Paying the Price…or Walking in His Ways?

Hummingbird - Don took

David, a man after God’s own heart, fell. He fell in the worst ways and paid the price for generations to come. He caused immense pain for himself and for those who came behind him.

We (rightly) talk of God’s forgiveness of David and His forgiveness of us, when we truly repent. Of course, repentance doesn’t mean saying we are sorry and continuing down the same path or maybe a little different path but holding on tightly to certain of our old ways.

David brought another man’s wife into his home and slept with her. She became pregnant and he tried to cover his sin by calling her husband, Uriah, home from war so he would sleep with his own wife and believe the baby was his. But he was such a man of integrity that he wouldn’t sleep with his wife because his men (who were still at war) could not be with their wives. So, David got him drunk and tried again. Since that didn’t work, he put Uriah in the front lines of battle and had the other soldiers move back and Uriah was murdered.

Do you remember this abbreviated list of David’s heartaches as a result of his sins? His baby died as a result of his sin, one of his sons raped one of his daughters as a result of his sin, his own son tried to kill him and take over the throne as the result of his sin.

It is an eye opening experience to look back and see the mistakes your parents made as a result of their sins and then…see how their lives negatively affected your marriage and your parenting. It is worse when you see your sins affecting your kids’ lives.

It is awful to watch someone you love immensely as they sin themselves out of loving relationships and begin to form relationships that you know can only cause them (and those who truly love them) immense emotional pain and often (because of the stress) physical ramifications.

And here it is…the description of how it works: When we are in a relationship with the LORD…we find faithful love in Him and just naturally seek harmony with those around us who love Him and walk in His ways. But when we live denying (and/or hiding) our own wickedness…we rob ourselves of the faithful love surrounding us. There is just… no way for us to rejoice in the LORD…or in our own righteousness or the healthy love surrounding us.

Yet…if we choose to repent and seek His forgiveness and with a humble heart, seek the forgiveness of those around us and choose to walk away from the sin…He longs to give us a fresh start. Sometimes, even those who have surrounded us with love will give us the opportunity to regain their trust and release themselves to a loving relationship with us once again.

Why do we hang on to what irrevocably will harm us? Why do we wait to humble ourselves and seek His face?

Psalm 32:10-11 Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the LORD will have faithful love surrounding him. Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

 

 

 

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Bewildered? Fresh Out of Strength and New Ideas?..

Best I think

Do you think she is rooting for the little ones to catch a fish or…is she thinking, “They are going at this all wrong…again! I am so tired, I don’t think I can tell him one.more.time to stop slapping at the water like that!”

She looks a little bewildered to me.

You feelin’ bewildered today? Too much going on that confuses and hurts you? Maybe you have caused a significant amount of your own hurt because you have repeated the same destructive patterns of behavior…again. Maybe you don’t see your own destructive patterns.

Maybe you are just tired and tired of. Maybe others continue to repeat their patterns…cause you pain. You have tried it all…given them every opportunity…there is nothing in your power left to do. You have little strength and you just can’t muster up any more courage.

Maybe…just maybe depleted is where you are supposed to be, so that God can do His work.

So often, we need to be at the end or our rope so that God can pull us up or…maybe it is the one we love so much who needs rescuing. How many times have you heard it? “We sometimes have to hit bottom before we finally look up.” Maybe that is the case for those we have rescued for so long.

Have you noticed that God is never just working on one person at a time? When one person is causing chaos…we can choose to trust His ways, His timing and His hand. Or…we can keep fruitlessly slapping the water …accomplishing very little. In fact…we end up where we didn’t want to be in the first place…repeating the same behavior only to come up with the same empty result.

Thankfully, our God is not bewildered…He is patient and loving and gives us every opportunity to correct our ways. Yet…what kind of damage are we doing because we aren’t seeking His wisdom and walking in that wisdom? How much have we slowed down His rescue by getting in the way?

