The Lifter of My Head

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But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  Psalm 3:3 ESV

Can you recall a time when someone you loved, someone you looked up to and adored, took your lowered head and gently raised your chin with his or her hand?  Your lip may have been quivering, a tear running down your cheek.  That person lifted your head until your eyes met when you saw their loving eyes.  You sensed the care and gentleness they had towards you.  Your heart was touched by this one’s protection, love, reassurance, and care for you…just you at that very moment.

Slow down and remember such a moment, such a person as this.  Ponder the memory.  If you cannot find this memory, imagine such a one.

God, our Father, feels this way about us, even more so, I’d say.  God is our Creator.  He loves each one of us.  He is our Shield.  He encircles us with His strength, His power, and His might.  He defends and protects us in ways we 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,….  Psalm 144:2 ESV

God is our glory, deserving our praise and exaltation.  He is majestic.   As we kneel before Him, the love and reverence we feel towards Him is given.

In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.  Psalm 62:7 NKJV

He lifts us up high.  As we stand, let nothing in the world pull us down.  He sent His Son to die for us and nailed our sins to the cross.  Ashamed …no, we are not to be, but we are to stand strong in the LORD.

For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die.  Philippians 1:20 NLT

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.  The grief I am in the midst of needs to be walked through over time, but my head is lifted higher than that grief.  My head is also higher than anything that is not of God.  None of that controls 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 ESV  

I can see above this earthly plane.  I 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.  The LORD steadies me, holding me securely as I walk this life’s journey.

“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 ESV

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 LORD, I pray that each one 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 and ask 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, those around us, or of those in this world.  You know all.  You call us to Your side, lifting us from the miry clay.  Thank You, Sweet LORD.  We love You dearly.  Amen.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift you up.  James 4:10 NKJV

 

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1st graphic:  https://faithful-in-christ.tumblr.com/post/166727098620

2nd graphic:  http://www.pinsdaddy.com/psalm-3_XprbKZ%7Clst%7C8STsGXN7kQ0kU4Y7L2lvVS0g5ClQfduM/

There is a Plan

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Have these thoughts ever crossed your mind: “Does God even know I am here?”  “Does He care about me, little me?”

The great news is that He does know and He caresall about youall about me.  And I am not little in His mind.  I am His.  That is what matters.  I am so very grateful.  I love the Lord and cling to Him even closer right now in these days of grief.

Scripture is so reassuring.  I read Joshua 1:9 often.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Such an encouraging word to my heart, my whole being.

I read Isaiah 54:5 every morning since losing my earthly husband on June 7th:

For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is His name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth He is called.

I am a widow on earth but have a Husband to provide for, love, support me in all ways.  Amen. 

So when I question God, which I do, He reminds me that He knows everything that I am going through, everything that I need, everything about me.  I cling to Jeremiah 29:11 for this verse draws me close to the One Who has a plan for my life, whatever time remains for me here.  I want to be obedient for this period of life.  I want to carry whatever cross I have to bear with the dignity that will be an open door to others in following Christ.  I want others to see Christ in me so they see Him first.  Jesus is such a beautiful gift to me and I desire that others will have this gift too.  Use me, Lord, for Your glory.  

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ESV

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מַחֲשָׁבָה

machashabah

a texture, machine, or (abstractly) intention, plan (whether bad, a plot; or good, advice):—cunning (work), curious work, device(-sed), imagination, invented, means, purpose, thought

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ NASB

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” NIV

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. KJV

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of shalom, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. HNV

The plan God has for me is the perfect plan for the life I am to live.  I do not know exactly what that looks like right now, but I do know that He has one.  He had this plan from before the very beginning of my life.  Psalm 139 speaks so clearly of this beautiful promise:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there Your hand shall lead me,
and Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to You;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in Your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with You….23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24

I praise You, Father, from morning until night.  You are my God and know me perfectly.  I ask Your forgiveness for the many times I have failed You.  I repent from the ways that are not, were not, in Your plan.  You guide me.  You change me.  You love me always.  I ask You to walk ever closer to me, guarding my heart, guiding my steps.  I praise You, Lord.  In Christ, I lost the old Linda and was born anew.  In You, I have life.  I pray in the Holy Name of Jesus.  Amen.

