Give Me the Sense to Follow Your Commands

“You don’t have the sense that God gave a goose!”

Have you ever heard that? It’s an old country saying – and I hope no one has ever said it about you! It’s far from a compliment; geese are not known for their intelligence. The psalmist may have heard it or something similiar, because for whatever reason, he prays that the LORD GOD will give him the sense to follow His Commands instead of his human ideas. We should probably all start our days with these words being the first ones out of our mouths when we wake up:

“You made me; You created me. Now give me the sense to follow Your Commands.” Psalms 119:73 NLT

I think most of our prayers usually go more like this: “God, I need [fill in the blank], and I want [fill in the blank]. Would You please [fill in the blank]. And, oh, thank You for Your Son, Amen.” We are so selfish and self-centered! I’m speaking to myself, here. I want, I need, my desires…. right now. Maybe – probably – God has other plans for me for the right now. My plans don’t take into account the big picture that the God of the Universe is looking at. All I can see is this one teeny tiny bit that is right around me, and yet:

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which GOD has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB

Instead of worrying and trying to manipulate the circumstances and situations around me, it wold be more prudent for me to remember Who is really in control. I still desire the relationship, but the reality, the actuality of it, is out of my hands. It will serve me better to remember these scriptures, and to spend my time Praising rather than pouting that I haven’t gotten my way. (I know what I should do; now to put it into action!)

Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! For His Lovingkindness is great toward us, And the Truth of the LORD is Everlasting. Praise the LORD! Psalms 117:1‭-‬2 NASB

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I Pray…..

Short and sweet….

“Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications! Answer me in Your Faithfulness, in Your Righteousness!” – Psalms 143:1 NASB

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29 NASB

Oh LORD, let this be true of me, I pray!

I pray for that to be true, but the reality is that I often say things that are not edifying to others. That’s something I am very aware of, and yet I do it anyway.

“For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” ” – 1 Peter 3:10 NASB

How do we achieve this? Knowing human nature, it’s a lofty goal. I think that first, we have to submit it to the LORD. The tongue is powerful, and to control it, we need help. I need help! Submitting it to the LORD is the only way to keep our tongues from saying things we shouldn’t, and it’s a constant battle. This what we have to keep front and center in our minds:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17 NASB

Ah, liberty. Liberty to say whatever is on my mind, and the Spirit of the LORD to govern my tongue!

Let It Rain

Let it rain, rain down on me….

Crowder, with Mandisa, released a song by this name just a few months ago. It reminds me that God is in control. The same God Who made the sunshine made the rain, and through it all, He is with me. He doesn’t leave us stranded to deal with the rain by ourselves. When it’s “raining”; when everything seems to be against me, I need to remember these words:

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” – Psalms 139:14-‬17 NASB (Read all 24 verses of Psalms 139!)

I am important to God, the LORD of the Universe! He created me; He knew me before I was! In His eyes, I am special. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks, or how they might judge me. I am a child of the Most High King, the One Who rules over every other king and ruler; a Princess in the Kingdom of God.

In other posts, I have been very open about wanting a relationship here on earth, and also about how my choices have been very flawed. I still want that loving, caring relationship, but it’s not in my power to find it or secure it. It is solely in my LORD’s Hands, and He has given me – and other single women and men – guidance through His Scriptures. (If we pay attention to them….)

Is the person you are interested in a Christian? We can’t just depend on hearing the words, but we need to look for the fruits. Does that person attend church? That’s really important. For years, I fought attending, saying that “organized religion” was just something man-made and I could be – I was – spiritual without it. We may be “spiritual” without that association, but we also aren’t growing in our relationship with the LORD. We need to be associating with other Christians. Does he* honor his family? Does he treat you with respect? How is his language? What is his attitude when he doesn’t get his way? (* This is a 2-way street, people. I may be using the pronoun “he”, but it applies to both sexes equally!)

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:16‭-‬20 NASB

Not everyone on earth gets to have a spouse, or someone to love them in that way. I have had the experience and blessing of having a husband who loved me, but he is gone, with our LORD. It has been years, and I want that again, but God seems to have other plans …… and I have to be okay with that. Will I struggle with that desire? Oh yes, without a doubt! I have to continue to search for GOD’s Will; for my LORD’s desires for my life, and accept His way over mine. My prayer today is for every person who is struggling in this area. There is no shame in struggling! Watch out for the red flags, because the Holy Spirit is the One Who is waving them. Study the scriptures, and lean into the Saviour’s arms when that loneliness strikes. He will hold us and never let us go.

GOD Will Chase You Down….

“Then they called on the LORD and said, “We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O LORD, have done as You have pleased.” So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”

Jonah was a Prophet, a spokesperson for the LORD to the nation of Israel. He was respected and revered by the people because of his prophesy that Israel would be expanded back to its original borders (2 Kings 14:25) He was the first prophet to be sent specifically to preach judgement to another nation….. and he refused to go. Instead, he ran the opposite direction, boarding a boat to take him far away. He was self-righteous, he had no compassion, and he thought himself better than the people of Nivevah; that they didn’t deserve to be saved. To Jonah, God was a means, not the end – he loved the recognition, comfort, prosperity, and the blessings he received but not the worship of God, and yet in spite of Jonah, God saved the sailors. Those pagan sailors demonstrated more compassion for ONE man than Jonah did for the entire city of Ninevah. Jonah said No to God. Jesus said Yes. I want to be more like Jesus and less like Jonah….. tuned in, listening, paying attention to what God is saying.

