Thursday, June 22, 2017

early will I seek You

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
Psalms 63:1 NKJV

Early will I seek You.  Many read this and immediately  think of morning. In the morning, we need to rise and seek Godʼs will and His presence for the day. We need to start our day with our Creator. Yes, this is true, but another way to look at it is, to seek God early before situations arise.

Many times, we wait until we are in the middle of a mess or problem to call out to God. Many times we try to fix our problems ourselves before going to God. Rather, we need to seek Him early. We need to call on Him first, before there is even a problem. This will have us already prepared to face the problems, already tuned in to His voice, His peace, and His plans.  We will be ready to face the situations head on, because we have already talked to the Problem Solver.  Wouldn't that make going through some things a lot easier? When I have spent time with God and already sought Him, I am ready to speak to the problems, "God is in control," or "I know my God will make a way."  My faith is stronger going in rather than having to build it up or even find it in the middle of a situation.

So early will I seek you, God. Before I even face the day or face a trial, because with your strength, I can walk forward. I can face any challenge knowing my heavenly Father is on the scene. He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)  Why do we doubt?  Because we have gotten our eyes and our hearts off track, off the One who knows what we have need of. (Matthew 6:8)

So, early will I seek You and trust that Your will is being accomplished. I may not understand it  and it may not go the way I think it should, but I know without a doubt, that God is already there working for my good. (Roman's 8:28). My faith and hope will be stronger and withstand the circumstances better than waiting until I am struggling in the middle of the mess. Early will I seek You.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord ; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up.
Psalms 5:3 NKJV


Monday, June 19, 2017

remembering the old paths

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
  Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This old hymn Blessed Assurance was written by Fanny Crosby. A prolific poet and song writer, who lost her eyesight at age of 6 weeks old, experienced the loss of her child and hardships, still wrote the most beautiful of songs. They spoke of the greatness and depth of God's love and grace. Deep faith and sound Biblical knowledge are carried in the words of her songs. This is the story behind this one.

One day in 1873, Aunt Fanny was visiting with a friend, Mrs. Joseph Knapp, a musician of sorts and wife of the founder of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. During their visit Mrs. Knapp played a tune on her piano, which she had recently written. She then asked Fanny, “What does this tune say?” After kneeling in prayer for a few moments, she rose and declared, “It says, ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!’”

Aunt Fanny began to dictate verses to Mrs. Knapp, who wrote them down, fitting them to the melody just as we hear it sung today.

These words speak such hope, joy and faith. I love to sing this old hymn and get "lost in His love."  I want my story to truly be told that my life was entirely praising my Savior all the day long.  I want to find that place of perfect submission to the will of God and His plans for me. True peace and rest comes from him and in trusting His will. Oh how simple He really makes it for us, if only we trust.  I want to hear the "Echoes of mercy and whispers of love" as I walk through my day and speak with Him. 

Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
Psalm 145:2 NIV

Sometimes, we need to take time to remember and listen to the words and stories of those who have gone before us. There is great wisdom and truth to be found.  I love our worship songs of today. I love singing praise to God. I also love the depth that is in the old hymns. It speaks of the faith and knowledge  these writers had of the word of God.  It speaks of the hours spent in reading and studying the Bible.  It speaks of the time in prayer they must have spent.  I am inspired by the stories behind these hymns. Some born in tragedy, some in moments of joy. My grandfather, James Ellis, often spoke little phrases of advice to those around him. One such phrase was, " Learn from my mistakes, so you don't have to repeat them. You'll make enough of your own."  I think of His phrases often and as I grow older, I understand more now, that his wisdom is so valuable. We cannot forget the wisdom and stories of the past. We would do well to recall and remember the words and examples that have come before us.

