THE CLOUD…THROUGHOUT ALL THEIR JOURNEYS

April 7, 2011

Reading in Exodus about God’s presence in the cloud, (see “Is God a Cloud?” posted April 4, 2011) I researched different passages about the pillar of cloud. Reading the last verse in Exodus, in awe of our faithful God, all I could whisper is “WOW!” Here are the thoughts that led me to that expression of praise…

At the beginning of their journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land, it is written that “He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.” (Ex. 13:22). The last verse of Exodus reads: “For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” (Ex. 40:38)

What’s so amazing about that? God’s people miserably failed Him time and time again. They doubted Him; they fussed, complained and whined. They sinned and disobeyed Him. God even got so frustrated with them after the Golden Calf Incident that He would have destroyed them had it not been for Moses’ intercession. Yet in all of this, that cloud representing God’s presence was up there! It was within eyesight of every person, every day! God NEVER departed from them. He was with them “throughout all their journeys”, NOT because they deserved His presence, but because HE WAS FAITHFUL to His plan to get them to the Promised Land, and to be with them every step of the way.

Then I thought about my life. Like the wandering Israelites, I doubt, complain, sin, and disappoint God way too often. Even with all of my failures, because God is faithful to keep all of His promises, He is with me! In fact, the promise that Jesus made to His apostles in Matthew 28:20 is still valid and applicable to all of His followers:  “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” NOT because we deserve it, but because HE IS FAITHFUL to His plan. He will fulfill the promise of His presence with us “throughout all our journeys”, until we see Him face to face. Now isn’t that something to praise Him for??

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10 REASONS WHY NOT TO FEAR

February 14, 2011

In God’s Word we are repeatedly encouraged not to fear.  It’s interesting to note that when we are given those instructions, or when one of the authors expresses a choice to not fear, there is a “why not”. There may be more, but here are 10 reasons I found WHY NOT TO FEAR. I will NOT fear because…

  1. GOD HIMSELF IS FIGHTING FOR ME!
    Deuteronomy 3:22. “You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you.”
  2. GOD GOES WITH ME!
    Deuteronomy 31:8. “…do not fear nor be afraid…for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. “
  3. GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE ME!
    1st Chronicles 28:20. “Be strong and of good courage…do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God – my God – will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
  4. GOD IS MY VERY PRESENT HELP, MY REFUGE AND STRENGTH!
    Psalm 46:1-3. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.”
  5. THE LORD IS ON MY SIDE!
    Psalm 118:6. “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
  6. GOD WILL HELP ME!
    Isaiah 41:13. “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ “
  7. THE LORD IS MY LIGHT, MY SALVATION AND MY STRENGTH!
    Psalm 27:1. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
  8. THE LORD REDEEMED ME AND I AM HIS!
    Isaiah 43:1. “…fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”
  9. I HAVE PUT MY TRUST IN GOD!
    Psalm 56:3,4. “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You…in God I have put my trust, I will not fear.”
  10. JESUS GIVES ME HIS PEACE!
    John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

These truths are a powerful antidote for fear. Write them down. Put them in visible places. Underline them in your Bible. Read them. Re-read them. Re-read them again. Then keep reading them. Keep re-reading them. Believe them. Praise God for them and rejoice in His peace. Freedom from fear….aaaahhhhhhhhh……


I WILL PRAISE THE LORD ACCORDING TO…..

November 28, 2010

….ACCORDING TO WHAT?

…how I feel at the moment? If I feel good, I’ll praise Him. The problem is that I don’t always feel good.
…how my day is going? Not a good idea. Some days Murphy’s Law rules.
…the prayers I get answered? Hummm. Sometimes I don’t want the answer I get. Other prayers are still on hold.
…how I’m being treated? That doesn’t work. Some people are downright rude.
…my physical health? That can fail any minute. Then what?
…how my plans are working out? Things don’t always go my way. What happens then?
…my righteousness? Are you kidding???

I will praise the Lord NOT according to any of these variables, but according to who HE is. He is the righteous, unchangeable I AM. No matter what I’m going through, He is worthy to be praised, always, forever, and eternally! The Psalmist wrote: “I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.” (Psalm 7:17) I can praise Him for His righteousness! Not only is He righteous, but He considers me righteous in Christ. The apostle Paul explained it this way: “For He (God) made Him who knew no sin (Christ) to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2nd Corinthians 5:21) And that’s reason enough to praise Him no matter what my circumstances…according to His righteousness!


