Seek HIM First

“This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:23‭-‬24 NASB

I think every part of my body hurts this morning; every muscle, every joint, even my brain. My eyeballs hurt. I am weary. I have to be thankful, though, because it slows me down so that I can see what a beautiful morning God has given us. It’s a very unusual morning for Oklahoma in August. At 7am, the temperature is in the high 60’s, and it is calm. There’s only an occasional breeze that floats by like a whisper. The birds are singing, and other than the birdsong, it is quiet. Since I live in an urban neighborhood, that’s pretty unusual, too!

“Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:30‭-‬31 NASB

Move forward. Remember that God is in control. No matter how bad it gets. Frustration, aches and pains, irritations, aggravations will all pass well. Look for the good in everything. I am alive. I’m not unhealthy (well, mostly!!), I have a home and 2 dogs who think I’m the best thing since sliced bread – especially when I share it with them!

Will life get tough? Oh, yes. Will bad things happen? Without a doubt. Will people disappoint you, betray you, let you down? Absolutely.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 NASB

GOD will never disappoint, He will never betray, He will never let you down. When everything looks black, when everyone has let you down, turn to Jesus.

Listen to Casting Crowns’ song East to West. Here’s part:

I start the day, the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time again
Your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in
Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away
From you leaving me this way

Jesus, can you show me just how far the east is from the west?

‘Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been
Rising up in me again
In the arms of your mercy I find rest
You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other
I know you’ve washed me white
Turned my darkness into light
I need your peace to get me through
To get me through this night
I can’t live by what I feel
But by the truth your word reveals
And I’m not holding onto you
But you’re holding onto me
You’re holding onto me

JESUS is the answer. No one else will get through this life with you without hurting you. He is THE Way. THE Truth, and The Light. He is LIFE.

Can I get an Amen?

ALL LIVES MATTER

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13‭-‬14 NASB

I’m so tired of seeing my nation, my world, being divided by color of skin. We are Americans. Not African or Irish or Chinese or Mexican or Italian or any other country. We can’t let politicians, who are really only interested in themselves, divide us! Seriously, people! If you hold dual citizenship with another country, then by all means identity with it! Any British-Americans? German-American? Guyana-Americans? See what I mean? I honestly don’t understand why someone wants to self identify as part of a country other than the one they were born in, unless they want to move to that country to live. African-American is very widely used and claimed by hundreds of thousands of Americans. Why? Are they or their parents from Africa? Besides which, Africa isn’t even a country. It’s a continent. I know, we Americans have appropriated the name of the continent we are on as the name of our country, but understand that the world also refers to citizens of the United States as Americans. Are people from Ethiopia considered African, or Ethiopian? Kenyan, or African? Ugandan, or African? See the question?

Racism is promoted and perpetuated by the insistence of some people to identify as anything other than as Americans. I really don’t understand. I was actually polled the other night (a first!) and when asked what race I was, I answered “American.” I know it’s not a race, but neither is African-American. I should have answered “human”, because there is only one race. Sure, we have thousands of cultures and as many colors, but there is only one race, human. It would behoove us all to grasp onto that fact.

I love my country and the melting pot that it is. I will continue to pray for my country and that somehow, people will see through all this “racial” divisiveness, and I will do everything in my power to defend my country from our enemies, both within and without. Celebrate the diversity of all of our beautiful skin colors and cultural differences, but, please, don’t fight over them!

Jesus is the answer. The only answer. Come to Him today. Jesus said:

“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 NASB

Defender

You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a few weeks. For a moment, I let the worries of the world overtake me. For many people, and for many reasons, this most beautiful season is also the most difficult. Could be that a loved one isn’t present for a variety of reasons. It can be because of a lack of funds or other inability to serve people we love. Depression hits hard. Despondency is widespread.
Psalm‬ ‭42:11‬ ‭AMPC‬‬ declares, “Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God.”

Francesca Battistelli and Steffany Gretzinger were singing “Defender” on the radio as I read this verse this morning:
When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart

Then I heard “Casting Cares” by Finding Favor:
When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steal my breath away
When my back’s pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

God’s Word answers my fears, our fears, and His musicians sing the words I/we need to hear. HE is the Defender, our Strength and our Deliverer. HE takes care of the weak, the frightened, the lonely. HE is always here with us, if we just open our eyes, our hands, and our hearts to Him.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:28‭-‬31 NASB

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Afflicted, But NOT Broken

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NASB

Listen to Hillsong UNITED Good Grace:

Don’t let your heart be troubled

Hold your head up high

Don’t fear no evil

Fix your eyes on this one truth

God is madly in love with you

Take courage

Hold on

Be strong

Remember where our help comes from

Jesus

Our redemption

Our salvation

Is in His blood

Jesus

Light of heaven

Friend forever

His kingdom come

We are never alone. No matter what we are are currently struggling with. Who we are struggling to get along with. Circumstance, people, things, any outside influence – there will always be something working against us. That’s just the way of this broken world. Every day we make choices, and one of those choices is how deeply we will allow the enemy to afflict us. We don’t get to choose the type of affliction, or even how much effect it will have on us physically. Our choice is much deeper, soul deep. On the outside, I may be broken, afflicted by a physical illness or other limitation; I might be homesick, or homeless, broke, financially ruined, separated from loved ones. Inside, in my soul, that’s what counts.

