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/

With Shouts of Joy

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You visit the earth and water it;

You greatly enrich it;

the river of God is full of water;

You provide their grain,

for so You have prepared it.

You water its furrows abundantly,

settling its ridges,

softening it with showers,

and blessing its growth.

Psalm 65:9-10

God sends His rain to the earth…this place we call home now.  Earth.  He sends rain by His will, by the ways He so pleases.  We may experience drought or flooding for these are part of living on this earth.

Our spiritual lives sometimes suffer drought or flooding as well.  Too much input, busyness can leave us with little room for God.  Too little time spent with God can cause thirst for Him.  Sometimes we do not even know what we are thirsty for, yet we know that we are.  “Our hearts are dry and barren unless God Himself be as the dew to us and water us; and the plants of His own planting He will water and make them to increase.”  Matthew Henry

I recall searching hard and long for something that I was missing, yet I did not know what that was.  Years later, through many trials, through many seasons of drought and floods, I found Jesus.  Jesus was Who I needed.  I needed to know Him personally.  He would give me Living Water and I would no longer be thirsty.  The fruit of the Spirit could grow in me and then be harvested from me, from my field of new plantings.  This field becomes rich in nutrients and water from the One Who is the Living Waters.  I grow and pray I will continue to grow.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  James 1:17

“…; we must lift up our eyes above the hills, lift them up to the heavens, where the original springs of all blessings are, out of sight, and thither must our praises return, as the first-fruits of the earth were in the heave-offerings lifted up towards heaven by way of acknowledgment that thence they were derived.  All God’s blessings, even spiritual ones, are expressed by His raining righteousness upon us.”  Matthew Henry

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You crown the year with Your bounty;

Your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.

The pastures of the wilderness overflow,

the hills gird themselves with joy,

the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,

the valleys deck themselves with grain,

they shout and sing together for joy.

Psalm 65:11-13

Everything in His world rejoices over the bounty of His harvest…the pastures, the hills, the meadows, the valleys.  There is abundance in all He is and does.  He rains down upon this earth.  He sends His Love to us in His Son.  He grants mercy upon these souls and bodies from on high.  He whispers grace through His wind, through His Holy Spirit.

He crowns all He is and does, encompassing on every side, as a crown surrounds a head; as when something is completed, it is crowned.  The fruitfulness of His world is in His hands, in His power. 

How grateful I am, LORD.  May You adorn Your world with the riches of harvest, both in fruit of the tree and the fruit of salvation.  I shout my praises and honor to You, oh God.  I am so very heartbroken in the broken and breaking shape of this world, of this nation.  I know this is Your world and You know each and every one of Your creations.  I may feel saddened by so much right now, yet I truly can rejoice in the love, the tender care, the peace, the hope I find in You.  I look up to where my bounty and blessings come from.  Hallelujah!

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?

My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

Let all these common gifts of the divine bounty, which we yearly and daily partake of, increase our love to God as the best of beings, and engage us to glorify Him with our bodies, which He thus provides so well for.  Matthew Henry

Father, I am humbled by the beauty of Your Word, by the bounty of Your fields, by the benevolence of Your mercy, by the balance in all that surrounds.  Father, in this season of giving thanks, I am reminded that offering my thanks daily is my desire and hope.  I lift up my hands in praise to You, the Giver of my soul.  You are my All, LORD.  I love You and sing with joy as I ponder the sun rising, beginning each day anew, or watch the sun set, leaving the brilliance of pinks and oranges across the sky.  You are Magnificent, Father.  I see You all around me.  Praising You and praying in the Name of the Bright Morning Star.  Amen. 

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Photo:  kangbch  —  https://pixabay.com/en/barley-field-sunrise-morning-solar-1684052/

Photo:  Hans — https://pixabay.com/en/wheat-spike-wheat-field-cereals-8762/

A Whole Heart

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With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:10-11

לֵב

leb

inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding:

inner part, midst:

midst (of things)

heart (of man)

soul, heart (of man)

mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory

inclination, resolution, determination (of will)

conscience

heart (of moral character)

as seat of appetites

as seat of emotions and passions

as seat of courage

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Our heart is a place where we can be filled to the brim with things of God or things of this world.  We have choices to make.  Our heart can be wholly set apart to God and for Him.  Or it can be wholly or even partially set upon the things that lead us away from God, lead us astray.

