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

 

The Perfecting Work of Patience – Part 2 Entering God’s Rest

 

The only striving the Bible encourages us to do is to strive to enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:10-11). We do not use self-effort to arrive at any other phase of our Christian walk.

The reason we have to strive to enter into God’s rest is that it goes against our natural human tendency. Our pride and rebellion spur us on to do things our way, and submitting to God chafes our soul – our mind, will and emotions.

We want to feel accomplished and to believe that we earned the degree or trophy or crown of glory by our hard work and effort. The truth is that we will throw our crowns at Jesus’ feet, because we will finally realize that He, not us, earned and deserves them (Revelation 4:10-11).

In our free will, we can choose to disobey God’s Spirit at any time; but then we reap the consequences of sin, as well as discipline for our disobedience from our Father who loves us a His children (Hebrews 12:4-12).

On the other hand, attempting to discipline our self to walk in good works and obedience to God’s Word is often fruitless and counterproductive. The more we strive toward perfection the more our flesh draws us back into sin and rebellion.

We can only walk in perfection as we rely on the promises and Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Peter 1:4). Our obedience to God is both inspired and empowered by His Spirit within us (Philippians 2:12-13).

“Let patience have her perfect work” (James 1:4-8) is not telling us to be patient or to get patience. It is simply telling us to submit to God and to allow patience, which is a fruit from the Holy Spirit, to do its perfecting work in us (Galatians 5:22-23).

This takes all the stress out of life for us. We walk in freedom and joy, with God’s peace in our heart regardless of circumstances; knowing without a doubt that God has a seed for a miracle in the midst of every trial.

Prayer:
Father God, remind us that our part in our spiritual walk is simply to surrender to the work of Your Holy Spirit in our life. We are but a lump of clay, and You are the Master Potter (Jeremiah 18:1-6; Isaiah 64:8). You are our Alpha and Omega and You give us Your living water as we thirst for You alone (Revelation 21:6).

Teach us that the Christian walk is not about self-effort, but about submission to You first and foremost in all areas of our life. We concede to You in everything we think, say and do; and You direct our path (Proverbs 3:5-6). We walk in Your ways now and serve You for eternity in Your new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1).

Thought for the Day:
By trusting in God to save and to perfect us in every way, regardless of the circumstances of our life, we enter His rest and remove all stress from our life.

My Soul Waits – A Frank Conversation

Negative, shaming self-talk comes from Satan in order to discourage us from allowing God to use us to His full potential within us. It diminishes our ability to receive the flow of God’s love to us.

We feel like crawling into a closet or curling into a tiny ball and hiding from the world. We cannot even look at our self in the mirror.

Our judgmental, critical, shaming and censoring thoughts about our self and others cripples us and deflects the immensity of the Truth of God’s unconditional love and acceptance for us.

We do not sense God’s faith, hope and love within us in the person of Jesus Christ. We are unable to detect His will through our hurried lives and busy days.

We have to get off the merry-go-round of life and have a frank conversation with God. As we share our heart with Him, we empty our soul of the cares of this life and our deep seated insecurities.

Meditating on God’s Word throughout the day helps us to focus on Him and His will for our life. This trains our soul to think on heavenly things rather than being carnally minded.

In the silent times of waiting on God, we enjoy His companionable silence as He showers us with His love, fills us with His peace and gives us His joy as our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

He gets us ready for the next trial or temptation or crisis which we will face by strengthening us from the inside out. He showers us with His blessings and love to re-enforce our spirit and prepare us for the battle ahead.

Prayer:
Father God, You have a distinct purpose for each person You created. You sent Your Son to redeem us and Your Spirit to direct us throughout our lifetime. Make us aware of Your presence during the quiet times we maintain throughout our day.

Remind us to listen to Your voice, rather than the satanic voices in our mind. Draw us closer to You. We thank You for never letting us go (Hebrews 13:5). Work in us the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4), and fulfill in us and through us all of your promises.

Thought for the Day:
God has a perfect, prearranged plan for our life; and as we walk in it, we find His presence along with fulfillment and holiness.
– John 17:17-18; Ephesians 2:10

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 Name of the Lord – Our Refuge

Faith in Jesus’ name will strengthen us; and the faith which comes through Him, often gives us perfect health through Him; so that Jesus may be magnified (Acts 3:16, 4:10, 4:30, 19:17 James 5:14).

God justly remembers the work and love we show in His name as we minister to one another (Hebrews 6:10). We give thanks and praise to His name, and exalt His name as He delivers us (1 Chronicles 16:35; Nehemiah 9:5).