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

Jeremiah was instructed in chapter 35, to meet with the family of the Rekabites. The thing that he noted was this family adhered and followed the commands of their forefather, Jehonadab, without fail. God used this example to show that those in Jerusalem  had failed to follow His commands,  but He was pleased with this family for their obedience. This family remembered the instructions of their past leaders and passed this knowledge on. I think that is part of why God gave people some of these hymns for us to sing.  I think that is why some of our forefathers spoke words of wisdom to their children and grandchildren.  We can learn from them and recall them to lead us forward in the faith and in truth. Let's stay in the right paths and not turn from them because we aren't willing to learn from those who have gone before.  God has placed them there for a reason.  We can find a well worn path laid out before us,  if only we pay attention to the wisdom of the past.  We can find that path already laid that will help us avoid mistakes,  find great peace and joy,  and a sustaining faith that brings us to that place of being lost in His love while praising our Savior all the day long.











Wednesday, June 7, 2017

the heart of the matter

Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Isaiah 29:13 NKJV

We talk a lot about worship and honoring the Lord. We are often quick to say we love Him, to say the words of worship, "Praise the Lord," "Hallelujah." We may have many things we say about God and to God at the proper times. But this verse above gives a picture that I cannot ignore.  People will say a lot of things, but it may not be in their heart. In fact, they have actually removed their hearts from God. The things they are doing is only following human rules they have been taught to follow.  The NIV says it like this:

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Isaiah 29:13 NIV

They are performing actions, lifting hands,  attending a service,  doing something 'right' to look righteous, but the whole matter comes down to where the heart has been placed.

I read this verse and felt such conviction and concern. I felt a sincere need to search out where I have placed my heart. Have I removed it from God and placed it elsewhere? What am I seeking after? What am I truly loving and spending my heart on over God?  Have I become a lover of self or pleasure rather than God?

It makes me realize that my heart must be given to God first and foremost. What is in our hearts is revealed by what we truly say and do in our daily lives, what we stand for, and what we attend to.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Luke 6:45 NIV

Jesus warned us to not put on a show and that the heart is what he sees. He told of Pharisees who were washed sepulchres. Pretty on the outside, but dead on the inside. They did not have their hearts given to God.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
Matthew 23:27 NKJV

How many churches are filled on Sunday with whitewashed tombs that know and perform the actions taught, but don't have that deep heart relationship with God? How many return to what they truly love on Monday because their heart is elsewhere?  Is this why the world mocks and laughs? Is this why the church is no longer taken seriously? Is this why Christians have become weak and powerless, lacking in authority and love?  Lord have mercy on us if this is the case.

David bemoaned this as well:
Help, Lord , for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Psalm 12:1 NIV

And John wrote in Revelations about it:
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
Revelation 2:4 NIV

God knows our hearts, he calls us to seek Him and wants to be in our hearts.  He wants to be our first love and our greatest love.

then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart),
1 Kings 8:39 NIV

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for Godʼs people in accordance with the will of God.
Romans 8:27 NIV

Our actions need to truly coming from our heart. Our hearts must be filled with God, with the things of God, and with the love of God and for God.
I just recently heard about a girl in Egypt that had been attending a Christian church. It was explained that, often, Muslims don't say much about attending a Christian  Church, but once you get baptized, they will act. This young lady was very bright, had been accepted to Oxford and was getting ready to leave Egypt. BUT one day, she came to the pastor and said she must be baptized.  He was hesitant and said why now, you are soon going to England where you can get baptized without fear. She revealed that she had had a dream and in that dream, Jesus had shown her how real he was. She said, "If you had seen what I saw, you would get baptized immediately too." The pastor baptized her. Her body was found thrown from a building a few days later, presumably killed by her Muslim mother.  This young lady had been attending church, but when her heart changed, when truth entered and became her heart's motivation, her faith became real. She knew her faith would risk death and loss of other things she may have loved.

