A Season of Thankfulness: Day 16 – Our Promise Keeper

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Deuteronomy 7:9

“So realize that the LORD your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”

Proverbs 20:6

“Many people profess their loyalty, but a faithful person–who can find?

Romans 4:21

“He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do.”

2 Timothy 2:13

“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.”

“Everyone will let you down at some point”.  In a fragile world, this anecdote which is intended to comfort, does the opposite.  We all long for security, for people to be devoted to us, for someone who will be completely faithful to us.

Man is ultimately selfish and desires to satisfy his own needs.  It is the opposite of our flesh to deny ourselves and to serve others faithfully instead.

Where is our hope, then, if no one can ultimately be perfectly faithful to us?  This longing can only be fulfilled by One.  Not just any one, but the very one Who is the only One who has ever kept all of His promises.  His track record is perfect and He delights to fulfill His Word.

We tend to want flesh to be faithful to us to feel secure, but flesh is created, fallible and does not know the end.  God foretold the promises that He was going to keep before they were even on the horizon.

When the chips are down and it feels like God has forgotten, we only need to look to His Word and see His faithfulness throughout all of time.  We need to then hold onto His promises and talk to our Heavenly Father about our need for Him to meet us in our place of need.

God is incapable of lying; His promises are yes and amen.  He receives the glory when He meets our needs according to His wonderful promises in His Word.

Even when we are unfaithful, He remains faithful still.  Not because we deserve it, but because he will not deny those who are His.  What a faithful God – covenant maker and keeper forever.  Amen.

Lord, when we were unworthy and could never repay You, You still chose to pursue us anyway, making promises to us and keeping them.  Thank You, our Faithful friend and God, lover of our soul!

A Season of Thankfulness – Day 4: Surrounded by God

Psalm 125:1-2

“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion; it cannot be upended and will endure forever.  2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, now and forevermore.”

Psalm 21:7

“For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.”

Psalm 46:5

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

Psalm 61:7

“May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.”

Proverbs 10:30

“The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land.”

Surrounded by a basketball team in 8th grade who all wanted to beat me up for a false rumor spread around, I was terrified.  Being surrounded meant there was no way out.  No chance to get out of this hot water…until one faithful friend stood between me and the basketball team.  “You have to go through me first to get to her”.  Now Rhonda was a formidable athlete.  No one wanted to mess with her.  Consequently, no one wanted to mess with me, either.

This moment has remained in my mind as a defining moment.  When things seemed impossible, there was a way out.  In that season of my life, I was seeking after God, but did not yet know Him yet.  Still mercy was extended to the little 4’11” blonde girl who was filled with fear and prayed to God to help her.  He sent an intermediary, a friend, to cover me.

Being surrounded can instill fear or bring peace and comfort.  What does it mean to be surrounded by the Almighty God? We are so small, we cannot fathom how big God is.  To say He surrounds us is to say His presence encompasses us.  He sees every part of us; knows us completely and is aware of all our comings and goings.  He protects us, He is always with us.  We are not alone.

Sometimes it might seem like our troubles are as vast as the mountains or the sea, impenetrable.  But God is the One Who created both – and us, as well.

God does not just surround us.  He is with us.  He is in us.  He is for us.  Mount Zion is not just any mountain – it is the Holy mountain of God that we are likened to.  He is in a covenant relationship with His children and just like that mountain cannot be moved apart from God’s hand, so we cannot, either.

Thank you, Lord, for surrounding us when we are fragile, needful and feeling alone.  When we are intimidated by what we see that surrounds us, help us to remember that You are always there surrounding us at all times, faithfully covering us.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day Two – Our Faithful Intercessor

Day two thankfulness

Hebrews 5:1-10: 22-28

“Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.  

Hebrews 6:16-20

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 7:

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.  23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins,and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.”

King of kings and Lord of lords, and yet we were on His mind.  More than that, He still prays for us, perpetually.  And Who is this prayer warrior?  Jesus.  The One true living God, Holy, blameless, selfless and the bearer of all of our sins.

The prayers He offers up are sovereign, perfect, offered by a God whose purposes NEVER change and Who is incapable of lying.  Wow.  His prayers are outside time, always exactly what we need.  Perfect.

