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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An Uncommon Man – My Life with Charlie

Charlie is charming and endearing, even though he is six foot two inches tall, strong and muscular, and one of the most handsome men God ever created. He loves a practical joke, the Bible and eating at Waffle House.

He will do almost anything to get a laugh; and he seeks out places to go where he will have an audience to entertain. Charlie is a Pastor, and he even uses his pulpit as a venue to tell his funny anecdotes; some of which I have heard hundreds of times in our many years together.

He has been known to pick on me, just to get a laugh; but he has learned that I am overly sensitive and he will not hurt my feelings in order to reap the coveted chuckle.

The cutest thing about Charlie is that he laughs at his own jokes, and that makes his audience laugh even louder. You know a joke is coming, because his huge smile and the little glint in his eye give him away.

He is so cute, adorable really; a man of integrity and worth, hard-working, diligent, conscientious, full of common sense and of the highest character. His moral fiber is woven tighter than a woolen blanket and his love keeps you just as warm.

Charlie enjoys fishing for brim, eating farm-raised catfish on the bone, reading his Bible, drinking his morning coffee with his buddies and talking about his favorite sports teams.

He is very knowledgeable about many topics and can converse with anyone about anything. He cares very deeply about everyone’s feelings; and he no longer likes to hunt as he did in his youth, because he does not want to cause anyone, not even an animal, pain of any sort.

Charlie has been known to proclaim that his love language is food. Grilled steak, smoky ribs, chicken wings, and a big turkey dinner are all his favorites.

He has food moods that change almost hourly. I never know what to cook; but he politely eats everything on his plate and always compliments me when he is done with both lunch and supper.

Charlie appreciates me and lets me know it. He loves that his socks match in his drawer, he always has clean clothes to wear, that his home is casually spotless and orderly, and that he usually has everything he needs right at his fingertips whenever he needs it.

If I am behind or remiss or too tired, he never berates or belittles me. He never gets frustrated with me; and nourishes and cherishes me and makes a huge effort to always think of me before himself.

He makes time to cuddle me, which is my main love language; and tells me at least five times a day that he loves me. He always defers to me in making choices, which I do to him too; so our main disagreements are over which of us will be allowed to serve the other.

Politics, the news, comedy movies and TV show, and sharing funny photos or sayings on Facebook are a few of his favorite things. When he sends me his sermons so that I can make his sermon slides each week, he always writes me love notes attached to his emails.

Charlie can predict the weather better than any weatherman just by looking at radar photos of impending fronts. Almost to the minute, he can predict when the rain will start or how much time is between showers, so that we can steal a half hour at the pool for exercise.

His children and grandchildren are very precious to Charlie. He hears from them all several times a week. He patiently listens as they chat about the events of their day or current concerns in their life and he always prays for them all by name.

I adore Charlie, simply because he is so adorable. His constant smile warms my heart; and things that make him sad, break my heart in two. If he would allow me, I would fight all of his battles; but he won’t hear of that.

He vents his feelings to me, and then wakes up the next morning with his normal positive attitude fresh and new; ready to take on the world, the flesh and the devil all over again.

Charlie loves to watch civilization wake up. Newspapers are delivered, the sun breaks over the horizon several hours after he wakes up, and lights turn off in neighborhood houses as cars back out of driveways on their way to work.

Charlie works 8-12 hours a day; and some days of the week, he works morning, afternoon and evenings without complaint. He rarely takes all of his vacation days in a year; and some holidays he works while others take a play day. So tired that he can barely stand up, he rejoices in all he accomplished for the Lord with his day.

He will talk about the Bible with anyone with a question. In fact, he will talk about the Bible at the drop of a hat; and sometimes, he will even drop the hat to get the conversation started.

His favorite Biblical topic is prophecy. In his early teens, he read Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey and he never looked back. Pastoring his first church at age 22, his wisdom soon caught up with his anointing and enthusiasm for God and the Bible.