Is my heart in that place with God? Oh, God examine my heart, show me what I truly hold in my heart, change my heart and make it wholly yours.
Then, may my walk with God truly be effective and my light truly shine so others may see the truth of God working completely in me. From deep inside my heart, His work and love can accomplish what only He can do and make over my heart. For what is in the heart is what matters and is revealed in all we do.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psalms 51:10‭-‬12 KJV


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

no snakes in my presence

God sometimes sends us warnings through dreams. I believe God gave me one of those dreams last night. Anyone who knows me knows I am deathly afraid of snakes.  This dream was about a poisonous snake curled up among roots in the side of a river bank. In the dream I was looking at the snake and even held it to look at its face. I commented in the dream that it was dangerous, then it was back in the river bank. I personally would never ever touch a snake,  much less spend time around one! When I awoke, I was a bit disturbed and recognized God was sending a warning. As I prayed, I felt God reminding me that we cannot slowly allow anything into our lives that will draw us away from him into a place that we are comfortable with the presence of our enemy, even participatimg in the very sinful nature from which we were redeemed. We must be careful what we allow in our presence, into our lives, as the effects can be dangerous to our soul.

We are called to be children of God and when His spirit dwells in us, we must ever be on watch for the deception that comes to destroy our spiritual relationship  with God.

“Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them,
Deuteronomy 11:16 NKJV

From early on, God has warned of deception in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Paul wrote about deceptive preaching. He warned Christians not to follow another gospel that doesn't preach Jesus Christ.

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
II Corinthians 11:3‭-‬4 NKJV

Jesus spoke about being aware and that many would be deceived in the last days.

And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He, ’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.
Luke 21:8 NKJV

Deception can come in many ways that are slight and small. You may not even realize or recognize the deceptive nature that has come into your presence. It may come in through being busy even in good deeds. Paul warned about this because, when we are weary, it opens the door for hurt, bitterness, and strife to enter.

But as  for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.
II Thessalonians 3:13 NKJV

We need to be doers of the word, not just hearing it and reading it. We must live it. It must be permeated throughout every fiber of our being, our actions, our deeds, and our thoughts. It must be our passion, driving force and our guide. Do not allow yourself to go without the Word of God leading you, otherwise, you will be deceived.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22 NKJV

We must also recognize, the enemy of our soul is seeking to destroy us and what better way than through sly deception. If he can rock us to sleep, lull us into a fog of deception, he wins. We are not working for the Lord, or living for the Lord. He knows if he can slip in a little deception, he can destroy homes, churches, and Christian lives. We must be in touch with the spirit of the Lord so we can recognize those small deceptive things that try to slip in.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
I Peter 5:8 NKJV

Deception may lead us to believe our ten minutes of quick prayer is enough or that one verse of the day is enough of His word. Deception may sneak in and convince us we don't need to attend that Bible study or every Sunday service. Deception may tell us that the pastor doesn't really care or that we aren't really loved. Deception can convince us we do not need to help that person next to us or reach out to a hurting soul. Deception may even try to convince you that you are worthless and cannot be used. Deception may be through what we read, watch and listen to. Deception may introduce doubt about who God really is. Deception comes in many forms, but God will keep us from deception when we are made aware by His Word and His spirit. It reminds me of the children's song, "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see, Oh, be careful little ears what you hear." We must ever be watchful of what we allow into our minds and hearts.

We must ever be aware of deception and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. God has warned me of something that may be attempting deception. God has reminded me to look to Him. I must allow His spirit that dwells in me to speak and guide my heart so deception will not have his way with me or my family.
Remember to seek God first, as He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. The enemy may attempt to deceive, but when we are in a deep place with God, every day,  deception will not have a chance to enter. May we finish this course with victory and not be found ashamed in failing to recognize deception. May we stand awake and aware so sin and deception cannot find a way into our presence. May God's presence rather be so strong, that the deceiver cannot come near or slip in. Heed the warnings God sends our way. May we never become comfortable in the presence of deception and sin.