I am forever…

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Woman at Sunset: http://www.beliefnet.com/entertainment/galleries/does-god-really-want-to-know-me.aspx?p=3

 

 

 

 

 

God is My Fortress

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A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;**

Fortress

מָצוּד

matsuwd

a castle, defense, fort(-ress), (strong) hold, be hunted, net, snare, strong place

(And just for clarity, the word bulwark means a defensive wall, rampart, fortification
a person, institution, or principle that acts as a defense.)

God is my Fortress.  He is the place I run to and take refuge.  He is the fortification, the wall, the stronghold behind which I crouch and know I am protected.  He is the One Who places me in the cleft of the rock where I am sheltered.  Praise Him for tucking me into a safe place no matter what I am going through or feeling.  Right now, He is my safety net.  He is the wall behind which I hide.  Thank You, my Father, for You are so much more than I could imagine.  Thank You for protecting me and caring about and for me as I walk through this valley of the shadow of death.  Oh, thank You, Lord for protecting me. 

1 And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said,
“The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress and my Deliverer,
3 my God, my Rock, in whom I take refuge,
my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation,
my Stronghold and my Refuge,
my Savior; you save me from violence.
4 I call upon the Lord, Who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.   2 Samuel 22:1-4

God is all of those to me too.  David has given me a place to see just how mighty our God truly is.  The Rock, Shield, Stronghold, Fortress…all depicting strength and power and security.  This is the God Whom I walk with daily.  I feel His sheltering Presence all around me.  Oh, how wonderful!

For You are my Rock and my Fortress;
and for Your name’s sake You lead me and guide me.  Psalm 31:3

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1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My Refuge and my Fortress,
my God, in Whom I trust.”  Psalm 91:1-2

Lord, as I walk this journey, so much of it I must walk alone for grief is different for each one of us.  There are pieces and parts that may be similar, yet never quite the same whether it is the time, the circumstances, the way one died…so many factors.  BUT…I am never really alone for You are with me…always.  You guide me and comfort me, love me and hold me.  You are the fortress to which I come and find safety.  The world cannot touch me when I abide in You for the walls of the Fortress are deep and wide.  Walking obediently in You shelters me too.  O Lord, I am so blessed.  Yet, this road I am on is so hard, so difficult.  I miss Kenneth so.  He loved me like no one else.  Yes, Mom loved me dearly.  A mother’s love is so different than a husband’s love though.  So I sense I would be comparing apples to oranges if I were to compare my mother’s love to my husband’s.  Kenneth and I had a marriage with You, Christ Jesus, our Center.  You never left us.  Thank You, Father. 

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Although that threefold cord feels broken to me now, I do not believe it is.  Kenneth has gone on ahead of me, as he told me near the end of his life on earth.  I do not know anything about life after death, but I sense that this God-given marriage is still that…given to me, to us, by You, God.  Of course, I still miss my Kenneth.  I know now that he was on loan to me for 25 years for which I am so grateful.  His time to return Home came.  Now I am learning to walk this path with You, Lord, and without Kenneth.  Sometimes I have doubts and fears.  Then You remind me of the Mighty Fortress that You are.  I stand inside the walls and know that I am safe and protected.  I am filled with gratitude for Who You are.  I pray in the Name of Christ Jesus.  Amen.  

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“Sarzana citadel fortress”:  https://www.cepolina.com/Sarzana-citadel-fortress.html

** “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”  Text: Martin Luther Trans. by Frederick H. Hedge
Music: Martin Luther Harmony from The New Hymnal for American Youth
Tune: EIN’ FESTE BURG

Psalm 59:16 – https://dailyverses.net/psalms/59/16

Christ-Centered Marriage photo: https://quotesgram.com/christ-centered-marriage-quotes/

My Heart — Your Dwelling Place (a Repost)

A Repost of mine from March 19, 2017.  These words of a year and a quarter ago feel like I wrote them today:

David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.  1 Chronicles 15:1

אֹהֶל

‘ohel

a tent (as clearly conspicuous from a distance):—covering, (dwelling) (place), home, tabernacle, tent

I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar.   Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve Me as priests Exodus 29:44

As the Israelites sojourned from place to place, they would pitch their tents where God called them to do so, and folded the tents when God called them to move on.