During the winter season every year, people come from all over the world to hear his preaching; and many a Yankee threatens to tuck him in their suitcase to take him back home with them.

His preaching is simple, yet profound. His expository sermons are all Bible-based. He never makes a statement that he has not thoroughly researched and found true, using several sources, commentaries and other verses to verify what he is saying.

The mayor calls Charlie “the friend of the city”; and he is known by all the city council, police, fire, rescue and veterans of the community. They actually smile widely and call his name in delight when they see him out around the town.

The greatest fact about Charlie is that he is my best friend, my soulmate and my husband of several decades. He treats me like a treasure and calls me his “little woman”. Sometimes, he even adds “my little Italian woman”.

Meeting at Books-a-Million bookstore in Pensacola, Florida, we have been together ever since. We cannot believe the perfect timing of the Lord to have us both in the same microcosm of time and space in order to form a most perfect union.

We thank God for bringing us together and allowing us to embark on a journey through tough times, times of hurt and misunderstanding and times of joy and comfort, which we continually gain from dwelling together in unity all the days of our life.

The best part about our relationship is that Jesus Christ lives in both of us – dwelling in our spirit. We love one another, but we love God even more. We serve Him together and make the perfect team. We look forward to continuing as best friends in eternity, as we serve our Bridegroom together even then. – Kitty Bradley

Loving Others as Our Self

Jesus made a point of telling us to love others as we love our self. Most of us despise our self, have grudges and disappointments and unforgiveness toward our self. We do not love our self at all (Mark 12:30-31).

Therefore, how can we truly love anyone else? We compare our self to worldly standards and find our self lacking. We listen to significant others in our life and adopt their opinion of us, even if it is negative.

We try all of our life to earn the unconditional love, respect, worth and affirmation we so desperately need. We sell our self short and give up on our self. We feel useless, hopeless, helpless and unlovable.

We are not powerful enough, rich enough, adorable enough, smart enough, talented enough, or attractive enough; we are not enough. We see our self through the eyes of others and we feel disappointed and ashamed.

However, God wants us to see our self through His eyes – as a person He cares about so much that He gave His life for us. He wants us to love our self as He loves us, and then to love others as we love our self.

We can start by accepting our self as He accepts us, just the way we are. We can make better, healthier, wiser and more nurturing choices. We can speak only kind, loving words to and about our self and others.

We can take care of our body, soul and spirit. We can accept our feelings and seek God to find resolutions for our negative feelings and unresolved conflicts. We can judge our self only through the eyes of God, not the eyes of the world.

We can stop using addictions, people, vocation and talents to make us feel better about our self. We can stop abandoning our self and taking our self and others for granted. We can stay in touch with who we are, what we need and how God is leading us all throughout our day.

Prayer:
Father God, enlighten the eyes of our understanding to see our self as You see us: as Your adopted children, co-heirs with Christ of Your entire Kingdom. Remind us to pay attention to our physical, emotional, spiritual and mental needs and to seek You on how to fulfill them.

Help us to accept our feelings and circumstances, even the negative ones, as Your tool in our life to bring us closer to total surrender to Your will and to keep us from depending on our human resources and understanding. Give us Your peace and joy as our strength. Remind us that without You we are nothing; but with You, all things are possible if we simply believe (John 15:5; Mark 9:23).

Thought for the Day:
Take the time throughout the day for a personal physical, mental, emotional and spiritual inventory; meet your needs or ask God to meet them; and then give yourself time to renew Your strength in the Lord and to rise up on wings like eagles. – Isaiah 40:31

Entering God’s Rest

All during our lifetime, we love to create on God’s behalf through our vocation, hobbies, parenthood and church ministry. However, we fail to heed God’s advice to take times off to rest (Genesis 2:1-2:3).

God gave us an example of how to spend our time by taking a day to focus on rest. We usually use our “day off” to catch up on chores around the house, to stock our pantry and to prepare for the coming week.

