Category Archives: Spiritual

Trials: God’s revealing of the heart

Not unlike the process of sanding down through the old top finish, are trials upon our lives.

When difficulties, disappointment, and tragedy hit, our hearts are suddenly uncovered.

In those days of trial we have a continual choice.

How will we respond?

What will we prioritize?

Where does our treasure abide?

For those who have chosen to follow Jesus, scripture is clear.

We are to surrender.

Matthew 16:24 KJV — Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Dieing daily to ourselves and following Jesus is an opportunity to let go of everything we think we need.

After all Jesus had no personal possessions as He died on the cross, dead men need nothing in the grave.

We are to trust.

2 Samuel 22:3 KJV — The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

Psalm 4:5 KJV — Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

When we have nothing we are clinging to besides Jesus, our hearts are much more able to find peace.

We are to praise.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2‭-‬4 NKJV

Through rejoicing in God Almighty, we are walking in the trust and faith of true understanding that it is patience which has a perfect work in our hearts.

What are we being patient for?

The return of Christ.

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Revelation 19:11‭-‬13 NKJV

Jesus is coming back!

As we walk through trials let us remember that God is using those things to reveal our hearts.

We should choose to cling to Jesus only.

We must confess our sins and humble ourselves before the Lord.

We can rejoice in His works, for He is good.

Then they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.
Psalms 78:35 NKJV

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your faithfulness and patience. Lord, thank You for using the things of this life to teach us. Lord Jesus, please help us embrace all that life brings as an opportunity to draw closer to You. Thank You for revealing our hearts and for Your Word which teaches us how to respond. May the knowledge of the glory of God fill the Earth.

Dealing with sin

Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. Then he blew a trumpet, and they withdrew from the city, every man to his tent. So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.
II Samuel 20:22 NKJV

If one is unfamiliar with this story, it seems harsh and gruesome.

The backstory is where we find out this wise woman who acted quickly, saved many lives.

King David’s son, Absalom, took matters into his own hands.

First, he planned the assassination of his brother Amnon. (2 Samuel 13:23-36)

Amnon deserved severe punishment, but it wasn’t Absalom’s place to meet it out. (2 Samuel 13:1-22)

After having his brother killed Absalom fled to another country. (2 Samuel 13:37-38)

Through the work of Joab, King David allowed him to return to the country, but obviously Absalom’s heart was far from repentant, for he began to steal the hearts of the people for himself by slandering his own father. (2 Samuel 15:1-6)

Then he lied to his father the king and went to Hebron to be anointed as king, where he then turned around to return and wipe out his father and all who supported King David. (2 Samuel 15:7-12)

2 Samuel 15-18 records who supported King David and how Absalom was defeated.

It also records the tribe of Judah escorting the king and his people back across the Jordan.

Just then all the men of Israel came to the king, and said to the king, “Why have our brethren, the men of Judah, stolen you away and brought the king, his household, and all David’s men with him across the Jordan?”
II Samuel 19:41 NKJV

An argument between the people of Judah and the people of the other tribes of Israel begin shouting at one another over who has more right to escort the king back to Jerusalem.

Which is where Sheba comes on the scene.

And there happened to be there a rebel, whose name was Sheba the son of Bichri, a Benjamite. And he blew a trumpet, and said: “We have no share in David, Nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!”
II Samuel 20:1 NKJV

The people of Israel leave:

So every man of Israel deserted David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah, from the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, remained loyal to their king.
II Samuel 20:2 NKJV

King David returns to Jerusalem to put all things in order.

He sent the army out to deal with Sheba.

This wise woman knew the stakes were high.

The kingdom had just gone through a civil war brought on by a young man who had no regards for what was right.

Absalom did as he thought best and suffered the consequences.

Sheba comes on the heels of this painful and splintered time, and by all accounts his treachery could further splinter and shatter the kingdom.

But for this wise woman.

She saw danger.

She found the source of the sin.

