Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

A Taunt, A Reproach, A Curse…

Bugs Bunny likes to taunt Elmer Fudd in the cartoons, similarly, the Roadrunner to Wylie Coyote. I have struggled my life to not be a target for another’s taunts. Today’s language might state ‘a taunt’ as ‘bullying.’ God states that the Israelites will be a taunt. It is not that they are doing the taunting but that they are doing things that cause others to notice them and what they have done to betray their God, the One True God. The children of God have disobeyed God. After many, many reminders, God uses them as a taunt, as a visual lesson from God to others watching. In the meantime, others may, indeed, taunt those who have gone astray.

How often throughout my 74 years have I disappointed and displeased God in the actions I have taken, the words I have spewed out, the thoughts I have had? Often, in the Bible, we see, again and again, the Israelites idolizing gods of others. They disobey God by going against His rules and His words.

And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 2 Kings 17:9-14

As I continue to read the Bible with “Sweeter Than Honey Devotional A 365-Day Devotional Journey” by Patsy Burnette this year, we are in the midst of the prophets, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel. The words, the messages God gives to these men to, then, give to the children of God are hard words to hear let alone to have to speak for God. They hold lesson-upon-lesson for the Children of God as well as for readers such as myself. Oh, that I will relearn once again!

Throughout the prophecies, God calls His children names that I find hard to stomach. Below these Scriptures, you will see these words and their definitions. None of them are a good, positive description for anyone. We should want to be the opposites.

I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. Jeremiah 24:9. ESV

“You shall be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and a horror, to the nations all around you, when I execute judgments on you in anger and fury, and with furious rebukes—I am the LORD; I have spoken—when I send against you the deadly arrows of famine, arrows for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, and when I bring more and more famine upon you and break your supply of bread. I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will rob you of your children. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword upon you. I am the LORD; I have spoken.” Ezekiel 5:15-17

“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: As my anger and my wrath were poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You shall become an execration, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. You shall see this place no more. The LORD has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God, and whatever the LORD our God says, declare to us and we will do it.’ And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God in anything that he sent me to tell you. Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to live.” Jeremiah 42:18-22

“Why do you provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, making offerings to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have come to live, so that you may be cut off and become a curse and a taunt among all the nations of the earth? Have you forgotten the evil of your fathers, the evil of the kings of Judah, the evil of their wives, your own evil, and the evil of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?” Jeremiah 44:8-9

The boldface words in the Scriptures above are defined below:

זְוָעָה. zᵊvāʿâ. a horror, an object of terror, a trembling, an object of trembling

רַע. raʿ. evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity

מָשָׁל. māšāl. properly, a pithy maxim, usually of metaphorical nature; hence, a simile (as an adage, poem, discourse):—byword, like, parable, proverb

שְׁנִינָה. šᵊnînâ. sharp word, sharp (cutting) word, taunt, gibe

קְלָלָה. qᵊlālâ. curse, vilification, execration

חֶרְפָּה. ḥerpâ. disgrace, rebuke, reproach(-fully), shame

אָלָה. ‘ālâ. an imprecation:—curse, cursing, execration, oath, swearing.

שַׁמָּה. šammâ. ruin; by implication, consternation:—astonishment, desolate(-ion), waste

Just reading these definitions makes me realize that when I walk against the very grain of God, I must sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. (Since chalkboards are now white boards, the sound will not be the same for those of you who are not familiar with that high-pitched screech that fingernails make on those black boards, but know that it is an extremely harsh, high-pitched screech. Makes your spine chill.) I look and sound like a taunt toward all that God has taught me. I am a reproach, a disgrace to the God Whom I love and desire to be obedient. Plus, I no longer look like Jesus Whom I am supposed to represent as I grow more and more into His image. I should be ashamed. When others look at me, who do they see? A belligerent, angry, lying, Jesus? NO, it is Linda in that reprehensible image, but if I represent Jesus as a Christ-following human being, then I ought to look like Him and not anyone or anything else!

I have the desire to walk peaceably with God, but I stray now and again. The Israelites strayed and yet God loved them dearly. He loves them in the midst of their disobedience just as He does us. That does not mean that God ignores them and lets them get away with all sorts of misdeeds. He wants obedience to Him from all of us who call themselves His. God is merciful and He is just. He punishes just as a father punishes his child when the child has disobeyed.

“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah. I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to come to the land of Egypt to live, and they shall all be consumed. In the land of Egypt they shall fall; by the sword and by famine they shall be consumed. From the least to the greatest, they shall die by the sword and by famine, and they shall become an oath, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, so that none of the remnant of Judah who have come to live in the land of Egypt shall escape or survive or return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return to dwell there. For they shall not return, except some fugitives.” Jeremiah 44:11-14

Dearest Father, I pray for each of us who love You so and want to walk in the obedience which You have called us. May we hear Your promptings, Your warnings when we wander, when we stray away from where You desire us to be. May I heed Your warnings, Lord. May I seek Your guidance in all things. Forgive me, Father, when I ignore You, when I am remiss in being mindful towards You. I know You never stop loving me, yet You want me where You want me. Please open my ears to hear. Open my eyes to see. May the eyes and ears of my heart be ready to see and hear You and be ready to follow those plans that You have always had for me… since before I was created. Guide me onto Your path and away from mine, Lord. I pray in the powerful Name of Jesus. Amen.

Bugs Bunny taunting Elmer Fudd @ Wallpaper Cave

Quote/Photo of Ravi Zacharias about Justice: QuoteFancy

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

I am Your Clay, Lord

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:1-6

חֹמֶר

ḥōmer

clay: as material of vessels

Jeremiah 18:4:

CSB: But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.

NET: Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit.

NLT: But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

שָׁחַת

šāḥaṯ (shaw-khath’)

batter, cast off, corrupt(-er, thing), destroy(-er, -uction), lose, mar, perish, spill, spoiler, waste(-r).