Thursday, May 4, 2017

A kiss on the forehead

I kissed that sweet forehead and I sat comforting my child at bedtime. Frustration overwhelmed as tears welled up in those beautiful eyes. I wrapped my arms around that precious child and did my best to convince them that hard times make us stronger. I spoke about how we can choose to trust God and let those rough times bring us growth and strength but, we can't  give in and quit. I told them that this is not the time to quit, but the time to really push forward and shine anyway. As a mother, I really just want to take away the pain, make everything wonderful and easy for my child. I really want to be able to fix it all with a kiss on the forehead. I realize that, as a mom, I cannot really fix everything for my children. They have to go through tough things, they have to learn and develop skills that will help them endure, seek God for themselves, and find strength when they need it most.  This part of being a parent is hard. Sometimes, all we can do is kiss their forehead, just watch them fall asleep in tears, and pray a little harder that night.

As, I went on to bed, I did pray a little longer for this child. I poured out my brokenheart for my child. I felt helpless for them, but I know God can help, so I prayed.  I begin to think about how  God also has the perspective of a parent. I wondered about how God feels watching His children go through hardships and struggles.

I have heard many people question His love in the midst of struggles. Where is our loving God? I have seen others go through the fire and seem to endure with what seemed the deepest strength I have ever seen. How does God feel when we, His children, struggle?

casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
I Peter 5:7 NKJV

Turning to scripture, I find that God wants to help us with our struggles. He said to cast all our care, anxiety,  fear and worry on Him, because He cares for us.
I find in Matthew chapter 6  a whole passage about not worrying.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:25‭-‬34 NKJV

I think we can find many instances of Jesus going out of His way to meet needs, minister to hurting souls, and demonstrate deep love and compassion  throughout the four Gospels.  I think God demonstrates that He cares about us when we  hurt. He wants to comfort and soothe, just like I do for my kids. The big difference is, as God, He can do a whole lot more than I can. He can fix the problems, when I can't.  He can heal a brokenheart, when I can't.

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.
Psalms 147:3 NKJV

He can get us through the struggles. I believe He is reaching and speaking, trying to tell us that He can help us. But we often, try to fix it ourselves, hold on to problems, and basically, don't really put our trust in His ability  and love to help us. We may, figuratively, cry ourselves to sleep thinking God isn't really going to help. All along He is telling us how much He loves us and how much He can do for us.

He is waiting, hoping, and wanting to carry us through the struggle, wipe away the tears, and replace the hurt with His love, peace, and joy. He wants to be the good Father we need. I find such comfort in knowing how much He really does care about us. He really does care about our concerns and struggles. He is good and wants nothing but good for His children. We need to trust that aspect of God. He is a good Father. He will do good for us. He will be there to comfort and get us through.

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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NKJV

We can lay everything at His feet and leave it for Him. Peace is ours in return. The very next verse gives us something else to do instead of worry and being anxious.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are  noble, whatever things are  just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are  lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there  is any virtue and if there  is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Instead of worry, think on the good things. He can replace the struggles with good reports. Our testimony is born in these moments of adversity and struggle. We come through with a good report of how God was there in the tough times. He does really care. He wants to show us how much He really cares through our struggles. Trust Him to get you through. He will kiss our foreheads, whisper how much He loves us, and work on the problem for us. How wonderful to know the Good Father is right there in the middle of my storm.

Monday, April 24, 2017

teach me and give me understanding

33Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Psalm 119:33-35

As I was reading this morning, I had to go back and re-read these verses again. I realized that we sometimes rely on our own thoughts and understanding way too much. We try to reason out what we know to be true and try to figure out what God wants from us. We try to talk it out with others, read about it in books and try to figure our what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. I have heard many people talk about their true purpose and whether they know what it is or not, often, it comes from their understanding of who they are at that moment in time. SO, as I read these verses, I realize I have forgotten to ask God to teach me His way.

