory from this? Why is this happening? Joseph must have felt the same way – thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit. But He honored God in that desolate place and he hoped.

When things go from bad to worse, we are not ever forgotten. The thorns and thistles of life often grow on things of beauty. It hurt more than I could ever convey to walk the lonely path we did, but in those broken cries and prayers to my God alone, there was this thing of beauty that He was accomplishing within. Endless hope in the character of God.

I thought I knew the LORD (and I did) before the biggest trial of my life, but now – now I knew Him in such an intimate way that all I wanted was His glory. I did not care how long He had me in this desert anymore. If this is where He wanted me, I surrendered my plans for an escape (it would not have worked, anyway), and worshiped Him right there in the dust. In the jail cell while the police officer explained my innocence. In the court while I was exposed to the most painful revelations a mother should never have to hear. In church when all I could do was weep and hide my face with my long hair to try and disguise my inner turmoil.

Just like God saw Ishmael’s mom weeping for her son in the desert, God saw me. Raw and real, loved and embraced.

You see the secret of the desert is to not look at all the pain around us, but to look to the One Who made the desert. He has a purpose in the desert that far exceeds our purposes in the valley.

In the desert we discover that our perspective depends on what we look at – the problems or the promise around us. God has life in the desert – not just death. We can be overflowing with hope even in the desert…because of the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit also gave strength to Jesus when He was in the desert. And Jesus modeled surrender and worship in that place.

We are not alone in the desert, even though it feels so very lonely. Though it is tempting, don’t look at the thorns around you – see the beauty in the desert and the oasis God provides for those who thirst after Him.

The pressure of our desert is making us into diamonds and the testimony formed is priceless.

The next time you are in the desert, think of it as going camping with God. He is there with us. The Holy One – with us! The beauty of the desert is lost to those who just look at the rugged exterior. In the arid places, the places that seem like there is no more life at all, we have a new kind of hope forming within us – reinvented, made in the dry places – a thing of beauty to behold. A hope full of God’s promises and fellowship – and our hopes and plans lie fallen on the desert floor. And we are free.

In the place of suffering and disbelief, even disillusionment, we can choose to not just survive, but thrive, even delight in God – Who meets us in the arid places of our lives. Pity parties are exposed, His purposes are seen as higher, and victory is found. This is where God longs for us to rest – not when things are perfect, but with Him in the desert – even when they are uncertain – to know that His blueprint for our lives is perfect at all times.

Oh Lord, we hope in You alone. Whether in the desert, the sunshine or the rain, You are our God in all of it.

We may as well sing while we are in the desert. 🙂 Here is a worship song from Housefires – Never Run Dry

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Attention!

attention

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the space of rest that all the commotion around us is put into perspective.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalms 78:1-2

1 “A well-written song by Asaph. Pay attention, my people, to my instruction! Listen to the words I speak! 2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.”

Proverbs 5:1-2

1 “My child, be attentive to my wisdom, pay close attention to my understanding, 2 in order to safeguard discretion, and that your lips may guard knowledge.”

Proverbs 4:20

“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.”

“Someone get the phone”. “We have to leave now”. “Did You forget to feed the animals?” “Did you turn in the permission slip?” “Where are the medical immunization records?” “Did you pay the bills?” On and on this list of daily reminders could go. Meetings are added to planners and the email inbox just keeps filling up. Relationships require maintenance and sometimes intervention… or ATTENTION. With so many things vying for our time, we need to come up for air.

Our attention spans are a bit short with this world spinning at its current rapid pace. Add an over consumption of electronics to the ever growing responsibilities everyone juggles and we just might have a crisis on our hands.

But a clarion voice beckons us to draw near. That’s right. Drop our phones. Our planners. Maybe even our cleaning chores and rest. The God who created us with the intention to work also knew we would need rest.

His Spirit cries out to us through His word, trying to get us to pay attention to the desperate need of our inner soul – the very core of our being. To pay attention to the fact that we are being distracted from true devotion. To be aware of our need for His wisdom in every area of life.

When things are going well and we are on our typical cycle of constant action, He whispers to us to come and be still. When life comes crashing down, He draws us near to rest in Him. It seems counter-productive with our mindset of always being on the move, but at all times, our very life functions on the foundation of time spent with God.