And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.  Exodus 25:8

While the Israelites were traveling, God had, as His dwelling place, a tabernacle in a physical tent that could be picked up and moved with the Children of God.  We, too, live in spiritual tents as we journey in this place.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.   2 Corinthians 5:1

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And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.   Deuteronomy 30:6

As I travel the highway of holiness, growing closer to God, I know that my days are numbered.  I know not how many, yet I know that one day I shall be with my Maker.  I see many signs of aging such as my gray and white hair, walking more slowly and limping at times.  I have limitations now that I did not have when I was 20, 30, even 40.  For the time remaining in my life, I walk with my LORD, staking my tent where He says, packing it up as He directs, to carry along as I go.  I am a stranger on this earth, a sojourner here until God’s time for me comes.

We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.  1 Chronicles 29:15

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My heart is a tabernacle for the LORD.  My life is His.  I live for Him as He lives in me.

Father God, You call me to You as we walk this way together.  I pray that I am most willing to follow You, taking up my cross daily, picking up and stretching out this tent each day.  May my heart truly be the tabernacle of Your Spirit, physically as well as spiritually, Father.  The precious thought that Your Spirit lives right in my heart delivers such love and joy to me!  No matter what the circumstances of my life look like from moment to moment of each day, I know that I am Yours and that I am not a stranger to You.  I have been known by You since before I was born, since before this earth came into existence.  Oh, that You created me and have made me Yours.  How joyous I feel all over!  The order of my days is in Your hands.  I pray that I am obedient to You.  You called me to be a citizen in Heaven with You.  So, as I walk the remainder of my days on this earth, I have Your Kingdom to look forward to, my Sweet LORD.  I pray in the Name of Jesus.  Amen and Amen. 

 

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Bleeding Heart Photo (graphics by me): https://pixabay.com/en/bleeding-hearts-flowers-cluster-red-55120/

Painted Heart (graphics by me): by Michal Boubin @ http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/1-painted-heart–symbol-of-love-michal-boubin.jpg

Psalm 27:8 photo: by Lana G @  https://verseography.com/2011/08/25/psalm-278-come-and-talk-with-me/

On Being a Widow

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I would call becoming a widow (widower) going through deep waters.  AND then God promises to be with me (you) during these deep-water times.  Absolutely beautiful and so very reassuring.

WIDOW!  A word I have never given much thought to for myself, but the reality is that I am one now.  I saw (and sensed) my mother become one when she was only 46 with three girls ages 13, 10, and 7 to raise.  But me?  I am into this new pathway for a wee bit over one month now at age 70 with no children, no grandchildren.  The precious peace that Kenneth and I felt during the last five months has continued to envelop me, keeping me held and gently rocked.  I cry and know that God is okay with all of my tears.  I know that His plan included this loss as part of my life.

YET…it is not easy.  I miss Kenneth so very much.  Then there is all the paperwork, changing titles, probating the will and…and….  On top of all that stuff, there are buckets of tears!  And not just from the eyes but from this heart.  It is hard Those three words say it best!

Yet, at the same time, I sense the joy of the Lord, His strength, and His love abounding in my life.  He is bringing the right people onto my path.  He sends me to a church Sunday that rained peace all over me.  He is blessing me with the peace that passes ALL understanding.  I love Him so.  I may not comprehend it all so, but I certainly will not turn any of this away for it is my journey.

My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my Salvation.  He only is my Rock and my Salvation,
My Stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.  Psalm 62:1-2

Behold, God is my Helper;
The Lord is the Sustainer of my soul.  Psalm 54:4

To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my Defense,
My God of mercy.  Psalm 59:17

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my Refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works. 
Psalm 73:28

“Behold, God is my Salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD is my Strength and my Song,
and He has become my Salvation.”  Isaiah 12:2

Oh, how these verses tell Who God is to me…He is all of this and so much more.

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The LORD will tear down the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.  Psalm 15:25

אַלְמָנָה

‘almanah

a widow; also a desolate place:—desolate house (palace)

A widow is most often described as a woman who has lost her husband by death and has not remarried.

