Nancy Henry – I love sharing the HOPE of JESUS. "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12 NLT
Going through a rough patch? Frustrated, maybe even angry that God has allowed a certain situation in your life? Remember these encouraging words from the LORD.
“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 NASB1995
What JOY we have to look forward to! We may not receive His promise in this life, but, Oh, how glorious the new earth will be! That is His promise, and if you forget everything else about God remember this: He ALWAYS keeps His promises. I forget that fact because I live in the now – and I want it (whatever ‘it’ is!) right now. God’s timing is His timing, and His timing is perfect…. Even when I disagree! God’s Grace and Mercy are perfect. They are here for you to pick up and hold and to make your own.
GOD has answers! Search the Scriptures. Pray daily. Find a church and attend regularly, so that you can hear what God has to say.
“You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” Psalms 4:7-8 NASB1995
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:15-19 NASB1995
Today we are celebrating the life of our Mom. Her children and niece, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren, special friends, as many as can be here. It will be livestreaming, too, for you to see. Join us in celebration! http://www.faithbibleok.com at 11am CDT
Phyllis Henry lived a full, interesting life. She didn’t have an easy life, by any means, and she wasn’t perfect. Having a pastor for a husband and 6 children to deal with kept her running, but she found time to help in the nursery at church every Sunday, and to be involved with the WMU, church potlucks, hostessing get togethers and visiting missionaries and preachers, and keeping peace in the family. (You have to be a Southern Baptist to understand 🙂 ) Our house always had to present a put-together face for people to drop in, so that meant keeping kids and toys and the paraphernalia of life out of the living room, and ready to offer tea or coffee at a moments notice.
On top of all that, my Dad was diagnosed with a debilitating disease a few years into their marriage, and the medications prescribed caused serious side effects leading to angina (heart disease) and eventually type 2 diabetes. It didn’t stop him from pastoring full time, going to college at night for his doctorate, visiting the sick, and trying to be the husband and father he needed to be. Mom added nurse, dietitian, and driver to her resume.
Her kids didn’t make her life any easier. We did chores and helped cook and clean as we got older, but children can be pretty self centered and we weren’t that different. School, life, hobbies, church and school activities, music and art lessons, we all stayed busy, too. Add chauffeur and tutor to her list of duties.
There was a lot of rebellion from the middle 4 kids. One left home days before his 18th birthday. I dropped out of college after 2 years and rejected pretty much everything I had been taught. The next two had a lot of craziness in their lives, too. The thing is, no matter how far I went, where or how I got there, and knowing how hurt and disappointed Mom (and Dad) were, I knew they loved me. It wasn’t until years later, YEARS later, when I wrote to Mom to ask for forgiveness that I began to understand Agape love. Dad had been gone for several years, and she said this to me. “There were times when we didn’t like you” (I know it was probably most of the time) “but we never stopped loving you and praying for you.” It’s because of their examples that I have a relationship with my LORD. Their faithfulness, their forgiveness, their love and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ was the centerpiece of their lives.
That’s how God is, I think. As His children, His Creation, we hurt Him and disappoint Him, constantly. But know this. He never stops loving us. He loves you. Maybe your parents didn’t love you. Maybe they loved you enough to give you up for adoption (that’s a powerful love).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NASB1995
“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NASB1995
Mom loved us, and Mom loved the people around her, because she knew God loved her. She showed that love to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people. She is missed by so many. Her ready smile, her refusal to complain, her ability to listen. I know the angels rejoiced when she joined them.
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB1995
Read the whole chapter. When King Asa relied on his own judgement and looked for help from another king first, before asking the LORD, he lost the war. When Asa relied on and trusted in the LORD, he won the war. This is an incredibly important passage for us today. Look around you!
Whatever we are facing, we can do this …. because we don’t have to do it in our own strength. This is such an important verse for Christians today! Not my strength, but the LORD’S strength. God KNOWS. He sees us. He hears us. He knows. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts….. these are the Eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.” Zechariah 4:6-7, 10 NASB1995 He is omnipotent; He is looking so “thatHe may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” RELY ON THE LORD. It always comes down to that. Rely on, TRUST in the LORD; first seek God, then ask others.