It is in the space of rest that all the commotion around us is put into perspective. 

Pausing to seek God with no agenda other than reading His Word is where we can prioritize and reflect on the purpose of it all and ask our God what His mission is for us in this blip of time.

Sometimes we get so busy that we cram this precious time with God into just a few minutes a day. Maybe our busyness is ministry or a kind deed. Even then we need to be refueled with time spent with our God to be able to keep all our balls up in the air.

The tensions of life grab our attention and brings us to the simple need we all have – God. 

When we don’t take this time sometimes God has to get our attention through means that cause our crazy, chaotic world to stop.

Creating space in each day to focus and stop and consider His truth is what gives meaning and purpose in every moment we are given.

If a day is like our finances, we would tithe to God a tenth of our day – not as a legalistic measure, but as a dire need of our soul.

God, help us to pay attention and see what really matters in our daily tasks. May You be glorified in it all.

 

Worshipful Wednesday: Integrity is all in the Mind

jesus-is-our-integrity

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus is our integrity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 101:1-3

1 “Of David. A psalm. I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. 3 I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. 4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil. 5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.”

Sometimes we can look over the landscape of life and wonder why so much evil is happening. When it happens in the church, we are often surprised. How do godly people acquiesce to wickedness? Very easily. Demonic influence and our flesh point us that direction naturally. But there is hope.

When we truly recognize the spiritual battle all around us, we see that the biggest battle will be that of truly living an authentic life of integrity. But integrity is not just our outward behavior.

Thoughts. The gate of our minds is the first place where we have decision after decision of what we will set our mind upon. Our thoughts matter – for they become our actions or, equally as pervasive – torment and distract us from a godly life – if they are not kept in line. But if our thoughts are brought under the authority of the Jesus filter, we can think clearly and recognize thought patterns that do not glorify Him.

Vain imaginations, prideful thoughts, thinking ill of others, dwelling on unrighteous deeds – all have to be brought underneath the LORDship of Jesus Christ. We are deceived if we believe that we can think a hateful thought about another person and be right in the eyes of God.

Action. But it is not enough just to refrain from evil. We are to be proactive and “Fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8).

Content. What we feast our minds on is the largest impetus or detraction from integrity. God’s Word is living and active. Consistently meditating on His Word and applying it to our lives provides strength, conviction and enablement to walk in integrity.

Maintenance. Our thought life takes constant maintenance, we can never rest. But the beauty in feasting on God’s Word makes the maintenance of our minds a treasure trove and a delight. It does not have to become a daunting task of to dos where we think we could attain righteousness on our own. We just need to position ourselves to be soaking in God’s truth and ask Him to help us apply it to our lives.

Prayer. When we ask the God of this universe to help us live in accordance with His word, He honors a prayer like that. Even better – we can pray for those who appear to be against us. This is spiritual warfare that makes the enemy flee!

Humility. When we see the fruit of integrity in our lives, we cannot think it is us doing it. That sounds strange, huh? After all, we are seeking to do our part. But apart from God, there is nothing good in us. We are just yielding and letting Him live through us. Jesus is our integrity.

Fellowship. We truly were not created to be islands, isolated from others while we struggle and battle against resident and outward evil. We need to point one another to truth every single day, for the days are evil. This accountability is not to be judgmental, but caring enough to get up close and personal win sin is waging war and seeking to destroy people’s lives.

The life of integrity is a pleasant one, despite all the battles to get there. No need to hide anything, no fear in discovery, for all is exposed. Thank God that as we seek to walk uprightly with Him and make our mistakes along the way, that His forgiveness is eternal and His grace overwhelming. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even now we can choose to be people of integrity for God’s glory.

Lord, thank You for your mercy – new every single morning. Thank You that You walked a life of perfect integrity. Give us the mind of Christ and may the people of God be Kingdom-minded. Help us to not get involved in civilian affairs that distract us from our God-given purpose – knowing and enjoying You and making You known, oh my God.

