Thankful and Protected

You prepare a table for me, in the presence of my enemies…my cup overflows. Psalm 23 NIV

Think about the promise God makes to his faithful ones in Psalm 23.

A safe and good place to lie down; to rest, relax, recharge and refresh.
A walk beside still waters. No tsunami or flooding anywhere in sight.
Restoration of our souls when they are worn and weary.
A path that is right, that we will know is right and that will enable us to walk alongside God every day, so that His name might not be tarnished by the actions of our frail humanity.

The Lord offers protection for us on those days when we are called to walk the valley of the shadow of death–even death. How many times were we very nearly run off a cliff, and then snatched back from the brink? How many close calls have not resulted in our destruction? How many bad plans and faulty schemes by ourselves and others have we been saved from?

God causes us to live boldly, fearing no evil; not because we are so very powerful or brave, but because our hand is firmly holding His and that means safety and protection at all times. He is with us! His presence and the knowledge of his protective might comfort us. No wolves dare approach us, for they see his rod and staff a long way off.

The oil.

The cup overflowing with His goodness.

The days, moving into eternity, each one set apart for the development of an even greater and more intimate relationship with our God—these, these are our promises from Psalm 23. Today, let’s live in them, and be thankful!

When has God saved you from the brink of the cliff?  What are you thankful for today?

 

Need!

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…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. You’ve said so in your Word, Lord. And so we pray for those who find themselves weak today.

Our weaknesses, our doubts, our sins, we pray that you would remove them, for good and for all, so that we might be better equipped to serve your people.

We don’t know what we ought to pray, Lord, but Your Spirit in us does.

Help us. Equip us. Empower us. Instruct and direct us, we pray.

May You search our hearts and know our motives, and may You make them holy.

We trust that You will, because we know the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with Your will. We know that in all things You work for the good of those who love You, who have been called according to Your purpose.

Our weaknesses we surrender for Your power, today, tomorrow and always. Amen.

Grinding out a Mountain

mole hill

Are you someone who likes to grind it out? I mean by that, someone who doesn’t give up easily, tends to hold a grudge, or has a proclivity for pettifogging?

That last one, it grabbed you didn’t it? Come on, admit it.

Pettifogging: Placing undue emphasis on petty details.

This week I’ve been reminded by God several times that I need to let go of a grudge I’ve been holding onto. I’m miffed. Someone didn’t do what I thought they ought to do, and now I’m upset. It’s not like they did some big, horrible, awful, life-changing-for-me thing.

No, they didn’t.  They just didn’t do what I thought they ought.

It’s funny how when I get stuck in a loop like I’ve been lately, God reaches out to address the area of concern over and over, and over again. Can you say, “As many times as it takes to get your attention”?

Maybe not so funny. After all, He is in the refiner’s business, transforming lives through grace, patience, and consideration for everyone.

Not Just Me!!!!

Pray for me. Maybe I’m alone in this pettifogging business, but maybe I’m not. If you’re there with me (making a mountain out of a mole hill and digging yourself deeper into sin debt with each passing day), hit me up. I’d love to pray for you!

When have you been pettifogging and didn’t realize it?  What do you do when you get caught in a negative thought loop?

Following instead of leading

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 NIV

Ephesians-5_21Many an argument could have been stopped by the surrender of one party to the other before hostilities increased. That this doesn’t happen more often is a reflection of our humanity manifesting itself in all kinds of selfish ambition. Pride, self-seeking, judgmental attitudes and disgruntled feelings propel us to continue in disagreements, well past the time when they are serve any good purpose.

We humans have a hard time submitting to one another.

As we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Christ things begin to change for us.

We become less argumentative.

We agree more often.

We find value in adopting a loving attitude with everyone we meet.

Problem is, not all of us mature at the same rate, but even still…those of the family of God do better than non-believers at this whole submission thing. Our highest aim is, of course, submission to the God of Angel Armies.

Today, if you’re struggling with stepping down or stepping back so that you can be a more effective example of love and caring, cry out to Jesus and ask Him for help. He knows what it feels like to be flesh and blood and He sympathizes with our plight. He can help us to do what we cannot do on our own. Test Him in this and see if He does not make things run more smoothly.

The Holy Spirit is a willing participant in this work; will we be receptive?