LEARNING BY HABITUAL PRACTICE

November 4, 2010

When I was in college, my days were organized around carrying a double major and working full time. My mom was frustrated with my incessant activity and often “suggested” that I just stay home to learn to cook, clean and do housework.  I had one instant response to her continual prodding: “No, thanks, Mom. If I ever need to know that stuff, I’ll take a crash course.”

And crash…I did!… 5,420 miles to the south in Argentina! I took that crash course as a newlywed in the “foreign” country that ultimately became my home for 27 years. I took the crash course alone. Mom wasn’t available by e-mail, IM, Facebook, Skype, or anything faster than snail-mail. No help. To give you an idea of how inexperienced I was at cooking, the roof of Jorge’s mouth actually peeled because I put too much white pepper in the stew. I couldn’t find black pepper in our town.

Habitual practice. That is an excellent way to learn just about anything: to read, to ride a bike, to swim, to play a sport, to drive, etc. Nearly everything we do is learned with practice, practice, and more practice; even being thankful. What? Learning thankfulness?

No doubt, the apostle Paul learned thankfulness by habitual practice. That’s why he could sing praises to God in prison after having been beaten. (Acts 16:25) Because he had learned thankfulness, he wrote about his suffering, his needs, tribulation and imprisonments, summing up his testimony by saying “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things”. (2 Corinthians 6:10). Having learned thankfulness himself, he could encourage the believers in Thessalonica to give thanks in everything. (1st Thess. 5:18) and instruct the church in Philippi to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”. (Philippians 4:6)

Well, eventually, I learned to cook by habitual practice… but have I learned thankfulness yet? Am I habitually practicing thanksgiving? Have I mastered the art of expressing my appreciation to others, and – more importantly – my gratitude to God for all of His wonderful gifts? The psalmist encouraged habitually giving thanks in Psalm 92:1,2. He wrote: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.” That sounds pretty much like a habitual practice: “in the morning, …every night”. November is “Thanksgiving Month”. Let’s challenge ourselves to honor God with the habitual practice of thankfulness!


ALL – Not Just SOME!

October 19, 2010

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and ALL that is within me, bless His holy name! 
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not ALL His benefits.” Psalm 103:1,2

“I will bless the Lord at ALL times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34: 1

                David committed himself to praising the Lord at ALL times, with ALL his being. David lived a life of extremes: he experienced abundant blessings and the most horrific situations; he rejoiced with dancing in times of victory and anguished in the lowest pits of despair. Suffering the consequences of sin, David had times of family disasters and times of national catastrophe; he went through periods of discouragement, a season of trying to hide his sin, but later praised God for His forgiveness and wholeness. When he worshiped God, he did it with ALL of his heart. How could David have composed many of the Psalms under the most despairing circumstances? How could he choose to worship God at ALL times, and praise Him with ALL his being?

                The secret lies in the personal relationship that David cultivated with God in the good times. Knowing God with the degree of intimacy that he did gave David the assurance that God always takes care of ALL our troublesome situations. In Psalm 34 we can read that bad times will come in our lives, but God will see us through them ALL – not just some of them!

v. 4 “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from ALL my fears.” (Not just SOME!)

v. 6 “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of ALL his troubles” (Not just SOME!)

v. 17 “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of ALL their troubles.” (Not just SOME!)

v. 19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them ALL.” (Not just SOME!)

                While it’s true that God is able to deliver me from ALL my fears and troubles, it’s also true that Like David, I must choose to strengthen my relationship with Him in the good times. When I choose to bless Him at ALL times, with ALL that is within me, I will also seek Him in times of distress. In the measure that ALL that is within me blesses His holy name when life is good, my natural response in difficulties will be to cry out to Him and keep praising Him with the assurance  that He hears me and will deliver me from ALL my fears, ALL my troubles and ALL my afflictions – not just SOME!


GOD’S LOVE ENDURES FOREVER!

October 14, 2010

“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you. Isaiah 54:10

No doubt, everyone who loves God’s Word has a favorite verse. This is one of mine, because in it, God assures me that HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER. Even in the most extreme situation; in the greatest chaos, confusion and loss, God will never, EVER stop loving me! He will ALWAYS give me His peace, and surround me with His mercy!

I was looking through an old “quiet time” journal, and want to share with you the prayer of praise that I jotted down on April 3, 2004 after having written Isaiah 54:10 at the top of the page. It was the expression of my heart then, and it still is! Read it slowly, and praise God with me!

