At Peace in His Presence

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”  Psalm 23:1-2

David saw that in our relationship with God there is a peace that cannot be found in any other place.  The phrases “lie down” and “still waters” show the sheep, in the very famous psalm exalting the LORD as our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1), being unafraid due to the wonderful care of the Shepherd.

Sheep, who are naturally fearful animals, are at peace in His presence, regardless of what the world may be experiencing.

The Bible gives us many references to the peace that we find in our relationship with God.  Some of my favorites are:

  • Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
  • John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
  • John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
  • Philippians 4:6-7 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

All of these solidify the type of relationship the sheep have with the shepherd; the type of relationship we experience in Jesus Christ our ultimate Shepherd (John 10:11).  Many are grasping at various things and pursuits to fill their life with peace.  This peace and serenity can only be found under the protection of the Shepherd.

If you cannot find peace today, simply look to Jesus, and there you will find peace in His presence.

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. . . Because of God

Many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph.  We have the main points in his life down pat: his coat of many colors, his dreams, and his interpretation of others’ dreams.  We know of him being sold into slavery by his own brothers, his life in Egypt, the accusations of Potiphar’s wife, and his imprisonment.  But how closely do we pay attention to his actual relationship with God?  Do we focus more on the “From the Pit to the Palace,” side of things than on his integrity before God?

In his story, Joseph appears to start out as a young man who is a bit boastful and can’t wait to tell every listening ear his dream.  (I’m not saying he was boastful, just that it appears so).  His dreams became so that they incurred the hatred of his brothers.  This hatred would boil up within them until it filled them with violent intentions.  At one point, they thought murder was one option to rid them of this dreamer.  Instead of killing him, they opted to get rid of him while making a little money on the side.  They sold him into slavery.

In what appeared as the hardest time of his young life, Joseph’s relationship with God deepened.  This showed in the way God cause him to be prosperous and favored no matter where life put him (Genesis 39:3, 21).  Joseph also displayed the importance of his devotion to God in not sinning against God (Genesis 39:9) and in his refusal to take credit for all that God was doing through him (Genesis 40:8; 41:16, 28, 32).

God blessed Joseph with this incredible gift yet in his humility and dependence upon God, he denounced any accolades of his own.  He considered himself to be a vessel, realizing that “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace,” (Genesis 41:16).

The humility of Joseph took him far in life.  Eventually, he became second in command over Egypt.  Had he gotten big-headed I’m sure the story would’ve turned out quite differently.  If he had reverted to the “Me, Myself and I” attitude that a lot of people seem to display, Joseph’s story would not have been noted as the legacy we now know.

“It’s not in me,” Joseph readily proclaims.  The Bible tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  The Apostle Paul out-and-out tells us what Joseph already proclaimed.  We don’t have it in us!  Any gifts, any abilities, any special insights, and any favor – we have it because of God!  There’s no room for a self-sufficient attitude when God is trying to work in you.

When Daniel went before king Nebuchadnezzar to interpret his dream, Daniel, like Joseph, admitted his frailty as a human.  He said, “This secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living,” (Daniel 2:30).  He did not consider himself anything special just because he could interpret dreams rather, he gave glory to God, “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his,” (Daniel 2:20).

Standing before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was asked, “Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?” (Daniel 2:26).  Daniel answered much like Joseph did.  He said, “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days,” (Daniel 2:28).

It is amazing the miracles that God can perform through the one who will not compete with Him to gain the credit.  When God instructed Gideon to go against the Midianites with only three hundred men, He did so, “lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me,” (Judges 7:2).  When there is competition for glory, God will retain His!  If one is in competition with Him they are “against” Him and God can’t work mightily through them!

It’s not just an Old Testament thing.  Peter said, “Why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12).  Let’s face it, we are human, and unless God puts it in us – unless God gives it to us, we don’t have anything to offer this world.  “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,” (John 3:27).

Let’s do a credit check today.  Not to decipher our financial status but rather our relationship status with God.  It’s not “Me, Myself and I,” but it’s God working in us.  Let’s stand with Joseph and declare, “It’s not in me: God shall give . . . an answer . . .” (Genesis 41:16).  Everything that we have or are able to do in life is because of God.

