GOD is My Refuge and Strength

“GOD is our Refuge and Strength, A very present help in trouble.” – Psalms 46:1 NASB

Big Daddy Weave sings this song called Alive. Here’s an excerpt:

I am far from being perfect
There are days that I regret
On this battlefield I struggle
With the lies that I have lived
I have fallen short of glory
I can’t make it on my own
If You kept record of my past
I’d be sinking like a stone

But God, rich in mercy
You came to save me
Now I’m alive**

Without Him, where would I be? Probably not alive! Oh, God, how I need You in my life! There is nothing I can do or say that can negate that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. His Mercy and Grace sustain me. Everyday life gets to me sometimes, tying my stomach in knots when siruations spiral out of my control….. which means my stomach is tied in knots a lot!

Can the God Who created the Universe care about me and my everyday concerns? Can He, does He, care about my feelings? Jesus says that not only He can care, He does care about each and every single one of us!

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ….. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25‭, ‬33‭-‬34 NASB

Whenever I catch myself getting tense and anxious, these are the verses I need to be thinking of. No matter what is going on, He is with me.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose Word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” – Psalms 56:3‭-‬4‭, ‬8 NASB

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NASB

What are you anxious about today? What twists your mind and your stomach into knots; what are you afraid of? Spend time in prayer, just talking to the LORD. It still amazes me that I can have a conversation with Him!

Thank You, LORD, for sending Your Son so that I can have a life in eternity with You. All the petty things in this life that I get twisted into knots over – I know in my heart You have it all under control! Now, if you could just get my head to follow along….. The relationship I pray for is in your hands. My home, my finances, my health. Thank You for removing those burdens from my soul. In Your Precious Name, I lay my heart. Amen.

**Alive by Big Daddy Weave Publishing: © So Essential Tunes / Fellow Ships Music (SESAC). Admin by Essential Music., Be Essential Songs / Anthems of Hope / Westeria Drive (BMI). Admin by Essential Music., So Essential Tunes / Hickory Bill Doc (SESAC). Admin by Essential Music / Writer(s): Jason Ingram, Zach Williams, and Jonathan Smith

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Joy, Joy, Joy!

“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’?” – Job 38:4‭-‬11 NASB

Oh, the Absolute Joy of Creation!

“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.” – Psalms 100:1‭-‬2 NASB

Listen to All of Creation by Mercy Me!

“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His Lovingkindness is everlasting.” – Psalms 106:1 NASB (Psalm 118:1, 136:1)

There is so much to be thankful for! So much JOY to be had, if we just reach out for it. Finding beauty in our pain, our loneliness, our darkness…. it isn’t easy, but it’s possible. I woke up today. Sometimes, I think about the alternative to waking up here and how utterly glorious it will be to wake up with Jesus, but I’m not ready to leave just yet. So I am thankful I woke up! I walk out the door and view the profusion of God’s decorations – flowers, trees, birds – and I rejoice at His Creation. Our birth families may not be what we hoped for, but we have many opportunities to forge our own families with people we love. I am blessed to love and be loved by my birth family. We should always be able to find something to fing joy in and rejoice over!

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” – John 15:11 NASB

Jesus gives us an even greater reason for joy. He came to us, stooped down to our level, to bring His Joy to us. Amazing Grace! His Joy can be in us! Accept it!

Photo credit to http://www.ministry.com

A Little Reminder…..

HALLELUJAH; OH GLORIOUS DAY!! Good Friday is over; Black Saturday is past us; Sunday has come – HE IS RISEN! The grave could not hold Him; death has NO power over Him!

“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the LORD descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
HE IS NOT HERE, FOR HE HAS RISEN – just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” ” – Matthew 28:1-6

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Do you know the words to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”?

Great is Thy Faithfulness, O GOD my Father …. All I have needed, Thy Hand hath provided …. Written almost 100 years ago, and sung in churches across the world, it is on my top 10 favorite hymns to sing (well, it was, when I had a voice! Now, I just immerse myself in the lyrics and sing it in my head. 😁) If you are able to, take a minute to Google Chris Rice singing it. It makes a beautiful moment of worship. Listen to the words. They are straight out of the Bible. Of the hundreds of times I have sung this hymn and read these scriptures, this reality hit me this morning:

GOD, our LORD and SAVIOUR, is Faithful to me – and to you!

I’m having trouble grasping this concept! I’ve always known that we as Christians should be, and try to be, faithful to our GOD and SAVIOUR. But for HIM to be faithful to me? We know that GOD is omnipotent and omnipresent, so why should He tell us, over and over in the scriptures, that He is Faithful to us?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 NRSV

If He sees all and knows all, where does faith come into play for Him? Of course, we’ll never know the real answer until we see Him face to Face, once we have passed from this life into His Life and eternity. My supposition is that because of the Free Will He gave us when He created us, He doesn’t look into our hearts until we invite Him in. Therefore, He expresses to us that He will remainful Steadfast and Faithful while waiting for us and on us. In His Faithfulness, He sent JESUS to us for a visible, real-life example of His Love and His Faithfulness.