She acted in quick response to what would deal with it quickly.

Unfortunately, Sheba had signed his own death warrant by his actions.

But there is so much to learn from this story.

Sin causes pain, violence, and destruction.

It needs to be dealt with, quickly and completely.

There is no record of King David punishing Amnon for his sin against Tamar.

King David’s own son, Absalom, was a murderer and yet the king did not punish him.

We will never know what would have been different if the king had dealt with the sins of his sons.

But he didn’t let Sheba’s sin slide and neither did this wise woman.

Evidently the king had learned much from his previous error and the results are far different.

In this case only the one who committed the sin paid for it, Sheba.

Because of Jesus’s payment for sin we no longer have to die eternal death to pay for our sins, but we still must be wise.

The New Testament tells believers to put away sin.

2 Timothy 2:22 KJV — Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

No one is immune to sin, therefore the Word of God gives us instruction.

James 5:16 NKJV — Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

1 John 1:9 NKJV — If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As this year comes to a close and a new year begins, let us be honest about the sin within our walls and deal with it as the wise woman did.

For Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness!

Praise the Lord!

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the example we see in scripture. Please Lord Jesus, do not allow any sin to hide inside my heart, but reveal it that it might be dealt with completely. Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness in continually showing me the way I should walk daily. Please continue to shine Your truth into my heart and mind. Lord, You alone have all that I need and Your Word is my guide. Please continue to hone my heart. Thank You. Amen.

The power of praise

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
Luke 2:13‭-‬15 NKJV

As I listened to a sermon about this section of scripture the pastor said something I’ve never heard before.

“What were the angels there for? They were protecting the newborn babe.”

My heart suddenly asked, “Is there protection in praising God?”

God used the shouts and sounds of trumpets to knock down the wall of Jericho.

Joshua 6:20 KJV — So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

King Jehoshaphat experienced God’s protection from the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir through praise and worship.

Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.
II Chronicles 20:22 NKJV

Yes, God does use worship.

In my own life I have seen how worshipping the Lord has brought me comfort and protection.

It is not uncommon for me to experience nightmares.

I’ve learned the best way to handle waking up from a disturbing dream is to praise God.

I thank Him for His goodness.

I praise Jesus for His salvation.

I tell the Lord all the things I can think of about His wonderful attributes and worship Him.

Then I go back to sleep in peace.

The same is true for when I’m struggling with fear or pain.

I worship God by listening to music which praises His holy name.

I speak to Him about all the good He has poured out on me.

I praise Him for everything I can think of.

And He drives away fear and brings me joy in the pain.

Yes, praising God is powerful, because it brings me to a place of humility.

It turns my attention to Him and it reminds me of what is really important.

The power of praise is in the heart fully submitted to Jesus Christ.

What a beautiful thing!

To worship the One Who is so worthy of praise!

Our son-in-law recently said something so true:

“Man was never made to receive worship only to give it.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for teaching me about the joys and blessings of praise and worship. Thank You for holding me in Your hands and walking me forward into Your truths. Lord, You alone are worthy of all praise. Your name is great and Your way is perfect. “Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.”* Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

*(Psalms 67:3 NKJV)

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Psalm 100 is beautiful and we’ll worth reading as we celebrate.

I plan on having our family read it before we eat our Thanksgiving meal.

Hopefully, I will also have time to make place cards with the verse on it, but if not that’s okay too.

The point is Jesus and being thankful to Him for all things.

These last two months the Lord has been speaking with me about giving thanks for all while holding it lightly.

It began somewhere in September I believe.

I was walking around the house and thanking God for different things, especially the ability to have a tidy, functional, and clean house.

When the Lord asked me a question.

Would you give it all up if I asked you to?

I was surprised.

September was our “one year” in this house and the idea of giving it all up to move again wasn’t that appealing.

But I know better than to with hold anything from my Lord.

“Lord, I want to say yes without hindrance or regret. I’m not there, but I want to be. Please help me to be willing to give it all up.”

