Turn to the Father

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands (Deut. 8:10-16).

As a believer, when times of trouble come, I immediately turn to God. I stay in His presence whether I am totally focused on prayer or talking with Him while doing daily tasks. It’s easier to trust when we must, in situations where we have no control. But this is God’s desire in the good times, too.

God doesn’t enjoy our pain, in fact, it tears His heart too. In all their distress, He too was distressed (Isa 63:9a). Although He doesn’t initiate our suffering, He uses it to draw us into His fellowship so that He can dispense His love and mercy and bless us with His better plan.

When times are good, it is easier to lean on ourselves and forget the Giver of all good things. If I could only always be mindful of this and avoid what is documented time and time in scripture when pride led to destruction.

May His praise continually be on my lips.

The Law vs Love

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt 22:37-40).

Did you know that there are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, with 10,000-300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally and may carry criminal penalties? And that is just federal. As we are sitting here right this minute, we may be unknowingly breaking some kind of law or code.

Following Jesus is so much simpler, not necessarily easy, but definitely less complicated. In fact, if everyone followed the two laws outlined by Jesus, we would not need any other law. With the love in our hearts from God (the source of all love), we can turn that toward others. If we truly loved others we would never do anything that would be detrimental or harm them.

Simple, but not easy. Over and over our human nature takes the lead. Even Paul, one of the people throughout history who was most dedicated to the Lord, Jesus Christ said, “ I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Visualizing life governed by the greatest commandment gives us a little glimpse of one little facet of eternity. Law–less, because we will all be governed by perfect love.

Safe Space

Whoever dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps 91:1).

 Today there is so much talk about safe spaces where people are insulated from, well, just about anything that anyone wants to define as harmful, or hurtful, or even just uncomfortable. God doesn’t offer us that kind of isolation; in fact, His word (and my experience) shows that we grow in character and holiness through adversity.

If we look to Him in trust He offers us, not a safe space, but a fortress (v2). He doesn’t remove discomfort; sometimes we need it to grow, but He promises to be with us (v15). He protects us from the enemy’s snare [what are my personal temptations] (v3); terror by night [what are my fears]; arrows that fly by day [what are my arrows]; the plague that destroys [what plagues me physically, mentally, spiritually] (v 5&6–just read Psalm 91, it’s amazing).

Thank You, Father, that You have my back, in fact, You surround me so that “evil can not conquer me and no plague can come near my tent (v10).”

Knowing God

It has been said that the Creator placed within each of us a yearning for Him. After reading a verse in Colossians, I am wondering if He placed more than a yearning, but also a knowledge of Him within each person—from the most primitive to the most sophisticated.

I’d like to examine some of these scriptures then end with one of my favorite stories about Hellen Keller. At least that’s my plan, but I am open to where the Lord leads, so be sure to read to the end.

Romans 1:20 states, for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and deity; so that they are without excuse. To me, this means that everyone should know God or at least, know about Him through the amazing things He created.

Colossians 1:22-23 says, You have been reconciled through Christ’s death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach, so continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven. My footnote says that Paul was using a hyperbole (exaggeration), but this same idea of everyone having heard the gospel (Christ’s redemptive death, burial, and resurrection) appears elsewhere.

Titus 2:11 states, for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared (is revealed) to all men.

I would think that there are indigenous from primitive lands that have not heard the complete gospel message, but I also believe that we have an amazing God who would not leave anyone in the dark. With that lead-in, here’s my Helen Keller story as one example.

Helen was blind and deaf from the age of two. She had basically lived a life of isolation. Years later, after her teacher, Anne Sullivan, had taught her the gift of language, she thought Helen should have some spiritual knowledge as well. I have no idea how Anne explained God to Helen, but Helen’s reply is amazing. “I’ve known Him all along; I just never knew His name.”

The Word

Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deut 8:3).

 Did you notice that this verse is from the Old Testament? You probably recognize it from when Jesus quoted it to rebuke Satan’s temptations. There are so many lessons to be learned from the context of this quote in the Old Testament, but I’d like to focus of Jesus (yes, I would). He had the power of the Creator of the Universe at His fingertips, but He, the Son of God, fought the enemy with scripture.

Have you ever seen those bookmarkers that have a scripture for every need (when you’re lonely, depressed, scared…)? Don’t take it lightly; that is our arsenal. His words are powerful.

When I think of the power of my own words to produce joy, anger, hurt, love, I can on a small, small scale begin to grasp the immeasurable power of proclaiming the words of God.

What About You?

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29)

Sometimes I hesitate using the word Christian because the term has been so diluted. There are many who describe themselves as Christians who believe that Jesus lived, but do not embrace His death, burial, and resurrection as a personal gift to them from a loving God.

Volumes upon volumes have been written about who Jesus was, but what is eternally important is who Jesus is…to you (see Romans 10:8).

This is the most important question in the universe. The answer can affect our eternal destiny and our eternal destination.

Breathe

Praise the Lord, oh my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name (Ps 103:1).

Just as I began writing about praising God from our deepest being, this song by Michael W. Smith came on the radio. It certainly captures the essence of this verse.

This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me.
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me.

The psalmist lists many treasures with which our Heavenly Father blesses us that could come only from His mercy and grace. Verse five mentions “renewing our youth.” This one is getting more and more important as the years fly by. But only our loving Father restores that youthful vigor by giving us goals and dreams and purpose each day.

…and forget not all His benefits (Ps 103:2).

And I, I’m desperate for you.

And I, I’m lost without you.