We praise His name as we assemble, and to the ends of the earth, and as we pay our vows forever and ever (Psalm 22:22, 30:4, 38:10; 61:8). Even the oppressed and needy praise and give thanks to His great, lovely, and awesome name (Psalm 74:21, 99:3, 106:47, 135:3).

His is the only name, which we exalt and worship (Psalm 148:13). We praise His name with dancing and with instruments because of all the good things He does for us (Ps 149:3; Jeremiah 33:9; Joel 2:26). The fruit of our lips continually gives thanks to and boasts in His name (Hebrews 13:15; Psalm 44:8).

God releases our soul from its prison here on earth, so that we may give thanks to His name (Psalm 142:7). Therefore, we exalt His name forever for His wonderful works, and His perfect plans, which He faithfully fulfills (Isaiah 12:4, 25:1).

Even in trials and persecution, we praise the name of the Lord (Ephesians 5:20; Psalm 74:21). Whatever we do in word and deed, we do it all in His name and for the glory of His name (Colossians 3:17).

Prayer:
Father God, all the earth will one day worship You with the glory, which is due to Your name (Psalm 66:4). There is no god like You, and we eagerly await the revelation of Your appearing, because You are the desire of our soul (Exodus 34:14; Isaiah 26:8). We love and take refuge in Your name and sing for joy because of Your shelter throughout our life (Psalm 5:11).

We cling to You and hold fast to Your promises and ways as we enjoy Your deliverance (Deuteronomy 10:20; Psalm 5:11, 9:10). Thank You for securely setting us high upon the Rock of Christ, because we experience the magnitude of Your name (Psalm 91:14).

Thought for the Day:
Due to God’s marvelous works, let us continually offer words of praise, even if it is a sacrifice for our soul to use our last ounce of strength to do it. – Hebrews 13:15

Never Alone

We never go through a trial without God in the midst of it with us. He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). Christ and the Holy Spirit reside within us (Galatians 2:20).

Even through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us (Psalm 23:4). Whenever we feel that God is not with us, it is due to our behavior, not the Trinity. We leave them or grieve them by our choices and behavior (Psalm 13:1-6).

This causes us to lose courage, strength, joy and heart. We feel abandoned and forlorn. We have no will to go on any more. We may even feel betrayed by those who are supposed to love us, including God.

God is just waiting for us to completely surrender to His love. The Way, Truth and Life is always with us and in us, giving us wisdom and bringing us into God’s glory (Colossians 1:27; John 14:6).

The Lord wants us to accept His will without any conditions or self-will. Praise opens the gates of hell, which we are experiencing, and allows us to understand the freedom of our union with God (Act 16:16-40).

Praising God for the negative circumstances, for the seed for a miracle within the trial and for His goodness, even when we are hurting, is the key to spiritual victory.

Jesus knew Calvary awaited Him. He first requested that God save Him from the cross (Matthew 26:37-42). Then, He prepared Himself for this trial through a time of prayer in the garden with His disciples.

Jesus knew that the only way to traverse any trial is to embrace the will of God in and through it. Therefore, He changed His focus to the glory, which awaited Him (Hebrews 12:2).

We follow Jesus’ example and praise God regardless of His deliverance or blessings for us in this life, because we know the glory, which also awaits us in Heaven (Romans 8:18). We know that God will work out everything – even the most unbearable circumstances in this life – for our ultimate good.

Prayer:
Father God, teach us to worship You in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Remove any hypocrisy in us and help us to live, move and have our being in Christ (Acts 17:28). Draw us close to You, because we know You will never, ever let us go.

We will pour out our love for You even when the flames of the fire, winds of the tornado, or destruction of the disease rip our life out of our clutches; because we know that our last breath on earth is followed by our first breath in Heaven.

Thought for the Day:
The God of the universe never, ever leaves or forsakes us; so, what is there to worry about? – Hebrews 13:5

Abiding in Christ

Effective evangelism is motivated by the love of God. When we share the love of God, we and those we minister to are filled with God, because God is love (Ephesians 3:19; 1 John 4:8).

When our personal relationship with God is evident, people will want this same intimacy with Him, which we enjoy. Our testimony emanates Christ’s life, which entices people to hunger for God too (John 13:35).

God gives us His peace and His Spirit who dwells within us (1 Corinthians 2:12, 14:33). We prosper in every trial through Christ who abides in us (Romans 8:37).