The LORD watches over the sojourners;
He upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.  Psalm 146:9

“Leave your fatherless children,
I will preserve them alive;
And let your widows trust in Me.” 
Jeremiah 49:11

God cares about me, about us.  He did before I became a widow and He still does.  Praise You, Father.  Praise You. 

Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.  Isaiah 1:17

In Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Isaiah 1: Seek opportunities of doing good: Relieve the oppressed, those whom you yourselves have oppressed; ease them of their burdens.  You, that have power in your hands, use it for the relief of those whom others do oppress, for that is your business.  Avenge those that suffer wrong, in a special manner concerning yourselves for the fatherless and the widow, whom, because they are weak and helpless, proud men trample upon and abuse;….  Speak for those that know not how to speak for themselves and that have not wherewithal to gratify you for your kindness.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  James 1:27

I do not consider myself weak.  I can stand up for myself…sometimes.  I can be gullible…sometimes.  Right now, as a one-month-old baby in this new widowhood, I am vulnerable.  I know that because it is hard.  I have just lost my dear Kenneth, my husband of 25 years, this man who loved me as unconditionally as any human being can.  He cared for and about me like no one else.  So I truly am vulnerable and must look to my Lord.  Focusing my eyes and the eyes of my heart upon Jesus is what I am doing.

When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.   When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.  Deuteronomy 24:19-21

God planned for widowhood.  He knew and still knows what needs to happen for them.  I think of the many widows and orphans in the world today with so many wars and such violence occurring all around this globe.  I do not consider myself one of those precious women or those innocent children.  I have so much more than they do, it seems.  I have a roof over my head and know that I have a meal.  Many of those widows are so strong in the midst of their huge struggles.  God knows each of our needs.  He knows from whence we came and where we are headed.

Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.  Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.  But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.  1 Timothy 5:3-6

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She sets her hope on God.  Oh, how I desire that for myself.  I pray, Father, that I walk the path that You have chosen for me, a straight and narrow path.  I rejoice that I have You to trust, to hope in, to love and to cherish.  Oh, I am so very grateful.  I have no parents alive now and have no children.  I come to You for You are my Redeemer.  Guide me each day, reminding me Whose I am.  Be with those widows and orphans in Africa, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so many other areas of this world.  Provide for each one in ways that will direct their eyes to You. 

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  1 Peter 5:10

Father God, I praise You even in the midst of my sorrow.  I was so very blessed to have Kenneth for 25 years, yet I miss him so.  I know that he is free from the body that was decaying.  I know he is with You.  I know those things in my head, but my heart still is filled with pain and sorrow.  And this heart is also filled with joy because You are my Husband.  You are the One I trust.  You are my Hope and my All, Lord.  Oh, how very blessed I am. I thank You for being willing to perfect, to confirm, to strengthen and to establish me as I grow in You for the rest of my years.  The strength I have is because You are my Strength.  You are my Shield and Protector.  You are my Peace, my Jehovah-Shalom, my Healer, Jehovah-Rapha, my Provider, Jehovah-Jireh, my Shepherd, Jehovah-Raah.  Thank You for being my All.  I am eternally grateful to the One Who is Present, my Jehovah-Shammah. In the Name of Christ, I pray.  Amen.  

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Graphics:

#1:  http://godisheart.blogspot.com/2013/09/when-you-go-through-deep-waters-i-will.html

#2:  https://armyofcompassion.me/2014/09/13/lesson-2-one-god/

#3:  https://quotesblog.net/best-famous-hope-quotes-2015-hope-quotations/

 

 

Stumble … Stumbling … A Stumbling Block @ Beloved Prodigal

 

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Monday’s Breaking Bread

I am blessed to share God’s Word Over at Beloved Prodigal. May the Holy Spirit open the eyes of our hearts to delight in and be strengthened by the Word He has brought us today.

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I have stumbled many times in the physical sense…as a child, I ran faster than my legs could go, tripping over things; as a teen, I would be busy talking, a curb attacked me which I never saw coming; as an adult, I might trip over a leg on a piece of furniture; as a senior adult with my spinal cord having bone spurs, disk problems, and a cyst, I began stumbling over things and even over nothing…I just fell.  Stumbling happens to many, if not most, of us.