Sabbath Reflections: Great is Our God

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The past two weeks God has been impressing upon my mind a need to proclaim His greatness, in particular as we remember the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

I put together a video and slideshow for our worship service today to commemorate just some of the many miracles God did during the devastating events of 9/11. It was awesome to reflect on how God is so much bigger than any sorrow this world brings.

In my search to find footage that glorified God, I was really struck by a couple of videos I found. Here is a link to the video I created, splicing together two videos I discovered on the internet: 9/11 Remembrance. The amazing thing about the video I picked which shared the testimony of the finding of pages of the Bible being fused to metal at Ground Zero was that the very Scripture the Bible was turned to was the same passage our pastor chose to preach from today.

So today, as we contemplate God’s goodness, mercy, grace and strength which sustain us at all times, I want to share lyrics from my song, “Comfort to the Weary”, which was penned in 2002 and played in the heart of Ground Zero, New York City for a 24-hour time period. The lyrics still vividly remind me of our need for God’s comfort now, more than ever. See the slide show I created here: Remembering 9-11 Slideshow. To God be the glory in all things at all times. He is our ever present help in time of need.

 Comfort to the Weary (c) 2002 Denise Pass

There’s a man on a New York downtown corner, Holding our a picture of his wife;

Holding on to hope with his heart filled with grief;

He’s wondering if God really cares at all.

       He gives comfort to the weary, strength to the weak.

       Healing for the wounded heart and power to the meek.

       He knows all your pain and burdens, all your angst and strife;

       And in the midst He’s there with you, though the pain cuts like a knife.

       He is there – He is there.

   There’s a girl who doesn’t have a daddy anymore,

Wondering why he had to die.

Men in a plan full of hate took his life away,

Now she’s wondering if God really cares at all…

 He is there – Jehovah Jireh, my Provider – the LORD God Almighty.

       He’s our Rock, Jehovah Rapha, the LORD our Healer – He’s there for you and me.

I don’t know what plans the LORD will have for you today,

Or what pain you’ll have to bear.

But I know what’s meant for evil will be used for good –

We serve a living God who cares for you…

Lord, please open the eyes of our nation to see our sin and need of You. Have mercy on us and help us to trust in You.

Mundane Monday: Freedom in Yielding

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 18:4-6

“Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 I the LORD, say: “O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.”

My youngest child still loves to play with clay. The delight shown on his face by a new creation made according to his specifications is felt by those around him. The clay responds to his touch and yields to the form the creator is making. If it were made of another material that was less pliable, it could not do so.

So, too, when we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be. But when we fight His working in our lives, we do not rise to our God-given potential.

There are many ways a lump of clay can resist the work of God. We might look the part on the outside, but on the inside we resent the work being done. Instead of yielding, we can inwardly seethe and doubt God’s goodness when we would rather be left alone.

Or perhaps we can compare ourselves to other vessels and wonder why their process of being shaped seems easier. We wonder what the purpose is in it, anyway. It might seem mundane or perhaps cruel, this shaping of our wills in which our flesh has to die so our spirit is made alive.

But when we resist the shaping of our lives because it hurts, we do not recognize that we are in fact harming ourselves. Protecting ourselves from God’s work on our hearts is only impeding the progress He is making. The tools might seem crude or unnecessary, but our loving God sees the complete design. His character is revealed in the fruit of the work He is doing, and His grace is sufficient to enable us during the process.

There is hope in the knowledge that God’s work is always redemptive and for our good. It is in fact in yielding that we taste of the freedom of being a child of God. Free from the shackles of sin, at peace and free to be what He intended in the first place.

The joy my son has in displaying his creation reminds me of the joy of the Father, delighting in His children. He is glorified when we surrender our lives to Him and let Him work in us. Patient perseverance develops us, changing us from the inside out. The end of His labor is a beauty to behold – forever changed into His image, made to be more like Him!

Lord, help us to trust Your working in our lives and to yield to Your purposes, even when they do not make sense to us.

Denise Pass Promo Pic

Denise Pass  •  www.seeingdeep.com  •  www.denisepass.com

Author | Worship Leader | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

Mundane Monday: The Struggle is Real

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Struggling is an indicator of an ongoing fight – we have not given up. When we keep up the fight of faith and struggle toward righteousness, leaning on God and His word as our light, we are becoming more like Christ, our LORD.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 6:12

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”


Spoken often in jest, we confess with our mouths about the struggle of living in a chaotic world, yet we are often unaware of the real struggle lying underneath. The Prince of the air is busy – constantly striving to steal, kill and destroy. Ignorance is not our friend, no, we perish for our lack of understanding.