He has promised to “unbewilder” us if only we will follow His word:

James 1:2-8 (NIV) 2  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

 

 

 

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Scrunched in the Corner or Committed to Praising His Name…

brown lizard pink throat...not as pretty as previous green one

Psalm 146:1-2 Hallelujah! My soul, praise the LORD. I will praise the LORD all my life, I will sing to my God as long as I live.

Scrunched in the Corner or Committed to Praising His Name…

~~

I read this passage several times this morning. Not because I am so righteous, but because I was struggling to concentrate on what I was reading…thus, several readings.

But then…God’s Spirit began driving the words from my head to my heart:

Hallelujah!!!! My soul, praise the LORD.

I WILL…praise the LORD all my life, I WILL…sing to my God, as long as I live.

Praise is a choice. To my shame, it is also a choice I vacillate in and out of and don’t even realize. I am not a purposely rebellious Christian. Not because I am so good but because I have lived long enough to know that I lose when I rebel.

But there are subtle resistances…rebellions that our God is forced to point out to me.

If I am truly committed to praising God…was I more prone to praise Him yesterday when things were going well…a day when I truly sensed His presence?

Or have I truly committed…am I truly committed to praising the LORD all my life…singing to my God as long as I live?

When I am hurting, am I slightly resisting praise and in doing so resisting my relationship with and love for God?

The picture I see is a child…who still sort of wants to be physically close to the parent but He is scrunched deep in the corner of the sofa…looking out of the corner of his eye…thinking about how far he should take this “separation thing”. Mom or Dad are only a couple of feet away on the same sofa but…their little one is resisting the urge to commit to moving down and snuggling which would inevitably mean some words of “I love you” and shortly… “You are the best mommy/daddy in the world!”

Are we on the corner of the sofa…knowing we will ultimately be praising His name but since things are hard…the road has been painful and painfully long…we don’t feel up to truly praising His Name right now. He will be there for us to praise Him later but right now… “Praise is not what I feel…I need some time”.

What a short memory we have. What a lack of faith on our part…what a lack of love…what immature selfishness toward the One who selflessly has given His all.

And yet…the one who loves us most…still understand that we are but dust…that we will scrunch in the corner…that we will cower in fear and dread. He is patient with us. He understands, He encourages…and He waits for my heart…your heart…to remember…

He truly is worthy of our praise. He is God. He has been and is faithful.

Even when we absolutely do. not. understand the why’s of the road we have been forced to travel…He is trustworthy…He is faithful.

He loves us with a Perfect Love…one that cannot be wrong. Therefore…

Even during the longest, most excruciating storms…we truly can praise His Name!

~~

Psalm 30:3-12 (TLB) 3  You brought me back from the brink of the grave, from death itself, and here I am alive! 4  Oh, sing to him you saints of his; give thanks to his holy name. 5  His anger lasts a moment; his favor lasts for life! Weeping may go on all night, but in the morning there is joy. 6  In my prosperity I said, “This is forever; nothing can stop me now! 7  The Lord has shown me his favor. He has made me steady as a mountain.” Then, Lord, you turned your face away from me and cut off your river of blessings. Suddenly my courage was gone; I was terrified and panic-stricken. 8  I cried to you, O Lord; oh, how I pled: 9  “What will you gain, O Lord, from killing me? How can I praise you then to all my friends? How can my dust in the grave speak out and tell the world about your faithfulness? 10  Hear me, Lord; oh, have pity and help me.” 11  Then he turned my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy 12  so that I might sing glad praises to the Lord instead of lying in silence in the grave. O Lord my God, I will keep on thanking you forever!

 

 

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Hidden…In the Cleft of The Rock…

cleft of the rock

Hidden… In the Cleft of The Rock!

Psalm 19:14 (ESV)

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

“Rock is a metaphor for a reliable refuge. Our security is found in God, not in ourselves.” (Explore the Bible quarterly, July 2017.)

This thought is beautiful to me. I always think of a rock as solid and representing strength but when David (or others) would hide from an enemy or need shelter from the elements…the cleft of a rock or inside a rock cave was a sure refuge. This little dove says it all!