God gave Jeremiah a visual this time rather than just words, as if God’s Word is not enough! I am a visual learner more often than not. I grasp the whole idea when I can see something being done, see something in actuality, see or touch rather than just hear. Looks like Jeremiah needed that for this picture, this word picture. He was preparing a sermon from this. How better to be able to grasp the WHOLE point!

The Potter reuses the same lump of clay when the first pot was not turning out as He intended because of a flaw, a lump, a stone, something in the clay. As I am the clay, God created me in His original form. As life welled up from His hands, I grew into the beautiful life that He created. As’choice’ began to be a reality in my life, some of the choices I made were His choices for me, but so many were not. Over the course of these seventy-four years now, God has thrown this lump of clay back onto the wheel to see about changing my course. He drew me back to Himself. He loves me so that He desires that I become more and more as the image of His Son, Jesus the Christ.

“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter‘s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:6

I want to say that God does not need to take this clay to remake me again and again each time I take the wrong pathway from the one He has planned for me. But He does, I think! In a way! He created me perfectly, yet I need remolding from time to time as I am not perfect while I walk on this earth. The Holy Spirit draws me near and teaches me more and more through the Word, the life of Jesus, by prayer. He kneads my life through Himself to look more like the original way He created.

I spoke to the prophets;
it was I who multiplied visions,
and through the prophets gave parables
. Hosea 12:10

God creates us perfectly no matter what we look like, what paths we, ourselves, choose over our lifetime, or just what happens to us in our bodies, our minds, our lives. We have been created perfectly. As we grow in Christ, we are to walk in the Lord as unto perfection, one step at a time. We should depend upon God to guide us and protect us as we become more and more like Christ. This is not an easy walk and it certainly is not a straight shot from the creation God made to the one we are to become. The road to Christ is a powerful walk but filled with storms, hills and dales, temperature extremes, roadblocks, plus our own weariness.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8

…from George Whitefield’s ((1714-1770), sermon “The Potter and the Clay:”

“Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ‘O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?’ Saith the Lord. ‘Behold, as the clay is in the hands of the potter,’” (marred, and unfit for the first designed purpose) “‘so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.’” At length, then, Jeremiah hath his sermon given to him: short, but popular. It was to be delivered to the whole house of Israel, princes, priests, and people: short, but pungent, even sharper than a two-edged sword. What! says the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, must I be denied the privilege of a common potter? May I not do what I will with my own? “Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hands, so are ye in mine hands, O house of Israel. I made and formed you into a people, and blessed you above any other nation under heaven: but, O Israel, thou by thy backslidings hast destroyed thyself. As the potter therefore might justly have thrown aside his marred clay, so may I justly unchurch and unpeople you. But what if I should come over the mountains of your guilt, heal your backslidings, revive my work in the midst of the years, and cause your latter end greatly to increase? Behold, as the clay is in the hands of the potter, lying at his disposal, either to be destroyed or formed into another vessel, so are ye in my hands, O house of Israel: I may either reject, and thereby ruin you, or I may revisit and revive you according to my own sovereign good will and pleasure, and who shall say unto me, what dost thou?”

.… “I shall now proceed to show, that what the glorious Jehovah here says of the house of Israel in general, is applicable to every individual of mankind in particular.” ….

“First, I shall undertake to prove, that every man naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam, is in the sight of the all-seeing, heart-searching God, only as a “piece of marred clay.” ….

.… “But this is not all, we have yet more evidence to call; for do the blindness of our understandings, the perverseness of our will, the rebellion of our affections, the corruption our consciences, the depravity of our reason prove this charge; and does not present disordered frame and constitution of our bodies confirm the same also? Doubtless in this respect, man, in the most literal sense of the word, is a piece of marred clay.

….

“Secondly, That being thus marred, he must necessarily be renewed: and under this head, we shall likewise point out by whose agency this mighty change is to be brought about.”

…. “This is what John the Baptist calls “being baptized with the Holy Ghost,” without which, his and all other baptisms, whether infant or adult, avail nothing. This is that fire, which our Lord came to send into our earthly hearts, and which I pray the Lord of all lords to kindle in every unrenewed one this day.”

“As for the extraordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, such as working of miracles, or speaking with divers kinds of tongues, they are long since ceased. But as for this miracle of miracles, turning the soul to God by the more ordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, this abides yet, and will abide till time itself shall be nor more. For it is he that sanctifieth us, and all the elect people of God. On this account, true believers are said to be “born from above, to be born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Their second, as well as their first creation, is truly and purely divine. It is, therefore, called “a creation;” “but put ye on,” (says the apostle) “the new man which is created” — And how? Even as the first man was after God in righteousness and true holiness.”

As I readied myself to pray as I usually do at the ends of my posts, the prayer of Mr. Whitefield, at the end of his sermon, says so much that I will have him prayer for us this day:

You, that have in some degree experienced the quickening influence (for I must not conclude without dropping a word or two to God’s children) you know how to pity, and therefore, I beseech you also to pray for those, to whose circumstances this discourse is peculiarly adapted. But will you be content in praying for them? Will you not see reason to pray for yourselves also? Yes, doubtless, for yourselves also. For you, and you only know, how much there is yet lacking in your faith, and how far you are from being partakers in that degree, which you desire to be, of the whole mind that was in Christ Jesus. You know what a body of sin and death you carry about with you, and that you must necessarily expect many turns of God’s providence and grace, before you will be wholly delivered from it. But thanks be to God, we are in safe hands. He that has been the author, will also be the finisher of our faith. Yet a little while, and we like him shall say “It is finished;” we shall bow down our heads and give up the ghost. `Till then, (for to thee, O Lord, will we now direct our prayer) help us, O Almighty Father, in patience to possess our souls. Behold, we are the clay, and thou art the Potter. Let not the thing formed say to him that formed it, whatever the dispensations of thy future Will concerning us may be, Why dost thou deal with us thus? Behold, we put ourselves as blanks in thine hands, deal with us as seemeth good in thy sight, only let every cross, ever affliction, every temptation, be overruled to the stamping thy blessed image in more lively characters on our hearts; that so passing from glory to glory, by the powerful operations of they blessed Spirit, we may be made thereby more and more meet for, and at last be translated to a full, perfect, endless, and uninterrupted enjoyment of glory hereafter, with thee O Father, thee O Son, and thee O blessed Spirit; to whom, three persons but one God, be ascribed, as is most due, all honor, power, might, majesty and dominion, now and to all eternity. Amen and Amen.