God calls us to Him.  He wants us near to His heart.  He loves us so and draws us to Him.  He has given us many promises which are truly ours through obedience to Him.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules.  Ezekiel 36:26-27

The meaning of the word heart that is in Psalm 119:10 (the Hebrew לֵב  {leb} ) occurs 591 times in 546 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the NASB.  Throughout these many verses, heart can be interpreted to mean one of the many definitions listed above.  Yet, they each and all lead to the same place: our steadfast relationship with God, our Maker.

Dependent upon what that relationship with God is at any given moment, we stand with Him or against Him.  He wants us with Him always, but we are sinful and can reject Him.

See that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.  For if they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject Him Who warns from heaven.  Hebrews 12:25

In our darkness, we can easily walk away from the One Who made us for Himself.  We take that which He gives to us and then pretend we never knew Him.  He is the One Who knit us in our mother’s womb and saw us before the world even existed.  Yet we can be stubborn and stiff-necked, thinking that we know what is best for us.

It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full,
they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
therefore they forgot Me.  Hosea 13:5-6

I know I have walked away and thought I could control my own life and would control it.  I thought I had the ability to be in charge.  I wandered in the desert without enough water.  I left peace and found agitation.  I shooed comfort away only to know fear.  I could not find shelter because I wanted to pitch my own tent, yet had nothing from which to make it.

My God will reject them
because they have not listened to Him;
they shall be wanderers among the nations.  Hosea 9:17

But, one day, I looked to the heavens and saw the Hand of God reaching to me.  I knew He had never left me nor did He forsake me even though I was one miserable person.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:17:20

God blesses me so.  I want to praise Him with my whole heart.  I come wholly to Him.  I know I am not able to be whole for Him at every moment, yet I desire to be.  My heart and soul and mind and body are His, wholly His.  When a part fails God, I seek His forgiveness and His comforting arms.  I praise You, Father. 

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!  Zephaniah 3:14

My Abba Father, thank You for loving me unconditionally.  I do not deserve it, but I desire You more than anyone or anything.  I am hungry and thirsty and tired and needy.  You have fed me with the Bread of Life, given me Living Water, rested me on Your bosom, sheltered me under Your wing, provided all that I need.  You are gracious to me, Father.  I am so grateful.  LORD, I offer my whole self and pray that I stay on Your straight path.  I want to be wholly Yours with my whole heart.  May this be so.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

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Photo of Fuchsias:  http://flowerinfo.org/fuchsia-plants

Unite My Heart, O LORD

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 Teach me Your way, O LORD;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name. 
Psalm 86:11

יָחַד

yachad

to be (or become) one:—join, unite

Reading this Psalm recently, the first word of the last line really touched me…UNITE…Unite my heart.  This phrase is about singleness of heart, a one-track heart, an undivided heart…focused upon God, and God Alone.

Is that possible?

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David called upon God to unite his heart.  He asked God to do this for Him so that he would, could fear His Name.  He asked God for this unity of heart so he could revere the One Who called him to be king.  He asked God to close any gaps that his heart may have had so he would stand in awe of the God Who called David a man after His heart.

“And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’” Acts 13:22 (ref.: 1 Samuel 13:14)

God created this heart of mine so that I would, could love Him, honor Him, adore Him, and praise Him.  I am to be focused upon Him with this oneness of heart.  Yet I have this broken, divided heart because I live in this fallen world.  I don’t mean for it to be this way.  I try to focus on God and God Alone.  Yet, my heart can lose sight and track of Him because I am looking everywhere but to Him for peace, love, gentleness, joy, and so much more.  Oh, that I would turn from my own ways and look only to Him, always.

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.  Psalm 86:12

Oh, what I am able to do when my heart is united, when it is one whole instead of two or many pieces.  I will praise Him.  I will love Him.  I will glorify my God with all of my heart.  He wants all of me so that He can use all of me in this world.  Oh, how this world needs Him!  Oh, my!  How it needs God!

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Father God, I pray that You will unite my heart into one whole piece wholly desirous of You.  I wish to focus upon only You.  When I am at this place,  LORD, I can see only You and, then, through Your love, your heart, I can see so much more clearly.  Your clarity becomes mine in those precious moments.  I can love this world in which You have placed me with an undivided heart.  Oh, my LORD, unite my heart to be undivided and willingly, lovingly directed to You.  May this be so in the Name of Jesus.  I pray, O LORD.  I pray.  Amen. 

