I Waited Patiently. ….. NOT

“I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of Praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD. How Blessed is the man who has made the LORD his Trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.” Psalms 40:1‭-‬4 NASB

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2 NASB

Picture two vultures sitting on a branch, hungry, waiting on something to die so they can eat. One turns to the other and says “Patience my ass, I want to kill something.” ….. Yes, it’s crude, but very descriptive of how we often act when God doesn’t deliver WHAT we want, HOW we want, WHEN we want. I don’t like to wait. It’s often painful, and aggravating. We are God’s garden. Ask anyone who grows things, and they will tell you that plants often have to be aggressively pruned in order to get the best fruits and flowers and vegetables. They have to be patient, and wait for that plant to produce and mature. God is patient with us, and He is training us to produce the best. I’M not patient, but I’m very grateful that HE is.

“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

This is so true. I married young because I wanted to. Emphasis on “I WANTED.” There were lots of reasons, but I was in LOVE. God wasn’t in that marriage, and it was a disaster. I spent years trying to “fix” my life without God, using human men as a poor, poor substitute. Ladies, pay attention to those who love God and who love you. Listen to their counsel. Pray about any relationship. If you feel ANY hesitation, STOP. Same for you guys. If GOD isn’t first in the relationship, It. Will. Be. A. Disaster. Might takes years, but without the LORD, no relationship will prosper. It’s no fun, seeing friends in relationships when you/I am not ….. but, back to that “patience” thing. Trust the LORD. He knows. He KNOWS.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven….” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NASB

God knows. He knows what we want, but more importantly He knows what is best for us. Really. We don’t. As difficult as it is, listen to Him, even when it isn’t what we want to hear. God is in control. Don’t be a backseat driver!

Never Alone

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 NASB

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:18‭-‬19 NASB

Not if, but when bad things happen, how do we handle them? “Why me, God! What did I ever do to deserve this horrible thing!” Isn’t a better question, “Why not me, God?” I don’t deserve anything good; I deserve everything bad…. I am a sinner, and the only good thing in me is the Love and forgiveness of my Saviour, Jesus Christ. When we experience the bad, what do we do with it?

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:17‭-‬18 NASB

Elizabeth Elliot, missionary, faced many dark times while on the mission field, including losing her husband. After one experience, where a friend was killed, she wrote this:

Now if I had had a faith that was determined God had to give me a particular kind of answer to my particular prayers, that faith would have disintegrated. But my faith had to be founded on the character of God Himself. And so, what looked like a contradiction in terms: God loves me; God lets this awful thing happen to me. What looked like a contradiction in terms, I had to leave in God’s hands and say okay, Lord. I don’t understand it. I don’t like it. But I only had two choices. He is either God or He’s not. I am either held in the Everlasting Arms or I’m at the mercy of chance and I have to trust Him or deny Him. Is there any middle ground? I don’t think so.”

What a statement! He is either God or He’s not.Will you stand on the side of the ALMIGHTY, alongside Elizabeth Elliot, Daniel, Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego, Paul, Peter, John…… we either stand with Him, or we are against Him. Jesus said “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15‭-‬16 NASB

Where are you? With Him, or against Him?

Every Good Thing; It’s Simple

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from Above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27‭-‬30 NASB

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:7‭, ‬9‭-‬10 ESV

“But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart , ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss ?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it 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 the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same LORD is LORD of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved.” So Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Romans 10:6‭-‬13‭, ‬17 NASB

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NASB

Is there a simpler, more easily understood way to say it?

