Oh Give Thanks

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His Name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His Holy Name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His Strength; Seek His Face continually. Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His Marvels and the Judgments from His Mouth, ….”

1 Chronicles 16:8‭-‬12 NASB

No matter what else is going on, give thanks to the LORD. With all the uncertainty and chaos today, Oh give thanks to the LORD!

He is our Rock; He alone is our Shelter. No One but GOD can make sense out of the senselessness of our world. Praise the LORD; Bless His Holy Name!

I Am No Longer Bound By Fear

“But I rejoiced in the LORD greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:10-13 NASB

We can’t control what is without us, but we can control what is within us. Contentment is dynamic; it is not complacency or settling, but in very circumstance and every situation, it is glad submission to God’s providence. Contentment isn’t based on the “if only’s” – not “when you have” but what you have in your heart. The LORD wants us to have it through all the circumstances of life, whether in plenty or in want. It has to be learned over a lifetime, by experience and hard work. “All things” means the ups and downs, the fluctuations of life, ALL the circumstances of life, and it comes from the One Who is constantly pouring His strength into me. It is up to me/you to stay in contact with Him. Contentment does not come from WHAT we have but from WHO we have, because to be content is to be satisfied, and we gain it with the sufficiency and adequacy of Christ. Both abundance and loss will pass. GOD is the ONLY constant in life.

“He only is my Rock and my Salvation, My Stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” Psalms 62:6 NASB

I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of GOD.

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the Power that works within us, to Him be the Glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NASB

Good From Evil

“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 50:20 NASB

Right now things appear pretty overwhelming. How can a pandemic possibly be the precursor to something good? Like Joseph, when his brothers sold him, life feels helpless right now. I look at the current situation as an upheaval in the road of life. It is difficult and time consuming to get past it, but God has a good thing on the other side. We have to remind ourselves of that truth. As bleak as it seems, God is in control. Just because I can’t see past this doesn’t mean God doesn’t have something great on the other side. Hold on to His Promise. He is Faithful to deliver us.

“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

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Psalms 94:19 NASB

Praise GOD. Rejoice in the little things.

The LORD is my Shepherd

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of Righteousness For His Name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely Goodness and Lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 NASB

Anxious Thoughts

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Psalms 94:19 NASB

In 1872, a young wife and mother named Annie Hawks penned these words:

I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can peace afford.
I need thee, O I need thee;
every hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to thee.

In times like today, when so many people are frightened and worried, these words offer Christians the comfort that we are safe in the arms of Jesus. For those of you who want that comfort, it’s within your reach. I know how it feels to believe that you’ve done something that can’t be forgiven. I know what it means to be standing on the outside looking in, deep in sin and wondering how He could possibly reach me – and thinking that there was no way the LORD would even want to reach me.

Please, listen.

No matter what, God knows you and loves you.

He forgives, no matter what. Liars, cheaters, adulterers, thieves, even murderers. Don’t take my word for it! Read the Bible! The greatest people in it are sinners. Moses was a murderer. King David was greedy and an adulterer. Rahab and Mary Magdalene were prostitutes. Peter lied. Paul persecuted the early Christians! There are many, many more, too. Nothing can separate you from the Love of the LORD, once you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. He is our salvation. No one, and nothing, here on earth can save you. Not Buddha, not Mohammad, or Joseph Smith, or any of the other thousands of imposters.

“For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His ONLY Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have ETERNAL LIFE. For GOD did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16‭-‬17 NASB

Believe it. Believe HIM.

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

I Lied…..

I lied. I’m not strong. I’m not courageous. I’m insecure. My faith wavers. I’m weak and I worry. I’m afraid God is too busy, and that I’m not important enough to Him, for Him to concern Himself with my petty life and issues.

The Disciples knew the Truth. They knew Jesus. They ate and drank and walked with Him; they laughed and cried and slept with Him. They were with Him when He prayed and when He preached. They were eyewitnesses to His life on earth, and still they doubted. They lied, they were weak and afraid. Peter, the Rock, the man who established the church, denied that he even knew Jesus, even after he (along with James and John) witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop, and heard the LORD GOD proclaim Jesus His Son: “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” ” (Matthew 17:5 NASB) They were with Him when He died on the cross, they witnessed His resurrected body, and they saw Him ascend in the clouds (Acts 1:9).

It makes me feel a little better knowing that they struggled with their human feelings and emotions, too. Even so, they persevered.

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the LORD – for we walk by faith, not by sight – ” 2 Corinthians 5:6‭-‬7 NASB

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, rejoice! 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 4:4‭, ‬6‭-‬7 NASB

I must persevere. In and of myself, I am nothing except a bundle of weak and cowardly flesh. However: with the LORD JESUS in my life and the Holy Spirit in my heart, I am invincible.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am convinced that 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 8:31, 35‭, ‬38‭-‬39 NASB

AMEN!


Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), woodcut. Saint Michael fighting the Dragon, from: The Apocalypse

Yes, I Alone –

“ ‘But you are My witnesses, O Israel!’ says the LORD. ‘You are My servant. You have been chosen to know Me, believe in Me, and understand that I alone am GOD. There is no other GOD — there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,’ says the Lord. ‘From eternity to eternity I am GOD. No one can snatch anyone out of My hand. No one can undo what I have done. I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for My own sake and will never think of them again.’ ” Isaiah 43:10‭-‬13‭, ‬25 NLT

Is there anything ambiguous about this passage? No! He is GOD. THE God; the only God. Why do we insist on elevating other things to His rightful place? He is in control. Whatever I am anxious about, whatever is causing me pain, whoever is trying to harm me, wherever I am, GOD, the LORD, has it all in His Hand. He knows. If I know this, how can I purposely cause anyone distress, including myself through my doubt?

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6‭-‬7 NASB

Lord, I cast all my cares to You. You know me so well. You know that even as I lay my burdens and cares down at your feet, I am reaching to pick them up again. Help me, LORD, to let go of those things that burden me; to trust You. I know You have my back. Why do I keep doubting?

Listen to Finding Favor sing their song Cast My Cares from the album Reborn.
When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steals my breath away
When my back pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only One who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

Give Me the Sense to Follow Your Commands

“You don’t have the sense that God gave a goose!”

Have you ever heard that? It’s an old country saying – and I hope no one has ever said it about you! It’s far from a compliment; geese are not known for their intelligence. The psalmist may have heard it or something similiar, because for whatever reason, he prays that the LORD GOD will give him the sense to follow His Commands instead of his human ideas. We should probably all start our days with these words being the first ones out of our mouths when we wake up:

“You made me; You created me. Now give me the sense to follow Your Commands.” Psalms 119:73 NLT

I think most of our prayers usually go more like this: “God, I need [fill in the blank], and I want [fill in the blank]. Would You please [fill in the blank]. And, oh, thank You for Your Son, Amen.” We are so selfish and self-centered! I’m speaking to myself, here. I want, I need, my desires…. right now. Maybe – probably – God has other plans for me for the right now. My plans don’t take into account the big picture that the God of the Universe is looking at. All I can see is this one teeny tiny bit that is right around me, and yet:

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which GOD has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB

Instead of worrying and trying to manipulate the circumstances and situations around me, it wold be more prudent for me to remember Who is really in control. I still desire the relationship, but the reality, the actuality of it, is out of my hands. It will serve me better to remember these scriptures, and to spend my time Praising rather than pouting that I haven’t gotten my way. (I know what I should do; now to put it into action!)

Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! For His Lovingkindness is great toward us, And the Truth of the LORD is Everlasting. Praise the LORD! Psalms 117:1‭-‬2 NASB