Christ, Be With Me

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Christ, be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie,
Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise,

Salvation is of the LORD (repeat 3x)

This is a part of the Catholic prayer called “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.” My devotion today is based on this prayer, and I find it to be a very powerful and compelling prayer. I’m sure any Catholics who read this will find it familiar, but for those of us who are not Catholic, it could be our first exposure to it. The prayer puts in plain language the omniscience of GOD. He is with me. He surrounds me with His Presence and Protection. He never leaves me.

But what does it [Righteousness] say? “the WORD is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” – that is, the WORD of Faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth JESUS as LORD, and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. for “whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved .” – Romans 10:8‭-‬10‭, ‬13 NASB

Is CHRIST with you? Have you called on His Name and claimed your gift of salvation from Him?

(Prayer is from the Catholic Bible School devotion, found on the Bible App by YouVersion.com)

Trust and Obey

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD.” – Philippians 4:6

“And we know that GOD causes all things to work together for good to those who love GOD, to those who are called according to His Purpose.”-
Romans 8:28

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is Good; For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting. Oh let those who fear the LORD say, “His Lovingkindness is Everlasting.” The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.” – Psalms 118:1‭,4,6-7 NASB

This hymn by John H. Sammis, written in 1887, captures the beauty of trusting in our Father God:

  1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
    What a glory He sheds on our way!
    While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
    And with all who will trust and obey.

    • Refrain:
      Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
      To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
  2. Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
    But His smile quickly drives it away;
    Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
    Can abide while we trust and obey.
  3. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
    But our toil He doth richly repay;
    Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
    But is blessed if we trust and obey.
  4. But we never can prove the delights of His love
    Until all on the altar we lay;
    For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
    Are for them who will trust and obey.
  5. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
    Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
    What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
    Never fear, only trust and obey.

Sweetly written, sweetly sung, and sweetly true.

Rejoicing in Hope

“….. casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 NASB

So easy to say, yet how difficult to live! Where would we be without hope?

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” – Romans 12:9‭-‬13 NASB

Today, I find myself yet again anxious and fretting over finances. I desperately need another source of income in order to cover my financial obligations, and although I continue to search, nothing is presenting itself as a solution. This is the type of thing that our Father GOD permits in our lives, to teach us to rely on Him rather than ourselves. Letting go of my “control.” Again, easy to say and difficult to do! I want to fix it, and GOD wants me to let it go so that He can show us (me!) how Powerful He is. He is reminding me that there is a GOD, and I’m not Him.

“….. Rejoicing in Hope, Persevering in Tribulation, Devoted to Prayer …..”

Simple, right? Hah.

Actually, it is simple for those who are confident in their salvation through JESUS CHRIST. With JESUS in my heart, and the HOLY SPIRIT beside me, I am inundated with Hope. Without their presence to lift me up above the muck and mire of everyday life, I could only flounder around and eventually succumb to hopelessness and helplessness, allowing it to overwhelm me. I’ve been there, stuck in those feelings, and it is definitely not a good state of mind. Because JESUS loves me (and you), He waits alongside me until I lift my eyes to Him and ask for help. I almost think that Paul got it backwards. If we are not first praying, how can we possibly perservere in tribulation? Where is our hope, if not in the LORD?

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” – Psalms 121:1‭-‬2 NASB (Read all 8 verses of Psalm 121. Powerful!)

I encourage you – and me – to learn these scriptures, especially Psalm 121; to hold on to the words of the LORD whenever despair and hopelessness raise their ugly heads and try to drag us down. There is nothing more Powerful in the Universe than our GOD: FATHER, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT. Nothing. Remember,

“….. at the Name of JESUS every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth …..” – Philippians 2:10 NASB

REJOICE at our HOPE in the LORD!

AMEN.

Distracted

The enemy of the LORD, my enemy, is quite accomplished at putting distractions in front of us so that our concentration, our focus, is removed from my LORD and onto other things. The truly important things in our lives are often set aside because our GOD focus has been interrupted. For the past week, the enemy, Satan the destroyer and the father of lies has been very successful with distracting me. GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!