During the most hectic days at work, home and with family, we often wish we could fly away on the wings of a dove and be at rest (Psalm 55:6). Yet, we fail to use our days off to relax and breathe.

Most of us enjoy our work, and realize that no matter what our vocation, it is God who actually pays our check (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25). This helps us not to be anxious about our livelihood.

God gives us our job and keeps us there until He has another place for us to minister for His Kingdom (Acts 8:39). Regardless of our vocation, God has His perfect plans for us (Ephesian 2:10).

There is no reason to feel worried about any aspect of our life. We take all of our cares to the Lord in prayer, because He cares about us (1 Peter 5:7).

God’s peace guides us, not through our human mind, but through our spirit. He guards our emotions and mind from worry and stress, because we abide in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Jesus modeled this peace through storms, Satan’s temptations, persecution and His crucifixion (Matthew 8:24). God is humble and gentle with us and gives us rest for our soul (Matthew 11:28-29).

Pray:
Father God, remind us that You offer us a fulfilling and passionate relationship with You, which keeps us in peace because of Your faithful provision for all of our needs (Romans 8:28). This requires regular quiet times in order to enter your rest (Hebrews 13:5).

As we pray with our children and model a Godly walk for them, they too will learn the importance of trusting You with their life. Help us to enter into Your rest and to abide under the shadow of Your wings (Hebrews 4:10; Psalm 91).

Thought for the Day:
Pray as a single person, as a couple and with your children to inspire anticipation for the miracles ahead, as well as faith in God’s faithfulness, which both inspire us to rest in Him and to walk in His peace in every situation.

I GIVE UP

“I can’t!” and “I quit!” are two powerful statements. They denote a desire and decision to stop trying in our human efforts. They lead us to realize that we can, only in Christ (Philippians 4:13).

They help us to die to our self and to rise to walk in the new life, which God has planned for us (Mark 8:34-35; Ephesians 2:10). His peace in our spirit confirms His will, and His joy is our strength (Philippians 4:7; Psalm 28:7).

We are dead, and our life is now hidden with Christ in God. Christ is our whole life (Colossians 3:3-4). We empty our self of all of our plans, goals and dreams, and live according to God’s counsel (Ephesians 4:11).

God changed us from sinners to Saints, His adopted children who will inherit His Kingdom. All that is His, now belongs to us as well (1 John 3:2; Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 3:26). We are no longer strangers and aliens, but we belong in God’s family (Ephesians 2:19).

The Christian life involves much less striving than many Believers think. There is no need for us to use our humanity to accomplish anything in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We walk in the Spirit and exhibit His fruit in our character (Galatians 5:15-25). This enables us to trust in the Lord with every fiber of our being and not to depend on our human reasoning at all (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Jesus died for our salvation from sin and eternal death (John 3:16 -18). Offering our life to His service in our vocation and calling is our daily commitment to Him in return.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for validating our worth through Your presence in our life. You set us free to live, move and have our being in You (Acts 17:28). Your mercy and love granted us forgiveness while we were still sinners (Romans 8:5), so that we in turn can forgive our self and others who wrong us during our lifetime (Matthew 6:14).

Teach us to discern the difference between the carnal or satanic voices and Your voice in our mind; so You can lead us throughout our day. Remind us not to expect certain results when we obey Your promptings, because Your ways are so much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Thought for the Day:
We do not allow success or problems to approve or negate God’s will for us, because we may not see the eternal plan, which God accomplished through us regardless of the results. – 1 Peter 4:12

Free from the Ravages of Sin

Jesus delivers us from our sinful nature, which formerly served sin; and He gives us a mind, which is now a slave to God’s nature, principles, wisdom and Kingdom (Romans 7:25).

We are free from the law of sin and death, by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). We daily live as a witness to others of the love and nurture of the eternal Godhead living within us (Romans 8:4).