I am thankful for Christ’s modeling of what our prayer life should look like.  Being God incarnate, He humbled Himself and cried out with “loud cries and tears”.  He understands.  He became man and demonstrated what a passionate life in God should look like.  He did not pray for His own comfort, instead He prayed for His enemies and strength to do the perfect will of God.  God answered and we are the fruit of those prayers all those years ago in the Garden of Gethsemane.

How humbling that the imperfect would be the very apple of God’s eye, and the very ones whom Christ cried out for and laid His life down for.  May our prayer lives imitate the Master’s.

When it appears that His answers to our prayers are wrong or God does not hear, we begin to understand that His ways are far higher than our own.  When the cessation of pain is our goal, His goal is that we will be changed in the midst, become more like Him and that we would know Him.  Our faithful Intercessor is our faithful Friend, always knowing how to pray for us.

Lord, what a faithful intercessor You are!  Thank You for giving us what we need and not what we want.  Thank You for being our ever-present help in times of trouble.  Thank You, God, for never changing and for being perfect, righteous, faithful.  I love you, Lord!

Mundane Monday: A Watchman’s Joy

Ezekiel 4:4-6

“Also for your part lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it. For the number of days you lie on your side you will bear their iniquity. 5 I have determined that the number of the years of their iniquity are to be the number of days for you–390 days. So bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 When you have completed these days, then lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days–I have assigned one day for each year.”

Colossians 3:13

“Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.”

Galatians 6:2

“Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Matthew 18:33

“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”

This image of Ezekiel, a watchman for Israel, lying on his left side for 390 days then on his right side for 40 additional days, eating exactly 8 ounces of food each day is tortuous.  Even moreso when we consider that he did not deserve such treatment.  It does not make sense to us, but the purposes of God are higher than our own.

We do not like to be inconvenienced in today’s culture.  Our flesh recoils at the idea of suffering for our own actions and the ensuing consequences, but to do so for someone else?  Not something eagerly desired.  Even a child will cry out “not fair” or “it was not my fault” when blamed for an action he did not commit.  This makes sense to us – no one should have to receive unfair judgment.  Still God’s righteous laws demand payment for our unrighteousness.

Ezekiel was a watchman appointed by God Almighty.  He was a covering for the Israelites.  The blood was on his head if he did not warn them, and by suffering symbolically, he, more than anyone, would have a zeal to warn His fellow people after catching a glimpse of what was to come.

This heart for God’s people and for the lost sheep is the very heart of Christ, who willingly chose to bear the iniquity of those who were unable to bear it themselves.  In fact, it was for the “joy” set before Him that He endured the cross.  Wow. Jesus had an unspeakable joy that his actions would deliver the entire world from the grip of sin and the sting of death.

At the height of suffering I have lamented for self, miserable that I have had to bear consequences for another’s actions, but Christ thought of us.  He chose rejection and suffering – I did not.  This revelation reveals the selflessness of Christ and our need to follow in His steps – serving others and considering them above ourselves.  Humbling and freeing at the same time.  We cannot accomplish this on our own, but we can ask God to open our eyes and to work in our stubborn hearts.

He is still calling servants today to be watchmen for His people.   It might be uncomfortable or inconvenient – forcing us to lay down our idol of comfort, but like Ezekiel, God needs humble servants willing to roll up their sleeves and bear iniquities on their knees for others still today.  No, we cannot wipe away the sins of others, but we can stand in the gap, pray and warn people of the devastation of sin.  When the sting of sin’s aftermath and its stigma is fresh in someone’s life, we can stand with them and guide them to God’s Word and the faithful forgiveness and love of Jesus.

Encouragement in the face of a fallen world might be the very catalyst to turn one from repeating the same sin or serve as an example for another to abstain from walking that path of sin at all.  The voice of truth might not be welcome today when absolute truth seems nonexistent, but more than ever the world needs to hear this voice of God’s people, uniting to be watchmen for the glory of God.  The temporary cost might be more than we want to pay, but the rewards are eternal.

Lord, forgive us for being lulled into complacency.  Help us to care for those around us as you do and to be faithful in the calling of watchmen for You.

Worshipful Wednesday: Our Protector

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Photo Credits:
avramizza.wordpress.com

Psalm 94:14

“Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people; he does not abandon the nation that belongs to him. 15 For justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated. 16 Who will rise up to defend me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against the evildoers? 17 If the LORD had not helped me, I would have laid down in the silence of death. 18 If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O LORD, supports me. 19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. 21 They conspire against the blameless, and condemn to death the innocent.  22 But the LORD will protect me, and my God will shelter me.” 