God Speaks

“Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; When I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band, And I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors, And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop’? “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, And caused the dawn to know its place, That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal; And they stand forth like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, And the uplifted arm is broken. “Have you entered into the springs of the sea Or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. “Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place, That you may take it to its territory And that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, And the number of your days is great! Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, Which I have reserved for the time of distress, For the day of war and battle? Where is the way that the light is divided, Or the east wind scattered on the earth? “Who has cleft a channel for the flood, Or a way for the thunderbolt, To bring rain on a land without people, On a desert without a man in it, To satisfy the waste and desolate land And to make the seeds of grass to sprout? Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth? Water becomes hard like stone, And the surface of the deep is imprisoned. “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, Or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, And guide the Bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, Or fix their rule over the earth? “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, So that an abundance of water will cover you? Can you send forth lightnings that they may go And say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the innermost being Or given understanding to the mind? Who can count the clouds by wisdom, Or tip the water jars of the heavens, When the dust hardens into a mass And the clods stick together? “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, When they crouch in their dens And lie in wait in their lair? Who prepares for the raven its nourishment When its young cry to God And wander about without food? ….. “Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer? Can you count the months they fulfill, Or do you know the time they give birth? They kneel down, they bring forth their young, They get rid of their labor pains. Their offspring become strong, they grow up in the open field; They leave and do not return to them. “Who sent out the wild donkey free? And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, To whom I gave the wilderness for a home And the salt land for his dwelling place? He scorns the tumult of the city, The shoutings of the driver he does not hear. He explores the mountains for his pasture And searches after every green thing. Will the wild ox consent to serve you, Or will he spend the night at your manger? Can you bind the wild ox in a furrow with ropes, Or will he harrow the valleys after you? Will you trust him because his strength is great And leave your labor to him? Will you have faith in him that he will return your grain And gather it from your threshing floor? “The ostriches’ wings flap joyously With the pinion and plumage of love, For she abandons her eggs to the earth And warms them in the dust, And she forgets that a foot may crush them, Or that a wild beast may trample them. She treats her young cruelly, as if they were not hers; Though her labor be in vain, she is unconcerned; Because God has made her forget wisdom, And has not given her a share of understanding. When she lifts herself on high, She laughs at the horse and his rider. “Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrible. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; He goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; And he does not turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, The flashing spear and javelin. With shaking and rage he races over the ground, And he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet. As often as the trumpet sounds he says, ‘Aha!’ And he scents the battle from afar, And the thunder of the captains and the war cry. “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, Stretching his wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up And makes his nest on high? On the cliff he dwells and lodges, Upon the rocky crag, an inaccessible place. From there he spies out food; His eyes see it from afar. His young ones also suck up blood; And where the slain are, there is he.” Job 38:2‭-‬41 NASB, Job 39:1‭-‬30 NASB

GOD SPEAKS! Will we listen?

“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:9‭-‬11 NASB

GOD SPEAKS! Will we listen?

In Time of Need

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NASB

“In time of need.” That’s where God is with His Strength. Right when we need it. He isn’t flexing His muscles to intimidate the enemy as He walks alongside me. He isn’t running around, roaring and posturing. I see it more clearly, now. The LAMB is my constant companion, always with me as a comforting presence. The LION is there, unseen and unheard, until I need Him, and then He is with me, protecting me and lending me His strength.

“In time of need.” What a simple, yet profound, statement.

Courageous

I wrote this on March 26, 2014, and it popped up in my ‘memories’ on Facebook, and it is completely appropriate for the crisis we are facing today!

From Billy Graham:

Courage to Stand

“A great problem in America is that we have an anemic and watered-down Christianity that has produced an anemic, watered-down, and spineless Christian who is not willing to stand up and be counted on every issue. We must have a virile, dynamic, aggressive Christian who lives Christ seven days a week, who is ready to die, if necessary, for his faith. We need Christians who are ethical, honest, gracious, bold, strong, and devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I realize how spineless and pampered my Christian walk is. Give me Your courage, Lord Jesus, to follow You more devotedly.”

“But suppose you suffer for being a Christian. Then don’t be ashamed. Instead, PRAISE GOD because you are known by that name!” 1 Peter 4:16

Quarantines and Social Distancing

“When the supreme being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with free will to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that free will is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.” – William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul said “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:1‭-‬2 NASB

Honestly, I struggle with this. As a young adult, two of my favorite quotes were “Resist Authority!” and “Why Be Normal?” My “normal” is still very different from people’s around me, and that’s okay with me. I confess that I still struggle with the whole authority situation, too. How many people do you know who can claim that they were introduced to the Commander of a military base that was involved with nuclear weapons, while wearing a shirt proclaiming “You Can’t Hug A Child With NUCLEAR ARMS” …..? (Yes, that actually happened, and I think I made an impression on him.)