I have also stumbled spiritually.  Oh, my!  Yes, I lost my way…wandered in deserts, in places where wild things lived.

God talks about stumbling in His Word, both the Old Testament and the New.  We stumble spiritually when we disobey God, when we don’t listen to know His way for us.  We can easily be led astray, causing us to stumble spiritually.

….  Please join me for the rest of this post @ Beloved Prodigal.

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Abased and Content…Pondering Together

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Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  Philippians 4:11-12

“I know how to be abased….”  Abased As I read this Scripture, I understand, sort of, what that word means, but I want to dig deeper to really know what Paul was saying here.

In the Greek, the word, itself, can be interpreted in slightly different ways.

ταπεινόω

tapeinoō

Pronunciation:  tä-pā-no’-ō
 
  1. to make low, bring low:  to level, reduce to a plain
2.  to bring into it humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances; i. e. α. to assign a lower rank or place to; to abaseto be ranked below others who are honored or rewarded: to humble or abase myself, by frugal living; of one who submits to want; of one who stoops to the condition of s servant.
3. to lower, depress. humble: one’s soul, bring down one’s pride; to have a modest opinion of oneself, to behave in an unassuming manner devoid of all haughtiness; to confess and deplore one’s spiritual littleness and unworthiness, (he afflicted his soul), of persons fasting, to disturb, distress, the soul of one.

4. to humiliate: to submit oneself in a lowly spirit to the power and will of God; equivalent to to put to the blush

 

From several different Bible versions, this word, abased, is also translated:

NIV – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

ESV – I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

NASB – I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

NET – I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary:  “To accommodate ourselves to an afflicted condition-to know how to be abased, how to be hungry, how to suffer want, so as not to be overcome by the temptations of it, either to lose our comfort in God or distrust His providence, or to take any indirect course for our own supply.”

So when afflicted, God wants us to know that this is part of living in and for Him.  This Christian life is not all perfect and beautiful.  There are hard times and lowly times.  When times look up, He desires that we know His ways through which we handle those, as well.
 

“To a prosperous condition-to know how to abound, how to be full, so as not to be proud, or secure, or luxurious. And this is as hard a lesson as the other; for the temptations of fulness and prosperity are not less than those of affliction and want.”

Jesus is the Way through which we can handle every aspect of life.  Jesus is our Comforter and our Provider.  He is the One Who strengthens us from moment to moment.  No matter what situation we find ourselves in or put ourselves in, we need to look to the One Who is strong and will strengthen us in order to walk through each stage of life, each step in life.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

We are to learn to walk in this life, in this world content…in every situation, in all circumstances…content.  What now does “content” mean?  Verse 11 uses this word in one way or another to describe the way we should be in any and all types of life’s experiences whether good or bad, rich or poor, healthy or sick, etc.


Content
in the Greek:

αὐτάρκης

autarkēs

sufficient for oneself, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support

independent of external circumstances

accepting of one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest

Being content seems to come from within ourselves from these definitions, yet being able to handle all or any situation truly must come through Christ.

“But how must we learn it? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, v. 13. We have need of strength from Christ, to enable us to perform not only those duties which are purely Christian, but even those which are the fruit of moral virtue. We need his strength to teach us to be content in every condition. The apostle had seemed to boast of himself, and of his own strength: I know how to be abased; but here he transfers all the praise to Christ. “What do I talk of knowing how to be abased, and how to abound? It is only through Christ who strengthens me that I can do it, not in my own strength.’ So we are required to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and to be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus; and we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. The word in the original is a participle of the present tense, en toµ endynamounti me Christoµ, and denotes a present and continued act; as if he had said, “Through Christ, who is strengthening me, and does continually strengthen me; it is by his constant and renewed strength I am enabled to act in every thing; I wholly depend upon him for all my spiritual power.'”  Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Philippians 4

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I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.
 
Philippians 4:13

Father God, You have given us life.  Each precious breath is from You.  We are given those breaths one at a time just as we are given the strength we need to handle abasement and abundance.  You want us to depend upon You from moment-to-moment, breath-upon-breath.  You call us to lean on Your understanding and not our own.  You ask us to ask and pray.  You call upon us to live for You, loving and caring for others.  I pray that I am able.
 

Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!  Psalm 86:2 

May my eyes and heart stay upon You, and may I lean neither to the right or to the left but directly upon You.  I also want to be pleasing unto You, LORD, and to stay near to You.Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.  And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.  1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

In the Holy Name of Christ Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

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Free in Christ

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I am free.  Christ paid the highest price so that I could be free.  Free to live this life for Him and with Him…free to walk with God, my Creator….free to love, learn to love as He loves, free to care as He cares.

The liberties with which I have gained by choosing Jesus are yours as well.  You are free if you have given your life to Jesus.  Do you believe in the One Who died for your sins, was buried, was resurrected after three days?  Have you asked forgiveness for your sins?  Do you believe in the Trinity…God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit?  They are One as they are Three.  Have you asked Jesus into your heart?

If ‘yes’ is the answer to these questions, then you join me in being FREE in Christ!

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.  Gal 5:1

Living in a country which allows many freedoms is wonderful, yet Christ is Who actually sets us free.

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Yes, the Constitution of the United States gives us many rights and liberties.

Amendment 1:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

Amendment 13:  Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Amendment 14:  All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 

Amendment 15:  The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Amendment 19:  The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Amendment 26:  The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age. 

These are only a few of the rights allowed us as citizens of this country.

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Those reading this from other countries may and may not have these things given to you.  Whether or not, though, believing in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior gives you a freedom that others cannot claim until they know Jesus.

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  John 8:31-32

 ἐλευθερόω

eleutheroō

to liberate, deliver, make free, set at liberty from the dominion of sin

(This Greek word is the same word in all the New Testament Scriptures I have used here on this post.)

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The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;

To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,

To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.  Isaiah 61:1-3

דְּרוֹר

dĕrowr

freedom; hence, spontaneity of outflow, and so clear:—liberty, pure.

(The Old Testament has this Hebrew word of similar meaning.)

 

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Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Once we accept this freedom in Christ, we have much to do and much to live for.  It is our privilege to stand strong in this freedom, whether we live behind bars, under scrutiny, under demeaning people, or living in fear.  It is also our life’s work to project Christ even when we live in a free country.  There are many who do not believe in a god or in God.  There are many who idolize a god, but it leads not to Christ.  Many countries in this world which once saw God as their leader no longer see God as such.  Many countries depend upon people of varying powers or worldliness as their leaders.  Ideologies may not be Christian either in vast parts of this world.  This Christian life is not usually easy, but it is ours as we believe in Christ.  We are made in His image and others are watching in order to catch us doing something they deem as wrong, or doing something they see as Christlike.  They may be making a judgment upon our ways in order to determine their decision about Christ.  So it is our privilege and position to enable others to see Christ in us as we walk in this world.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  Galatians 5:13
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  1 Peter 2:16
 

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:22-23

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Father God, I adore You and am so very grateful that you are in my life. I live under Your wings of power and protection.  You hold me close, lifting me near.  You have granted me this freedom to live for Your sake and not for mine.  You ask me to keep my eyes on You and that is my desire, my goal.  Forgive me when I fail You.  I want to reflect Your Son to this world in which You have placed me.  I want to fly freely.  I have come to know, in this liberty that You have allowed, that I am Yours and Yours alone.  I am free because I am Yours.  For some, that would not be considered free, but I see it as so.  I can fly because of You.  I am Yours and want to live my life in You.  I hold near to You as I learn to be obedient to Your calling for me.  I love You, Lord.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  Romans 8:2

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C.H. Spurgeon Quote/Graphic:  http://www.depravedwretch.com/social-images/

Even to the Minutiae

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A hand woven tapestry, rich with intricate details and colors…

minutiae…

  •  the small, precise, or trivial details of something
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details:

  • an individual feature, fact, or item
  • fine point, triviality, nicety
  • point, aspect, facet, component, technicality

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I never knew that the details of our fingerprints  were called Minutiae.  Below are some of the patterns used to analyze them:

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Throughout the Bible, God gives rich detail in His imagery and descriptions.  I have wondered sometimes why a fact is in the Bible, but I no longer wonder.  I read it and find amazement and beauty in the minutiae of God.