And so began weeks of different circumstances which gave me many opportunities to say, “Lord, it all belongs to You. Do with it as You see fit.”

Then it rippled out of things and into other areas.

Like my family, my personal “to do” list, and other such precious things.

Over and over the Lord gave me opportunity to give all to Him.

To speak the words both in my heart and with my mouth, that I give all to Jesus, He’s will be done.

And although I’m unsure of all the reasons He has taken me down this path again (not the first time and I’m certain it won’t be the last either) I find gratitude has bloomed anew.

There’s such thankfulness of heart when one realizes that the cherished things, family, love, blessings, are all gifts from God.

Nothing I have done has earned these things.

But I can enjoy them all the more and praise God I each.

Especially when I’m holding them lightly.

There’s something so precious about understanding the gifts and blessings of the now may or may not be those of tomorrow.

When I cherish today, my heart finds such thankfulness waiting.

Yes, some days are easier to cherish than others, but each is a gift and I want to praise God for every one.

This Thanksgiving, I hope you are able to relinquish expectation and simply praise God for another day.

His gift to you.

His gift to me.

Praise the Lord!

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for helping me relinquish all things back into Your hands. Lord, there are still many things I do not understand and circumstances which are concerning, but I choose to place each one in Your hand. To reach up and wrap my heart around Your goodness and cling to You through it all. For nothing and no one can separate me from Your love. That in itself is something to be thankful for! I praise and worship You this day. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for a day to simply be grateful. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

Make a joyful shout to the Lord , all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord , He is God; It  is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We  are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord  is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.
Psalms 100:1‭-‬5 NKJV

“No king in Israel…”

Judges 17:6 NKJV — In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

The book of Judges contains some excellent lessons.

As this verse states there was no king in Israel.

The reason for this was that God was their King.

Later, we see God clearly state this when the children of Israel ask Samuel to anoint a king over them.

1 Samuel 8:7 NKJV — And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”

Obviously, here in the book of Judges they had already rejected the LORD as their leader for : “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

The entire book of Deuteronomy is a reminder of all the words God gave Moses and all that the children of Israel were to do as His people.

No where does it say: do what is right in your own eyes.

Why?

Read the book of Judges.

It’s not pretty nor is it nice.

The sins of people quickly lead to suffering.

Only through God’s appointed judges do the people find some relief.

Unfortunately, many of these judges do not cling to God and His Word throughout their entire lives and the consequences of this cause more suffering.

It’s an important reminder for us.

In our society it has been said truth is in the eye of the beholder.

Truth is what is true to you.

Absolute truth has been degraded and disregarded.

The book of Judges makes it clear what happens when a society lives as if there is no absolute truth.

The people suffer.

Therefore, those who have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ have an opportunity.

The first thing is to live unto the Lord and not unto ourselves.

God’s people daily living for Christ is one way God reaches the world.

Secondly, we have the privilege to pray for others to know God’s truth.

The Bible is the absolute truth and we have the responsibility to know it and to stand in the gap for those who have yet to know.

We can also learn something else from Judges.

God sent judges to help the children of Israel.

He hasn’t changed, God is still in control, even of the authorities. Romans 13:1

We can seek Him and pray for godly leaders, beginning at home (pray for our family as individuals) and outward (pray for your church leaders, your community leaders, for the government leaders).

When we pray and trust the Lord for every facet of our lives we are putting God where He belongs, we make Him King.

And God is faithful.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for the lessons in Your Word. Thank You for truth. In You I put my trust. In You I find security. Lord, I lift up my husband to You and humbly ask that You continue to guide and direct him. Thank You for giving him to me, he is such a blessing. Lord, I lift up my family to You. Please guide and direct them. Please teach them Your ways. Lord Jesus, I lift up our leaders to You. Please let those in authority be people of integrity. Lord, speak truth into their lives and let Your ways be clear. Lord Jesus, please continue to grow Your church, that many would call upon Your name. Thank You Jesus for all You have done and all You are doing. I praise and worship Your holy name! May the whole Earth be filled with the glory of the Lord. Amen.