The Potter & the Clay photo/graphics @ faithatworktoday.com

Photo of potter creating @ https://pixabay.com/users/riteshphotography-6483976/

Beginning Again/lump of clay in the potter’s hands photo (no credit available)

from George Whitefield’s sermon @ Blue Letter Bible https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/whitefield_george/Sermons/witf_013.cfm?a=763004

clay heart photo @ https://pixabay.com/photos/heart-volume-love-4172398/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Strength to Hold the Battle Back

For some time, a focal point for me has been to ‘convince’ others to see the world through God’s Word plus I have desired to ‘renew relationships’ that seem to have gone deeply awry. Convincing and renewing were, at least, my hope to change hearts and minds by what I deemed as the wisdom and the Truth of God’s Word, common sense, and love towards others with open arms. All of my efforts have led to nothing but frustration, discouragement, and sorrow on my part.

And in this place of quiet, deep inside of me, God has given me His beautiful peace to know that He is God and that He is in control. I am not! I cannot ‘convince’ nor ‘restore’ in my own strength, even if I had some. When will I ever learn?

from Matthew Henry’s “Commentary on Isaiah (28):” “They courted and persuaded them to learn. God, by his prophets, said to them, “This way that we are directing you to, and directing you in, is the rest, the only rest, wherewith you may cause the weary to rest; and this will be the refreshing of your own souls, and will bring rest to your country from the wars and other calamities with which it has been long harassed.” Note, God by his word calls us to nothing but what is really for our advantage; for the service of God is the only true rest for those that are weary of the service of sin and there is no refreshing but under the easy yoke of the Lord Jesus.

I can see that I am up against a hard place, a stinging nettle, a prick. I must trust in the Lord, the Lord alone. He has not left me stranded in such a dark place as this world looks to be. He is near and reminds me of His infinite grace and mercy.

I have felt so off-course, so disengaged with people I once loved and cared about, yet I could not open my mouth without getting myself into more hot water. There was just no seeing eye-to-eye on just about anything and everything. So I remained quiet on the outside while my insides were boiling and exhausted from NOT trying to make peace, for NOT letting people know how I really felt or what I really believed. Both are a huge part of who I think I am…a peacemaker and an honest, open person.

I chose to use ‘Being Woven’ as my platform to share a few, just a few, of my thoughts and beliefs. Those same people whom I still love (yet no longer am able to like their behavior or lack of behavior) have gone completely silent.

In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. Isaiah 28:5-6

I have sought Him in my dark places. He is with me. I feel as though I am beginning once again. Beginning a new phase of the rest of my life, a reset button has recently been pushed. I am starting fresh without my dear husband, Kenneth, of 25 years. Yes, it has been four years since he died, but the reset button is just now being hit! A reset with possible new friends with whom I will be open and honest, I pray. A reset to trust in the Lord anew, responding to the life I am called to live.

My anger, my hopelessness, my fear, my disillusionment have all been based on worldly ways, on watching those around me use the beautiful Name of Christ in negative ways which I could never have imagined they would or could. I need to pull back and know that God is God and He is my God. Jesus is my Lord of this life.

The Lord will give me strength for turning my battle back at the gate. I am a follower of Jesus.

“I entreat you, give no place to despondency. This is a dangerous temptation–a refined, not a gross temptation of the adversary. Melancholy contracts and withers the heart, and renders it unfit to receive the impressions of grace. It magnifies and gives a false colouring to objects, and thus renders your burdens too heavy to bear. God’s designs regarding you, and His methods of bringing about these designs, are infinitely wise.” Madame Jeanne-Marie Guyon

This also comes from the LORD of hosts;
he is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in wisdom.
Isaiah 28:29

Father, as I walk this earth from day-to-day, please guide my steps that they would be steadily in sync with You. Guide my steps as You draw me into a fresh set of friends whose lives You have ordained for me. As You give me freedom to wander a bit and make choices, remind me of Whose I am and just where You desire I walk. Forgive me when I stray, especially when I stray far off the path. I may be just thinking that I am going over there to smell the fragrance of a flower, yet I sometimes forget that I need to return to the path. Lord, give me Your strength to keep the battles back at the gates so they do not come into my yard, into my life. May Your peace, Your love, Your holiness, Your grace, and Your mercy all, YES…ALL! rain down upon me and reign in my heart and my soul, Father God. I love You so and, with peace, I walk out into this world with assurance of You over me. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Photo/graphic @ LoveGodGreatly

Photo/graphic @ pinterest from 2.bp.blogspot.com

Bible Study · Devotionals · Pondering · prayer

Conspiracy and Hypocrisy!

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. John 8:44-45

My joy is so missing-in-action as I live in this world today. The bombardments of harshness and strife are continually creating rough edges all over me: re: mass murders, hatred, an assassination of a fine retired world leader, vitriol spewing everywhere, a constant barrage of lies by many who seem to know only that; there is so much more. I have been having such a difficult time getting up from down, rejoicing with others and even just with myself, and even filtering peace and joy through the beauty of God’s creations is so difficult for me now. I pray this will pass and I can see beyond those hedges. God is faithful and merciful. He rains down His peace and joy upon me so that I may hold it in, yes, inside my very being.

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:22

I am writing about conspiracy and hypocrisy this week for the Bible speaks of both quite clearly. Both have been on my mind for too long of a time. I have remained still and quiet, all of which has been snarled up inside of me. I want to write with God’s guidance, I pray.

For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.” Isaiah 8:11-15

con·spir·a·cy ~ [kənˈspirəsē] ~ NOUN

a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful

the action of plotting or conspiring

קֶשֶׁר

qešer

an (unlawful) alliance:—confederacy, conspiracy, treason

Absalom’s Conspiracy:

After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him.