How difficult do you find it to submit to others authority over you?  When has submission been a blessing; when has it been a curse?

Let Justice and Mercy Flow

Seek good, not evil… Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:14-15 NIV

…let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5:24

If you’re like me, Amos is one book of the Bible you don’t visit often. It’s a small book and full of prophetic utterances, so it can be hard to decipher. Nonetheless, this part of God’s Word has a powerful message to pass on to us today.

Seek good.
Hate evil.
Love goodness.
Maintain justice.

The point the Lord was trying to make with Israel when He spoke these words through the prophet, Amos, was that He is concerned with the actions of his children.

God cares about how we move and interact in this world.

He wants us to be constantly on the lookout for good, and to do all we can to help justice flourish in this place. Granted, this mission is a hard one and we might not see ourselves as the best choice to bring it to completion, but our Master is calling us to do all we can to be people of integrity; people who shun evil, love goodness, and provide justice for all, and we dare not let him down.

Today, we can do much to advance God’s purpose in our world simply by being examples of love and justice in our little corner of it. The dealings we have with people and the mindset we have concerning ourselves matter to God, so they need to matter to us.

How are you feeling these days regarding your ability to love goodness and provide justice for others? What can you do to increase the odds that you’re hearing God correctly, and acting in accordance with His requests?

Build with Strength

Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain. Psalm 127: 1 NIV

If you’re like me, you want to head into this new year with a strong wind at your back, pushing you onward and upward. You want to achieve more, love more extravagantly, and see some of those goals you have for yourself achieved.

You want God doing the building!

It’s never wrong to invite God into our work. In fact, an argument could be made that not inviting God into our work means we’re going to be doing a lot more work, and maybe a lot of vain striving, in the year ahead.

Without God’s help…

We’re going to make plans that won’t work out.
We’re going to spend money we can’t get back.
We’re going to forfeit blessings we could have had.
We’re going to offend our friends and hurt our families, as we rob them of the time they need with us.

Without God in our plans either we won’t produce anything of value, or our goals will be harder to achieve.  We need God in our lives, and we are reminded of that whenever the projects we put our hands to turn to dust.

This year, things can be different. We can choose to include God in every project. We can daily ask Him for his favor. We can relinquish our fears to him in a conscious way each day. We can make Papa our first priority, and make everything else to come after Him. If we will, things will go better for us.

Do you have a method for consciously relinquishing your goals to God?  If so, what is that method?


new yr

Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NIV

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1-2 NIV

The 90th Psalm teaches us to remember…

Remember that God has always been and always will be.
Remember that He is our dwelling place.
Remember that before anything was, He is!

We are called to remember that it benefits us to pursue a heart of wisdom, so that you can more effectively serve the God of Angel Armies.

God worked powerfully through and in us in 2019, and we can expect the same in 2020, so long as we are leaning into Him and being obedient to His calling on our lives. We are merely travelers here–this is not our home. One day the dinner bell will ring for each of us, and when it does, it will be Papa calling us. Let’s be ready to meet Him, full of expectation for all that lies ahead.

Remember that our time here, short as it may be, is not the end. There is more to come…more to discover. Rejoice in that knowledge and live wisely today.

What are your plans for spiritual development in the new year?  In what ways do you want to grow closer to God during the next twelve months?

Finding ourselves in the Word

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18 NIV

When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.” Soren Kierkegaard

The following is a devotional from the book, Inspired Faith 365 Days a Year and is entitled: A Fresh Word. Enjoy.

You’ve heard the joke about marriage: A wife asked her husband if he loves her. He answers, “Of course.” She then asks why he never tells her he loves her. He answers, “I told you I loved you twenty years ago, and I never changed my mind.”

Good marriages need words of affection repeated. Often. Similarly, we need to hear from God every day. The Bible is filled with insights, so when we sit down to read it, often we encounter something brand-new for our spiritual life. But sometimes the very same words, containing the very same truth, speak to us in a new and fresh way. A Bible verse as well known as John 3:16 can be a brand-new reality we realize for the very first time—even though we’ve heard it hundreds of times before. As you open the pages of God’s Word, do so with an open heart and a sense of anticipation. God has something fresh and new to say to you.

Lord, we want to hear You speak through Your Word. Please show us what you want us to know today. Amen