The Lord is Our Refuge

 

As we enter adulthood, we attempt to provide security and stability for our self and our family through our vocation, savings account, two jobs, marrying someone who is already rich, etc.

 

Yet, we often find that our choices oppress our life and cause us more trouble than they help (Psalm 9:9, 52:7). In this world of sorrows and trials, we need an anchor for our soul, a stronghold where we can take refuge (Psalm 18:2).

 

Once we realize that the Lord is our light in the darkness, and our only real salvation, we release our fear of the unknown and humbly go to Him as our defense (Psalm 27:1).

 

He gives us His strength to traverse any trouble we encounter (Psalm 37:39). Even when we allow the stress of our trouble to disconnect us from Him, He is still there waiting for us to turn back in Him (Psalm 43:2; Hebrews 13:5).

 

The Lord is strong enough to tremble the whole earth with His voice; yet He is a gentle refuge for those who trust in Him (Joel 3:16; Psalm 62:2). The Lord lives forever and is the Rock of our salvation (2 Samuel 22:47; Psalm 18:46).

 

He desires that we meditate on Him and His goodness day and night, and that our thoughts, words and actions line up with His Word (Psalm 19:14). This proves our love for Him.

 

To those who stand against Him, He is a stumbling stone, a snare and trap for their wayward feet; but to His Saints, He is our sanctuary who offers us safety and shelter from any trouble we experience in life (Isaiah 8:14).

 

Prayer:

Father God, we cry out to You in our adversity, knowing that You are our only Rock and our Refuge (Psalm 89:26). We cling to Christ as our cornerstone, who gives us stability and order in our life (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16). The world rejects You, but we stand firmly on the solid footing You provide for our life in every circumstance (Matthew 21:42).

 

You are our precious Savior and we put our faith and trust in You (1 Peter 2:6-7). You are a great mountain and You fill the whole earth with Your power and majesty (Daniel 2:35). You spoke through age-old prophets and then confirmed their words as they came to pass, even over centuries of time (Daniel 2:44-45). This builds our faith in Your faithfulness and we know that we can trust in You.

 

Thought for the Day:

We humbly pursue our Living Stone by faith and do not attempt to earn His love or salvation by our works; so He rewards us with inner peace and joy, which transcend our earthly existence.

– Romans 9:32-33; 1 Peter 2:4-8

 

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The Gospel of Christ

The Gospel of Christ is a simple plan for the salvation of the whole world. Once we accept the saving grace of Christ for salvation, the Trinity dwells in us by the Holy Spirit of God.

If we reject this free gift of salvation, we condemn our self to hell for eternity. If we deny that Christ is the Son of God, we are a liar and the truth is not in us (Romans 3:23, 6:23; John 3:16-18).

Also, we are not Born Again children of God (1 John 2:22-23). However, if we abide in Him, we have confidence that we will see Him face-to-face (1 John 2:28-29).

Jesus Christ is the living Son of God who died in our place to redeem us to the Father and to Himself. He fills us and leads us with His Spirit while we live on this earth.

God gives us the faith of Christ as a shield to protect us from the fiery temptations and trials of the devil (Ephesians 6:16). He fills us with his peace, which allows us to endure life’s issues with joy (Ephesians 6:23).

The Word of God exhorts us to allow our conversation – our words and behavior – to be an example of the Gospel of Christ to the lost and dying world around us, especially during times of adversity (Philippians 2:17).

God delivers us from irrational, mean-spirited and wicked people who would come against us (2 Thessalonians 3:2). He upholds us in His powerful right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

The Word encourages us to stand strong by the power of God’s Spirit and to dwell together in unity with the Body of Christ through our shared faith in the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:4).

We do this by accessing by faith the righteousness of Christ within us, clinging to God Spirit and Word, and developing a deeper and more intimate relationship with Christ in us (Philippians 3:9; Colossians 3:3-4).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for rooting us and maturing us in Christ, establishing our faith and teaching us to abound in gratitude to You for all that You do for us even in the dire circumstances, which we sometimes face during our lifetime (Colossians 2:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:4).

You teach us patience by reminding us of the hope we have in You both now and for eternity; and You spur us on to work in faith, to labor in love and to keep our focus on You (1 Thessalonians 1:3). We love You with our whole heart and we give You all of our self just as You gave all of Yourself to us.

Thought for the Day:
God’s Spirit plants and establishes us in the faith of Christ so that we are not moved away from the hope we receive from the Gospel of Christ, which is preached by mankind, by all of nature and in the conscience of every creature ever born under heaven.
– Colossians 1:23; Romans 1:20

Living in Praise

Did you ever notice that Paul was the eternal optimist? The man worked hard, almost died several times, was stoned, shipwrecked and in the sea a day and night, constantly in danger, sleepless, hungry and thirsty, and exposed to both hot and cold elements (2 Corinthians 11:22-28).