…as little children

Matthew 18:1 NKJV — At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

It’s easy to stand on the outside of this and judge the disciples.

To wonder what was going on in their hearts to ask this question.

But no matter the questions which run through one’s mind when reading this account, there is a wonderful gift of truth in Jesus’answer.

Matthew 18:2-3 NKJV — Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

What does it mean to become as a little child?

Watching our granddaughter with her Daddy brings a good example.

She looks forward to time spent together.

She runs to meet him when he comes home from work.

When something is scary she throws up her arms, eyes upon his face, waiting for his arms to enfold her.

When she’s hurting she buries her head under his chin.

When he holds her hand, she follows.

That is the relationship.

One of complete trust, complete dependence upon God.

Of course, our granddaughter has moments of self, when she needs to be removed from error.

She has times of misunderstanding and frustration.

But these never bar her from trusting in her Daddy.

It never dampens her joy at being with him.

She doesn’t hold a grudge.

Yes, I want to have that relationship with Jesus.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for loving us so completely. Lord, help my heart to learn to be as a little child, to love my Heavenly Father with trust and joy. Lord Jesus, thank You for this truth. Expound it to our hearts and minds this morning. Help us to learn to love You as little children. Thank You. Amen.

Sweetness

Proverbs 16:24 NKJV — Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

“Pleasant words…

…are like a honeycomb,”

How true this is.

For what one of us can not attest to the truth of a word spoken well bringing healing or joy or wholeness to our hearts?

Words can hold such meaning.

Truth, kindness, love can all be communicated through words.

The best, most pleasant words ever spoken are those which speak the good news of the Gospel.

The words of truth, those of the Bible, are the most valuable words of all.

“Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

What could possibly be sweeter than hearing about salvation through Christ Jesus?

What could bring more soundness to one than security of life in Christ?

Truly, those who are called by the name of the Lord have such pleasant words to share.

Words of hope.

Words of truth.

Words of encouragement.

Let us, this day be thoughtful of our words.

Let’s spread a little sweetness this week through pleasant words.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your Word. Nothing is sweeter than Your truth. Please continue to pour into my heart and mind Your Word. Please help it to reside within me that I might share it. Lord, please fill my mouth with Your pleasant words. Please keep a watch over my lips, that I might speak only things which would edify those who listen. May my life glorify Your name. Thank You. Amen.

Amazing Grace

“Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like Me!”

John Newton’s hymn is timeless.

Although there are many hymns and songs which articulate the same truths this one does, it will always be a favorite.

The first line vibrates with such meaning.

For a sinner, covered in the stains of disobedience, the sound of Jesus’voice granting both cleansing and rebirth is the sweetest melody.

“I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.”

The truth of being lost in utter darkness is a terrifying place to be, but oh how joyous to have Christ throw open the heavy disgusting prison door of wickedness and separation from God, to allow the truth of His sacrifice to bring such as myself into the glory and healing of life in the Son.

“‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How previous did that grace appear The hour I first believed!”

When one sees clearly, the enormous gap between the sinner and God Almighty seems an unreachable divide.

Then the cross becomes a door, a gift of grace to all who chose to enter, and upon opening the door of belief in Jesus each one finds even more grace through the abundant love of Christ Jesus.

“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

Once the sinner turned saint steps into the journey of life in Christ Jesus they find a friend Who walks with them through every trial and trouble.

They are sojourners on their way through this world toward life eternal with Christ in heaven.

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we first begun. Amen”

Our time oriented minds can not truly fathom eternity.

But to spend a little imagination, we might think, we might well picture what praise, worship, and prayer at the foot of God’s throne could be like.

To be utterly free from sin, wickedness, evil, death, fear, anxiety, trouble, hunger, grief, pain,…

I can easily see why we would spend ten thousand years worshipping and be content to continue on and on.