And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.”

Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

And at the end of four years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the LORD, in Hebron. For your servant vowed a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the LORD will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the LORD.’” The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron.

But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing. 2 Samuel 15:1-12

from the Book of Acts:

When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” Acts 23:12-15

These sound so much like today…conspiratorial thinking and actions. “Hang Mike Pence” rings in my ears. They were very ready to do just that upon the gallows which they brought with them to the nation’s Capitol.

I have become someone I am not very familiar with these days. I have always been an encourager and a peacekeeper. But I am barely either one of those and have not been for a few years now. Yes, I still encourage a few people in my world, in my life, but I can no longer keep peace as so many in my world have blown my mind and heart to pieces. I do not know what to say to them any longer. I have been extremely quiet for years now just so I could keep the peace. BUT…a rather large piece of me has been changing. I cannot keep silent at every turn. I cannot keep peace should I encounter any of those I struggle with. So many have believed in conspiracies whether it be about the 2020 election being “stolen” or “rigged,” or COVID-19 as a hoax, about vaccines being evil or government-forced upon the citizens, while believing that untested COVID-19 cures are perfectly fine, one friend ‘telling’ me that, should I get COVID, to surely contact a certain doctor, or take a certain treatment (all of which were perpetrating lies and quackery). And many have believed that January 6th was a ‘legitimate political discourse.” And there are so many other conspiracies flying around these days.

ὑπόκρισις

hypokrisis

acting under a feigned part, i.e. (figuratively) deceit (“hypocrisy”):—condemnation, dissimulation, hypocrisy.

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. Luke 12:1-3

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Luke:

“He began with a caution against hypocrisy. This he said to his disciples first of all; either to the twelve, or to the seventy. These were his more peculiar charge, his family, his school, and therefore he particularly warned them as his beloved sons; they made more profession of religion than others and hypocrisy in that was the sin they were most in danger of. They were to preach to others; and, if they should prevaricate, corrupt the word, and deal deceitfully, hypocrisy would be worse in them than in others. Besides, there was a Judas among them, who was a hypocrite, and Christ knew it, and would hereby startle him, or leave him inexcusable. Christ’s disciples were, for aught we know, the best men then in the world, yet they needed to be cautioned against hypocrisy. Christ said this to the disciples, in the hearing of this great multitude, rather than privately when he had them by themselves, to add the greater weight to the caution, and to let the world know that he would not countenance hypocrisy, no, not in his own disciples. Now observe, 

  • (1.) The description of that sin which he warns them against: It is the leaven of the Pharisees.
    • [1.] It is leaven; it is spreading as leaven, insinuates itself into the whole man, and all that he does; it is swelling and souring as leaven, for it puffs men up with pride, embitters them with malice, and makes their service unacceptable to God.
    • [2.] It is the leaven of the Pharisees: “It is the sin they are most of them found in. Take heed of imitating them; be not you of their spirit; do not dissemble in Christianity as they do in Judaism; make not your religion a cloak of maliciousness, as they do theirs.”

“Do you not know this of old,
Since man was placed on earth,

That the triumphing of the wicked is short,
And the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?
Job 20:4-5

If you are one of those whom I have loved and cared about, yet have bought into the misbeliefs, the lies, the conspiracies that have ensnared so many millions, please read God’s Word regarding these subjects. This is God’s Truth. Conspiracies and lies have been around forever. They are not God’s Truth. Think about the serpent in the Garden. Satan lied and caught Eve and Adam in his lies about the Tree and an apple. Absalom wanted to be king. He would do anything to be king and he had many followers. The side-by-side comparison of the forty-fifth President of the United States, his followers, Absalom and his followers seems far too familiar to me.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,…. 1 Timothy 4:1-2

The Term ‘Christian’ Has taken on a Very Dark Color for Me:

I am baffled as to why people continue to follow a man who would taunt elderly ‘Lady Ruby’ and her daughter Shaye, two Georgia election workers who have been found absolutely innocent of doing anything illegal or wrong. Plus, the crowds taunted ‘Lady Ruby’s’ even-more-elderly mother who was at her home, not even a part of the election? I cannot grasp how anyone can continue to support the former President who LIED, who continues to LIE. He was willing to have his Vice President, our former Vice President, killed, hung? HOW? Other liars are believed regularly as well: T. Carlson, L. Ingraham, R. Guilliani, T. Cruz, to name just a few. I just cannot, do not, understand. And a large group of those followers call themselves Christians, evangelical Christians. This fact boggles my mind more than ANYTHING!

I, myself, am a follower of Christ. I love the Lord. I am a Jesus-follower, but find that using the term ‘Christian’ is no longer comfortable for me. I do not deny Christ at all. I am totally His, but many have ruined the name ‘Christian’ for me (and I am not alone). I have so many people who were/are a part of my life whom I have loved, but I no longer like many of their ways.

What these last years have done for and to me is make me doubt my own faith, make me question who I am. I pray that my walk does not and will not portray an image of hypocrisy as so many Christians have shown me by their walks. I know I fail too and ask God over and over for His gracious forgiveness. I have been living in Colorado for ten months now and am so discouraged as I look for a church to call ‘home.’ Hypocrisy shows up far more than when it does not. I try not to walk in hypocrisy or surround myself with lies and conspiracies. I hope and pray I won’t! This is not about politics although many would argue with me that it is. NO, IT IS NOT! It is about our faith, my faith, your faith.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9-10

My beautiful America is falling apart at the seams right now. We have a devil in our midst pulling us down by his lies to a level I have never known in my 74 years. Yes, the United States of America has had hard moments in its history but what I see today seems to be the worst in my lifetime. We must wake up before we have been taken into the arms of the devil. There are some who want to hold ALL OF THE POWER with NO democracy holding us together as it has been for 246 years. Democracy (with a small ‘d’) is a beautiful thing. We have free speech, free choice, freedom of religion, right to have a fair trial, right to bear arms (although I wish we could rid our country of weapons of war/AR-style rifles!), freedom to vote, and so much more. Autocracy, dictatorship, oligarchy, totalitarian, and many other types of governments are run by one or a few. Let us not lose our democracy, please. “Government of the peopleby the peoplefor the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” Abraham Lincoln…I wish!