It is so true (and comforting) that our security is found in God…not in ourselves or anything or anyone else. The LORD is our rock and our Redeemer. In biblical days, as in the story of Ruth and Boaz, it was a tradition (and the honorable thing to do) to “redeem” the life of a woman who had lost her husband. Often her husband’s brother would be the redeemer…the one who married her and took care of her. Sometimes, like with Boaz, it wasn’t a brother but a man with a heart for God and then…for Ruth.

When I see this little picture (found on google) I see a little dove protected, comfortable, at peace and…with a clear view of everything in front of him. He isn’t forever trapped…he has hope and a future because he is sheltered in the Cleft of the Rock!

That is where we are, you know. The LORD IS our Rock and our Redeemer…our refuge in the time of storm…our comfort…our strength.

The paragraph in Explore the Bible goes on to say, “Identifying the LORD as my Redeemer is even more insightful in that the Hebrew word implies a close family relationship. As such, it foreshadows the New Testament idea that believers are adopted into God’s family through the sacrifice of Christ.”

Beautiful…the Old Testament is constantly foreshadowing Christ…His redemption, protection, and love.

Through the years, I have heard people say, with a certain amount of bravado…”The Old Testament is boring…dusty…a lot of rules for people that have nothing to do with us today.” Oh, my. To learn the Old Testament and see how many creative ways the Old is pointing to the New (Christ) is a thrill and a faith builder. The Bible is sixty-six books written by over 40 authors on three different continents and yet…it comes together in a way that is truly miraculous.

The reliability of God’s word has been proven again and again. This is a great article covering why we know for certain it is reliable. https://gotquestions.org’Bible-reliable.html

The article points out that the Bible has more proof of authenticity than any other known document. Of course…it would. Our God, who spoke through over 40 authors on three continents over many years and ultimately…saw to it that these writings were compiled in one work.

Miraculous. When you hold a Bible in your hands, you hold a miraculous work of God. You have in your possession a living document…one that continues to speak to each of us through, not only the scribes but the Author who originally gave them the thoughts and words to record.

This same Holy Spirit takes those words and uses them to do miraculous works in our minds, hearts and lives.

He has perfected His history (His-Story) and then through it…He changes us so that He can use us and move us into areas that will bring Him glory and bring purpose to our lives.

Not only that, but as we go through the storms of life, He is our Rock …our fortress. He sets us in the cleft of The Rock. Like an eagle, He covers us with His wings.

Why? Why in the world should He care? We have betrayed Him again and again. He has forgiven us thousands of times. Yet…He so desires that we find purpose and experience joy. Why? Who does that? Who wouldn’t stop caring and walk away…destroy the whole bunch of us!

The closest I can come to a picture of how this could possibly happen…is being a parent. We never give up. We give our kids the best opportunity to succeed. We give them second, third and thousandth chances. Why? Because we love them with an undying love.

This is our God…our Savior…the One who is our Rock and Redeemer…the One who hides us in the cleft of The Rock.

 

 

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Clenched Teeth or Refreshed Bones?

Clenched Teeth or Refreshment Boy swinging over lake

Clenched Teeth or Refreshed Bones?

 I am so thankful for the Scripture I was required to memorize as a child. Yet how much we miss by memorizing tiny portions of Scripture and not going back and reviewing the context. Here is a little larger portion of the context of Proverbs 3:5-6 that we usually memorize or remember:

 Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV) 5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Leaning to our own understanding…gritting our teeth and doing the very best we know how to do…acting from the gut or instinct (or even from our experience) can wear us thin…wear us to the bone.

Every fiber of our being, every muscle in our body tenses up repeatedly and leaves us feeling dried up and worn down.

Maybe you are living in blatant sin or perhaps you are trying to do things well and right but doing it your own way. Either way, we strain our muscles, our emotions, our brains, our relationships. Even the skin on our body feels tense, dry and worn out. Kind of like when you have a virus…everything hurts. I have been known to exaggerate my plight, in an attempt to paint a picture of how badly I feel all over, “even my hair hurts”.