Beat the Heat!

It’s hot. HOT. 103°F with a million degrees of humidity. I’m kidding (a little!) on the humidity, but it is really high and it kicks the heat index up. Every winter, when I can’t seem to get warm, I say I can’t wait until summer and the heat…. now I’m ready for some cool weather!

Isn’t this typical of us? Never content.

There’s a new song out by the group Unspoken. It’s called Reason, and starts like this:

This year’s felt like four seasons of winter
And you’d give anything you think to feel the sun
Always reaching always climbing
Always second guessing the timing
But God has a plan a purpose in this
You are His child so don’t you forget

When you feel like giving up
When you feel like giving in
His love is the reason
To keep on believing

Look up the lyrics, or even better, listen to them sing it. I feel like giving up more often that I think I should. Whether it’s because of the heat from the sun or the heat (and wintry chills) of the stresses of life, I second guess my actions and wonder what I’m doing. Remember the hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus? I know that as long as my eyes and my focus are on Jesus, life can’t hurt me. It can knock me down, and events can run run me over, but as long as my eyes are on Jesus, it – life, the enemy – can’t beat me. God has a purpose and a plan, even when (especially when) we can’t see it.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

When we belong to Him, His incredible, undefinable, unfathomable LOVE will keep us going. His LOVE is the Reason to keep on believing….

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NASB

This summer heat we are experiencing is just an example of the heat, the difficulties, we experience in our spiritual lives when we don’t trust in the LORD. When you feel like giving up, when the coldest chill of winter and the hottest blast of summer roar over your soul, turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His Wonderful Face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the Light of His Glory and Grace

To Every Season

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. ….He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8, 11 NASB

In the late 1950’s, songwriter Pete Seeger created the song Turn, Turn, Turn as an almost word-for-word rendition of verses 1-8 of this scripture passage. It has been recorded and re-recorded, and it is an amazing, beautiful platform for King Solomon’s words. But keep reading…. “He has made everything appropriate in its time.” We don’t understand God (how can we??), or why things happen the way they do, or even what we are supposed to do with our circumstances, but He does.

I’d like to know my appointed times. Well, sometimes I think I would. Other times, I don’t want to know! What would be the point in luving life, if we already knew everything that was going to happen, and when it would happen? Where would the adventure be? Anticipation? Excitement? Life would be dull. Monotonous. There wouldn’t be a reason to make any decisions. Even though I wouldn’t mind skipping the ugly parts of life, how could we possibly know just how good the good times are if there weren’t something to compare them to?

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the Will of the LORD is.” – Ephesians 5:15‭-‬17 NASB

God gave us free will. It’s up to us to make the most of it. Grab that moment of happiness, that ray of sunshine through the clouds. Hold on to the good. Spend time with the LORD, determining the best next step. Pray. Praise. Determine to let the Love of the LORD shine on you, no matter how tattered and confused you feel today. Dwell in Him.

Grow In Grace

The group Kutlass sings King of My Heart:
Let the King of my heart Be the mountain where I run, The Fountain I drink from, Oh, He is my song!

Let the King of my heart Be the shadow where I hide, The ransom for my life, Oh, He is my song!

We grow in Grace when JESUS is the King of our hearts. He helps us grow in our spirit when we submit to His leading. What does that look like? Start by believing the Gospel with your whole heart. We need to connect with the church – other believers – in order to grow. We can’t do it on our own. Another big part of growing Grace is to serve others.

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12:4‭-‬5 NASB

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,” – Hebrews 3:13‭-‬14 NASB (also v.12)

We won’t know, we CAN’T know, God intimately until we are connected to a body of believers, encouraging and being encouraged every day, in person, with meaningful contact between us. Intentional community is critical to our spiritual help and to our growth in Grace. Our intentional community also serves to shield us from the world’s influence. To learn and know the Gospel, we NEED other Christians for the safety we find in their presence, and to give us the time we need. Unlike in the world, there should be no pressure within the body of believers.

If we aren’t growing, progressing in the fruits of the Spirit, there’s a problem. We are constantly being deceived and tricked (stunted in our growth, selfish and self-centered) by the enemy that community/church is not necessary. Wrong. There is NO NEUTRAL in the Christian life! We are either growing or shrinking and being pulled away. I like how C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, puts it:

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen .” – 2 Peter 3:17‭-‬18 NASB

How do we grow in Grace? By grasping how unworthy we are – Amazing Grace. If you identify as the wretch, if s*(manure) happens – and it will, and if you see yourself as unworthy of God’s Grace, you are probably growing in grace. We grow through an increased knowledge of God’s Word – the WHOLE story, not just bits and pieces, connecting the stories into a unified whole. We need Expository teaching – how to relate the Bible to today, and how to study the Bible; teaching that is about Jesus, and not focused on the preacher/teacher. It’s all about HIM, not us. Glory belongs to Him. Be Passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Growth and maturity is about Him. He is most glorified when we seek the Fame and Glory of Jesus Christ. Faith in Him. His Glory.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” – Romans 6:1‭-‬2 NASB