God weaves specifics into His story…

He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.  2 Samuel 23:11

on a snowy day…did I need to know that?  “Yes.”

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He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.  1 Samuel 17:40

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Did he need five stones?

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.
1 Samuel 17:50

He only needed one stone, but was prepared with five.

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The tiniest instructions are important:

‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger.  I am the LORD your God.’   Leviticus 19:9-10

God wants us to be generous and caring.  He specifies how He would like this done in our fields and vineyards, with all that we are and have.

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The details are amazingly minute, yet, for God, each part is vital to the whole:

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord.  The house that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high.  The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house.  And he made for the house windows with recessed frames. He also built a structure against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary. And he made side chambers all around.  The lowest story was five cubits broad, the middle one was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad. For around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house.  When the house was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.  1 Kings 6:1-7

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Every last detail.  The Bible is filled with instructions to build up, to tear down, a way to walk and to obey, to gather manna and when.  God, You are the LORD our God.

 

May we see that God is in every small and great part of our lives:

Are the comforts of God too small for you,
or the word that deals gently with you?  Job 15:11

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And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  Mark 12:42

Jesus knows the poverty from which she gave.

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God knows all that is, that was, and that which will be:

The little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in its time.  Isaiah 60:22

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Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Isaiah 60:22:

They will appear the more glorious, and God will be the more glorified in them, if we compare what they are with what they were, the happiness they have arrived at with the smallness of their beginnings: “A little one shall become a thousand and a small one a strong nation.’  The captives that returned out of Babylon strangely multiplied, and became a strong nation.  The Christian church was a little one, a very small one at first-the number of their names was once but 120; yet it became a thousand.  The stone cut out of the mountain without hands swelled so as to fill the earth.  The triumphant church, and every glorified saint, will be a thousand out of a little one, a strong nation out of a small one.  The grace and peace of the saints were at first like a grain of mustard-seed, but they increase and multiply, and make a little one to become a thousand, the weak to be as David.  When they come to heaven, and look back upon the smallness of their beginning, they will wonder how they got thither. 

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God cares about everything.  He created this world.  He created the beasts of the fields and the birds of the air.  He created you and me.  He wants us to trust Him, count on Him, lean on Him for everything.

He cares for us as He cares about what is in His Word.  He wants us to read each word, seeking His Truth.  The entire Word of God guides us in our way as we walk with the Author.  The entire Word of God draws us towards, and to, the Finisher of our faith.

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Father God, You are the Shepherd of my life.  You love me and care for me as if I were Your only lamb, yet I am one of 7.5 billion people on this Earth today. You love them as You love me.  I am so filled with gratitude, Father.  I am humbled by the details that are important to You.  As tiny as the lines on my fingers are, the minutiae of everything is of concern to You.  May I cling to You, learning from You as I go.  As I see, read, and hear all that concerns You, may it also concern me.  I pray that it does and will.  You wove me in Mama’s womb, knitting me together.  As a weaver places ones thread down at a time and ends up with a beautiful piece of art, You have interlaced Your life-giving threads to form me.  I am extremely complex and barely understand even a tiny bit of what is going on inside of this body, mind, spirit and soul.  You do.  Every cell is important.  Every bit of me.  Every bit of everything.  Thank You, my Gracious Father.  In the minutiae, You are there, LORD.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

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Reunion at Sunset,  Hand Woven Tapestry by Maximo Laura, Alpaca, Peru

(If you have time, visit his site as he is actually weaving a piece more intricately detailed than this one on the front page.)

One Word Inspiration Quotes: Minutiae:  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=One+Word+Inspirational+Quotes&id=78ECCF1184EC1B8A01EE48BE027DF8CA39386E59&FORM=IDBQDM

Dragonfly: Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/361202832585754948/

Fingerprint/Minutiae:   https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=minutiae&&form=IDIVXX

snow: Pixabay  https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo

stones:  K. Gallagher https://graceintorah.net/2015/06/19/five-smooth-stones/

Wheat Field Harvest:  http://michellespahr.blogspot.com/2010/11/my-harvest-field.html

Solomon’s Temple:  Nehemiah’s Wall  https://www.nehemiaswall.com/prophet-pearls-terumah