Blessings to you . . .

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God’s Omniscient View

In dealing with any adverse condition, circumstance, or trouble one thing’s for sure: God knows all about it and He has the final say! This was proven at the beginning of the book of Job when He limited what Satan could do (see Job 1:12 and Job 2:6) and at the end when God commanded a double blessing over Job’s life (see 42:10) and we see that “The LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning . . .” (Job 42:12a).

But what about the in-between?  That’s the hard thing about trying to hold on while going through the trials of this life isn’t it?  We don’t know the outcome as we are traveling through those difficult times. How awesome would it be to see the beginning from the end; yet, that would not allow our faith to be exercised and stretched, for the Bible says, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” (2 Corinthians 5:7) and “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

While we may not be able to see or even understand everything we are dealing with or going through; while we may not have an omniscient overview of our life, God does.  He is omniscient meaning He is all-knowing.  The Bible lets us know, “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).  There are no limits to what He knows, sees, or understands.

Isaiah 46:10 also reassures us that God is, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”  In other words, to reiterate my previous statement: “God has the final say” and His purposes for our lives will stand because He is the only one who knows all about it!

Be encouraged today, my friend, knowing that God’s got this no matter how chaotic, difficult, hurtful, or wrong it seems right now.  He, in His divine sovereignty, sees it all and has it all under control.  His view of our life is so much better than our own.  Hold on and trust the God who is infinitely all-knowing.

Have a very blessed day!

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In the unsure moments of life . . .

In the unsure moments of life, we have a God we can depend on! “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Isaiah‬ ‭41:13‬

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A new attitude for a new day . . .

A new attitude for a new day . . . “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

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In Christ, we are the possessors of the promise!

In Christ, we are the possessors of the promise! If God promised it, it is yours!  “. . . So whatever the LORD our God takes possession of before us, we will possess.” Judges 10:24

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Praying . . . 5/20/22

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God, we as Your people stand before You today both as hopeless, and yet as being full of hope. If it is to ourselves we look for strength and resources then we are a hopeless bunch because there is no good thing in us. But, if it is You and Your mercy we are leaning on then our lives have nothing but hope because You, Lord, are the Author of all that can be and when we are trusting in You, we have the possibility of everything before us. Help us this day to keep looking to You where we can find hope, and not to ourselves. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN!
🌞🙏🌞🙏🌞🙏🌞🙏

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Take Away the Stone

“Jesus said, Take ye away the stone . . .” John 11:39

Their loved one has been dead for four days.  They sent for Jesus while he was just sick, but Jesus spoke without wavering: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). Therefore, the Bible tells us He waited and didn’t immediately run to Lazarus’ side.

Now, He has arrived at the place of grief.  Acceptance of the situation has taken over and the loved ones and the people gathered there responded as any would.  Mary and Martha cried.  They mourned.  And much of what they were feeling, they probably couldn’t understand themselves.

The scene was heart-wrenching and troubling and now Jesus asked what seemed to some to be an unreasonable request: “Take ye away the stone.”

Unreasonable? Not in the least.

What Jesus was asking for was permission to gain access to the problem.

There are steps of faith and participation Jesus asks His followers to take. If you remember, back in 2 Chronicles 20:17, the people were told to get battle-ready and go out against the people even though they would not need to fight in that particular battle.  We are responsible for activating our faith in Him by following through on His requests even if it seems irrational or unreasonable.

God does not move according to our timetable.  Nor, does He move in ways that we think are right or not.  In fact, His ways of thinking and His plans are far out of our reach of human understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9).  And when He’s ready to move, we need to be ready to move.

By removing the stone they would not only be giving Jesus access to Lazarus, but they were giving Him access to their faith. When one opens their faith they give Jesus a chance to speak life into that place and do the impossible.

Many of us have areas where we could use a touch from Jesus.  Areas that need life spoken into them.

Stones, or blockades of any kind, act as hindrances to the miracles and moving of our Lord.  Are there stones in the way of you receiving something from Jesus?  Does He have full access to your life and faith?