Anything we face, everything we endure in this life is truly “momentary, light affliction“. As Paul says,

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, …..” 2 Corinthians 4:7‭-‬9‭, ‬17 NASB

I’m not making light of any affliction or anyone’s struggles. God alone knows what you (and I) are dealing with. The one thing we need to focus on is this: no matter what it is we face now on this earth, the eternity we face as believers in the LORD Jesus Christ will more than make up for it. I can’t even imagine the agony awaiting those who reject Him. That is our choice, people. The single biggest choice that anyone, anywhere, anytime will face. Either you are for Him, or you are against Him.

Where do you stand?

Weeping

“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5 NASB https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.30.5.NASB

Weeping. Not trying to be flippant about it, but I feel like the morning is never going to get here. Am I alone in feeling like this?

The details aren’t important, because everyone is facing their own giants. Right now, mine are overwhelming me with their menace. Personally, spiritually, emotionally; I lay myself at the foot of the cross.

Paybacks

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:19‭-‬20 NASB

I’m so tired of living my life in fear of how I’m going to get through it financially; of how I’m going to survive the month. I’m tired of living in fear of growing old alone. I’m tired of being rejected from job after job, because they “decided to go in a different direction.” What does that even mean???

Let me be clear: My choices brought me to this point. God did not do this to me. He didn’t cause me to make poor financial decisions, and He certainly didn’t encourage me to trust men who would lie, steal, and cheat me. He didn’t put those men in my path. No, all of the bad choices are mine, and mine alone, and once again I am faced with payback for [some of?] those bad choices. I don’t know how to pray about all this. I think I am searching for God’s will, but am I really just trying to get Him to accept my wishes?

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the Mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NASB

Tauren Wells has a song God’s Not Done With You, and a devotional by the same name on https://bible.com. When you are struggling with the unfairness and the paybacks of this life, lean on these truths. Paybacks happen in life, but it is very reassuring to me that my life is not dependent on them. My GOD is in control; I just have to trust Him. Not an easy thing for someone whose trust has been broken by man, over and over again ….. but it can be done. Remember, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NASB

NOTHING. No enemy and no “payback” that he can throw at us can take us away from GOD. God, THE God; Creator, Saviour, Lover and LORD of humanity, is not dead, He is not diminished in any way by the enemy’s devilry and mischief. The LORD is ALIVE, and He is NOT done with me – or you! – yet!

Raw Honesty

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NASB

Rest in the LORD. That’s where I need to be.

“When we get injured, God covers us. Stop picking at that scab.” Wow. A lady just called in to K Love (radio) and said that. My heart feels like one giant, deep, open raw wound, where I don’t even have enough scab to pick at. God covers that hurt, and every hurt, no matter how big or how deep. I get that. I believe that. But, oh, how it hurts. How did I get into such a bad financial situation? How is it even possible for my heart to hurt this much?

Easy. My choices. My decisions. Not waiting on and relying on and trusting my LORD. Instead, I trusted and relied on a man, and he is leaving it to me to resolve. My heart doesn’t want to give up. My head hopes he will step up. I want him to. Trust is fragile anytime, and mine has been trampled on.

Please pray for me. This time, for this situation, is beyond anything I can see a solution for. It is going to take a miracle, a bonafide, God-generated miracle to heal my heart and this hole I have dug myself into.

Raw honesty. Hard to write. Hard to admit.

“WAIT” He says……

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not Your Face from me. Turn not Your servant away in anger, O You Who have been my Help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O GOD of my Salvation! Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalms 27:1‭, ‬7‭-‬9‭, ‬11‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

That may be my least favorite word in the English language. “Wait.” I’ve been waiting. I’m tired of waiting, so very tired of waiting. “Wait,” He says. If it were a clear “No,” maybe it would be easier to accept. I’m tired of being strong, and my courage fails me.

I’m not strong. I’m weak. I’m not courageous. I’m afraid. My heart is on the ground. My prayers fall with my tears. Why me, LORD? And He answers me, Why not you? I surrender, LORD.

Shock and Awe

Sung by Bethel Music:
I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me

Shock hits us hard. Got a big one today. Not sure how to shake it off or how to deal with it, and it isn’t something I can talk about, so where does it go?

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ – Isaiah 41:10 NASB

He is the GREAT I AM. He is more than enough; nothing can shake Him. Though the foundations of my life are shaken to pieces, my God will prevail. There may not be anything else to hold on to; I have to hold on to that.

Raise a hallelujah. The enemy hates it when we praise God in our pain and shock and disappointments.

Raise a hallelujah. It will drown out the unbelief that is trying to creep in.

Raise a hallelujah. The songs of our hearts, our prayers, are the melody that will take down the enemy.

Raise a hallelujah. God’s army is on our side! Who can prevail against it?