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:1-18

Father God, this has been so very difficult for me to write. I pray that these words are true to my calling in Your Name. I pray, in some small way, I have glorified You in who I am and what I say. Hold us near and teach us to be true to You, Lord. I know this country I call ‘home’ has gone so far astray over our two and a half centuries, and, one day, we will come before You. I pray we will answer honestly and forthrightly to You, with humble and repentant hearts. I pray for healing between people whose relationships have cracked or stand wide open. Lord, for I have a number of those broken relationships. Please heal each one or cause a change in me that I may set aside those which are irreparable. Yet, no matter, I am strong in You and know that You are my God. Hold me close as I walk these hard roads, reminding me that the faith I hold dear is, indeed, that which You gave me. Redirect me from standing with ‘doubting Thomas,’ as a ‘doubting Linda,’ and place me firmly into Your arms where: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1). Father, I pray all in the Name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. Psalm 120:2

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b

Amen

“Lies” @ Blam – https://www.blam.online/lies

“Conspiracy” @ fontsquirel – https://www.fontsquirrel.com

“Lies” by Hitler @ AZQuotes – https://www.azquotes.com/quote/561220

“Hypocrisy” @ Anderson Leadership Solutions – http://www.andersonleadershipsolutions.com/hypocrisy-limits-your-ability-lead/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering · prayer

Both…Life and Choice

I am PRO-LIFE for ages 0 until death, whether that be at 1 month…2 months…6 months…9 months in utero, or 2 years old, 6 years old, 10 years old, 46 years old, 100 years, 115, 122 or beyond as long as one is alive and with breath.

I am PRO-CHOICE too.

YES…it is possible to be BOTH.

Life for every and all ages.

I want all of God’s life to thrive and live a life honoring to Him.

“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13

God commanded us, me, not to murder. I understand that. I am against abortions. I am also for an individual’s, a woman’s right to choose. God gave us free will although we were/are not so good about following His every command.

Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.  Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel?  For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! Ezekiel 18:30-32

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5-7

I am not one to weigh in on controversial issues usually. If the Lord wills, I may be more vocal in this space. Not only is the country that I was born and raised in on the verge of…in the midst of…tremendous change in ways I could not have fathomed only months ago, but hatred and fear are running wild everywhere including through the very population I once called ‘community.’ I feel led to stand to say things that are truly difficult for me to say out loud. I may lose followers; I may lose more friends and community than have already departed. I have been writing this particular post for weeks. It was near edit-completion when June 24, 2022/Supreme Court ruling hit the news cycle!

I pray that I will say and write words that are glorifying to my Lord, my God.

LIFE may start at conception…at fertilization…at six weeks…at 15 weeks…at 20 weeks of a pregnancy…at birth.

LIFE is not only about birth. It does not end once a child is born.

LIFE on this planet is at first breath of earthly air. LIFE is being breathed in and out from just outside the womb, at one year old, at two, at ten, at seventeen, at twenty-three, at thirty-eight, at fifty-one, at seventy-six, at ninety-seven, at one hundred, at one hundred four and beyond if God so wills. No matter the stage of LIFE we are in, God provides breath until He does not. That is LIFE.

God is LIFE and we are living as long as He has planned for us.

So…YES…I am PRO-LIFE.

I am PRO-LIFE for ALL of LIFE!

I am PRO-CHOICE, too, for we each are given choices throughout life…to choose our way or God’s way. God gave humans a will. I am against murder but I am NOT against choice. It is up to each person to follow the will of God. Sometimes we do not. We, more often than not, reap what we sow. We are allowed to make choices.

I recall when ‘abortion’ was a heavy topic of thought and conversation, or argument and agreement, in the 1960s and 1970s, before Roe versus Wade was yet in the courts. Back than, one was able to be both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life. It was perfectly okay to not be on one side or the other. I was both then and continue to be to this very day.

No, I have never had an abortion nor even been pregnant. I had choices along the way for decisions I needed and chose to make. There were also decisions made for me by others where my choice was not an option. Some I am okay with today and some I was not okay with at the time of their making by another or by the natural way of things. I can see that I have been in God’s hands, no matter.

Let me ask you:

Where were you when I, a somewhat immune-compromised senior citizen, needed you to wear a mask during the early days as well as at the heights of COVID-19 outbreaks?

Where were you when a vaccine, a set of vaccines, booster vaccines were made available and were free? Did you get them? I hope so.

My life, the lives of the many immune-compromised with cancer, with diseases that cannot fight off other diseases, those awaiting an organ transplant, the lives of senior adults, all deserve(d) a chance to live. Don’t they?

I can hear you are saying to me: “Linda, if you believe in choices, then I, too, have a choice to wear a mask for COVID or a choice to get or not get a vaccine.” Yes, you do.

If you are pro-life, then why is that decision about masks or vaccines a problem for you? Whose life are you for or against? I understand that there may be health reasons why you did not wear a mask or take the vaccine. I know. But for many, that choice was a blatant choice against the United States government more than it was about caring for and about those living.

Most of you reading this blog are professing Christians who abide by the Word of God. Why, then, has it been so hard for so many to have ignored the second commandment that Jesus gave each and all of us?

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

“…NO OTHER COMMANDMENT GREATER THAN THESE.”

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 1 John 5:2

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,

but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25

Father God, I pray for your wisdom as I walk the steps which feel so hard…difficult for me. I believe they are steps You have given me. Protect the women who are in danger today…who are facing trauma today. I curl into Your strong arms and weep my tears into Your bottle. I hesitate to even publish this post for I have spent most of my 74 years on this earth trying to please others, to keep the peace, yet, I am so filled with words, thoughts, and emotion which I pray You have given me permission to write here. May I be pleasing unto You, Abba Father, and only You. I pray in the beautiful and powerful Name of Your Son. Amen.