Earlier, Jesus spoke, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  Jesus’ objective is and has always been to give life.  Life here, and life for all eternity.  Take away the stones and give Jesus unobstructed access to your life.

Blessings ~

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Opinions

Opinions, everyone offers them.  Sometimes they are solicited, and sometimes not.

Opinions can be a welcomed, new perspective on a matter.  Then again, opinions can be discouraging whether the basis of them is right or wrong.

The thing we must remember about opinions when referring to people is just that, they are someone’s opinions.  What that means is it may or may not be factual.  It may or may not be the best option for your case.  It only means that is the way another views whatever matter is before them.  It is their best evaluation of the situation.

Does this mean they are wrong?  No.  Does it mean they are right?  No.  An opinion, again, is what it is, an opinion.

Does that mean we shun all opinions given to us?  If we are wise, the answer is no.  The reason being, that while opinions are opinions, the Bible constantly encourages us to seek wise counsel.  Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise,” and there are many more verses written like this that support these same thoughts.

As much as some would like to ignore the fact, there are people who know more than we do and we can glean from their knowledge, expertise, and experience concerning the different matters of life.  We do not know everything in and of ourselves and so prudence demands that we get close to wise counselors and partake of what they have and can teach us to enrich our lives.

Now, the opposite of that is invalidated opinions or harmful opinions.  The thoughts of others that can put a grinding halt on your life and mission.  These interferences disrupt the flow of your day if you allow them and can be a damper on the fire that God has placed inside of us.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul, being at the forefront of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through many regions of the world in his day often came under the scrutiny of others’ opinions.  One particular time that stands out to me was when he and the other 275 passengers aboard a broken ship had to either swim to shore for safety or float there on pieces of the broken ship (see Acts 28 and chapters prior for the entire story).

Once on shore, Paul gathered sticks for a fire, and out of the heat, a snake bit him and attached itself to his hand (Acts 28:3).  When those on the island that were gathered there saw this, they claimed that Paul was a murderer who may have escaped the sea but was still going to get his just desserts (Acts 28:4-5).

Paul, not phased by them or the snake, shook the creature off and went on about his business while the others stood to see what would become of him, expecting him to fall down dead.

When Paul didn’t respond as they thought he would to the snake bite, their opinion of Paul changed quickly in the eyes of these people.  They changed their view of him based off of what they could see with their natural eyes and started to call him a god (Acts 28:6).

That is a very dramatic turn from being labeled as a murderer and then having the script flipped to the people claiming he was a god.  This shows us how quickly, and how circumstantially, people’s views of you can change.

The problem is, that too many people have halted what God has placed in their hearts because of the opinions of others.  Too many have let others revoke their dreams or dictate their calling when it is the Father who knows His good will and thoughts toward you (Jeremiah 29:11).

Constantly looking to others for validation can hinder the mission God has placed you on.  If Paul had succumbed to their opinions, as one labeled a murder, he could have tucked-tail, turned, and hid in a corner, which would not benefit where God placed him and what God wanted to do through him.  By the way, while on that island, some were able to be healed due to the Paul becoming aware of their illness and being able to pray for them (see Acts 28:7-10).

If Paul allowed his head to get puffed-up when others claimed he was a god, he would have been no good for God’s mission in that place and in the places he was traveling to.

Please, and I mean, please with fervency on top, let me reiterate, that there is much wisdom in wise counsel.  Almost the whole book of Proverbs reads as wise counsel on what to do and not to do and the one who wants wisdom would be wise to follow it.  And verses like Proverbs 19:20, which says, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end” really stand out on the importance of seeking and following through on wise instruction.  DO NOT neglect this great gift of available wisdom.

But, don’t let the invalidated opinions of others sway you from your calling.  If you are unsure about a matter, seek good, godly wisdom (as noted above).  Also, never forget that the greatest source of wisdom and knowing of what to do in an unsure time is to look to God Himself.  Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

If you are having a hard time figuring it out, pray for a heart of discernment because we DO NOT want to lean on our own opinions if they are wrong, either.  Don’t get hung up on self.  Again, we have these nuggets of wisdom from Proverbs: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits” (16:2), “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (16:25), and “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts” (21:2).