Sin no longer has power over us, because of God’s grace ruling in our heart (Romans 6:14). As slaves of God, we are set free from the slavery to sin, in order to reap the blessings of holiness and eternal life (Romans 6:22).

God’s Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead, now lives within our body, and give us His life (Romans 8:11). We belong to Christ, who raised us from the dead, and now we bear fruit for God’s Kingdom (Colossians 3:3; Romans 7:4).

Christ lives in us, and we are united with Him, just as He is one with our Father (John 14:20; Colossians 1:27). We are joined to and united with God’s Spirit in the intimacy of a branch with a vine (1 Corinthians 6:17; John 15:4-5).

The Trinity’s divine power enables us to excel in our vocation, ministry, calling and family through God’s divine Spirit within us (Colossians 1:27). We also pray by the direction of God’s Spirit and petition Him for the needs of all of His Saints (Ephesians 6:18).

God’s Spirit will endow us with the courage to boldly share the gospel with everyone we meet. Not in a preachy or condemning manner, but in the spirit of love and peace with the words He gives us (Ephesians 6:19).

Prayer:
Father God, help us to actually see the reality of the fact that we do not need to sin; because the law of the spirit of life in Christ sets us free from the law of the spirit of sin and death (Romans 8:2). When Christ sets us free, we are truly free in every area of our life (John 8:36).

You teach us in Your Word that if we live by the dictates of our flesh, and give in to Satan’s temptations, we will surely die in our sin. Yet, if we live by Your Spirit, He enables us to resist temptation, and we will live in Your Kingdom as co-heirs with Christ forever (Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:15-25).

Thought for the Day:
Since the Son of God set us free, we are absolutely free to live in holiness – John 8:36; Romans 6:18

Christ’s Divine Life in Us

The Trinity originally created mankind in their image (Genesis 1:6). Adam and Eve enjoyed an existence of body, soul and spirit in close fellowship with the Father. They maintained the same divine nature, which Christ exhibited.

Yet, when they believed Satan’s lies, they chose to ignore their divine nature and to give in to Satan’s temptation of their human nature instead. As a result, their spirit died; and at birth, our spirit is also dead in sin.

This did not take God by surprise. He already knows the end of time from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). That is why, before He created the world, God planned to become Emmanuel (Genesis 1:1; Matthew 1:23).

He paid the ransom for the sin debt (Romans 4:25, 5:6) of anyone who will choose to submit to His will, rather than to our human desires or the devil’s temptations (John 3:16-18).

God’s Spirit regenerates our spirit and sanctifies our soul so that we will live in the divine nature of Christ in us, rather than through our human nature with its carnal thoughts and desires (2 Peter 1:4; John 1:1, 12-14).

This is possible, because our spirit is Born Again. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:2, 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We live, move and have our existence in Christ alone (Acts 17:28).

The life, which we live in this body, is lived through the faith of God’s holy Son (Galatians 2:20). We are united with Christ in our spirit, just as Jesus’ humanity was united with God, while He lived on this earth.

We continue the work of Christ and we do greater works, as we function as His Body (John 3:3-6, 14:12). We think, feel, speak and act in the will of God as we follow the leading of His Spirit through every decision we make and every action we take (Proverbs 3:5-6).

This affects our behavior and words in our vocation, marriage, family, neighborhood and church Body. We live as a city on a hill, and we never hide the light of Christ within us or darken it by sin (Matthew 5:14-16).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for helping us to renew our mind through the washing of the water of Your Word (Ephesians 5:26). Since Christ set us free from sin, then help us to stay free from its destructive clutches (Galatians 5:1).

Teach us how to walk in the divine nature of Christ in us. Help us to live and move and have our being in Him, so that we can walk in Your will, exhibit Your character and do the works of Christ all the days of our life.

Thought for the Day:
Even though our body will die, because of the sin that curses this world, God’s Spirit gives our soul His divine life as He resides within our regenerated spirit once He justifies us through salvation in Christ. – Romans 8:10