Jesus already overcame the world and the trials through which we live; so He encourages us from the inside out (John 16:33). Therefore, we can always flourish in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

There is no condemnation for past sins, because we are now in Christ (Romans 8:1). He became sin on our behalf and gave us His righteous standing with our Father God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God’s Spirit gives us liberty from bondage to the flesh, the world and Satan (Galatians 3:13-14; 2 Corinthians 3:17). Since God is in our corner, nothing which comes against us can succeed (Romans 8:31).

We are never alone again, because Christ never forsakes us or leaves us alone (Matthew 28:20). He expresses Himself through our thoughts, words and deeds (Hebrews 13:5).

We learn to be content with whatever God provides for us on a daily basis, knowing that if we need something, He will provide it in His own way and time (Philippians 4:11).

Prayer:

Father God, regardless of the obstacles life uses to hinder us, You conqueror over them all. Thank You for leading us by Your Spirit and making us Your children and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14, 17).

You help us to understand what Your will is for our life and You enable us to walk in it (Ephesians 5:17). Remind us to obey Your Spirit and to look to You for the fulfillment of all of our needs.

Thought for the Day:

We serve at the pleasure of our King Jesus, who dwells within us; therefore, we abound in every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:8

Deep Inner Peace and Fulfillment

God orchestrates every nuance of our life. His abundant light overcomes the densest gloom. His power and majesty slay every demon in spiritual darkness, which comes against us (1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3).

He encourages us to take our focus off our mortal frailty or our competent human abilities, and to concentrate on the reality of Christ in us (Colossians 1:27). God’s presence in our life provides us with deep inner peace and fulfillment.

Nothing this world has to offer can take the place of His goodness and grace. When the issues of life become more than we can bear, we sit on our Heavenly Father’s lap and snuggle in the safety of His arms.

I love to spend time in the night watches praising, praying, writing blog posts, and crying or rejoicing in the presence of our Father God (Isaiah 26:9). We are in Him and He dwells within us (Galatians 2:20).

This state of abiding in Christ is accomplished by one swift act of total surrender. It may take a deep trial, a layoff from work, rejection from a mate or a week-end retreat; but when our soul yearns for God, we readily relinquish our will to Him.

Once we make up our mind to allow Christ to live His life in and through us, our life starts changing – both in miniscule growth, as well as leaps and bounds (1 Samuel 16:7). We exhibit more and more of Christ’s divine nature and we never, ever leave His presence (2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Prayer:
Father God, You only want what is best for Your children. Every action You take in our life, even the trials and tribulation, is an act of Your love. You wound, but You never break, and You always heal (Job 5:18). You fill the void within each of us and You satisfy the longing in our soul for something greater than this temporal life (Psalm 107:9). Your affection and provision never fail us.

Thought for the Day:
God’s children sing of His mercy and strength, which is new every morning; and we praise our loving Father for being our stronghold, refuge and fortress in all our times of trouble. – Lamentations 3:22-23; Psalm 59:16-17

God is Always in Control

Although we feel like every trial is the end of our life, we can walk through each one of them with courage, because God’s future plan for us is just on the other side of this mountain. We need the experience of this current ordeal in order to face what lies ahead. Our faith in God’s faithfulness is strengthened by every negative aspect in our life, because He delivers us from them all (Psalm 34:19).

We enjoy our powerful hope because of God’s wisdom and goodness. Although we know that in this world we surely will experience tribulation, He goes through every one of them with us, and He already overcame every trial known to mankind (John 16:33; Hebrews 4:15). Each negative aspect we experience will turn out for our ultimate good and also conforms us into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).

Our Father God is in complete control of our life. Nothing happens to us that is not already part of His plan for us. This is true, even when we reap the negative consequences of our foolish behavior, because He knew what we would do before we were even born (Ephesians 2:10). In fact, He loved us even while we were still sinners, although each sinful choice we made broke His heart (Romans 5:8).

God no longer sees our past sins, but the blood of Christ and His love, which covers a multitude of our sins (1 Peter 4:8). We no longer suffer condemnation for our sins, because we are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). As Believers, we are the Bride of Christ and we look forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb as His beloved spouse (Revelation 19:1-10).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for using the negative aspects of life to strengthen us for future ordeals and to draw us closer to You. Remind us that You will never leaving us alone, because You live within us and accomplishing all things through us (Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:13). We rest in the fact that You are in complete control and nothing will occur in our life, which is not in Your perfect will for us.

Thought for the Day:
We may foolishly make our own plans for our day, but God always directs our steps. – Proverbs 16:9