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-15

“Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, 2 can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.” 3 He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers and from all deadly diseases. 4 He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.5 You need not fear any dangers at night or sudden attacks during the day 6 or the plagues that strike in the dark or the evils that kill in daylight. 14 God says, “I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as Lord.15 When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them. I will rescue them and honor them.”

When I was in middle school, I remember well people who surrounded me and bullied me.  Knife fights on Fridays were to be avoided and you did not want to look at anyone the wrong way, lest they think that you were judging them and want to fight you.  The bus ride to and from school was where I tried my first earnest petitions for God’s protection.  “God, please keep me safe.  Do not let these people beat me up”.  “Protect me”.  I thought if I refused to fight and was kind to them that they would leave me alone.  Not so much.  Insecure people thrive on intimidating others.  But our God is bigger.

Back then He used friends and family to stand in the gap to protect me.  I was a bookworm as a kid, quiet and shy. Definitely not a fighter.  I remember being so thankful that my two older brothers had my back.  I was not alone.  Ultimately, though, my brothers could not be there for every scuffle.  When perpetrators sought to harm me, God defended me and made a way out.  When my heart was filled with fear, God was my covering and my Protector.

If I thought the trauma from childhood was bad, it was a walk in the park compared to what lie ahead.  Cleaving to my God when being bullied, God used me to protect my children from harm, and from those who wanted to control or force their way in.  God’s protection is stronger than any other, but sometimes we have to walk through the fire to appreciate it.

Somewhere along this road in life we will encounter people who seek to harm us.  Maybe it is jealousy, or they want what we have.  Maybe they think they have a right to be in our life, despite their inability to respect our boundaries.  Maybe they persist because they truly believe they have a right to.

As we seek refuge in our God, we also walk in wisdom.  Walking at night alone and expecting protection is careless. Placing healthy boundaries in our lives can be a source of protection, but is not where our hope for deliverance rests.  Sometimes we are presented with challenges that we did not seek out or place ourselves in.  It is then that our God will rise up and defend us.  Like the Israelites, that deliverance might hurt.  It will not be easy, but He will carry us through it.

As we hide in the eye of the storm and watch our God fight for us, we might need to make sure we have let go of the anxiety and fear that were our companions when we were harassed.  Forgiving people for inflicting harm also frees us to revel in the joy of the LORD and to be free from the fear of man.  Compassion for the oppressor surprises us as we let go of any right we feel we have to become embittered for harm we suffered.  Forgiveness does not mean, however, that we permit open access to people who think they deserve it.  Walking in wisdom means we have boundaries in place to test the trustworthiness of those who want to be in our lives.  Jacob and Esau forgave one another but they did not dwell near one another.

Good old fashioned respect and apologies go a long way in mending relationships, but boundaries are perfectly acceptable and needed to protect us when people have violated us and our trust.  Bullies were not just in the middle school play yard. And they are not always people.  We can be bullied and pressured by life’s hardships, until we run to our Shelter.

A job, a person, an entity or a court system are not our Savior – they might be tools God uses to protect us, but God is the One doing the protecting.  When we come to know Him as our Deliverer, Defender and Protector, we trust Him and are able to help others do the same as our lives are a testimony of His grace and provision.  He is faithful and loves to come to the aid of His people who cry out.  He did not promise us that there would not be surging waters and roaring fires, but He did promise to carry us through it all.  What an awesome, faithful God!

Lord, help us to trust in You and Your deliverance.  We worship You, our Covering, our Jehovah Nissi, our Protector – Jehovah Roi!  Thank you for Your mighty salvation!  We look to You alone!

Mundane Monday: Striving for Rest

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Photo Credits:
kingpinlifestyle.com

Philippians 3:12-16

“Not that I have already attained this–that is, I have not already been perfected–but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, 14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways. 16 Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained.”

Psalm 46:10

“He says, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God! I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!”

Hebrews 4:1, 11

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.  11 Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.”