Proverbs 3:5-8 gives us a remedy. If you have been a Christian very long, you know 3:5-6. You have likely heard 3:7-8 but…it doesn’t rise to the surface nearly as often, does it?

 7  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

 Basically, these verses affirm the prior two verses and promise a much-needed outcome.

Isn’t this exactly what you want for your beyond-exhausted, soul weary, worn-through body, mind and spirit?

We need refreshment…and not the kind that comes from our man-made solutions…the ones that often drain us even more. Like you, I want refreshment that truly revives. I need a well that gives living water. I need a source that I can come to at any time of day or night. The One who always…always knows the path I should take. The One who is ready and waiting to forgive me when I take things back into my own hands and Who is anxious to recalibrate my path for the best result.

Tired of trying to figure things out and fix them? Exhausted with shooting blindly for the solution? Emotionally wiped out from the tension of believing you have finally managed to “get through” and then collapsing because you realize you haven’t?

Even the long wait for change can be less excruciating when we are depending on His timing. Trusting Him means the rocky crags, shadowy valleys and adversaries that leap at us along the way are less traumatic because our fear and doubt are less protracted. This path we have taken…it has been His path…His leading…His way. So we can fully trust that the detours and the injuries were allowed for our good and His glory.

Praise will be more a part of our lives, rather than piling blame on ourselves and others for their “terrible” advice and our poor decisions.

Life pulls together in a way that allows us to rest more (unclench our teeth)… even during the awfulness of the maze we might be in during this season. Our bones can be refreshed, as we learn to trust Him…more and more.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV) 5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“They Will Not Enter My Rest”…But are you?

 

Fawn hiding backyard 2nd crop lightened“They Will Not Enter My Rest”…But are you?

There are so many Truths in the Bible that we barely notice, or gloss over. Maybe we think of them as mostly applying to the people in the Bible who God was speaking to at the time.

I wish we wouldn’t be so prone to that way of thinking.

Psalm 95:1-11 (HCSB) 1  Come, let us shout joyfully to the LORD, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! 2  Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to Him in song. 3  For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods. 4  The depths of the earth are in His hand, and the mountain peaks are His. 5  The sea is His; He made it. His hands formed the dry land. 6  Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 7  For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care. Today, if you hear His voice: 8  Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the wilderness 9  where your fathers tested Me; they tried Me, though they had seen what I did. 10  For 40 years I was disgusted with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray; they do not know My ways.” 11  So I swore in My anger, “They will not enter My rest.”

 All the way at the bottom of the Psalm is a little phrase that we can’t afford to miss: “They will not enter My rest…they will not enter My rest…they will not enter My rest!”

 Actually…all through this Psalm, we can’t afford to miss one word of what God is saying to us.

Through David, the Psalmist, God is telling us to enter His presence with thanksgiving. How many times do I race to Him with my pressing requests, rather than with thanksgiving?

We don’t worship a self-serving God who wants us to sing His praises just to feed his ego! He is asking us here to remember that He created all of the beauty we see around us (and all of the beauty we see on National Geographic).

Then…David says, “Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care.” If we come to Him with His care in mind…how can we not be thankful?

How can our faith not be strengthened when we focus on the reality of His personal-to-us care? As our faith is strengthened, our prayers are strengthened. In other words, once we begin enumerating all that He has done for us and our loved ones…our faith blossoms in prayer. Our faith blossoms and our worship blossoms. The process is circular…a thankful heart leads to more faith…more faith leads to a more thankful heart. Our hope, contentment and peace grow.

As you begin to intentionally remember and give thanks…by midmorning, perhaps the little blossom of heart-felt praise has wilted from the heat…the pressures of the day and your tendency to fret and worry. How do we regain that freshness toward the LORD and life? How do we keep it up? By intentionally, prayerfully, rehearsing who HE really is…the beauty of His creation and His works in our life. When we do, how can we help but praise Him and hope once again?

Because He is faithful…because we rehearse His faithfulness on the cross and in our present lives…our hope returns.