Revelation 4:8 NKJV — The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for being holy. Thank You for salvation and Your amazing grace. Lord, thank You for giving us so much, for we do not deserve any of it. Lord Jesus, please help those who have yet to know You to see You and recognize Your salvation. Lord, please soften hearts and open their eyes to Your truth. Lord, for those who are called by Your name, please help each one of us to remain humble, aware of Your incredible grace each and every day. Let us never take advantage of the glorious gift You have given, but instead strengthen us to remain vigilant, wise servants who watch and wait for the return of their Master. I love You, Jesus. I praise Your holy name! Amen.

Trust and…

“When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey”

These words are like a warm blanket wrapped around my heart.

My love of hymns was planted as a young child, sitting in wooden pews and singing beside my parents.

But the truth is where my heart finds comfort.

“Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
  But to trust and obey.”

As an adult, my journey has taught me to trust and obey.

Trust comes first.

Without a personal relationship with Jesus, I can’t understand what He is asking me to do.

Therefore the obedience is marred before I even begin.

But when my entire life is centered upon the salvation of the cross, I can learn His will for me.

I can obey.

“Not a burden we bear,
  Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
  Not a grief or a loss,
  Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey”

As trials or difficulties come, He uses them in my life to teach, to hone, to humble.

He shines and polishes my character through adversity.

Although it’s uncomfortable, I’m always thankful for the outcome.

Truly, He brings so much treasure from these things.

“Then in fellowship sweet
  We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
  What He says we will do;
  Where He sends, we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.”

It’s so true.

The more I trust Him,

the more I walk in obedience to His will,

the more I find myself at His footstool or in His Word or walking forward in His truth.

It’s a beautiful, vibrant, inspiring thing to trust and obey.

2 Samuel 22:3 NKJV — The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.

Psalm 62:8 NKJV — Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Hebrews 5:9 NKJV — And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for truth. Thank You for this beautiful old hymn. Lord Jesus, no matter what happens today, tomorrow, or next year I trust You. Thank You for walking with me each and every day. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for salvation. Lord, thank You for guiding, directing, and providing. Jesus, there is no friend like You. What a blessing it is to walk with You in all things. May those who call upon Your name find comfort and encouragement. May Your name be glorified throughout the whole Earth. Amen.

“Our love…”

Kissing baby brother.

As I focus on praise, worship, and prayer today it seemed fitting to share part of a hymn written by Peter Scholtes.

“We are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord.
We are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord.
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

This hymn is precious to my heart.

The first time I was touched by it was as a young adult, sitting in church.

During the offering a music video with this song was played.

Tears streamed down my face and my heart hurt so deeply.

Because although I knew many Christians, it wasn’t our love for one another which we were known for.

I remember telling God I wanted to be the kind of Christian who was known by God’s love.

We purchased a Jars of Clay CD which contains the same song.

My children have grown up listening to it.

Anne’s favorite song is this same hymn, preformed by King and Country.

Our family will be listening to this and other hymns this morning.

I will be praising the Lord.

From what I can find, Jason Upton added these lines to the original hymn.

“All praise to the Father from whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only son.
And all praise to the Spirit,
Who makes all things one.”

“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

1 Chronicles 29:13 KJV — Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

Psalm 30:12 KJV — To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for beautiful songs and hymns and spiritual songs that we can sing unto You. Lord, if my breath is taken and I can’t sing, may my heart praise You even more. Lord Jesus, please continue to bring us to a place of prayer and praise, that our hearts might find all we seek in You. How great and wonderful You truly are! What a privilege and honor it is to praise Your holy name! What joy there is in my soul safely in Your hands. Jesus, I lift up those who are hurting, sick, lost, fearful, and in need, please let them each find comfort and security in You. Open their eyes, unstop their ears, and soften their hearts, that they might find joy, peace, and true love in Your salvation. Please heal our land. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.