#oneword · God's Word · OneWord365 · Pondering

I Have Very Few Words…Today

There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:

haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,

a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 6:16-19

I see these, all of these, TODAY, RIGHT NOW, ALL AROUND ME! Everywhere I look, so much of what I hear is that which God hates, that are abominations to Him. These stir up conflict, strife, hatred, violence, vitriol. I have been trying to write a post in this space for two weeks only to find I have no words…only to find things unfathomable in my mind, my heart, my soul.

I have been unable to write anything cohesive, but I shall, Lord willing.

I do not want to write and end up with a page filled with vitriol coming from myself regarding all I see and hear and feel. So I am silent. God’s Word speaks to my heart and says, “Be careful with your words, Linda.”

Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Psalm 34:13

I said, “I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
Psalm 39:1

Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. Psalm 120:2

So I am quiet. NOW!

But I am here having thoughts about my OneWord 2022 ~ diligence.

I am being diligent as to the words which God desires from me. I am being diligent as to words to say to others. I am being diligent as to the ways in which I represent Christ in and to this world.

I am being still so that I can know my God.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Psalm 37:7

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.

If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
Proverbs 9:7-12

Lord, I desire to speak out. I desire to be open and honest. I just do not know how to do that these days. Guide my tongue and my mind and my heart, that I will be true to You, and You alone. In Your Beautiful Son’s Name, I pray. Amen.

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Testing

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

δοκίμιον

dokimion

a testing; by implication, trustworthiness:—trial, trying; a crucible

Other versions of 1 Peter 1:7 ~

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. NIV

…that the proof of your faithbeing more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; NASB20

…so that the proven character of your faith ​— ​more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire ​— ​may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. CSB

*the proving, your proved faith; that by which something is tried or proved, a test*

I love that word, “proving,” as though there is something to prove. Indeed, the test, the proof is in our willingness to obey and stand upright as we wait upon the Lord. He will bring us through whatever test, whatever proving ground we are to face. Counting whatever we go through all joy, or rejoice in the midst of these trials, can seem so opposite of what we are walking or running through, yet God calls us to these things and also calls us to rejoice, to be joyful in the midst.

Can you imagine being a Ukrainian today and being able to rejoice, to count all that they are experiencing or witnessing in this horrendous war all around them, and still be able to recount it with joy? Watching around 100 Ukrainian women and children evacuate from the ruined Azovstal steelworks in the city of Mariupol on Sunday, May 1, 2022, after two-plus months hiding under the plant would bring a sense of joy in the release, yet there was the threat of Russia bombing, leaving family and friends behind…could they count it joy? I know I would have rough time yet that is exactly the way we are to face the trials each and every day. Oh, God, please give me the strength of Jesus to face my trials. He went to that horrible cross for me, down the Via Delorosa, and counted and considered it all joy!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus withstood such temptations, showing me that I can lean on Him for He desires to carry my burdens, to walk besides me, to dwell within me.

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary of 1 Peter:
The apostle grants they were in great affliction, and propounds several things in mitigation of their sorrows. 

1. Every sound Christian has always something wherein he may greatly rejoice. Great rejoicing contains more than an inward placid serenity of mind or sensation of comfort; it will show itself in the countenance and conduct, but especially in praise and gratitude.

2. The chief joy of a good Christian arises from things spiritual and heavenly, from his relation to God and to heaven. In these every sound Christian greatly rejoices; his joy arises from his treasure, which consists of matters of great value, and the title to them is sure.

3. The best Christians, those who have reason greatly to rejoice, may yet be in great heaviness through manifold temptations. All sorts of adversities are temptations, or trials of faith, patience, and constancy. These seldom go singly, but are manifold, and come from different quarters, the effect of all which is great heaviness. As men, we are subject to sorrows, personal and domestic. As Christians, our duty to God obliges us to frequent sorrow: and our compassion towards the miserable, the dishonour done to God, the calamities of his church, and the destruction of mankind, from their own folly and from divine vengeance, raise, in a generous and pious mind, almost continual sorrow. 

4. The afflictions and sorrows of good people are but for a little while, they are but for a season; though they may be smart, they are but short. Life itself is but for a little while, and the sorrows of it cannot survive it; the shortness of any affliction does much abate the heaviness of it.

5. Great heaviness is often necessary to a Christian’s good: If need be, you are in heaviness. God does not afflict his people willingly, but acts with judgment, in proportion to our needs. There is a conveniency and fitness, nay, an absolute necessity in the case, for so the expression signifies: it must be;therefore no man should be moved by these afflictions. These troubles, that lie heavy, never come upon us but when we have need, and never stay any longer than needs must.

Mr. Henry goes on regarding the praise, the honor, and the glory:

“The trial of faith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Honour is properly that esteem and value which one has with another, and so God and man will honour the saints. Praise is the expression or declaration of that esteem; so Christ will commend his people in the great day, Come, you blessed of my Father, etc. Glory is that lustre wherewith a person, so honoured and praised, shines in heaven.  …. Jesus Christ will appear again in glory, and, when he does so, the saints will appear with him, and their graces will appear illustrious; and the more they have been tried the more bright they will then appear. The trial will soon be over, but the glory, honour, and praise will last to eternity. This should reconcile you to your present afflictions: they work for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Father God, there are so many reasons to rejoice even when I do not feel like rejoicing. And there could also be many reasons why I should feel overwhelmed and filled with sorrow. Yet, You lift me up when I am down. You fill me up when I am empty. You stand with me always and care for me, about me. You have given me life through Your Son, Jesus the Christ, Who died that terrible death for me, taking my sins to the cross. You shower grace and mercy upon me again and again. You sustain me and never let me down. I trust You and know I can. I know You are my God forever and ever. I will be spending Eternity with You. Oh, Lord, how glorious that will be. I thank You for holding me near through any and all trials I may be currently going through as well as those in my future. I thank You from the depths of my heart.