Small Daisy:  http://randomwallpapers.net/small-daisies-macro_w643728

Mark 12:42-44  http://www.suggest-keywords.com/bWFyayAxMiA0NA/

Horses (Isaiah 60:22)   https://faithpictures.wordpress.com/

Isaiah 60:22: Crossmap.com  http://www.crossmap.com/backgrounds/isaiah-when-the-time-is-right-3850/lightbox/1920×1200

In The Park – Landscape Tapestry by Baiba Ritere  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/358247345332477548/

God’s Peace is More

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.  John 20:19-20

εἰρήνη

eirēnē (Greek)

ā-rā’-nā

  • a state of national tranquillity
  • exemption from the rage and havoc of war
  • peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
  • security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
  • of the Messiah’s peace
  • the way that leads to peace (salvation)
  • of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
  • the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

Peace” in nearly every dialect of Aramaic is “Shlamah”.

In Jewish Aramaic,

   שלמה

Northwest Semitic: Ancient Aramaic:

ܫܠܡ

 

Hebrew:

שָׁלוֹם

shalowm

  • safe, i.e. (figuratively) well, happy, friendly
  • also (abstractly) welfare, i.e. health, prosperity, peace:—× do, familiar, × fare, favour, friend, × great, (good) health, (× perfect, such as be at) peace(-able, -ably), prosper(-ity, -ous), rest, safe(-ty), salute, welfare, (× all is, be) well, × wholly
  • completeness (in number)
  • safety, soundness (in body)
  • welfare, health, prosperity
  • peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
  • peace, friendship
  • of human relationships
  • with God especially in covenant relationship
  • peace (from war)

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When we think of peace, we usually limit the meaning to calm, tranquil, quiet, stillness of one’s soul.  Yet, in looking through the myriad of meanings, I am gaining a whole new perspective on what Jesus blesses us with when He says, “Peace be unto you.”  He wishes health and prosperity, happiness and harmony, rest and reconciliation, welfare and well-being, kindness, wholeness, friendliness, safety, just every type of good.  Every blessing which is of Christ is for us through Him.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

“When our LORD speaks peace, He creates peace, because the words that He speaks are always ‘spirit, and they are life’ (John 6:63).  Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? “…My peace I give to you…”—a peace that comes from looking into His face and fully understanding and receiving His quiet contentment.'”  Oswald Chambers *

…looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrew 12:2

Jesus walked in obedience to His Father.  He endured the worst possible path, yet rests duly by His Father, knowing the Peace, the Love, the Grace that can only come from the Father.

I reflect.  I see more clearly that obedience to my Father is my way to His Peace.  I may endure harsh realities or uncomfortable situations, but when walking with Jesus as He wills me to do, I am united with my LORD.  His gifts of simplicity, clarity, unity are born through the Holy Spirit and not through my desires.

 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.  Psalm 18:36

I have peace in my steps for I have confidence in the life I have with Christ.

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’

Then Israel shall dwell in safety,
The fountain of Jacob alone,
In a land of grain and new wine;
His heavens shall also drop dew.  Deuteronomy 33:27-28

His arms hold me.  His support, comfort, strength, and provision are pieces of this peace that I am searching for.  My LORD is this peace in all ways.

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.  Revelation 1:17-18

He touches me.  He tells me to not be afraid.  I can rest in Him for He is my Salvation, my assurance, and the tenderness that I seek.

Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,….
Isaiah 32:15-18

 

Oh, that I could live and walk in Your ways, O LORD.  But I am me.  I fail and fall.  I crumble under stress at times.  I belittle myself.  I am not perfect here upon this earth.  Yet my desire is to be obedient.  Holy Spirit, continually guide me in the ways that I should go.  Be near.  I want to know this peace that is You.

I pray peace for this world, for this country, Father.  We are so in need of Your peace now.  People are torn asunder by storms, war, fear, drugs, divorce, so many other reasons.  May we each and all walk in obedience to You, only You.  This seems like an impossible request, but nothing is impossible for You.  I ask You to turn all hearts to You.  One day soon, before it is too late, may Your peace rain upon us and reign in our hearts, my Father.  In the Name of the Prince of Peace, I pray.  Amen. 

 

*from 8/26 devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers