Sunday, February 22, 2015

It Ain't THAT Easy

God is serious about helping us avoid hard times and rejoice in peace.

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
   who rely on horses
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
   and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
   or seek help from the LORD."  Isaiah 31:1

Did you read the word "Woe" right at the beginning? Woe means great sorrow or distress. Common synonyms are misery, wretchedness, heartache, regret, gloom, despair, adversity, disaster. Those are definitely things I want to avoid. This verse teaches that woe comes to those who "do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD".

Sounds like a strong call for God's people to trust Him in the depths of our souls and carry our needs to Him to meet rather than relying on earthly resources.

Trusting God like that is something I've been working on my entire life of faith.

For some reason trust doesn't come to me in the way it does to others, as if relaxing back into a hammock.

Not for me anyway.

"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
   'In repentance and rest is your salvation,
   in quietness and trust is your strength,
   but you would have none of it."  Isaiah 30:15

What's wrong with me?

I know God loves me and is ready, willing, and more than able to take care of me.

I know that my Father has a perfect plan for my life that is built on His knowledge of how He made me and His wisdom about how to grant me joy and peace even as He uses me for His purposes here and prepares me for heaven. 

I know the great I AM keeps every single promise He makes 
rewards those who entrust themselves to His hand.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make your paths straight."   Proverbs 3:5-6

"I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the LORD.'"  Jeremiah 39:18

"Trust in the LORD and do good;
   dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
   and he will give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:3-4

But I don't find the trusting very easy at all.

Maybe that's because I find myself surrounded by trials, struggles, and hounded by uncertainty and fear ... a lot. 
It feels like every time I let down my guard somebody or some thing comes in to throw a few punches. 
I tend to blame myself for relaxing and jump back on my charger, picking up my weapons to protect myself.

A certain celebrity might ask me, "How's that workin' for ya?"

It's not going well at all.

I want to spend 

      less time on horseback 

and more time

resting between two trees.

Are you with me?

If so, how can we affect the transition?

I'm sensing it will take offering my attention and energy to God in prayer.

1. Identify the source of the fear, discouragement, whatever it is that's making me feel unsettled, on edge. 

2. Ask the LORD to show me how I might be able to change those details, what I might need to simply accept as reality, and which of those directions I need to take by His grace for His glory.

3. Practice relying on who God is and how He cares for His chosen ones, converting head knowledge and lip service into behavior that reflects those Truths before a whole world that needs to hear and see that message.

LORD, I am among the lowly and weak, a slow learner at best. Please hear my prayer and teach me to trust You in every area of my life, in ways I don't expect, that I might live more fully and joyfully for You. Amen

If you join me in that sentiment, be encouraged by the following words of Truth. 

"May your unfailing love come to me, O LORD,
   your salvation according to your promise;
then I will answer the one who taunts me,
   for I trust in your word."  Psalm 119:41-42

"When I am afraid,
  I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
  in God I will trust; I will not be afraid."  Psalm 56:3-4

"You will keep in perfect peace 
   him whose mind is steadfast,
   because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
   for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.   Isaiah 26:3-4

"But I will leave within you

   the meek and humble,
   who trust in the name of the LORD."  Zephaniah 3:12

In that day they will say.
   'Surely this is our God;
     we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
   let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.'"  Isaiah 25:9

Are you prompted to improve your own level of trust? Tell me about it.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

NEVER Forsaken.

When I first started memorizing this verse, I was singing it incorrectly. 

I thought the phrase was learRned to repose

That's pretty much the way it goes for me.

1) I make a mistake, head down the wrong road, and have to go back and correct myself. 
2) I rarely lean, needing instead to leaRn each healthy habit a believer needs to pursue.

Rarely does sanctification, also known as growing in grace, come easily to me.

This week a dear friend shared something that got me thinking in that direction. She described an activity her husband undertook with their offspring. He passed out a collection of desirable items to his seven children. 

The older ones made every effort to hang onto as many things as possible. She reported that their hands and arms became overloaded with objects to the point where they began dropping some. 

Interestingly the younger ones would hang onto two articles and when a third came, put down one of them to accept another. The very youngest child took an item, put it on the floor, and waited to receive the next. His eyes were on the giver rather than the gift.

When the illustration was over, Daddy explained that we need to be careful not to hang on too tightly to the good gifts God gives us. Otherwise we won't be able to receive the fresh blessings He's ready to deliver, and we might lose sight of the Provider.

I've been pondering the Father's grace toward me and ways I'd like to dispense with some of my maturity in favor of such child-like perspective and confidence. 