I’m not alone in this. There are hundreds, thousands, of Christians who struggle with distracting circumstances every day – maybe even every waking moment. Disease, illness, and failing health are prime examples. When we are focused on those instead of GOD, whether it is me/you personally or someone close to me/you, it is difficult to focus on GOD and His plans.

Trust, or a variation thereof, is used frequently in both the Old and New Testaments. The prophet Jeremiah put it succinctly:

Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD…… Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose Trust is the LORD.” – Jeremiah 17:5‭, ‬7 NASB

How often do we condemn ourselves by refusing to trust in the LORD? This verse from Proverbs is one I have heard countless time:

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

I allow myself to be distracted though my worry and the urge to take charge; to “fix” things on my own, rather than rely on my GOD. How can I believe that He is Almighty enough to create everything, yet doubt that He can take care of me and my problems? Listen to Natalie Grant’s song “King of the World.”

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust

It is so easy to fall into this trap of attempting to control life around us. I’m guilty of doing it over and over and over. Remember this definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” My prayer today is that my focus on the LORD will grow, and that He will overcome the distractions. I’m not strong enough to do it on my own, so I must rely on the Holy Spirit to provide His strength. All we have to do is to ask Him for His help, and He will provide it. Thank You, LORD!

Wisdom, Understanding, and Folly

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.” – Jeremiah 17:7 ESV

Isn’t it fascinating that the author of Proverbs, reputed to be Solomon, the wisest man on earth, addresses Wisdom and Folly as female:

“Does not Wisdom call? Does not Understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man.” ….. “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old. [“The LORD brought me forth as the first of His works, before His deeds of old ….. – from the NIV] Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, before He had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When He established the heavens, I was there; when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above, when He established the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress His Command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him, like a master workman, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always, rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.” – Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-27, 30-31 ESV

Even the earth is referred to as “she” in ancient history. Don’t misunderstand me. I believe that GOD – GOD the FATHER, GOD the SON, and GOD the HOLY SPIRIT; the Triune, Three-in-One Creator GOD – are masculine. That’s how they are ALWAYS referred to in scripture, but here in Proverbs the writer makes a point of using the feminine forms to describe Wisdom and Understanding and Folly. It is as if they are creations, too; in fact, in verse 22, it clearly states that Wisdom was brought forth as the first of His works, His acts, of old. We also see in verse 1 where the writer refers to Understanding as feminine: “Does not Understanding raise her voice?” I have struggled with the idea that God would create His companions – the angels, the Seraphim and Cherubim and all of the heavenly hosts – only as males, but and only after that create man and woman, and all of the creatures on earth as male and female.

Are all angels, then, created as masculine as portrayed in the masterpieces of old? Clearly, there are masculine angels, but for example, is the Archangel Michael masculine – or perhaps feminine? We won’t have a definitive answer until we get to see JESUS, but in whatever form, they are definitely created by God, and they are His warriors. Satan is obviously male (based on the scriptures where the reference is always “he”) but remember that one third of the heavenly hosts followed him in his rebellion (that’s where Folly comes in). Before we (women) start to get too proud of the fact that Wisdom is feminine, we need to read what the scriptures say about her sister, Folly:

“The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol [also know as Hell].” – Proverbs 9:13‭-‬18 ESV

I don’t really think it’s worth spending a lot of time trying to figure out the masculine and feminine of all of our GOD’s Creation, because it is as He created it. Worry or concern over it won’t change anything. The important question, the critical question, is this: Do you choose each day to follow Christ, and listen to wisdom, or do you prefer to listen to folly? (Be sure to read that last verse, Proverbs 9:18, again!)

Just some thoughts.

Artist: Adam de Colonia, 1660-1685, oil on canvas

Once-And-Done; All-Or-Nothing

When you hear “Sermon on the Mount,” I imagine your mind goes right to the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit ….. Blessed are those who mourn ….. Blessed are the meek ….. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness ….. Blessed are the merciful ….. Blessed are the pure in heart ….. Blessed are the peacemakers ….. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness ….. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:3‭-‬12 NIV

My challenge is to go to verses 17-18:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” – Matthew 5:17‭-‬18 NIV

Does the LAW of Moses still stand, just as it did before JESUS came to earth to fulfill it? If it does, what does that mean to us today? Are we still bound by the old laws, the Ten Commandments and the regulations as given by Moses to the Israelites? I am not a Bible scholar, by any stretch, so I rely heavily on the knowledge and information I can glean and learn from others. In my study today, I found some great information in a post written by Pastor Jim McClarty titled “Jot and Tittle.” For a more indepth study, go to Grace Christian Assembly.org.