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

The Lifter of My Head

But you, O Lord, are a Shield about me, my Glory, and the Lifter of my head.  Psalm 3:3

Do you recall a time when someone you loved, someone you looked up to, someone you adored, took your lowered head and gently raised your chin with their hand, their fingertips?  You may have been a child, a teen, or an adult. Your lip may have been quivering, a tear running down your cheek.  That person lifted your head until your eyes met theirs.  You saw their loving eyes and sensed the caring they had towards you.  Your heart was touched by this one’s protection, reassurance, and love for you, for just you at that very moment. Slow down and remember such a moment, such a person as this.  Ponder the memory.  Sense the moment right now.

God, our Father, feels this way about us…even more so. 

God is my Shield.  He encircles me with His strength, His power, and His might.  He defends and protects me in ways I cannot even know.  

He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and He in Whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me.  Psalm 144:2

God is majestic. He deserves reverential love and awe as I kneel before Him.  

On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
  Psalm 62:7 

He lifts me up high. And as I stand with Him, let nothing in the world pull me down.  He sent His Son to die for me and nailed my sins to that cross.  I do not want to be ashamed, but to stand strong in the LORD. 

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:18-20

Lifting my head is looking up and seeing the Father’s glory, His reflection, His love. His touch is gentle and kind.  He created me and knows my potential.  He lifts me up.  Confidence is being built in me through Him.

Lifting my head helps me to see beyond my circumstances.  My head is higher than anything that is not of God.  None of that can control me when my head is lifted. 

He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:2 

I can see above to the heavenly realm.  I can know that God, my Father, lights the skies for my way as I follow Him.  Fears are released and given no power for the LORD is the power. 

“Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?”  Matthew 12:11

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.  James 4:10

LORD, I pray that each of us seek You, the Lifter of our heads, our Salvation.  You call us to come before You in thanksgiving and praise.  We bow before the cross, asking for forgiveness, knowing that You have already poured Your grace upon us.  Abba Father, thank You for giving us vision to see beyond our current point in this life, past the pain and suffering, whether of ourselves or of those we love or of others in this world.  You know all and You call us to Your side, lifting us from the miry clay. With gratitude for being the Lifter of my head, I pray in the Name of Jesus. Thank You, Sweet LORD.  Amen.

Some 21+ years ago, I published a similar post on Being Woven. Originally, it was for an online devotional called “Granola Bar Devotionals.” Alisa Hope Wagner, also at enLIVEn Devotionals, the author and gatherer of writings of others, has gone on to write many books, inspiring other women to continue writing in new venues.

photo of baby: “I’m Trying So Hard to Lift My Head Up!! : ) – Tummy Time”
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/tummy-time–476466835550170037/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

A Weather Report

I love how God has given us weather reports throughout the Bible. He tells us of the actual rains and winds on this physical earth. He also uses weather-related metaphors giving us wonderfully clear word pictures.

The one we are probably most familiar with is Noah and the ark ~

And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. Genesis 7:12

And Jonah ~

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah 1:4

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. Nahum 1:3

Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. Exodus 9:23

Wild and gentle are the ways of the weather. Wild and gentle are the ways of God.

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! Deuteronomy 32:1-3

And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. Luke 12:54

From the breath of God ice is made,
And the expanse of the waters is frozen.
Job 37:10

For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, His mighty downpour.
Job 37:6

Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling His word! Psalm 148:7-8

You will be visited by the Lord of hosts with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire. Isaiah 29:6

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant was seen within His temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. Revelations 11:19

by Justin Battles

Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:4

Sometimes, I think that God must have storehouses filled with rainwater, snow, hail for the deluges are so enormous that the areas upon which the storm dumps floods, or avalanches, or all that is in the path of the wind is totally destroyed. But, oh, that is my human imagination. I do not know now. One day!

The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder;
Your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
Your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
Psalm 77:17-18

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12

It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and He brings forth the wind from His storehouses. Jeremiah 10:12-13

Yet, in the darkness, the light will come. God is so much more than the very circumstances.

I praise You, my Father.

I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

“Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the LORD have created it.
” Isaiah 45:7-8

Father, God of Heaven and Earth, You have created all. You have placed us in the midst that we would care for Your earth. You provide in ways to water the plants and give humans water to drink. Yet, many of Your ways I cannot understand for so many live without sources of water and many places on this planet are shriveling up for lack of water. And other places (and its people) are flooded beyond recognition. My ways are not Yours, but one day, Lord, will I understand? This earth is such a beautiful place but it was far more so when You first created the Garden of Eden. We have caused must decay and dismay by not being the caretakers You desired from us. I am sorry that we continue to fail You and Your creation. Lord, as I think about the majesty and harshness of weather upon this world, I think of the Ukrainian people for they are never far from my mind and heart these days. They are trying to hunker down or flee their country in the midst of freezing cold with some snow while the country is in the midst of a horrible war. Please hold them closely while some seek safe shelter where they are while others run to other countries. Please keep Mr. Putin and his forces from bombing hospitals and places that should be a safe haven. Please, Lord, stop this awful war. I am usually a peacemaker, but this is so beyond any ability of my own. I cannot even make peace among my friends these days. Only You can do that, Father God…any and all of it. My Prince of Peace, please rain Your peace upon us all, especially this time in Ukraine. The beautiful, although at times, threatening, but also awe-inspiring weather is so filled with You and the amazing God You are. May I look in awe at it and know that You are the God of all this earth…the God of me. Guide my steps to keep me on the path of righteousness. I love You, Lord. In the Powerful Name of Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.” John 8:12

rain @ wallpaper cave

waves/lighthouse @ The Inertia

hurricane @ AGU Blogosphere

huge storm @ Wallpapertag.com

Hail @ audiojungle

rainclouds over green hills/barn @ pixelstalk.net

rain storm @ Pixelstalk

Ice Storm @ Vermont Institute of Natural Science

Snow storm @ The Morning Call

Fire @ The National Interest

Lightning @ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Lightning #2 by Justin Battles @ strangesounds.org

Alaska Earthquake damage @ KOTATV

Rain and Hail in Ruidoso, NM @ Ruidoso News

wild clouds @ fanpop

Extreme weather collage @ NASA.gov

Tornado @ Weather.com

mammoth dust storm @ The Washington Post

Storm over boats @ Woodenboat.com

Sea with sunset @ Pixelstalk

sunny day/high clouds @ desktop backgrounds

Classical Writers · Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Classic Works Woven – Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers (24 July 1874 – 15 November 1917) was an early-twentieth-century Scottish Baptist evangelist and teacher who was aligned with the Holiness Movement. He is best known for the daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest. 

Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man.”

Born to devout parents in Aberdeen, Scotland, Chambers moved with his family in 1876 to Stoke-on-Trent when his father, Clarence Chambers, became Home Missions evangelist for the North Staffordshire Baptist Association, then to Perth, Scotland when his father returned to the pastorate, and finally to London in 1889, when Clarence was appointed Traveling Secretary of the Baptist Total Abstinence Association. At 16, Oswald Chambers was baptized and became a member of Rye Lane Baptist Chapel.  Even as a teenager, Chambers was noted for his deep spirituality, and he participated in the evangelization of poor occupants of local lodging houses.  Chambers also demonstrated gifts in both music and art.

“The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone”

From 1893 to 1895, Chambers studied at the National Art Training School, now the Royal College of Art and was offered a scholarship for further study, which he declined. For the next two years he continued his study of art at the University of Edinburgh while being greatly influenced by the preaching of Alexander Whyte, pastor of Free St. George’s Church.  While at Edinburgh, he felt called to ministry, and he left for Dunoon College, a small theological training school near Glasgow, founded by the Rev. Duncan MacGregor. Chambers was soon teaching classes at the school and took over much of the administration when MacGregor was injured in 1898.

While teaching at Dunoon, Chambers was influenced by Richard Reader Harris, a prominent barrister(attorney) and founder of the Pentecostal League of Prayer. In 1905, Harris introduced Chambers as “a new speaker of exceptional power.” Through the League, Chambers also met Juju Nakada, a Holiness evangelist from Japan, who stimulated Chambers’ growing interest in world evangelism. In 1906, Nakada and Chambers sailed for Japan via the United States.  In 1907, Chambers spent a semester teaching at God’s Bible School, a Holiness institution in Cincinnati, then spent a few months in Japan working with Charles Cowman, a co-founder of the Oriental Missionary Society.

Arriving back in Britain by the end of the year, Chambers found the Holiness movement divided by the advocates and opponents of founding a new denomination and by supporters and detractors of the tongues movement. Chambers did not oppose glossolalia but criticized those who made it a test of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Sailing back to the United States in 1908, Chambers became better acquainted with Gertrude Hobbs, the daughter of friends. They married in May 1910; and on 24 May 1913, Gertrude (whom Chambers affectionately called “Biddy”) gave birth to their only child, Kathleen.  Even before they married, Chambers considered a partnership in ministry in which Biddy—who could take shorthand at 250 words per minute—would transcribe and type his sermons and lessons into written form.

In 1911 Chambers founded and was principal of the Bible Training College in London, in an “embarrassingly elegant” property that had been purchased by the Pentecostal League of Prayer.  Chambers accommodated not only students of every age, education, and class but also anyone in need, believing he ought to “give to everyone who asks.” “No one was ever turned away from the door and whatever the person asked for, whether money, a winter overcoat, or a meal, was given.”  Between 1911 and 1915, 106 resident students attended the Bible Training College. By July 1915, forty were serving as missionaries.

Seeing is never believing: we interpret what we see in the light of what we believe. Faith is confidence in God before you see God emerging; therefore the nature of faith is that it must be tried.

In 1915, a year after the outbreak of World War I, Chambers suspended the operation of the school and was accepted as a YMCA chaplain. He was assigned to Egypt, where he ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops. Chambers raised the spiritual tone of a center intended by both the military and the YMCA to be simply an institution of social service providing wholesome alternatives to the brothels of Cairo. When he told a group of fellow YMCA workers that he had decided to abandon concerts and movies for Bible classes, they predicted the exodus of soldiers from his facilities. “What the skeptics had not considered was Chamber’s unusual personal appeal, his gift in speaking, and his genuine concern for the men.” Soon his wooden-framed “hut” was packed with hundreds of soldiers listening attentively to messages such as “What Is the Good of Prayer?” Confronted by a soldier who said, “I can’t stand religious people,” Chambers replied, “Neither can I.” Chambers irritated his YMCA superiors by giving away refreshments that the organization believed should be sold so as not to raise expectations elsewhere. Chambers installed a contribution box but refused to ask soldiers to pay for tea and cakes.

Chambers was stricken with appendicitis on October 17, 1917, but resisted going to a hospital on the grounds that the beds would be needed by men wounded in the long-expected Third Battle of Gaza. On October 29, a surgeon performed an emergency appendectomy; however, Chambers died November 15, 1917 from a pulmonary hemorrhage. He was buried in Cairo with full military honors.

For the remainder of Mrs. Chambers, she transcribed and published books and articles edited from the notes she had taken in shorthand during the Bible College years and later. Most successful of the thirty books was My Utmost for His Highest (1924), a daily devotional composed of 365 selections of Chamber’s talks, each of about 500 words. The work has never been out of print and has been translated into 39 languages.

We pray when there’s nothing else we can do; Jesus wants us to pray before we do anything at all.”

Father, men and women such as the Chambers were so filled with love for You and for reaching others. We are still able to read his works due to the diligence of many others after them. Mr. Chamber’s widow took the reins to edit and type so much of her husband’s writings. Thank You for each one who steps forward to Your call to guide and reach future generations, then and now. During the narrow span between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Oswald Chambers came to be used by You in order to reach many in his lifetime and then to continue to reach us all the way into the twenty-first century (and possibly beyond). As one of my favorite devotionals, “My Utmost for His Highest” is filled with daily readings that tend to dive to new depths in me. Thank You for this gift even still today. I praise You, Lord, for blessing me with the words of a man who so loved You and so loved those who came to listen to him. Ever so grateful, I pray in the Name of Jesus. Amen.