Afraid, me?

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Ps 56:3 ESV

When I was a child I was plagued by fear, so when our young daughter began to exhibit similar signs, I was not surprised. Knowing that in my own childhood, God became my source to overcome so many fears, we chose the same approach with our daughter. Psalm 56:3 became a life verse in our home. We prayed it, memorized it, displayed it beside her bed and spoke it aloud often. So today when this verse popped up in my daily reading, I approached it like a pair of well-worn shoes, comfortable and familiar.

Now normally I quickly post a verse that grabs my attention on social media and move on, but today was different. I began to ponder why Psalm 56:3 felt comfortably familiar, yet not life altering. Though I am painfully aware of my on frailty when it comes to complete trust in God , being “afraid” seems illogical somehow. Surely I have outgrown childish fears, haven’t we all?

Upon further study, I have discovered that the phrase “fear not” appears 365 time in the Bible. With that many references, “fear” obviously isn’t something we outgrow. But what exactly would be classified as fear? Dictionary.com defines fear this way: 1) a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain; 2) concern or anxiety. The impending danger definition goes without saying because we all fear things like serious illness, natural disasters and terrorist attacks to name a few. But I believe with 365 references in the Bible, definition 2 may be where we all tend to live and need to put our focus.

In fact, the more I ponder “concern or anxiety” in my life, the more I realize I have turned a blind eye to the idea of being “afraid”. Though my fears today are no longer  “what could be hiding under my bed”, they are the many “unseen things” in daily life. Things like: what will the aging process look like for me; life is passing me by while dreams are unfulfilled; what is my purpose now that my daughter is grown, married and living away; what is the prospect of our financial future; will my husband and I be able to do all that we have planned, and these are but a few. The truth is, in order to completely trust God with my life and my future, I must first admit that I have not out-grown fear. I think it is time to reinstate and personalize our “life verse” Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid (or have concern and anxiety), I (will make the choice to) put my trust in you.”

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Are you in full bloom?

“What the wicked construct finally falls into ruin, while the roots of the righteous give life, and more life.” Proverbs 12:12 MSG 

This beautiful bloom is on a small hibiscus bush recently given to us as a gift. I have taken great care to help this bush thrive by watering, fertilizing and trimming back the broken limbs. If you look closely at the picture you will see a limb below the bloom that is withered and dying. That withered limb is not the limb flowering. It is but a broken limb I planted in the ground next to the bush that is dying away because it has no roots or source of life.

Today when I read the above verse I thought about that dying limb and the spiritual picture it reveals. Without roots deeply secured in our Savior, we cannot bloom with His life. But, with roots deeply connected to our Source and continually nourished by His Word, our lives will produce the eye catching blooms of His beauty that the world is looking for. So, are you in full bloom?

The Work of Friction?

“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.” Pr 27:17 MSG

The term that comes to mind when I read this verse is “friction”. So for the purpose of this post, here is the “simple” definition of friction as defined by  Merriam/Webster:

  • the act of rubbing one thing against another

  • : the force that causes a moving object to slow down when it is touching another object

  • : disagreement or tension between people or groups of people

I guess “rubbing” things together can produce different results. When a new shoe rubs against your heel, it often creates a blister. Yet, when you use sandpaper against a piece of splintered wood it smooths out the rough edges. Friction is also used when we apply the brakes in our car to slow us to a stop. But, the friction of our words and actions can sometimes become a source of irritation or disagreement.

In this verse the idea of steel sharpening steel brings to mind the sharpening of a knife using “friction”. When sharpening knives in the kitchen, we do so to improve the quality of the work of our knife, not to render it useless or ineffective. I believe the same is true when it comes to a friend, as stated above: “one friend sharpens another”. The “friction” applied by a friend should ONLY be for the purpose of God’s work in their life.
I don’t know about you, but today this verse has created personal pause and begs the question: Have I applied both introspection and prayer to the “Work of Friction” in the lives of my friends (or family)?

 

 

In God We Trust?

“It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in men.” Ps. 118:8 LB

When I read this verse today another verse immediately came to mind: Is 2:22 “Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” (NIV)  Several years back in a time of struggle and distress the Lord would wake me up at 2:22 AM every morning. Day after day it happened and I began to question why. In my quest for an answer, I decided to look up every chapter 2 in every book of the Bible that had a 22nd verse. As I perused the pages in search of what God might be saying to me, this passage in Isaiah seemed to jump from the pages. You see, at that particular time my struggle was with what “men” or “humankind” were controlling and or manipulating in our circumstances. I began to realize that I was putting my confidence or trust in “mankind”instead of in my God, who was and is still in control!

In so many ways and at so many times God has continued to remind me of this passage over the last several years. In fact, every time my faith begins to falter, in both big and small ways, I will see 222, whether on the digital clock, as an address, a seat number assignment, you name it, He focuses my attention back to 222 (Is.2:22).

Today in my reading I was once again reminded and comforted concerning where my trust must remain. During these days of doubt and fear for all of us (whether personally, politically, or both) the One who is sitting on the Throne remains in control. And just so you know, He did not abruptly stand up last night, this morning or anytime to  say, “What in the world is happening here?”. In fact, He knows! In the midst of whatever situation or circumstance, He has a plan that is both for His glory and when it is all said and done, our good as well!

 

 

Mob Mentality…

But the mob shouted louder and louder, demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded.” Luke 23:23-24 NLT

Have you noticed how often Mob Mentality rules and changes the course of History? Whether for “good” or “bad”, a loud, demanding mob is not only heard but often bowed to. In Jesus’ day the mob demanded Him crucified and Pilate finally gave them what they wanted. It sounds SO wrong, we all know He, Jesus, did nothing to deserve it. What a horrible decision by a leader. How could it have happened?