I think Pastor McClarty clarifies this point quite well.

The New Testament tells us that attempting to seek justification before God by keeping any part of the law automatically makes us responsible to keep the entire law (Gal. 5:3, 3:10, James 2:10). You cannot pick and choose. You will either stand before God and be judged by the law, or you will be established in the righteousness that comes by faith (Rom. 3:22, Gal. 5:5). But, you cannot mix and match.

In other words, if you want God to accept you on the basis of your actions – like tithing, Sabbath-keeping, etc. – then you had also better be killing animals every time you sin. That’s the law. And, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.

Whenever JESUS refers to “the Law and the prophets,” He isn’t just saying “the LAW.” The phrasing is critical here: “The LAW and the prophets” was His reference to what we now know as the Old Testament; the only “Testament” available at the time. JESUS CHRIST is the fulfillment of “the Law and the prophets.” When JESUS spoke the words in verse 18, everything had not yet been accomplished because His Blood had not yet been shed; He had not yet been hung on the cross and killed as the ultimate and final sacrifice for our sins. Only after He was raised from the dead and had ascended into Heaven to rejoin the FATHER was the everything of “the law and the prophets” fulfilled. If we believe that we must live a certain way, or follow the old laws, then aren’t we negating His very sacrifice and death? When we insist that we must submit to some kind of man-required penance or that we justify our salvation through our works, aren’t we saying that His sacrifice wasn’t enough?

As Christians, when we accept CHRIST as our LORD and SAVIOUR, we are not bound by the Law of Moses but we are bound by the Words of JESUS.

And [JESUS] said to him, “You shall love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the Great and First Commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 ESV

Here’s the distinction: Under the Law of Moses, you are expected to keep every Jot and Tittle [the smallest letter, the least stroke of a pen] of the Law, including the sacrifice of animals in order to cover your sins with their blood. It’s an ongoing proposition, requiring constant supervision and intervention by the priests in the Temple. Under the NEW Law, the Law of JESUS CHRIST as LORD, His death on the cross is a once-and-done deal! Under Him, we are freed from the burdens of constant guilt and worry, and here’s the best part: even though we aren’t held to the strictures of the Law and the prophets, Moses’ Law, when we truly submit to the LOVE of our LORD, it becomes our desire to please Him by keeping HIS Commandments: First, to Love the LORD our GOD with all of our heart, soul, an mind, and second, to love our neighbor as ourself.

Where do you stand? Freed under CHRIST, or captive to the Law of Moses?

I am FREE, Once-And-Done; All-Or-Nothing – HALLELUJAH and AMEN!

My Soul Yearns for YOU

“My soul yearns for You in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks You. For when Your Judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” – Isaiah 26:9 ESV

We hear a lot about Mary this time of year. As I was reading my Bible this morning, this verse was highlighted as the verse of the day, and it brought to mind the willingness of this young woman to follow the instructions of the LORD. When she was told her destiny by the angel, her response (to me) was amazing:

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” – Luke 1:38 ESV

How many of us can truly say that our heart, our soul, yearns for GOD to the point that we completely and unquestioningly accept GOD’s Will for us? Do you think Mary really had any idea of just how big this event would be? We don’t know how old Mary was when the angel came to her, but we do know that the custom was for women to be married young. When you were 15 or 16, did GOD reveal His plan for you? He did to me – I knew what He wanted me to do, and I thought I was willing, but the enemy too easily distracted me and set me on the wrong path. Mary may have been young, but I believe this passage shows just how strong she was in her faith. Absolutely trusting in her LORD. I think that we want to be that strong, but far too often we are too weak in our own faith. We can’t know Mary’s mind, but I absolutely adore the song “Mary Did You Know.” I think it is such a beautiful comment of what was happening to this young woman.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save o
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