“Lord, I praise You and thank You that Your kindness, peace and mercy will NEVER depart from me – no matter what!!
            Even if I can’t understand what’s going on,
                        Your kindness, peace and mercy will be with me!
            Even if I can’t hear You,
                        Your kindness, peace and mercy will be with me!
            Even when I can’t see the next step –
                        Your kindness, peace and mercy will be with me!
            Even until I see YOU face to face,
                        Your kindness, peace and mercy will be with me!
I praise You, Lord, for knowing that!
I praise You for being the God who NEVER breaks a promise!
I praise You because I can trust in You, the unchanging God.
I praise YOU because I can rest on Your promise that “YOUR LOVE ENDURES FOREVER”…forever…and ever! AMEN!

There is a beautiful song by Michael W. Smith titled “So Great” that reminds us over and over that God’s love endures forever. Click on the link and take a few minutes to listen to it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZZ5CWrufNg


NOW THE NUMBER ONE IS NUMBER THREE

September 21, 2010

Roger Federer (in red shirt) practicing before the final in Cincinnati in 2009.

Jorge and I enjoy watching tennis championships. Last year and this year we were privileged to see Roger Federer win the Western-Southern championship in Cincinnati. In case you don’t know, Federer, a 29 year old Swiss,  is considered by many to be the greatest tennis player of all time. His career is amazing. He was ranked the world Number One for a total of 285 weeks, 237 of those weeks were consecutive. That’s over 4 ½ years! He has  63 singles tournament titles. (I wonder where he has those 63 trophies…) He won the Laureus World Sports Man of the Year for 4 consecutive years. He is the all time leader in earnings, having won $57,439,704.00 in prize money. Not only that, but he plays with strength, dignity, strategy, professionalism, confidence and elegance. But…The Number One is now Number Three. As of September 13, 2010, Roger Federer’s rating fell to Number Three. Even at Number Three, he’s quite impressive!

Thinking about all of that, I thought about my Number One. He will NEVER become Number Three!… Not even Number Two! …Jesus is The Number One; He always was and always will be The Only Number One! When the angel announced His birth to Mary, He was described this way: “He will be GREAT, and will be called the Son of the Highest…and of His kingdom there will be NO END.” (Luke 1:32-33) More than that, His greatness will be acknowledged by every human being that ever lived. Paul said it this way in Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of JESUS, every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father.”  Now THAT IS IMPRESSIVE!!

All famous sports figures move on to make way for the next Number One. Some are even forgotten. That’s just the way it is and the way it’s always been. They are humans, just like we are. I praise God that My Number One will be The Number One Forever and one day will be praised by everyone!

“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to GOD who alone is wise,                                                                                   be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1st Timothy 1:17


The Symbiosis of Trust and Praise

June 15, 2010

At www.Merriam-Webster.com we can read the following definition of symbiosis:

1 : the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms (as in parasitism or commensalism); especially : mutualism
2 : a cooperative relationship (as between two persons or groups) <the symbiosis…between the resident population and the immigrants — John Geipel>

sym·bi·ot·ic \-ˈä-tik\ adjective

sym·bi·ot·i·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb  

 I am not a biologist. But when I think about trust and praise, I’m reminded of a symbiotic relationship. They live “together in more or less intimate association or close union.” Can we separate trust and praise? I think not.

I praise God because He is who He said He is, and who He showed Himself to be throughout all of history, and in my own life!
I trust in God because He is who He said He is, and who He showed Himself to be throughout all of history, and in my own life!
I cannot fully trust Him without praising Him. I cannot sincerely praise Him without trusting in Him.

Praise is an expression of trust. Trust is an expression of praise.

In the measure that we learn more of God, and see how He works, we trust Him more fully and praise Him more sincerely. Praising Him for who He is – the faithful, compassionate, holy merciful, eternal, unchanging, forgiving, all-wise God, we realize He is trustworthy! Then, as we trust Him, we learn even more of Him, and praise Him more!

“But You are holy, enthroned in the PRAISES of Israel. Our fathers TRUSTED in You; they TRUSTED, and You delivered them.” (Psalm 22:3,4)

“I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I WILL TRUST; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be PRAISED.” (Psalm 18:1-3)

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart TRUSTED in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I WILL PRAISE HIM.” (Psalm 28:7)

The psalmist may or may not have understood the biological definition of symbiosis, but he had a very clear understanding of the symbiotic relationship of trust and praise! I say AMEN to his convictions. How about you?


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