His way is the one true purpose we should all have in this life. I need to understand and seek out His way more than my own. I need to walk in the path He has prepared for me. They best way I know to find that path is to get to know God even more. He will give me understanding and teach me His ways when I seek him and desire Him above all else.  I will know more about Him and know more of what He intends when I understand more of Him through prayer, fasting and spending time in His Word.


But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

When we seek Him and His kingdom, He will direct our paths and provide for us all the daily needs we have. He will give to us and bless us bountifully. He will be our Shield and our Protector, our Guide and our Strength.  May these verse be my prayer and my heart's cry. May I learn His ways and walk in His path. May I delight in God's commandments.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

casting shadows

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

As I realize that I have walked through a bit of a shadowy valley  recently, I was reminded what my husband had spoke to me about shadows. It echoed and reminded me that if I had just applied what he explained to me, maybe my valley wouldn't have felt so dark and lonely. Maybe, I might have moved in and out of the shadows a little quicker. But, just maybe the shadow was cast by my own uncertainty?

My husband,  not too long ago, was talking about this verse and how the shadow of death may appear in life and cause uncertainty, but it is just that, a shadow. Shadows are a part of life. We see shadows cast all the time but have you considered the source of the shadow?  My husband pointed out that a shadow is nothing more than something blocking the light. We often perceive shadows in a different manner. I have seen little kids try to hide from shadows or be scared by them. Even Peter Pan struggled with his shadow. Shadows can stir fear in our beings. Shadows can represent coming darkness or reflect feelings of sadness and loneliness. I have seen and read many instances of literary use of shadows to show sadness, depression, loneliness and even deep fears. But when we recognize that a shadow is only something blocking the light, it really doesn't maintain the same control or fear.

So, spiritually speaking, Jesus is the light as He stated in John 8:12. Life casts shadows. We have shadows of hurt, pain, disappointment, and grief. Sometimes the enemy, Satan may attempt to block the light from us. Sometimes, we even block the light with our own self getting in the way. If we stand with our back to a light source we see our own shadow and not the Light. We may have taken our eyes off of Jesus and got turned around spiritually so we see our own shadow. When we see that shadow, we may feel lonely, scared, defeated, etc. The whole time, we just need to turn to the Light and all that the shadow tries to remind us of is gone. Darkness cannot remain in the presence of light.

John 1:5
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Just like Peter walking on the water, when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves, that was when fear entered and he began to sink. he called on Jesus  to save him. (Matthew 14). We may become distracted by the shadows life casts over us and around us, but we can keep our eyes on Jesus, our Savior.
We can call on Him when we feel like we are being overwhelmed by the shadow. He will deliver us.

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Jesus will strengthen and help us in our time of need. I can say there are times when I feel alone and have no one but Jesus to go to. There are times I get my eyes onto the struggles, trials, and uncertainty. I may feel like a shadow has overwhelmed and darkened my world, but I know the only source of light is Jesus.  When I call out His Name, the darkness begins to fade as His Light shines into my soul. I can find that Jesus is still right there, working for my good and I am not really alone after all.  

Joshua  1:9 
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

We do not need to be afraid of the shadows, the Source of Light is right there ready to dispell  the darkness  that tries to creep in and distract us from His goodness. We can trust that God is always good and has nothing but good for us.

Psalms 34:8
Oh, taste and see that the Lord  is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

The next time, you feel you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, remember that Jesus is the light and something may be blocking the light to cast that shadow. Look on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He will finish what He started in us when we keep our eyes on Him, the Light. His light can shine and remove the fears, sadness, and loneliness that we may have found in our hearts. We can find peace, joy, love, and contentment in Him. We can find that He is our friend and the one who cares about everything we face. We can cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us. (1 Peter  5:7)  We can stand facing the Light and all the cares of life are now in His hands. We can find rest. (Matthew  11:28). We do not need to allow shadows to overwhelm us, we can know that we do not need to fear, for He is with us.