At the end of the passage, He tells us not to harden our hearts as the Israelite fathers did in the wilderness:

9  where your fathers tested Me; they tried Me, though they had seen what I did. 10  For 40 years I was disgusted with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray; they do not know My ways.” 11  So I swore in My anger, “They will not enter My rest.”

 I wonder how many times I test Him…even though I have seen thousands of His amazing works? I haven’t formed a golden calf to worship…but how many times do I carelessly forget what he has done and keep my thoughts on fear and worry? Isn’t that giving more credence to my troubles than to God? Isn’t that like erecting an idol?

He was disgusted with that generation whose hearts went astray and who no longer knew His ways. They no longer praised His name…no longer remembered who He really is and what He had continuously done for their protection, provision and direction.

So…the Lord swore in His anger that they would not enter His Promised Land…His rest. None of the older, faithless, forgetful generation entered His rest.

In the same way, if we are giving more credence to the mess around us, to the failures we see as God not preventing or fixing…if you and I are not remembering and worshipping…we will stay stressed and…

You and I…cannot…will not enter His rest!

Psalm 100:1-5 (HCSB) 1

 Shout triumphantly to the LORD, all the earth. 2  Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. 3  Acknowledge that Yahweh is God. He made us, and we are His — His people, the sheep of His pasture. 4  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. 5  For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

 

 

 

 

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The Way or…Your Way…

little kid phone grandma

Psalm 84: 4-7

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! 5  Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings. 7  They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion.

Psalm 84:11-12

11  For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12  O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]!

(As always, read the whole chapter and…in more than one version!) https://www.biblegateway.com/

Yes…the plain fact is…blessed are those who do those things and miserably complex are the lives of those who don’t. These verses talk about going from “strength to strength (increasing in victorious power). This is God’s strength…the strength and momentum we gain by choosing His ways!

No, that doesn’t mean we won’t have trouble…we most definitely will. But…God is offering us a better way.

Some time ago, I saw this picture on FB and laughed for so many reasons!

But isn’t this also the way we feel when we are trying to get someone who is being obstinate to hear…really hear us? If they would just listen, the directions are so simple…the results…the life so much deeper and broader.

In an effort to avoid the truth, instead of listening, your obstinate one probably asks questions they already know the answers to…have been told a thousand times but…they are refusing to hear because the simple truth goes against what they are truly wanting to do.

So…the questions are fired…the walls go up. The ears are closed…again!

Don’t you sometimes want to scream, “It’s not that hard!”

I hurt for those who aren’t choosing to do life according to God’s directions. It can be compared to this little boy’s grandmother insisting on selecting something besides “Wi-Fi” to get to the goal. She is talking to someone who knows how to do it…has done it successfully and is using the phone as the designer intended. It works for him…beautifully!

She wants to use the phone, she is asking for help…for advice…but she is refusing both the help and the advice and foolishly believing (insisting) that her way of thinking is the way to reach the goal.

We all want to know the key to living an optimal life. As believers, we know our Designer…The Designer of our lives has the exact (only) keys. Maybe without even realizing it, we refuse to make quality choices, based on His direction and His will because underneath we really think our way is better. Or…we might know it isn’t better but…we just want to skip some disciplines, take what we think of as a short cut and get on down the road.

We can be headed for a path that everyone around us sees as littered with the debris of poor choices…even destructive choices. And yet…we close our ears and do it our way.

“No clicking ‘Wi-Fi’ for me…I am going to pick my own settings!”

God’s promise is…there is a better way.

Struggling with your own willfulness?  Pray this prayer daily, with all sincerity. God will answer the desires of your heart and give you the strength to  take the steps you know He wants you to take:

Psalm 15:3-7

3Defeat does not come to those who trust in you,  but to those who are quick to rebel against you. Teach me your ways, O Lord; make them known to me. Teach me to live according to your truth,  for you are my God, who saves me.  I always trust in  you.Remember, O Lord, your kindness and constant love which you have shown from long ago. Forgive the sins and errors of my youth. In your constant love and goodness, remember me, Lord!

 

 

 

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