Yet, he told us to rejoice always; to pray without ceasing; not to quench the Spirit; and to give thanks in everything: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19).

Does this mean to give thanks, because everything that happens to us is God’s will for us; or that giving thanks is God’s will for us? Either way, it is worth paying attention to this verse.

If giving thanks is God’s will, then when we praise the Lord, we are in God’s will; and when we do not praise the Lord, we are out of God’s will for us.

If Paul is saying that we should give thanks in good times and in adversity, because all of these circumstances are the will God for us, then when we do not praise Him, we are missing out on part of the miracle, which God has for us through this trial.

Recently, our air-conditioning was out for two days during the hottest November on record in southwest Florida. I was dripping sweat, irritable and claustrophobic – because the heat imprisoned me and I could not escape it.

This caused me to remember my childhood and first pregnancy; when we had no air-conditioning at all, because of our lack of income. My mom used a wet wash cloth on her neck, so I did too. It helped this time too.

As I prayed during this inconvenience, God brought Paul’s exhortation to my mind. I realized that I was not to grumble or to allow my flesh to get the better of me; and I was to walk in the Spirit and praise God, even in the suffocating heat.

Easier said than done; but I have been learning to live through my spirit and not my flesh and this was just another opportunity to practice. I truly was thankful that the circumstances were not even more dreadful.

Prayer:
Father God, I really wanted Your permission during this trial to be grouchy and to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to complain and gain sympathy from family and friends. However, I knew this would only make others miserable too, and I would not grow in my spirit with negative behavior or remain in Your will without praising.

I know that You were building character in me and preparing me for future events in my life; therefore, I chose to change my focus and to praise You with each drop of perspiration. I was even able to thank You that it cools down in southwest Florida on November evenings, and that I still had electricity and could run the fans. Thank You for living through this trial with me.

Thought for the Day:
Regardless of the circumstances, we are to do all things without grumbling and complaining (Philippians 2:12-16), and to walk in the Spirit each moment of the day (Galatians 5:15-25).

The Impotence of God

Many who do not know the Lord, will say that God is impotent and that there is no help in Him; that He causes bad things to happen to us and our loved ones without compassion or concern over the devastation caused by these trials and afflictions (Psalm 3:2).

God created Paradise and wanted us to live there. He only gave Adam and Eve one directive or restriction. They chose to listen to Satan and we all now bear the curse from their choice.

Satan delights in ensnaring the lives of every human ever born on earth. He offers them delights of the flesh; and makes sure they reap its destruction (Romans 1: 32, 6:23; Proverbs 11:19).

The devil’s plants his lies in our mind, and encourages us to falsely accuse God, to turn His glory into shame, to turn away from Him and to seek the false gods of pleasure, money, fame, success and power instead (Psalm 4:2).

God knew this would happen and provided the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. He became a man, Emmanuel, and paid our sin debt for us. Yet, many still refuse to put their trust in Him and they continue to reap sin’s curse (John 3:18).

Authentic Believers realize that there is no reason to fear anything in life (Psalm 3:6). If we are walking in His Spirit, nothing will ever happen to us, which is not already part of His plan for us.

Evil, hardship and loss come from the god of this world, the devil. God will save anyone who surrenders their life to Him. When we are surrounded by evil all around us, with no way of escape; God is right there waiting for us (Psalm 3:6).

We can enjoy a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We know without a doubt that God’s shield protects us. When we are drowning in life’s circumstances, He lifts our head high above the waves of adversity (Psalm 3:3).

Prayer:
Father God, You call us to live a holy life and to trust in You. When people around us scoff at us for trusting in You, let us stand strong in our faith in Your faithfulness. Let them see Your goodness in Your provision and care for us.

Let Your light shine on us and let everything prosper, which we do according to Your will. Fill our hearts with Your peace and joy and allow us to enjoy deep and restful sleep. Keep us safe for the glory of Your name (Psalm 4:5-8).

Thought for the Day:
God calls us not to sin (Psalm 4:4), to trust in His goodness and love, and to stand still and see the salvation of our God. – Exodus 14:13

Trusting in the Almighty

The Lord preserves our life and inspires our devotion to Him (Psalm 97:10). He is our God and saves everyone who trusts in Him (Psalm 86:2). Our eyes are on the Lord, and we take refuge in Him. He will never leave our soul – our mind, will and emotions – destitute (Psalm 141:8). He is our constant help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Even if the earth erupts in multiple tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes, which level the mountains, surge the roaring waves from the sea and level the earth with quakes, we have no need to be afraid (Psalm 46:2-3). We simply cry out to Him, who is our provision for as long as we live on this earth (Psalm 142:5).

God listens to our prayers and pays attention to our requests. He faithfully answers us with His righteous choices (Psalm 143:1). He allows those who trust in Him to experience His unfailing love with each new morning. As we lift up our thoughts, choices and feelings to Him, He reveals His direction for our day (Psalm 143:8).