Here it is a Monday again.  I missed blogging last week while recording in Nashville and although Mondays have a reputation for being daunting – back to work – here’s a promising blog of what striving is supposed to look like in the life of the believer.  So, happy Mundane Monday – with God’s grace our lives are anything but mundane and the ordinary becomes extraordinary in His hands!

Is God duplicitous when he says to strive in one passage, but then in another says we need to cease striving?  Paradoxical at first blush, the more we look into His perfect word we see that in His faithfulness he already attained perfection for us.

Positionally, we are right with the God of the universe, though presently we see how very far we fall short of His glory.  How is that?  Just as Abraham was reckoned as righteous before a Holy God, so it is with us who have believed in God and believed that He has the authority to declare righteous who He has ordained to be in His perfect plan.  My heart cannot contain the joy of knowing that God considers me righteous.  How can it be?  Because His Holy Son, Jesus Christ took our place!

While this bliss of being forgiven is incomparable to any other gift on this earth, on one hand it means we are called to rest in His righteousness and on the other, it is a call to cooperate with the sanctification process of pressing in to know God more.

So many times we see today people professing to be Christians and yet their mouths utter profanities or remain in sin and they lay hold of the expensive grace granted by Jesus’ precious blood and believe they are covered.  Paul’s words echo loudly within my being – “may it never be”!  God forgives our sins – and we receive this undeserved forgiveness, not so we can trample on His lavish grace.  No, it is so we can yield to His will and say no to our flesh.

Where does striving cease?  It is in trying to attain our own righteousness.  We can never make it on our own and we can never make ourselves more righteous than what God has achieved for us.  No amount of additional demands made by man can make us clean.  After receiving a covering for our sin, to strive to try to earn it is folly.  But the striving we are to do is to die to self and to seek fervently after God.

Life is hard.  It can be easy to get lazy in our pursuit of God when seemingly the sky is falling, or opposite of that, when all is well in our worlds, we can get very comfortable and forget how great our need is of God.  His salvation is priceless and precious and although it was already attained for us, as ambassadors for Christ our work is never done.

This work in Christ is done only by His grace and He again accomplishes the work of sanctification and character in us as we are faithful to live for Him and not ourselves.  This is truly rest for our souls.  Resting and trusting in Him to complete the work He began in us.  Amen!

Lord, thank You for calling me to know You.  I was an enemy and You chose me, anyway.  I falter and stumble, and you pick me up, clean me up and use me again.  I am dumbfounded by Your mercy and grace.  Be glorified, LORD!  Please help all who are reading this to truly understand this rest You have called us to and to never allow comfort to be our goal, but knowing You more and making You known!

Thoughtful Thursday: Hidden Treasure – Our Prized Possession

Proverbs 7:1-2

“My child, keep my words and treasure up my commands in your own keeping.  2 Keep my commands so that you may live, and obey my instruction as your most prized possession.”

Proverbs 2:4-5

“If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

Luke 12:34

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Colossians 2:2-3

“My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ,  3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

We can go our entire lives searching for treasure – what our hearts long for.  Yet all the while it is right in front of us, sitting on a shelf, gathering dust.

Imagine finding a treasure and looking at it and taking just one piece of the treasure out, then leaving it there.  The treasure would not benefit us and would not be shared with anyone else, either.  In this fast-paced world, we can step over the greatest treasure and miss it, if we are not careful.

What are the various gems in this treasure chest?  Understanding.  Why is it that our eyes were opened to be able to comprehend what God has done?  Knowledge.  Adding to our understanding, more and more knowledge of Him and the ability to see our sins and His grace.  Wisdom. Knowledge applied and used for God’s glory.  Peace. Souls at rest no matter what is transpiring around us.  Salvation.  The penalty for our sins removed – our guilt stains washed away! Communion with God. being able to fellowship with Jesus and go to Him anytime.  Forgiveness.  All of our guilt washed away.  Grace.  Strength to live for Jesus.  Healing.  Changed hearts and minds yielded to Him, delivered from the burdens of this world.  Assurance.  The sweetest jewel – assurance that we will be with Him for all eternity lasts longer than any temporary treasure on this earth.

On and on the precious gems to be found.  To some the Bible is a book of rules, void of life.  To those who have recognized it’s worth, it is the greatest gift God has given to us.  Boundaries set to free us, counsel to comfort us, His word a lamp to guide us.