Yet, it was part of God’s overall plan for the good of all mankind. If Pilate had not succumbed to the mob of the day, Jesus would not have died for our sins and rose to give ALL of humanity the opportunity to experience salvation. On that day the decision seemed SO wrong, in fact all weekend the disciples and followers grieved over it, but on Sunday morning they got a glimpse of God’s great plan when Jesus appeared to them having risen from the dead!

Why would I blog about this verse today you ask? To remind us that no matter the power of the Mob, God is greater still. He has a plan even when all hope appears lost. Though the Mob demanded Jesus dead, He is alive, well and on the Throne! So choose today to trust His greater plan, no matter what the “Mob Mentality”.

Mighty Warrior

“…Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, out of sight of the Midianites. The angel of God appeared to him and said, “God is with you, O mighty warrior!” Judges 6:11b-12

The story of Gideon is one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament, probably because I can relate to his doubts and fears. Today I was reminded once again of how God sees us. If you read this story in full, you will realize that Israel was under great oppression once again by foreign rule. Even Gideon’s family was worshiping and following other gods. But Gideon had a heart for God and he was chosen to make a difference in his generation.

When the angel of God first appears to Gideon he is hiding from the ruling authorities out of sight in a winepress to thresh his wheat. It is here, in hiding, that the angel of God calls him a “mighty warrior”. Obviously Gideon does not see himself as a mighty warrior. In fact, when reading the rest of the story you’ll find he continues to do things by cover of night and question God’s plan every step of the way.

Yet, God sees Gideon as He knows He will be, not as Gideon sees himself. The same is true for you and me! Our all-knowing, all-seeing God sees us as He knows we will become. So choose today to believe what He says about you and follow His lead. His plans are amazing, and they include you, His mighty warrior.

What is Right?

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” Lu 12:57 ESV

I find this passage interesting as it appears Jesus is appealing to the common sense of His listeners. I have drawn this conclusion because in a previous verse He says, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower’. And you are right.” (Luke 12:54 NLT). He goes on to say in verse 56, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but you can’t interpret these present times.”

Today I am convicted that I often plead with God for wisdom and direction in areas where Truth has already been revealed. Though the desire may be for Truth to be different, Truth never changes. Therefore, with the Truth I know, my judgement should be to choose to line up with Truth and pray for the hearts of others.

What Truth are you refusing to see or admit to today? It’s never too late to choose “What is Right”…choose Truth.

Learning to Let Go…

“…when they found him, clung to him so he couldn’t go on. He told them, “Don’t you realize that there are yet other villages where I have to tell the Message of God’s kingdom, that this is the work God sent me to do?” Luke 42b-43 MSG

Over the last few days I have felt much like the people who “clung” to Jesus in this passage. You see our 22 year old daughter and only child graduated from college, got married and as I write is moving away with her new husband. It’s been a whirlwind of changes that can be very hard on a Mother’s heart and yet, there is Truth in Jesus’ response to His followers, of whom I am one! We ALL have work to do for God. My husband and I have work, my daughter and her husband have work and everyone reading this blog post has “the work God sent” each of us to do.

To see the changes of our lives from God’s perspective instead of our own is something I have certainly not mastered, but long to do. As I allow the  Truth that God has a plan for the life of each of His children to reach, impact, cross paths, pray for and love the people He places in and around us, then I can hold the people most dear to my heart less tightly. That doesn’t mean I love them ANY less, it only means I choose to trust that God loves them more and His purposes yet to be fulfilled will not only transform their lives and those around them, but also my own in the process.

So Godspeed to our “kids” and to the future that lies before each of us!

The Bearer of Good News?

“They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, ‘We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole.'” Nu 13:32 MSG

In this Biblical account of Israel’s history, Moses sent twelve scouts to check out the “Promised Land” that lay before them. They were instructed to find out about the people living there as well as the type of land and crops it offered. Upon return, two of those twelve scouts spoke of the land’s incredible value and God’s ability to both accompany and help them overcome whatever hardships were incurred on their way to victory. While the other ten “spread scary rumors” because the task appeared daunting.

Today I was again reminded of the importance of trusting God and the power of our words. Each day I have a choice to make, I can either choose to trust in our super-natural God and encourage others to do the same by speaking positive words, or spread doubt and fear by speaking negative words when looking at the gravity of any situation without God’s help. I ask you to read the entire story found in Numbers 13-14:25 for yourself and then join me in choosing to be the bearer of “good news”, instead of “spreading scary rumors”.

More than just words…

May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.” Ps 19:14 LB

Words spoken are powerful. They can encourage or discourage, build up or tear down. Yet today’s Psalm speaks of more than just “spoken words”, it includes “unspoken thoughts”. From the heart, the seat of our being, come the thoughts that will or will not become words. To hold one’s tongue may protect others, but what does that say of me if I have thoughts so hurtful or destructive that I must choose to hold them in?

Jesus says in Matt. 15:11 (MSG) “It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.” A healthy stomach (or heart) doesn’t vomit without cause. Vomit comes from a place of great inner turmoil, as do hurtful, destructive thoughts. What good will it do to try and hold that back? The stomach is still sour, the heart polluted.

With that in mind today, though I’ll never reach perfection in word or in thought, I believe Jesus is asking me to allow His transforming power into my heart. Praying this Psalm is a great place to start:”May my spoken words AND unspoken thoughts be pleasing” this day Lord, Amen.