Blaming a devil behind every evil is not the answer, but seeing the influence this evil is waging on us and those around us is paramount. This influence might not be as obvious as acts that we see which can be clearly understood. The power of the enemy can be borne out in our thoughts, attitude and behavior.

When we perceive that someone does not like us or we feel negatively toward another person ourselves, these pessimistic thoughts have but one source – the pit of hell. Judgment, shunning, gossip, deceit, superiority, self righteousness, unkind remarks – all have a common root of flesh affected by enveloping darkness. We who are in Christ are given a great gift of recognizing this evil and turning away from it.

Filtering our thoughts and actions through the Bible and prayer instructs us on how to live and how to discern things outside and inside of ourselves. True freedom comes from recognizing that our flesh does not desire conviction but then yielding that flesh to Jesus, anyway.

While we will never arrive on this earth, we can know that Jesus knew we would struggle and He loved us so much that He made a way out. We do not have to be imprisoned by the negative influence all around us, but can cry out to God for understanding and choose to obey Him, instead.

Even though the struggle is indeed real, whether or not we perceive it, we are not without hope. Struggling is an indicator of an ongoing fight – we have not given up. When we keep up the fight of faith and struggle toward righteousness, leaning on God and His word as our light, we are becoming more like Christ, our LORD.

Jesus, thank You for opening our eyes to see sin in our own lives. When we see demonic influence in other people’s lives, help us to pray for them and not judge them. Help us to examine ourselves for worldly influence that we might be a faithful witness for You – testifying and living for Your glory alone!

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass – Seeing Deep Ministries – http://www.seeingdeep.com

 

Author | Singer/Songwriter | Worship Leader

Mundane Monday: A Higher Purpose

Perspective - Seeing Christ in Our World by Alex Wong - smaller size

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our blessings and trials are not about us, but about those around us seeing God’s activity in our lives. #SeeingDeep #DenisePass

Scripture:

Exodus 18:9

“Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.”

The car breaks down, home is foreclosed upon, miscarriage, diagnosed with multiple diseases, falsely arrested, hospitalization for pneumonia, a spouse betrays us. Poor us, right? Life’s ups and downs can leave any of us disillusioned, heart broken, in a foul mood or a bona fide well-deserved pity party. Or maybe not. For those who grab a hold of the grace of God are overcomers and are changed forever along with those around them.

What if our perspective on troubles was flipped “right side up” to recognize the hand of God at all times? Assuredly hardships are not something to be delighted in, but they teach us much about contentment and relying on our God, more than good times ever could. But more than that, the people around us get a front row seat and the opportunity to see God sustain us, encourage us and rescue us in evil times.

Jethro saw God’s hand in the life of his son-in-law, Moses. He was overjoyed, and this joy resulted in him worshiping God. Wow. To think that our response and God’s movement in our lives could serve as a catalyst for someone’s salvation and worship of God is humbling.

If we complain and blame, we lose our reward and perhaps the people watching us do, too. If we surrender, God is glorified, His fame spreads and victory is ours. Those troubles at the beginning of this blog? They were all just a few of what I have personally faced. They caused me to cry out to God, despite my need to confront my own lack of trust in Him for the suffering I faced.

Like Jacob, when we wrestle with God and try to understand, we end up transformed. Whether or not we ever fully comprehend, we inherently know our God is good and will use it all for good.

Lord, thank You for Your grace and for showing us the deeper purpose in all of life. Help us to glorify You in everything, for You are worthy!

Worshipful Wednesday: Our Generous God

God is generous

1 Corinthians 1:5-7

For you were made rich in every way in him, in all your speech and in every kind of knowledge– 6 just as the testimony about Christ has been confirmed among you– 7 so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 25:14

“The LORD’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.”

We worry about provision in a world system that requires payment for everything. Yet God says that if he takes care of the grass, flowers and a small sparrow, He will provide for us, too. Trouble is, flowers don’t spend well in our economical system and sometimes we don’t know how God is going to do it, but He always comes through.

