HIS Insight…is Freedom!

Fox peeking in tree at Stagecoach Inn Saledo

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NLT) 12  Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13  We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14  But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15  Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. 16  But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17  For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

There is such freedom in having our eyes and hearts opened by the Holy Spirit. There is understanding…and there is freedom.

Think about working on your job or caring for your family with special protective glasses that blur your vision significantly. You are trying to see what it is your two-year old has in her hand…is it dangerous? Is it too small for her to be playing with? Is it a Cheerio and perfectly fine for her?

With clouded vision, your day is constantly filled with confusion and lack of the right information you need to make timely decisions. It is exhaustion. You are shooting blind…literally.

Or you are on the job. Is that your spouse coming down the hall and why is he here? Is there an emergency of some kind? You move as quickly as you can. (Darn glasses.) Your body language says you are expectant and worried all at once. You reach out and affectionately touch his arm and press in slightly toward his body, “Is everything okay, what is going on?” Suddenly, you realize you are face to face with the company CEO.

Only minutes ago, you picked up your co-workers phone (accidentally left at your desk). Thinking it was yours, you began scrolling through, trying to make out incoming texts, just as he walked up.

The last few weeks (since wearing the glasses) have been filled with constant blind struggles. Everything is so much harder to understand…to see…to interpret. You feel less confident, your body language is tentative, nerves jangled and co-workers are beginning to have less confidence in anything you do or say.

Even your family is disregarding you in many ways.

Whether at home or work, you push forward when you should hold back…you have held back when you should have pushed forward. Others have become exasperated with you, at times and you have been exasperated with them.

You simply don’t have the vision to have the insight.

That is what is being described in this passage. If we are unbelievers or believers who are ignoring the vision of God through His Spirit in us…

We simply don’t have the insight to live life in freedom.

There is so much freedom in listening and obeying His voice!

His ways are truly higher than our ways and in Him…

There is freedom!

 

 

 

 

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Shed Your Old Way…Stand…See the Deliverance of the Lord on Your Behalf!

lizard shed old skin 3

2 Chronicles 20:15,17 (NASB) Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s… ‘You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf… Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.”

What is my multitude? What is yours? Is one person “your multitude”, causing your multitude of pain and confusion…waves slamming you down again and again?

Is it one particular situation? Are you getting up from one wave after the other only to be slammed back down by that situation or that one person…the pain he/she is causing…the new situation that has been created (by him/her)…again?

This is your “great multitude”! It means one.more.thing to be strong about when you feel you have nothing left! You have just picked yourself up sloppy wet, drenched in the heaviness of it…dried yourself off…regrouped…only to be slammed by a Tsunami.

How.can.I.do.this.again! I can’t.do.this.again!

Maybe you only think you are supposed to do something…again. Maybe God is saying 2 Chronicles to you. Maybe He is trying to say, “You have tried it all…you have done all you know to do…you have been faithful in your position as parent, grandparent, sibling or friend.

Maybe He is saying, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s… ‘You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf… Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.”

Maybe your part is not to “go out and face them” one more time. Maybe your part is to “station yourself” in prayer…watch and pray for what He might be telling you to do, of course…but until you know for certain He is saying, “Go out and face them…” you station yourself! You seek His face and His wisdom, will and words!

Station yourself! Pray! Be still and pray until you know that you are to do something differently.

Waiting and not trying a new version of the same old thing can be excruciating for us. We keep bolting forward into action. “If I just say it this way…do it this way…” But there is also the old adage that says, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NASB) 13  I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. 14  Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.

 

 

 

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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!

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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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