To be able to know the God of this universe and fellowship with Him is the greatest treasure given to mankind, but often we accept what is more tangible as a substitute and miss out on the gold He has for us.  No where else will we be able to find such a treasure, that supplies all our needs to each individual.

Lord, we delight in You!  Thank You for the treasure of Your most precious Son!  Help us to seek You without ceasing and to daily,moment by moment bask in your Word.

Mundane Monday: Our Witness in Every Day Life

Exodus 18:9, 11

“Jethro rejoiced because of all the good that the LORD had done for Israel, whom he had delivered from the hand of Egypt.  11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods, for in the thing in which they dealt proudly against them he has destroyed them.”

1 Peter 2:12

“And maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.”

Ephesians 5:15-16

“Therefore be very careful how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16 taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

1 Timothy 4:16

“Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”

To hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” is what we long to hear at the conclusion of our lives, but carrying out a consistent walk with God is our utmost challenge on this earth.

There are moments in which we see God use us and we are consumed with pleasing Him.  We wish that those mountaintop experiences would live on forever, but real character is formed in the chasm of everyday monotony.  Will we be faithful to rise and seek Him?  To focus our lives for His glory, willing and ready to share His Word in every situation?

Movies are popular entertainment today in part because for those moments we imagine ourselves to be like the character – the hero in some devastating circumstance.  But once the story is over, we must live our stories and they often pale in comparison to the excitement that was exhibited on the big screen.  The character traits exhibited by actors are often supernatural – somehow their physical strength or their insight is more than those around them.  They never seem to have to contend with the reality of life’s less thrilling moments.

The Bible is filled with the most amazing stories on earth, but unlike many movies today, the stories in the Bible are relatable.  Characters exemplify lives full of excitement and tortuous routine.  Even Moses, who after being used for a miraculous deed by God to save all of God’s people, found himself at an all day desk job – an occupation of discerning people’s affairs.  But his father-in-law surrendered his own soul to Heaven when he saw Moses’ faithfulness and God’s activity in his life in the large and small details of His life.

The godly cloud of witnesses who have gone before us did not have posh, comfortable positions.  They dealt with often cruel, arduous conditions that appeared meaningless until generations that followed had their example to look up to.

Our flesh is impatient and being consistent, careful and conscientious as the Scriptures above urge us to be, are not desirable at first glance.  We want things to come easily and tasks to be completed, but the daunting “to do” list is never fully quelled.  The frustration from a sense of always being behind the eight ball is part of the longing in our souls for Heaven.

When we feel powerless, tossed to and fro by the circumstances of life washing over us like a huge wave, it is in those moments that we can catch a glimpse of His glory and witness to those around us.  Remembering what Christ endured and the fruit of His suffering helps us to put our own situation in perspective.

Finding meaning and purpose in the highs and the lows appears futile until we begin to see the fruit over time.  Looking to our future reward can spur us on to continue on the path of righteousness in all aspects of our lives.  Surprisingly, the small details in life are often the ones that leave the biggest impact on those who come behind us.  The “boring” aspects of life have meaning, too, if we recognize that all we do on this earth is for His glory.

Lord, nothing is meaningless in You.  Help us to have a heart for those around us rather than focusing on our own needs when life appears dull or stressful.  May we bear witness of Your faithfulness to meet our every need, large or small, and may many come to know You.

Weapons of Warfare

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Photo Credits:
covenantpromises.org

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“For though we live as human beingswe do not wage war according to human standards4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weaponsbut are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.  We tear down arguments  5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:23-25

But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting.  24 And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient,  25 correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth.

2 Corinthians 10:4

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

Isaiah 54:17

“No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the LORD will do for his servants–I will vindicate them,” says the LORD.”

It is difficult to live in this body of flesh and live for the LORD.  Fatigue and worldliness creep in easily if we are not watchful. Sometimes I can be lulled into a false perspective that being Christian is to be “nice” and flexible, tolerant of everyone and everything.  I can become disillusioned when I think salvation is equated to being loved by all and living a trouble-free life.

While we are called to love everyone, that does not mean we should expect reciprocation.  It also does not mean that we ought to condone sinful lifestyles or give in to the philosophies of this world.  Paul, who had previously zealously persecuted Christians, was a fighter.  He knew that to be faithful to God meant to be vigilant with our thoughts, faithful to seek God and spread His word.  He recognized that this Christian walk is a battle and he armed himself for the task at hand.