His provision is vastly more than we could ever imagine and lasts for all eternity. What kind of God is that? The richest person in the world according to the world’s riches could not compare with the riches God has for those Who would call upon His name and be saved.

We were (past tense) made rich in EVERY way – but it might not always appear to be the case. Man looks at the outward, but inwardly God is at work in amazing ways. We received everything we needed when we were saved, but sometimes we do not perceive it.

When my kids were little, I wanted to instill in them a love of learning.  I wanted them to treasure knowledge and wisdom, for wisdom opens our eyes to see the truth, and knowing God and His truth is the greatest gift of all.  When other kids were getting electronics, my kids got books. When I would come back from Homeschooling convention, they would run up to me and wonder what devotion or new journal I got them.  I pray that sticks with them their whole lives through.  Knowing God is our greatest treasure.

When we don’t understand, we can come to Him and He will generously give us wisdom without finding fault. When we lack faith, we can run to His Word and to Him and He will give us hope.  When we are weak, we can cry out to Him and He will strengthen us. When we are depressed, He gives us the gift of joy.  When we are hurt, He comfort us. Once again we come back to the word, “relationship”.  Access to these precious gifts He has bestowed is given when we come to Him and He does not withhold.

Lord, thank You for giving us everything we need, and most importantly – the gift of Yourself and Your only Son.  Help us to be a grateful people, recognizing your generous provision for your children.

Truthful Tuesday: Bitter or Better

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Bitterness blinds us to the truth.

Scripture of the Day:

Ruth 1:21

“I left here full, but the LORD has caused me to return empty-handed. Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that the LORD has opposed me, and the Sovereign One has caused me to suffer?”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s folly subverts his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.”

One thing you can say about Naomi – she did not pull any punches.  She was going to tell it to you like it was.  No sugar coating needed.  But perhaps her recounting of the story was not true, after all.

Sure, Naomi told the truth about how she felt, but her description of God was affected by those bitter emotions.  

Naomi felt that God opposed her.  Such an admission revealed a distrust of God.  Was He still the good God who blessed her in Jerusalem?  Was He still faithful in the famine? Or is faithfulness dependent upon us always being what we perceive as “blessed”?

Scripture says that God does oppose the proud, but it also says to endure all hardship as discipline from a loving Father. It is difficult to feel loved when we suffer. We wonder why a good God would allow pain when he is All-powerful and able to remove our sorrows.

I remember bowing down and crying out to God when I lost my baby.  I did not understand, until I came to God.  There in His Word was a precious promise.  He loved me, and “in His faithfulness He afflicts those He loves”.  I had to sing a song in a wedding the next day that mentioned a baby’s heart beating.  I had just watched my baby’s heartbeat stop beating the day before on an ultrasound.  Why would circumstances have to collide in such a fashion?

Beautiful brokenness brought me closer to my God and somehow the veil was lifted and a glimpse at the mystery of suffering with God was a moment of Holiness I will never forget.

I did not just worship God when I was healthy and blessed.  I now knew my God in a deeper way and trusted Him, even though, like Job, it seemed that He slayed me.  He did.  A part of my flesh was crucified that day and what rose was a soul comforted by the living God.

The former presumption that I only deserved blessing now humbled me. The feeling of betrayal and hurt was replaced by a daughter of the King who ruled her emotions and laid them at Her Master’s feet.  Trusting that His plan was best instead of mine – set me free to have a living faith in the One Who knows and sees all.

A surface relationship with God views His permitting of suffering as proof that His character is questionable.  But when we walk in the deep waters with God, our perspective changes and we realize that a relationship with God is during times of blessing and famine.  Sunshine Christianity, worshiping God only when He allows no pain in our lives is not true Christianity.  Carrying our cross and glorifying Him in the midst?  Priceless.

In the end, Naomi was not forgotten by God and was blessed again.  We can’t see the end, but how precious it is to trust in Jesus even in the rain.

Lord, thank You that You allow any blessings at all in our lives.  Thank You for Your mercy and kindness.  Help us to overflow to others around us with the healing You have given.