God’s hand deals out blessings and trials as we need them for our perfection. He allows defeat to mold us into His divine nature. He uses adversity to prove His faithfulness and to increase our faith in Him. Our weakness proves our need for His strength. Our independence melts in the furnace of affliction and we depend on Him more each day.

Prayer:
Father God, help us to listen to Your Spirit so that we may decrease as You increase in our life (John 3:30). Give us a hunger for Your life-giving Word of Truth, which nourishes and satisfies the longing of our soul (Psalm 107:9). Replace our hardened heart with one of flesh that is pliable under the nurturing of Your Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 11:19).

Thought for the Day:
We will not harden our heart to the Truth of God’s Word, but respond to every phrase, and trust in the Almighty as we follow the direction of His voice. – John 10:27; Hebrews 3:15

Negative Emotions Unleashed

Our normal daily order in life is often disturbed by unexpected incidents, which may touch a sore spot deep within our subconscious mind. The unanticipated moment triggers negative emotions from our past, which are stored in our subconscious mind. They cause us to either over-react or to withdraw to nurse our wounds.

These dormant, negative emotions boil like a pot on the back burner of the stove. Sometimes, they will boil over the edge, often when we least expect it. People think we are crazy for getting upset over such a simple issue, but our reaction is actually stirred by years of pent up sentiments and fueled by a similar painful experience.

These feelings may continue to boil over until our soul is empty. Then we burn up from the inside out. False accusations, or being ignored or some misunderstanding may cause us to feel bitter, especially if this issue is never resolved. Bitterness is spiritual poison and defiles our whole life, which affects everything we do and everyone to whom we relate (Hebrews 12:15).

Bitterness sets us up for a snowball of negative emotions, which may eventually freeze out the people whom we love the most. We are usually kind, gentle and loving people; but the painful experiences of our past are whittling away at our inner strength and peace. Due to these subterranean emotions, we over-react negatively toward all further hurt.

The only cure for this vicious cycle is to go to God and to sit quietly in His presence as He reveals to us the root and origin of our negative emotions. He will reveal and heal the wounds in our soul and give us His peace and mercy (Lamentations 3:23). He will give us His joy and strength to face the adversity of life.

Prayer:
Father God, teach us to rely on You and to stop attempting to meet life’s challenges alone. Thank You for being our strong tower and for allowing us to run to You in times of adversity. You always keep us safe (Proverbs 18:10). Help us to forgive those who sin against us, just as You forgave us for sinning against You (Luke 11:4). Thank You for speaking Your truth to us about the underlying causes of our resentment and anger.

Thought for the Day:
A lifelong accumulation of emotional pain, humiliation, fear and false shame affects us every day of our life, until we allow God to speak His truth and to dispel the lies, which Satan planted in those memories.

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Living in the Center of God’s Will

Creation is a constant confirmation of the existence of God (Romans 1:20). Nature never toils or spins, but is provided for by God’s constant vigil over it. God cares even more for humanity than for the environment (Matthew 6:25-34; Psalm 19:1-3). We are united with God as a branch on the Vine, a separate entity, but useless alone. We would perish without our relationship to the Vine. In our connection, we live as one with Him, in the same way that nature dwells in harmony with God (Psalm 65:9-13).

God loves us so much that He died to take for us the punishment of our sins. He desires an intimate relationship with all of those who will worship Him in Spirit and without hypocrisy (John 4:24). Even when we are counted worthy to suffer as Jesus did (Acts 5:41), we can look to Him. In every circumstance, He has a higher purpose in it for us and for His Kingdom. As we live in the center of God’s will with the exhibition of our contentment and commitment, we bring Him joy.

With our focus on God, we live in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). This means that we no longer concern our self with life in this carnal world; but instead, we focus on eternal matters each day of our life. What is God’s purpose in where we live, work, shop, attend church and function in this life? We hear from the mind of God each moment of the day and look for His intention in every opportunity, roadblock and trial we experience.

We no longer have any desires apart from those God gives us. We find no terror in adversity, no joy in sin and no concern over decisions made by those who rule over us. We trust only in God’s will in all things, because He is in ultimate control (Ezekiel 38:4; Romans 13:1). As we walk in God’s will, we rest from worry and stress, because we have assurance that God knew it would occur before He created the world (Ephesians 1:4; Romans 8:29). This allows us to walk in His power (2 Peter 1:3).

Prayer:
Father God, You never command us to make our own light shine, but simply instruct us to allow Your light in us to shine in such a way that everyone will see Christ in us and glorify You (Matthew 5:16). We live in Your light in this world; and sometimes, we never even need to say a Word. Of course, the ultimate rebuke in these verses is not to hide our light under the bushel basket of human effort and worldly gain, but always to walk in Your ways, by Your Spirit’s direction and energy.

Thought for the Day:
Nothing is ever too hard for Christ within us. – Jeremiah 32:17, 27