“LORD [YAHWEH], there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”“…. the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” 2 Chronicles 14:11, 15:2 NASB1995
The Founding Fathers were believers. To know this, all you have to do is read their writings. Were they perfect? No, far from it! They were men, flawed and fallible, just like we are today. But they knew that the God of the Ages, our God, Yahweh, was with them, fighting the forces against them. We are in a battle today! Look around! The forces of evil, the enemy, have the tactics to take over. They are insidious. They lie; they know how to appeal and coerce in order to capture people’s – even Christian’s – minds, and the people don’t even recognize what is happening! God rides the heavens, looking for us, waiting for us to turn to Him, to come down to help us. I can’t untangle my life, but God can. Ask Him. Turn to Him. We need His guidance and His Grace today!
Michael W. Smith, in his devotional Still, writes this:
“Recently when I went to the mountains, they were hidden by a thick layer of smoke from wildfires. Their beauty was concealed. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t see them! Then the next day it began to rain. The temperature suddenly dropped and the rain turned to snow. The strong winds blew the snowflakes around in heavy swirls. It looked like a blizzard in September! When the storm cleared away, the mountains were revealed in striking beauty. The smoke was gone. The trees and mountaintops were blanketed in white. The following day, the snow melted and the green appeared. The birds sang, the creek flowed, and the sun warmed us. As the land appeared to wake from death to life, God spoke to me and awakened my heart.”
What a beautiful and apt analogy of the some of the things we go through in our lives. We can be in the midst of the ‘fire’, in complete darkness and chaos in our lives, smothering in smoke and flame, thinking things can’t be any worse. We want to give up in despair and hopelessness. Then the rains come. These can be soothing, healing rains, dousing the flames and giving us hope, or it can be a deluge, causing us to feel as though the last of our hope is being washed away. Life can turn into a blizzard of confusion, where we can’t see our hand in front of our face, lost and not knowing where it is safe to step. Am I on the path, or am I about to step off a precipice?
God is there. He is with us throughout these disasters.
In a fire, even with all of their protective equipment and training, people who fight fires can get burned, sometimes badly. Fire can be deadly, even to the most well trained firefighters.
In floods, rescuers wear flotation gear and take precautions, yet some are injured or killed every year.
In blizzards and storms, in avalanches, rescuers have specialized gear and training, and still some sustain injuries and death.
The LORD God is our protection. He is our trainer. His Book provides us the training we need, and the Holy Spirit provides our protection. Learning God’s Word outfits us with our armor, the protective gear that we need to survive the attacks of the enemy.
I feel like a majority of my life has been spent in the fires and the storms of life, without a lot of calm. Many poor decisions on my part have contributed to this, and because of the long reaching consequences of some of those choices, I don’t expect that my life will ever be ‘easy’. Even knowing this, there are many opportunities for me to see the smoke clearing, the rain ceasing, and the beauty of God’s Creation. The green appears. The birds sing, the creeks flow, and the sun warms me. The land – my land, my life, wakes from apparent death to life; God speaks to me and awakens my heart to His Beauty. I may forget, momentarily, but He always reminds me.
For the last few days, my city and state have endured an historic ice storm. Thousands of trees (and consequently vehicles and houses) have been utterly crushed and destroyed. Fierce winds have broken branches and snapped telephone and electric lines. Thousands are still without power. Millions of dollars in damage. Where is the good in this? How can God possibly use this?
Even before the first 24 hours were up, people were posting on social media that they were willing and available to help anyone who needed it, to remove branches, cut down trees, carry debris to the curb. That’s the Spirit moving! Even non-Christians are caught up in it, even if they don’t understand it. What an opportunity for God’s people. In the middle of our personal storms, we have the opportunity to reach out to others and show God’s Love.
The temperature is rising, the rain is stopping, and the sun is coming out. Today will be a good day.
“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 NASB1995
I don’t know God’s plans for you. I don’t even know what His plans are for me! What I do know is this. I have to rely on Him, because without Him, I am utterly and completely lost.
“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!
“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
“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?
“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
“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.