“And the WORD became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His Glory, the Glory as of a Father’s Only SON, full of Grace and Truth.” – John 1:14 NRSV

“…. so CHRIST, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” – Hebrews 9:28 NRSV

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of GOD.” – 2 Corinthians 7:1 NRSV

Have you experienced GOD’s Faithfulness in your life? Do you know; can you feel the depths of His Love? JESUS came once (Got that? ONCE) to cleanse us of all of our sins; to relieve us of the necessity to make sacrifices as our ancestors did, and to seal us, once and for all, and bring us into His Presence. Following the words of JESUS and His disciples, we should do our best to live an exemplary life, reflecting Him into our world. Accepting Him as LORD and SAVIOUR doesn’t make us perfect, it makes us forgiven. Read what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

“The Steadfast Love of the LORD never ceases, His Mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; Great is Your Faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” ” – Lamentations 3:22‭-‬24 NRSV

GREAT is Thy Faithfulness! AMEN.

You WIN!!!

Lotteries, PCH (Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes) casinos; betting on sports, dog tracks and horse racing, fights – human and animal. Schemes on how to make millions, and evangelists who twist the WORD – the BIBLE – to persuade you that GOD will reward you with abundant financial wealth if you just do what they say (starting, of course, with supporting their ‘ministry!’

Everyone is looking for the eeee-sy money; the life of leisure. What shows are popular on tv? Reality shows that promise large sums to the ‘winner,’ gossip shows and ‘celebrity watch’ shows, glorifying the power, glitz and glamour that comes from having millions. Game shows – Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I’ve had a running joke for years, saying “When I win the lottery, I’ll ….. Oh! That’s right, you have to buy a lottery ticket!” (Never have bought one, either!)

If you actually won, how would you use the money?

The reality for Christians is that we don’t need millions. How can I say that? I don’t know your circumstances, or your life. Ah! No, I don’t know your life; I’m too busy negotiating mine to try to know anyone else’s! I care about you, and I pray for and do what I am able to do to help others. So why do I say Christians dontneed money? Here are a few reasons:

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” – Psalms 23:1 NRSV

JESUS said to His disciples, “….. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20 NRSV

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve GOD and wealth.” – Matthew 6:24 NRSV (also Luke 16:13)

I am facing a mountain, and a boatload of cash would go a long ways toward conquering that mountain. I can despair and focus on the mountain, wishing for that mound of cash …… or I can lift my eyes from the mountain, and focus on my GOD. It’s a choice we get to make every day. I choose to look up….. and I WIN.

“To YOU I lift up my eyes, O YOU who are Enthroned in the heavens!” – Psalms 123:1 NRSV

Greedy Little People

“Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” JESUS replied, “Friend, who made Me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then He said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” ” – Luke 12:13‭-‬15 NLT

It breaks my heart to see the families, the friendships, and the relationships that are damaged beyond repair because of greed. I suspect that most of us have witnessed this behaviour firsthand. I have experienced what greed can do in my personal life and in my extended family, and I have seen the consequences of greed in my own and in other’s lives. My Dad had four siblings, and came from a family that was, if not wealthy, certainly well off. When his mother passed, and when he was finally able to go to her house (he was the only sibling who didn’t live in the same city with the rest), he found it stripped of almost everything of value. No, no burglers, just certain family members who decided they would take whatever they wanted. A similar thing happened to my Mom when her mother passed on. I have seen it to a much smaller extent in my immediate family. I have also seen it in wealthy friends (really, multimillionaires – I don’t comprehend that level of wealth!), who were terrified that someone would take advantage of them or scam them to gain access to their money. Paranoia, distrust, bitterness in relationships were the result. Ironically, they were being taken advantage of by the people who were closest to them because of greed.

That kind of behaviour, i.e. greediness, causes hurt and division. People, nothing on this earth is important enough to lose family or friends because of greed. Whenever I die and pass into heaven, what good will it do for me to have all the best and brightest things? Absolutely no good, because nohing from this earth will go with me then. I am blessed to have some little things from my Dad and my grandparents; they have no monetary value, and I am fine with that. I like them for the memories they evoke. My response to greediness is to lable items with whomever I want to have them, to keep a list in my will, and to give things away now. I certainly won’t need any of it, but I especially don’t want to see any grasping greediness in those close to me!

“Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

You may be experiencing sadness, and you might be hurting and becoming bitter because you weren’t left what you wanted, expected, or thought you ‘deserved’. Sometimes it is accidental (not leaving a will or written directions for the survivors), and sometimes it is intentional, sadly. Read the parable of the rich man in Luke 12: 13-21, in fact, read the entire chapter.

“But GOD said to him [the greedy rich man], ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich Relationship with GOD.” – Luke 12:20‭-‬21 NLT

JESUS replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the Word of GOD and put it into practice.” – Luke 11:28 NLT

I often feel like I don’t have much, and then I look around and see how absolutely Blessed I am with family and friends. I have an abundance of ‘things,’ including much of I don’t need. Downsizing is the topic du jour in social and print media, yet it seems that everywhere I turn there are bigger and fancier homes being built. It’s pretty obvious to me that our society is permeated by greed. As for me, I want to sell my (too large) house and get into a smaller one, closer to family…. my priorities have changed, and I attribute any good that has happened to my life to my LORD, JESUS. It is no longer ‘necessary’ to compete with the ‘Jones.’ Earthly weath no longer appeals so much to me. If I possessed monetary weath, I would do everything I could to help my family and friends, and my passions: my church, K-Love radio, the Salvation Army, the National Rifle Association. For me, I want my prayer to always be “Just enough, LORD, just enough,” and “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want” – with NO ‘BUTS’!

YES!!!