“I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.”
One day I found myself in a bit of a quandary. After dropping one of my daughters off on her college campus I had to make the decision whether I would jump back on the highway or take the back road. The dilemma: the highway was very congested and moving extremely slow and the back road took longer. I had to be somewhere in an allotted amount of time and wanted to get there as quickly as possible.
Sending up a silent prayer for wisdom I proceeded back onto the highway only to be caught in practically stand-still traffic. Quickly I jumped off the first exit and proceeded to take the back road. Instead of allowing the usual frustration to set in of being sent off course, a thought kept niggling my mind: Enjoy the Ride. The weather was crisp on that first full day of Fall, a few leaves were beginning to change. The “rushing to get where I needed to” thought kept trying to invade this peaceful drive, but the thought would come again: Enjoy the Ride.
Sometimes plans going awry but being taken off course doesn’t have to be frustrating. Sometimes I believe it’s God’s way of telling us to enjoy the journey of life a little more. Schedules are always going to be there but sometimes we have to let go and enjoy the ride. Give it to God and trust Him to lead you to your destination and sit back and enjoy.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path,” Proverbs 3:5-6
“For the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.” Psalm 6:8
Tears have always gotten God’s attention. Our God is a compassionate God. He cares about the struggles we go through in life. When we mourn, He mourns. When we hurt, He hurts. When we are upset, He is upset. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” Hebrews 4:15. In other words, He knows how we feel!
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy,” Psalm 126:5. It might not feel like it now, but soon the suffering will be over, the pain will dull, and “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” Revelation 21:4. It is only permitted to stay around for a little while. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” Psalm 30:5.
Your tears and the voice they give to your plight have gone up before your heavenly Father. He lovingly has every one recorded that moistens your eyes and falls from your heart of despair. “Put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Psalm 56:8.
Take confidence today that your sorrow is not dismissed by God. As with David, He is paying attention to the “voice of your weeping.” “Your Tears Matter to God!”
When discussing your dreams, ambitions, and life goals there are two types of people you deal with: the pessimist and the optimist. The pessimists have the habit of speaking negativity into everything that comes across their path. And, if one is really stepping out on faith and shooting for the moon with a certain determined objective in mind, one that doesn’t fit into the ordinary way one may think, it usually eggs this negative-Nelly on to speak even more of all the things that could go wrong.
Whereas, the optimist doesn’t see the same barriers the pessimist sees. The optimists believe that if you want to shoot for the moon, shoot, and don’t stop until you land on it. For this one there is no such thing as an unattainable goal. “If you can dream it, you can live it,” is their life motto.
There are a lot of things that many of us want to do in life but setbacks cause some to shrink away from those dreams. The fighting to press forward before can put a damper on the will to fight again to see desires be fulfilled.
But, in our Christian journey, if we are doing nothing else, we are walking by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). Everything we believe in and look forward to is based on hope and expectation. There are a lot of things that we can’t see in this present day, but a glorious future is whispered in our ears by the voice of hope; the voice that never stops believing there is more. There is greater to come because God has declared it throughout His Word.
While the world tries to dim your light and say, “Don’t get your hopes up;” I say, “Get your hopes up” and get excited about what God wants to do through His people in this new year! Enter this year with expectations raised higher than ever before! Don’t shrink back, but stir up the hope within and believe for so much more! Reach beyond even the positivity of the optimist and declare, “I am a hope-imist!”
“I am a child of God who is favored!” (Num. 6:25-26; Ps. 5:12; 30:5; Gal. 3:26)
“I have an enduring hope!” (Ps. 71:14; Pro. 23:18; Isa. 40:31; Mk. 9:23)
“I am special to God!” (Jer. 1:5; Luk. 12:7; 1Pet. 2:9)
“His plans for me are so much greater than I can envision!” (Jud. 6-7; Pro. 9:2; Jer. 29:11)
“I have a reason to believe!” (Gen. 15:6; Ps. 112:7; Joh. 3:16; Mk. 11:24)
“I have a reason to keep pressing on!” (2 Chr. 15:7; Job 17:9; Gal. 6:9-10; Phi. 3:14; Jam. 1:12)
“I have a reason to expect victory in the end!” (Deu. 20:4; Joh. 16:33; Rom. 8:37; Phi. 4:13; 1 Joh. 5:4)
“I am in the plan of God!” (Ps. 138:8; Mat. 6:25-34; Eph. 2:10; Phi. 1:6)
…Therefore, I will get my hopes up! I will believe the best for this new year ahead!
“Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” Psalm 33:22
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13
There is something to be said about being in the safety of the arms of the one you love. It’s a hold that fiercely embraces you, daring one to step between. In it, you not only find love but you feel the truth of all this person’s emotions toward you. You are secured. You are established. Nothing can tear you away from the warmth and protection you feel at this moment.
And yet, as most movies and books go, there comes the drama. In the drama comes the reason for departure. The part of the story that makes you wonder, “Will they ever be united again? Will they ever really know how one another feels?” It’s a typical storyline, but I must admit I never tire of it.
In those stories, not until the two parties separate do they realize just how much they needed the other. All of a sudden, the love they felt for one another reignites and in a desperate attempt to save the relationship, somehow, someway, they run back to the safety of each other’s arms where they can rebuild upon the love that was once felt.
Can I tell you something? God has never fallen out of love with you! As a matter of fact, He has done everything possible to try to keep you safely in His arms where He can take care of you and love on you. Yet, and still, the drama unfolds that leads the heart of man away to run after their own pursuits. What then of the love that God felt for you? It’s still there!
His love has never left just because we did. His love has never stopped embracing even when we didn’t return the embrace. His love has always been on fire for you and me, even when we tried to extinguish it. His love never quits seeking reconciliation because He wants us with Him!
This was the truth that He was trying to get across through the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s job was to relate to the people of Israel God’s undying passion for them. He tried to convince them that the drama of going their own way wasn’t worth it. Life would be so much better if they would stay where love could keep them and care for them. But, unfortunately, as mankind does, they thought they knew what was best. Love was not on their mind at that moment. As most stories play out, they couldn’t see past what they thought they wanted.
Yet, God is still pleading through the mouth of the prophet, “Return to Me.” If this were a movie, after witnessing the passionate plea for one to come back, to stay in my arms forever, there would not be a dry eye in the house. But, this is what God is doing! He is crying out to His people to not turn away, “DON’T GO! COME BACK! PLEASE, COME BACK!”
As the movies go, so did it with Israel. The pleas go unanswered. He has no choice but to let His loved ones go, hoping that one day they will come to their senses and return. To make a long story short, Israel had to be let go for several decades before they would come to truly appreciate the love that God has for them. Don’t let the same be said of us today.
God is still waiting with opened arms. If we have not held on as tightly as we should – return. If some other thing or person has attracted our desires more – return. If we have turned a deaf ear to the pleas of love – return. If we have refused the grace of His embrace – run back and return to those arms of love.
God promises when you wholeheartedly return to Him and put away all that other stuff that is not like Him, “then shalt thou not remove.” Why? Because now you are safely snuggled where you belong. You are in the place of promise and His promise is this, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil,” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Faithful, established, and guarded – wow! That’s what He does for the one who stays in His arms of love.
God is crying out. Don’t let those cries go unanswered. Return today!
Here’s a little encouragement for your day: “God fights for His people, and He wins!” I don’t know what battle you are in or the seemingly impossible situation you may be facing, but our God is a victorious God. He has never failed and He has never lost a battle. And, He won’t start now. “There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD. The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the LORD,” (Proverbs 21:30-31, NKJV).
God’s track record doesn’t have marks on it to say that He wasn’t able to accomplish this task or that. As a matter of fact, the Bible states that He is, “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” (Ephesians 3:20). What that means is the very thing you are praying for; the very struggle you are contending with is nothing for God to handle. He can do that and more!
Sometimes I don’t think we really understand the scope of God’s power and strength. Our God is mighty! Oh, we are used to quoting it and singing about it but do we really understand the strength behind it. For instance, when Elisha and the city he was in were faced with a multitude of warriors on horses and chariots, he was not moved. In fact, he told his servant, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them,” (2 Kings 6:16). After that, he prayed, “LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha,” (2 Kings 6:17).
There is no might that can stand against God’s might. There is no earthly or spiritual force that can contend with His awesomeness. God is surrounding His people even when we don’t see it. God is fighting for His people even when we don’t feel it. God is defending His people even when it looks like all odds are against us. Nothing can hold God back from victory. Nothing can stand in the way of the will He wants to accomplish in your life.
God is an enemy defeater (Deuteronomy 23:14). When He rises, the enemies scatter (Numbers 10:35). He said in Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (32:27). Your battle is not too much for God to handle. He has fought wars for His people down through the ages and He still stands as our defender and our confidence, today.
I pray, that our eyes of faith be opened today, that we see Him as Elisha did. With hearts of faith, that we see our God standing and fighting for the cause of His people. God has not left us to battle in this world alone. “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing,” (Zephaniah 3:17).
Even if it doesn’t seem to be coming together as we may envision, hold on to hope. God may have something else in mind. At the same time, remember you are not in this alone. You do have a defender who has never lost, but wins!
More encouraging verses and quotes:
“The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14
“But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.” Psalm 22:19
“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” Psalm 24:8
“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:5
“When a man has no strength, if he leans on God, he becomes powerful.” D.L. Moody
“God will always be there with us and give us the strength to meet the difficulties of life.” Wendell E. Mettey
“Rejoice evermore,” 1 Thessalonians 5:16
“. . . Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” Psalm 144:15
Happiness. Some say it’s overrated. I tend to disagree. The Bible speaks over and over again about being blessed, happy, joyful, glad and rejoicing. With so many different ways of saying it, I believe the Lord has made His point. He wants His people to be absolutely elated in who they are – His child!
Too often, we as Christians are waiting for conditions to be right before we choose to be happy about it. That’s contrary to the Word of God. Many times when we see words synonymous with being happy in the Bible, there is usually a counterweight of circumstances which doesn’t seem favorable or applicable to happiness. Take the Beatitudes for instance:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad for great is reward in heaven . . .”
What the Lord Jesus Christ did was point out numerous circumstances of life that would normally account for not being happy. But, by putting a statement of happiness in the front of it, He was relating that one doesn’t have to wait for the tides to turn in your favor to declare that blessedness. The Beatitudes are about going through the storms of life even when the waves seem adverse and still seeing the promise of heaven at work. Even when it feels overwhelming, to the point of feeling totally surrounded by trouble. Jesus said happiness can still be found during those times.
How? “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven.” I WILL NOT trivialize anyone’s hardships in life. There are some unimaginable things that people have to face every day that hurt; that disappoint. Situations that seem to do all they can to strip away one’s faith. Our Lord is not denying the hurt, but what He is saying is there is still a reason to be joyful.
It would be totally unrealistic for one to tell another not to be upset over a wrong committed. Yet, we have a deeper revelation that beyond this mess there is a reward. Oh yeah, this stuff here stinks. But, over there – AWESOME!
We may go through trials and tribulations like anybody else, but one thing we have as opposed to them is the comforting presence of our Heavenly Father. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me,” (Ps. 23:4). How can one not feel a measure of joy and comfort at words spoken such as these?
It just makes me feel that no matter what I am going through, I can “Rejoice evermore,” because, He is there. He knows. He comforts me. He’s thinking about me. He hears my prayers. He sees the tears I shed. I can feel His presence bottling every one of those tears up, working to wipe them away. I may cry, but I can also rejoice because I have a true, living God who loves me and cares for me.
Not just words of rhetoric but words of substance. Words that make me happy in spite of it all! Today, I choose to be happy because I am in Him, and He is in me. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” (Ps. 30:5). The tears may cloud over my eyes and fall down my cheeks, but eventually, it has to move and make room for the happiness I have in Him. I am blessed.
Listen for God’s leading and then do something about it!
“We get new ideas from God every hour of our day when we put our trust in Him — but we have to follow that inspiration up with perspiration — we have to work to prove our faith. Remember that the bee that hangs around the hive never gets any honey.” – Albert E. Cliffe