While I think that this situation with the current health issue has gone to an extreme, I don’t wholly disagree with the amount of care being taken. Of course I don’t want people sick. For the already sick, and for those most susceptible to a virus, by all means they should be protecting themselves. I wouldn’t want my 93 year old Mom out in public right now, simply because her immune system probably wouldn’t be (isn’t) very efficient at fighting off infections. I don’t want my brand new baby great niece around people for the same reasons. I agree that taking precautions is a good thing for all of us. I mean, who hasn’t had a cold or other virus at some time?

We have to be watchful with the chaos around us of people who are fearful and apparently think the Zombie Apocalypse is on us. Hoarding supplies, fighting over toilet paper, afraid to touch anyone or anything; I believe these are from the enemy.

The saddest part of all this? The healthy among us, and those of us who are cautious and have already been diligent about hand washing and cleanliness, are caught in the same restrictions as the susceptible. I’m an introvert, so “having” to stay home isn’t a real imposition…… as long as it’s my choice. My rebellious self says “How dare you tell me I can’t go out and eat or shop or meet up with friends?” My Christian self says to listen to the LORD, and He says to do what is right and proper, and to obey the authorities. I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it. (However, know this: if the authorities overstep their own boundaries as laid out in the Constitution of the United States, I will not sit by and passively allow it. Just sayin’.)

And the LORD said to Joshua “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NASB

LORD  I’m Yours To Count On

Am I?

Are you?

Faith, diligence, discipline, self control, moral excellence, virtue – do I practice these things?

“To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:1‭-‬7 NASB

Verses 1-4 outline the riches we receive in Christ; for those who have received FAITH …. {in} Jesus Christ – receiving, believing, trusting; these are all gifts from God. Everything follows faith.

To apply “all diligence” (one writer said “true Faith sweats”), it takes discipline to pursue Christ and our spiritual growth. There is no time to be idle in our pursuit of Christ. We should be – must be – earnest, and give it intense effort. Philippians 2:12-16 we are to “work out [y]our salvation…”; not work to be saved but to work with the LORD to do His Will. In your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge – these qualities require hard work, and maximum effort on our part. “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” Colossians 1:29 NASB

What is moral excellence? The effort to clean our life; to gets rid of the “rocks” and “weeds”, the trash and detritus of a sinful life. We do this through knowledge – it’s how we grow, it is essential to a healthy spiritual life, by learning and knowing God; and it must be applied and lived out in our lives. We gain knowledge through Bible studies, meeting with small groups of fellow believers, by reading and studying God’s Word with a daily quiet time. All of these things sustain us, both in good times and in times of conflict. Through moral excellence and knowledge, we gain self control: we learn to rein in passion and desire, and controlling ourselves rather than being controlled by outside sources. Proverbs 16 is a great chapter on self control. No one and no thing should control me other than the Master. “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.” Proverbs 24:16 NASB

Can you say “LORD, I’m Yours to count on” ….. ?

Greater Good

“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 23:11 NASB

As I skim through social media, it occurs to me that the “greatest” among us today are about as far from being servants as we could imagine. Spoiled, cosseted, and overpaid celebrities from Hollywood, sport venues, and certain financial and political arenas are being toasted and held up for worship as the experts on life. It’s as if they are the gods we should look up to, and that we should follow without question. Many of them certainly act like they are above all human laws and morals. It’s all about lust. Lust for control, for sex, for the almighty dollar; it’s all about power. As Christians, our guide, our Law Book, is the Bible. It is very clear on idolatry, lust, and temptation.

“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:3‭-‬4, Deuteronomy 5:6-7 NASB

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15‭-‬17 NASB

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” James 1:13‭-‬14‭, ‬16 NASB

So, Greater Good. Servanthood. It’s different for every person. How does it look for you; on you? It’s not for everyone to wash the feet of others (figuratively at least, if not actually), although I believe that unless you’ve done it, you’ll never understand true servanthood.