But we all do not have personalities like Paul.  I confess that I am naturally a shy person and a peacemaker.  I would rather avoid conflict, but sometimes it is necessary.  On one hand, I will not seek it out and waste energy on controversial arguments, but on the other hand, I want to be ready at all times to give an answer when someone is truly seeking.

Timothy strikes me as a more gentle soul, wanting to shepherd those around him, but equally as faithful to disseminate the word of God.  I love his heart to keep what really matters in perspective – winning one precious soul with gentle correction. It wasn’t about being right, but about caring for the other person enough to be unpopular with them while the truth was lovingly shared.

We have all perhaps seen hostile arguments over faith and even tearing down of fellow believers because their style or personality was different.  We might have even done so ourselves.  These are not the weapons we are to use as believers. Pride and vanity can cloud our view and cause us to see things from a merely human point-of-view, but love can clear the fog.  Not the world’s definition of love, but God’s Agape, unconditional love, which speaks the truth completely in love.

Boldness from God consumes me and causes me to see my need of God and to fulfill the calling He has on my life.  I just want to be faithful.  Sometimes we can be about the work of God and suddenly find ourselves under attack.  (Which, by the way, should not surprise us, but being that my short term memory is lessened a great deal, I am surprised every time).

Even fellow believers can nip at our heels and judge the work we are doing in the LORD.  What weapons should be use in our arsenal?  Prayer.  Forgiveness.  Love.  When persecution or judgments arise, they are opportunities to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh; to cry out to God, not man; to read His Word and apply it in our lives.

The stumbling blocks of fear and self-preservation can inhibit us from using the weapons God prescribes for use in spiritual battle and from trusting in God to fight for us.  He is our Deliverer and able to accomplish far more than we ever could with our human tools.  His weapons are not of this world and the battles we face are not, either.

Lord, thank you for being our Defender.  Help us to recognize that every we battle we face in this life is a spiritual encounter, not a physical, fleshly one.  You have overcome all!  Help us to use the weapons You have given us, that many will be saved and healed.

Worship Wednesday: Paying Attention In an Inattentive World

Photo Credits: mindful listening

Photo Credits:
mindful listening

Psalm 49: 1-4

1 “Listen to this, all you nations!  Pay attention, all you inhabitants of the world! 2 Pay attention, all you people, both rich and poor! 3 I will declare a wise saying; I will share my profound thoughts. 4 I will learn a song that imparts wisdom; I will then sing my insightful song to the accompaniment of a harp.

As a singer/songwriter, this verse is precious to me.  When I write songs of worship to God, I am caught up in how awesome He is and how to reveal Him to whoever listens to my music.  In everything I do, I want to convey God’s amazing grace, truth and love; to express His word in a way that can reach someone to understand God more.  It is this hunger that drives me on: to know Him more and make Him known.

Music has a way of grabbing our attention more than mere words.  Singing new songs also helps us to worship when we have grown accustomed to listening to the same worship songs.  We can also listen inattentively and not recognize the impact music is having upon us.  It has been said by some that they do not listen to the lyrics, just the music.  But we are more complex creations than that.  We are able to retain a lot of information and might not even be aware of it.  What we listen to matters.

When I was in college studying music, I wrote a research paper on the profound effect music has on plant life.  I was astounded that even plants wilted when hard rock music was played.  (Smile).  Humans are likewise affected by music, yet in even deeper ways.

The company we keep in media is either corrupting us or discipling us in our walks with God.  There are so many distractions today, so many things beckoning for our attention.  Which entertainment will we choose?  Music that helps us to understand and worship God more, or music that numbs us to His existence?  Movies or television that inspires us to be more like Christ, or awakens our flesh to become more carnally minded?

He has entrusted the secrets of His kingdom to us and we must prove faithful.  Even in seemingly small decisions, He is LORD over it all.   May we pay attention to what surrounds us and choose to place in our path songs, words and media that cause us to walk in purity and joy in the LORD.  Like the Psalmist, may we seek to go deeper with God so we can share with those around us more of the depth of the riches we have in Christ.

Lord, in all I do, I want to glorify You.  Help us to honor You and to never grow weary us seeking You diligently in every area of our lives.