Above all, we want to be right with God for it is what He thinks of us, His knowledge and His perspective about our life, and what He wants from us and for us that matters the most.

Overcome the obstacles of false opinions, seek wise counsel, and look to God above all else.  He is your confident source for all of life’s decisions.

God bless you.

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Acknowledging Prayer

“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” Luke 11:2-4

When one acknowledges something or someone they are ascribing or giving them credit that they deserve.  Here, opening His teaching on prayer, Jesus jumps in without hesitation, stating, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven.”  Now, notice first that Jesus didn’t say “if” ye pray.  He point-blank expected that His people should have an active and working prayer life so He said, “When ye pray.”

Starting with the statement, “Our Father which art in heaven,” Jesus acknowledges to whom one’s prayers should be directed.  And, in the verses following God gets the credit for everything!  This is acknowledgment.

“Our Father which art in heaven,” points one in the right direction.  There are many voices that try to offer advice and insight to the world we live and to the troubles and woes we face.  Yet, none can have the insight as He who created all things.  None is Sovereign as He to really be our champion for real change.  That can only come from He who is enthroned in heaven for all eternity; by He Whom everything takes its commands: “Our Father.”

“Our Father” describes the intimate, relational context in which God wants to be committed to us.  Did you get that?  God wants to be “Our Father” so much that Jesus, God incarnate, instructed us to address Him as such in prayer.  Man may not always step up to the plate to fill this role, but God does.  He willingly takes on the role of “Father,” meaning more than provider in my view.  He takes on the responsibility to love, care and nurture those who come to Him seeking Him as daddy.  Romans 8:15 describes it as this: “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  This adoption is an on-purpose act of love that He is seeking to fulfill as the role of “Father.”  God “will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

“Hallowed be thy name.”  Part of acknowledging prayer is respecting His holiness.  Oh, I cringe when I see people take the name of the Lord in vain.  God’s name is not like any other and should not be treated as it is.  His name is holy (Isaiah 57:15), and He is the one who “dwell in the high and holy place.”  When one invokes God’s name in prayer it is not a plaything.  We are seeking His holiness to come in on our behalf; garnering His stamp of approval.  Heaven knows how to treat His name so much that they speak the word “holy” three times: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts,” (Isaiah 6:3).

Acknowledging prayer recognizes God’s authority, His power, His Sovereignty, His control, His kingdom, and His will overall. “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”  No wonder at the end of the parallel of this prayer found in Matthew 6:13 it states, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.”  We should want to see the glory of God’s will take over the atmosphere of this old stale world “as in heaven.”  We should have heavenly visions of God’s power reclaiming this earth.

Acknowledging prayer recognizes that God is the provider of all.  “Give us day by day our daily bread.”  “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  We, as all other things created, are dependent on Him as our provider.  “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).  God will provide.

Acknowledging prayer knows that forgiveness comes from God: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.”  2 Chronicles 7:14 declares, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  God wants to spiritually heal people from their sin-sick ways.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).

In return, we are expected to offer forgiveness to those who ask for it.  Gulp!  Yes, forgiveness in any form can be a hard pill to swallow.  But, let me ask you this.  How many times has God said no to us whenever we sought for healing and restoration for the wrongs we have done?  Exactly, He hasn’t!  Forgiveness, much like love, is nothing to be played with.  It is not lip service to please others rather, it is a heart service to the Lord.  It is, in a sense, showing to others the same grace and mercy that God showed toward us.  And, we acknowledge that this is His will for us.

Acknowledging prayer shows God as a deliverer: “And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” God doesn’t tempt people into sin.  “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man,” (James 1:13).  Sin is a choice and so is choosing to let God lead and trusting Him to keep you in those hard times.  “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee,” (Psalm 25:20).  “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me . . .” (Psalm 19:13).  He is a keeper to them that know Him as a deliverer and He is a protector against the ultimate enemy, the devil.

The Bible gives us this wise advice: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Acknowledging prayer says that there is no part of our lives that is untethered by the touch of God’s love. Therefore, in everything, and in every way, I lean into God, trust Him, and acknowledge Him in every area of my life.

Modified excerpt taken from 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer

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