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Graphic #1:  http://chuckbalsamo.com/2011/01/an-undivided-heart/

Graphic #2: http://ncccnj.com/pages/category/podcasts/messages/amy-minnich

Graphic #3: http://www.make-my-christian-life-work.com/

For All…

O God, we have heard with our ears,

our fathers have told us,

what deeds You performed in their days,

in the days of old:

You with Your own hand drove out the nations,

but them You planted;

You afflicted the peoples,

but them You set free;

for not by their own sword did they win the land,

nor did their own arm save them,

but Your right hand and Your arm,

and the light of Your face,

for You delighted in them.  Psalm 44:1-3

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Remembering…

Pausing…

You did it all, Father.  Times past, and times today.

Knowing Who…

Praising God…

Yet God my King is from of old,

working salvation in the midst of the earth.  Psalm 74:12

Bowing with a humble and gracious heart… 

The living, the living, he thanks You,

as I do this day;

the father makes known to the children

your faithfulness.  Isaiah 38:19

Telling our children about our Father God…

Reminding generations of Whom they came from…

What He did for us, for all and everything…

One generation shall commend your works to another,

and shall declare your mighty acts.  Psalm 145:4

Today and yesterday…

God’s power and strength in the midst of our weakness…

God’s wisdom when we know not…

God’s might when the enemies surround…

Joy and praise to the Holy One of Israel

…to the God Who delights in all creation

…to the God Who lights this world and takes away the darkness

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In singing this psalm we ought to give God the praise of what he has formerly done for his people, to represent our own grievances, or sympathize with those parts of the church that are in distress, to engage ourselves, whatever happens, to cleave to God and duty, and then cheerfully to wait the event.   Matthew Henry (from his Commentary)

Father God, You are worthy of my praises.  I am on my knees in quiet as I thank You for everything You have ever done for me, with me, in me, over me.  You have graced me with Your Love and Your Salvation.  You have protected me with You right hand.  You comfort me in times of need.  You show me Your righteousness through Jesus, Your Son, and a glimpse of Your righteousness through the lives of godly people here on earth.  Praise You, Father, for all goodness and kindness that You shower upon me.  You are Holy, LORD.  You are Grace and Love and Might and Power and Peace.  You are my All in all.  I love You, LORD.  I am praying in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.    

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photo:  ipad wallpapers with Scripture added

Thirst – Sheep and Shepherds

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.  Psalm 23:2

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“Water determines the vitality, strength, and vigor of the sheep and is essential to its health and general well-being.”  **

The physical body of sheep, of all animals, of all human beings, is made aware of a lack of water by thirst.  When a physical body has not had enough water, dehydration, weakness, and serious other problems and/or damages can occur.

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Interestingly, sheep do not require a pond or a water trough fed by a deep well in order to obtain the right amount of water for their physical well-being.  Sheep can even go for months without actually drinking.  Yet, they need water more often than “going for months without” might imply.  A very important source of water for sheep is a heavy dew on the grass…the pasture.  Sheep will usually begin feeding just before dawn.  They may also feed at night fall when the moon is bright.  If circumstances are right for dew, the grass would be drenched at those hours, making the sheep’s intake of water a feast enough for their bodies’ needs.

dew-grass

In order for sheep to have enough grass upon which to feed, the shepherd leads them to the pastures that have a fresh growth of grass and a stream with clean, clear water nearby.  He knows just where he is leading them for exactly what they need so that the sheep remain healthy.

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When sheep become thirsty, they become restless, setting out on their own if the shepherd leaves them to their own devices.  They may end up at a mud hole or at a water supply that is contaminated.  Consequently, they may end up with internal parasites or other disease germs.

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The Good Shepherd will lead us, as well.  He knows where “the quiet, deep, clean, pure water is to be found that can satisfy His sheep and keep them fit.”

Dew is such a beautiful picture of the still waters as they hang heavy as water droplets. Looking into a droplet, a tiny reflection can be seen in its clarity.  May we see clearly as we look into our souls and see that we need Jesus.  

Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD, for My people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken Me,
the Fountain of Living Waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.  Jeremiah 2:12-13
 

I went my our own way.  I tried to do things my way.  I did not even look for anyone (or any One) to help me.  I drank muddy water.  I wandered aimlessly into fields where there was no water for my thirst.  Oh, so many times I searched for something I thought I needed or wanted in my life only to find that I was lost.  I had gone the wrong way, hewing out my own way, my own cistern.  I became broken.  I could not do things myself without becoming hungry or thirsty.  I needed Jesus.  I needed a Shepherd.

For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  1 Peter 2:25

Little did I know that I needed Him to lead me in His ways…to those still, clear, refreshing waters where I could be refreshed and made whole.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  John 7:37-38

διψάω

dipsaō

to suffer thirst, suffer from thirst

  • figuratively, those who are said to thirst who painfully feel their want of, and eagerly long for, those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, strengthened

When one drinks, she/he takes in, accepts, believes.  When I drank of the Living Waters, the life of Christ became a part of me.  I believed and asked Him to be my LORD and Savior. The closer I walk with my Shepherd, the more I become like Jesus.  I do not thirst.  My Shepherd quenches all thirst as long as I stay close.

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.  John 6:35

Thirsty souls are only quenched in Jesus, by Jesus, through Jesus.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:6

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Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:13-15

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I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.

I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.  Hosea 14:4-6
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.  

…from an old hymn, “Dear Lord and Father Of Mankind,” by John Greenleaf Whitter

When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I, the LORD, will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.  Isaiah 41:17

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  (Hebrew 13:20-21)   Father God, I pray the words of Hebrew as my own and thank You for breathing new life into me through Your Son.  You led this sheep to water and I thirst no more.  I am sorry when I stray.  As I age, it seems I am doing that less and less.  I praise You for loving this sheep and never losing me.  I thank You and praise Your Name through Christ.  Amen.

 

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** quotes by W. Phillip Keller in “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”
Photo: Dew17

Everything About God Says Strong

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Last time, I wrote of God’s justice.  It will rule one day.  His day.

Your statutes, LORD, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days Psalm 93:5 NIV

קֹדֶשׁ

qodesh

sacredness, holiness, separateness, apartness, set-apartness

…of God

…of things

…of places

Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, forevermore.  Psalm 93:5  ESV

Your testimonies are very sure;
Holiness adorns Your house,
O LORD, forever.  NKJV

Your testimonies are fully confirmed;
Holiness befits Your house,
O LORD, forevermore.  NASB

The rules you set down are completely reliable. Holiness aptly adorns your house, O LORD, forever.  NET

The sure justice that is to come stands upon the solid holiness of our God.  He is Who He says He is.  He does what He says He will do.  He is faithful and trustworthy in all and everything.  As I learn to walk in the ways of the LORD, I feel that surety in my steps because He orders them.  Everything about God is just, truthful, strong, perfect.


“The Rock, His work is perfect,

for all His ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is He.”  Deuteronomy 32:4

 צוּר

tsuwr

rock, sharp edge, stone

Mighty One, Refuge, Protection for Israel

strength

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity: just and right is he.  WEB

He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.  NKJV

A rock is solid and strong.  God is our Rock.  He is our Stronghold.  He is stable.  He is upright and authoritative.  That pillar above is strong and stable.  It holds up so much.

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.  The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.  Exodus 13:21-22

עַמּוּד

`ammuwd

column, pillar, upright, platform

God, a pillar of strength.  The pillars of cloud and fire held God.  How much stronger can anything be?

Father God, You are my LORD.  You are my Rock.  You are strong and mighty.  You have brought me from the depths of darkness and have loved me into Your Light, continuing to love me into the beauty of Your Light.  Your Son is my Savior, the Light.  I am most grateful and filled with respect for He is my Salvation.  Thank You, Father, for standing firm in my weakness.  You are my Refuge where I am protected.  I know that Your justice is perfect and will come one day to this world just as I know that Your perfect way keeps me aligned with You when I obey.  Lead me to Your Rock for it is higher than I.  You are my Stronghold.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

Hear my cry, O God,

listen to my prayer;

from the end of the earth I call to You

when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock

that is higher than I,

for you have been my refuge,

a strong tower against the enemy.  Psalm 61:1-3

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Photo: http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/1209.html