Month: May 2023

The Power of Fearing the Lord

This verse resonated with me one morning as I was continuing to read through my Bible. I wondered whether one could truly live satisfied and not be visited by evil in the darkness and difficulty of this present world.

It has become my habit to investigate both the literal and expanded meanings of key words in a verse or passage in order to understand the intent and truth of the scripture. Here is what my research for this passage revealed:

FEAR — Attitude of reverential awe and worship; honor, fear, and respect mixed with love and awe.

TEND — To move or develop one’s course in a particular direction; show a tendency or inclination.

ABIDE — Remain; continue.

SATISFIED — Content.

VISITED — Come upon.

EVIL — Affliction, adversity, harm, wickedness.

Keeping these meanings in mind, the passage might be viewed in this manner:

If believers remain in awe of our Lord, respecting, obeying and loving Him, then our lives will continue in the right direction—the Lord’s purpose and plan. Furthermore, when we are on this righteous path, we will experience contentment; and affliction, harm, wickedness, and adversity will not overtake us.

Therefore, it is needful for us to enable ourselves to keep an accurate view of God through prayer, reading the word, and contemplating on His goodness and justice toward us. In the next post, an account from the Old Testament will serve as a concrete demonstration of the power of fearing (or not fearing) the Lord.

An Unexpected Visitor

During a recent camping trip, my husband and I had an unexpected visitor:

We were going about our day in the privacy of our RV, when we noticed that a large woodpecker had been quietly observing us!

The incident concretely demonstrated several Bible passages that helped me remember some vital truths while conducting my private life:

Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

Jeremiah 23:24, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill the heavens and the earth?”

Even when no one seems to be looking, the Lord sees everything and everyone at all times; this can be rewarding for us:

Or, it can be a sobering wake-up call regarding the manner in which we are conducting our lives when we believe no one is looking:

Yet, the Lord in his goodness and mercy desires for us to always be clean before him; and provides a way to do so, because of our Savior, Jesus Christ:

Freedom & Liberty- Part 3

Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because he hath anointed Me to…preach deliverance to the captives.”

The third aspect of freedom/liberty was defined as liberation and exemption from imprisonment. A prisoner is one who is held captive by something or someone; they are confined and detained—their freedom is limited. And so it is with the one on my heart; but praise to God, according to Psalm 102:20, the Lord looked down from heaven “to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death.”

Dear Heavenly Father,

You hear the inner groanings of this precious one and you are willing and able to loose them from destruction. I pray that their heart will soften and their mind will not be held in deception. It is you alone who can fully deliver them into true freedom—spiritual freedom—to humble themselves as a child before you. Please lead them by your Spirit to the Truth and His power to overcome—

In the holy and powerful name of Jesus, Amen!

Freedom & Liberty- Part 2

Another aspect of freedom defined by Webster’s was liberation from restraint. As I pondered this notion in relation to my prayers, I realized that this dear one was being restrained by the evil one from the only source of true freedom and truth—Jesus:

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

The one in my prayers was being restrained from liberty and identity in Christ by the deceptive allure of the besetting sin. Furthermore, the suffering and deception of this world had provided excuses to engage in unwholesome behaviors as a means of escape. Undoubtedly, I too have battled with such temptations; and most assuredly, I would fail to operate free from ungodly restraint without the Spirit of Christ leading me into truth and power to overcome. Consider the following verses:

Clearly, Jesus IS the truth and therefore, only by knowing Him can genuine freedom come. With that in mind, my prayer became a petition for restraint to be lifted; and then, every means possible to come into play to make a way to Jesus, Who is the Truth—the One who could make them free indeed.

Freedom & Liberty

During a Bible study with a friend, our discussion caused the word freedom to keep resounding in my heart, leading to intercessory prayer for someone very dear to me. Because this prayer seemed to be saturated with the notion of freedom, I was eager to look up its definition:

According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, FREEDOM means, “Liberation from slavery, imprisonment, or restraint.” LIBERTY is defined as, “Exemption from slavery, bondage, imprisonment, or control by another.”

As I pondered the first aspect of freedom and also liberty, I realized that the one I had on my heart was indeed a slave to a besetting sin that eventually dominated life. It might be said that this dear one had given control to the sin—they were enslaved by it:

This was not Christ’s plan for this precious soul. My prayer became a plea that—in the name of Jesus—they would be freed from the burden of this enslavement:

Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon the Me, because he hath anointed Me to… set at liberty them that are bruised.”

Life had bruised deeply, but Jesus could touch the deep wounds and and heal them; He could liberate this ‘slave’ to live life free of destructive control.

The next few posts will continue to meditate on freedom and how our prayers can be enhanced with the Biblical promises in this area…

Blinded to Blessing

Yesterday, I determined to use ‘earned dollars’ at a local retail store despite the fact that I had already had a very challenging and tiring morning. Because I had a limited time to use the credit, I was determined to find something that day so I would not need to return to town, a 30 minute commute. About 30 or 40 minutes after entering the store, I was beginning to grow frustrated; additionally, my leg muscles were aching (I had been on my feet for hours before I reached the store) and I began to feel weak and nauseated…it was well past lunch ; ). There was nothing in the entire store that I connected to whatsoever; I finally threw in the towel and left exhausted.

That evening, it occurred to me that a sweater I had seen in the store was the exact style and color that I had been searching for—I couldn’t believe I had left without it after all the time and energy I had expended. Just a few hours earlier, I had been certain there was nothing I could possibly settle for to redeem my dollars, and yet now I was concerned the ‘perfect sweater’ would likely be gone by the next day. A verse from my 5/7/23 post about seeking God’s kingdom first immediately came to mind, and then I recalled a verse prior to it that was totally relevant and instructive to my situation:

Immediately everything came into perspective: the expiring dollars, the sweater, the time and effort already expended, did not merit any concern. My husband and I took a walk the next morning and leisurely stopped for coffee and a snack. I decided we could go by the store very quickly and see if the sweater was still there; if not, I had decided towels were a good practical second choice. The sweater was there; and, I found two other items that were also things I had been on the lookout for. It all added up to almost the exact amount of my earned dollars.

It is amazing to me that exhaustion and a negative attitude had blinded me to these small blessings. While the entire situation might seem minor and trifling, the lesson was definitely valuable: God’s word is always relevant and, if taken to heart and obeyed, will lift any situation—whether major or minor—into the proper perspective, enabling an outcome that is pleasing to the Lord.

Give to Everyone

Does this verse mean that we always give the thing that someone asks of us; and we always accommodate everyone who needs to borrow from us?

I used to believe the answer was “yes”. I reasoned that we cannot adequately judge if someone is in genuine need, and it is better to give to the undeserving than withhold from a person who needs our help. Yet, it seemed that giving to everyone indiscriminately would only encourage some people to lie or deceive in order to gain what they desired. Furthermore, lending can cause rifts between friends and family regarding repayment; as has been said, “Before borrowing from a friend, decide which you need most. “Nevertheless, Mt. 5:42 seems to clearly indicate that we should give or lend to everyone who asks of us.

Acts 3: 1-6 relates an incident where a crippled beggar asked Peter and John for money, expecting to receive what he requested. Instead, Peter looked at him and said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give thee.” In other words, Peter did not give the crippled man what he asked for—what the beggar thought he most needed—Peter gave him something he had the means to give which was far more valuable: He gave healing to the man who was crippled from birth! So perhaps we do not necessarily need to give to everyone what they are asking for; but rather, what we are lead to give by the Spirit for their greater welfare.

Luke 6: 30 & 34 state, “Give to every man that asketh of theeAnd if you lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye?” I have heard it said that it is wise to never lend with the expectation of getting paid back; but to consider what we “lend” as a gift. Still, there may be times when an agreement to repay is appropriate; nevertheless, it seems wise to—as we might have heard—“only lend what you can afford to lose.” Here are two verses to keep in mind so that we might cheerfully and generously lend and give to those who ask:

If we give of our time, talent, or treasure according to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of Scripture; then it will always be possible to give to everyone who asks of us. Not only that, but we can do it with cheerful and generous hearts knowing that we are doing it for the Lord and He will bless our obedience.

The Blessing of Adoption

As I was considering Biblical accounts of mothers, I remembered the story of baby Moses. I grew curious as to why, out of all the mothers mentioned in the Bible, Moses’ two mothers came to mind. And so, I read the entire passage in Exodus 1 & 2 whereby it became evident that both mothers had vital roles in Moses’ life. His biological mother was willing to go to desperate measures to save her son, despite the possibility of severe consequences for defying Pharaoh’s decree. Nevertheless, as we read in the verse above, her motherly love overshadowed any personal risk. On the other hand, Pharaoh’s daughter—knowing the baby was Hebrew—also defied her father’s decree by compassionately rescuing him.

By way of adoption, Moses was saved; and, eventually the entire nation of Israel was delivered from enslavement through his obedience to God’s plan. It occurred to me that although I had a biological mother, like Moses, I was also adopted; not by earthly parents, but because I—as all believers—have been adopted into the family of God:

Wisdom for Fearful Times

It has been calculated that the verse that is located in the very center, or middle, of all the verses in the Bible is Psalm 118:8, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” You might say this truth is at the “heart” of God’s word of wisdom for these unsettled and fearful times we live in. According to Hebraic literal meanings, the verse essentially states that it is better and wiser to put one’s hope, trust, and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ than to seek refuge in people. As I was meditating on this verse, it became evident that I am part of humanity and therefore, it is also much better to trust in God than in myself—than in my abilities and resourcefulness.

Because financial concerns, assaults on our health, environmental disasters, etc. continually feed into societal fear and desperation, it may seem an easier path to turn to those who offer immediate answers—an easy way out—rather than diligently seek the Lord and wait for his Spirit to lead us. However, this verse clearly gives an unchanging truth regardless of the conditions we find ourselves enduring: It is better and wiser to place confidence and trust in the Lord, rather than to blindly seek a seemingly safe place/answer in humanity. That is not to say that God will never lead us to take advantage of what is offered in our world; but, we must be certain we have sought and heard from Him before we mindlessly or fearfully choose secular answers to our problems.