God's faithful presence is my bedrock. I want to enjoy the security of that Truth more fully.

verse 6
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to its foes;

Relying on the work of Christ is a quiet, peaceful activity.
I want my resting in Him to be soul-deep.
The Father promises to protect my reposing soul from the enemy.

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

When my spirit is tranquil in Jesus nothing will disturb me.
I won't care if Satan makes the whole world convulse.
And, no matter what happens, God confirms His presence with me.

The sixth and final verse calls for six supporting Scriptures. 
You too can know confidence right in the middle of that pressure.

Read. Revel. Rejoice.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

"The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8

"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Joshua 1:5

"Those who know your name will trust in you, 
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."  Psalm 9:10

"For the LORD will not reject his people;
he will never forsake his inheritance."  Psalm 94:14

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 
'Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.'"  Hebrews 13:5

Did you learn all six verses? Are you still in process?
Hang in there. The rewards are rich, priceless really.

John Rippon wrote 'How Firm a Foundation' in 1787.
I pray the hymn is embedded in your soul as it is in the html code.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Strength in Blurry Scenery

It's okay if you haven't joined me in memorizing the lyrics of this hymn.

I mean, I won't unsubscribe you.

Actually I'm enjoying the process enough to count for at least five readers.

I've been noticing some things.

Each verse has its own topic and tone.
They contribute to the overall flow and feel.
As I learn the words the beauty of the hymn blooms.

I notice the strength of the hymn more and more as I sing it in the midst.

In the midst of thinking about the One who speaks to me through it.
In the midst of my love for my growing family.
                    of caring for my sick husband.
                    of preparing my house for guests.
                    of my wonderings about the future.
                    of my concern for my friends.
                          fill in the blank for yourself      

Are you gaining strength in the midst of your own blurry scenery?

I must tell you that this verse may be my favorite.
I've noticed it's not sung very much these days.
I hear that's because some words are confusing.
I pray that won't keep you from being as encouraged as I am.

verse 5
Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;

I am granted a duty to perform even as I mature.
Not perhaps or might, I shall verify God's testimony.
I am a witness to His absolute, abiding, unalterable love.

And when hoary* hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

It's natural for gray hairs to embellish my head
God continues to tend me as a Shepherd His flock.
Not perhaps or might, He shall bear me in His bosom always, no matter what, in spite of anything I might say or do, I will still be wrapped in His embrace.

How biblical is the hymn's message? 

"Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you."  Isaiah 46:4

You too will sprout gray hairs one day, if you haven't already.
No need to worry, whether you have or will.
God's promise to hold us is for all those He calls My People.

Can you guess why this may be my favorite verse?

'How Firm a Foundation' was written in 1787 by John Rippon.
I pray having the tune here is as much a help to you as it is to me.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Dross Eradicator

I wonder how you're doing.
Have you been memorizing?
Where are you in the process?

I'm struggling with the discipline,
but I'm enjoying the effort to focus.
Actually it's the results I'm enjoying.

As I sing through the verses I'm able to concentrate more fully on the meaning of each phrase. Since I'm singing by myself I can adjust my speed however I like. 

For example, when I'm learning I go really slowly. 
When I feel more confident I sing right along. 
Sometimes I even stop and let the tears flow until I can carry on. 

I mean, it's not all that easy to keep singing when you consider the powerful implications in verse 2.

Today's verse comes from a passage that sustained my heart when my father died. The Holy Spirit brought it to my mind and it's been with me ever since. As a matter of fact, I marked it in my Bible 25 years ago by putting my own name wherever a pronoun appears.
"When you [Sandra] walk through the fire, 
you [Sandra] will not be burned;
the flames will not set you [Sandra] ablaze.
For I am the LORD, your God
the Holy One of Israel, your [Sandra's] Savior;"  Psalm 43:2a-3a

The notes help me apply the Truth more intimately.
You could mark your Bible too.

Verse 4
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;

Not 'If' but 'When' fiery trials appear. I can expect them.
The path I'm on is the one marked out for ME. 
God's saving favor is ENOUGH to meet every need.
Not 'may be' but 'shall be' my supply. I can count on it.

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. 

The Father's goal is NOT to incinerate me.
His specific purpose is to prepare me for eternity.
He will destroy my human flaws, and polish my divine imageness. from Genesis 1:27

How marvelous it is to consider these truths. 

They are not only to me or for me. 
They are for every one who's heart is wrapped up in Christ. 
Be encouraged!

Ponder, revel, exalt, rejoice.

John Rippon write 'How Firm a Foundation' in 1787.
If the tune is still helpful, feel free to use this recording.