May we practice the faithful wisdom of King David:

Practice Hospitality- Conclusion

As we have seen, hospitality has many facets that any believer can demonstrate to others. Recently, I came upon an unusual sight that visually cemented this multi-faceted gift of hospitality in my mind:

As you can see, a most unusual root from the large fir tree inexplicably came up and over, out of the ground, forming a small bench. The top had been worn smooth, suggesting many hikers had taken advantage of this unexpected offer of “hospitality” and sat down for a brief reprieve from their hike. The sight conveyed to me that if sojourners could find some measure of comfort from a tree, then most assuredly, anyone could offer a measure of friendly hospitality to strangers in need.

Practice Hospitality- Part 2

In the past, I have almost exclusively envisioned hospitality as opening my home to friends and family and providing a large meal and perhaps overnight lodging. But, when I look at incidents when a Biblical character practiced hospitality, it was often to strangers. Furthermore, the means by which they demonstrated hospitality were frequently in ways other than meals or lodging.

It may be that we find ourselves condemned about not being as hospitable as we should because the thought of preparing a meal, cleaning our home, and trying to provide some way to engage others can become a bit overwhelming. While some believers are strongly gifted to practice hospitality, every believer is commanded and equipped to offer hospitality on some level. It is therefore encouraging that the Scriptures offer concrete examples of ways to be hospitable that are not so daunting:

For example, Rebekah drew water from a well until all the camels of Abraham’s servant, a stranger, were provided with water. Because she showed friendliness and generosity to a sojourner in need, she effectively practiced hospitality toward him:

Genesis 24:44 And she say to me, “Both drink thou and I will also draw for thy camels.”

(Read the full account in Genesis 24: 1-49)

In Matthew 25, we read what I believe is a beautiful description of Godly hospitality and compassionate generosity—simple acts that powerfully convey the heart of Jesus by demonstrating love and concern, particularly for those in need:

Conclusion on hospitality tomorrow…

Practice Hospitality

Hospitality literally means “love of strangers or aquaintances; friendliness shown to strangers; readiness to be generous.”

Practice is the act of earnestly pursuing.

Therefore, to practice hospitality is to earnestly seek to show love and generosity to God’s people, to strangers, and to those outside of our close social circles, especially those who are in need.

Hospitality is a command, and is not without reward.

Hospitality should be offered with a cheerful, uncomplaining attitude—it can be shown in many ways, using many varied gifts.

What are some ways you have experienced hospitality?

More on hospitality tomorrow

How to Solve Unsolvable Problems

Sometimes we wrestle with problems that seem to be impossible to solve; in fact, it may appear that our efforts are futile. These may be the kind of problems over which some forward progress may be achieved; but then—inevitably—we slip backwards a few steps (or perhaps giant leaps). Often, the lack of success is not because great effort has not been made to overcome the trial; however, an important point to remember is that we need to keep a right focus. The Scriptures provide clear instructions as to how we can focus in such a way that our problems—even “unsolvable” ones can be overcome:

While this verse specifically refers to physical needs, the overarching lesson is to put priorities in order and keep first things first. Wrestling with a problem—small or great—that just doesn’t get resolved can create a goal of putting it behind us by focusing on its resolution through our prayer and effort. Could it be that the best path to this goal is not by focusing on the desired answer to a specific problem, but by seeking God’s divine perspective about it, keeping His eternal values (righteousness) in mind?

One day at a time, one step at a time, it is possible to live our lives with unshakable confidence that the Lord is willing and able to provide for our welfare. The Holy Spirit will help us put God’s interests first if we pray and listen to his counsel. A spiritual focus will bring the problem into a accurate perspective and we will discover that what we need concerning our problems will be added into our lives.

Be Anxious for Nothing

According to the verse above, there is nothing we should ever worry or be anxious about; and, this is true for every situation! Recently, I have wrestled with a situation that I confess had bothered me; in fact, I caught myself worrying about it to the point there were a few sleepless nights. I remembered that without a doubt God had always been faithful and good; He had provided all of my needs…yet the nature of this particular problem had stirred unreasonable anxiety in my mind. When I snapped this photo while traveling in the mountains, the Lord seemed to speak into my heart that my situation could be visualized in this way:

The entire cliff was solid rock; yet the continual dripping of a tiny ribbon of water had made a small pool in the stone beneath. It became clear as I contemplated the astonishing power of the seemingly insignificant amount of water, that it was its unrelenting drip that was wearing away the rock.

Similarly, my anxiety was constantly in the back of my mind, “dripping” and wearing on my faith. And so, I took to heart Philippians 4:6-7 and petitioned the Lord with my requests concerning my situation. I also thanked God for His faithfulness and provision for me in the past. I gave thanksgiving to Him for always being true to His promises, and for the fact that He had continually cared for me.

It has become my firm intention to be as relentless in prayer as the dripping of that tiny ribbon of water whenever anxiety begins to erode my thoughts and wear away at my faith. As a result—according to God’s promise in Philippians 4:7—I know that I can experience and abide in the peace of God whatever comes my way and however/whenever the Lord chooses to answer my petition.

“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” -Corrie ten Boom