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WE GIVE THANKS

November 26th, 2008

 

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”  My, how those words flow easily from our lips!  The problem is: the words so often come straight from our heads, not our hearts.  We are saying the ‘right’ words, but the sentiment is often shallow.  Proof of that comes the instant something goes wrong.  As soon as we enter a storm in our lives, or even if we do not get our way in a situation, the Lord seems to lose His good-ness in our eyes.  Then our tune changes as we rail at God for the mess in which we find ourselves.

 

I would propose to you: if you declare that God is good, then He is good all the time, regardless of the situation.  If my foundation is built on the goodness of God, then that foundation does not crumble simply because I fall on hard times.  On the contrary, during those hard times I absolutely must stand firmly on that foundation; everything in me must declare His goodness.

 

Dear child of God, these times are indeed difficult.  Those who have read the Scriptures and understand the signs will agree that times are soon to become even more difficult.  This Thanksgiving, perhaps more than any other, I must proclaim the goodness of God, and truly give thanks to the Lord – for He really, really is good, in hard times as well as in good times.

 

I sought the Lord for a word to add to this message, and this is what I heard:  I formed the earth, piece-by-piece and bit-by-bit.  Do not think for a second that I have turned My back on it, or on you.  My love burns for you, no matter where you are or what you are doing; no matter if you love me, reject me, or simply ignore me.  My love is unconditional, unbreakable, unoffendable, and unmovable.  I love it when you thank Me for the things in your life, good things and hard things, but I do not require that of you.  My feelings are not hurt if you totally ignore me.  But know this:  you are Mine and nothing will ever change that.  I made you in My own image, on purpose.  I will chase you down the street and through the alley if necessary, until you see the truth of My burning love for you.  This Thanksgiving, I will be pleased if you thank Me for the blessings I have poured into your life.  However, I do not expect it and I will not love you more for your doing it.  Neither will I love you less if you do not.  Cultivating a heart of thanksgiving will make your life sweeter and your heart softer, but it will not change My heart, which was already set on you before you were ever conceived.  So if you bow your head and thank Me for the wonderful meal set before you (no matter what is being served), know that I heard the message in your heart before you ever spoke the words.  And two thousand years ago I said, “You are welcome.”

 

 

I Chronicles 16:34

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.

 

Psalm 105:1-3

Oh, give thanks to the Lord!  Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!  Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works!  Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!

 

Exodus 34:6

And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.

 

Psalm 111:1-4

Praise the Lord!  I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.  The works of he Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them.  His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever.  He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

 

Psalm 107:22

Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.

 

Psalm 107:28-31

Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.  He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.  Then they are glad because they are quiet; So he guides them to their desired haven.  Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

 

 

 

 

 

TESTIMONY TO PSALM 91

November 20th, 2008

 

Several months ago while browsing in the Christian bookstore, I was drawn to a book called Psalm 91 – God’s Shield of Protection, written by an author unknown to me, some lady with three first names (Peggy Joyce Ruth).  I was searching for something else so I walked away, but the Holy Spirit seemed to keep drawing my attention back to that book.  I resisted – I always leave the store with more books than I can possibly read – but sure enough that book came home with me.

 

Several weeks later, the Psalm 91 book made its way to the top of my reading stack.  As I read the book, the promises contained in this chapter of Scripture stirred my heart, and I was sorry I had not picked the book up sooner.  My spirit immediately grasped the importance and the timeliness of this message.  The more I read, the more God’s covenant promise of protection comforted me in an entirely new way.  The Holy Spirit’s drawing me to purchase this book was no doubt an invitation to a divine appointment with God.  Reading and pondering, my spirit digested every verse and every promise of Psalm 91. 

 

Because I firmly believe that the covenant promises in Psalm 91 can keep us safe in the days to come, I purchased a book for each of my children and for each of the intercessors who pray for our ministry.  Those who have already received their books were excited to learn more about God’s offer of covering for those who truly dwell in the secret place of the Most High God.

 

Having received new revelation of God’s Psalm 91 protection over me, I pressed in for a deeper understanding of how I activate His promise.  I spent much time searching my heart to be sure that I was indeed dwelling in that secret place.  I became more aware of a new peace in my spirit, and I experienced a heightened awareness of the protection under which I walk.  Little did I know how soon the Lord would move to confirm His promise to me.

 

On the evening of November 11, I drove myself to a missions base where we minister, which is located a few miles outside of town on a secondary two-lane highway.  The road was wet and the weather was rainy and foggy, so I drove very cautiously.  Heavy traffic was coming toward me but only two other cars were going my direction, one car in front of me and another one some distance behind me.  I prayed as I drove, remaining peacefully attentive in the difficult driving conditions.

 

Suddenly I found myself driving on the shoulder, and my heart started pounding because I knew I had not driven myself off the highway.  Time seemed to stand still as I saw that the car in front of me had suddenly turned off the highway and onto a side road.  My mind raced as I fought back fear and confusion.   Then I saw a semi tractor-trailer coming toward me – I thought he was going to take off my side mirror as we met.  There he was, driving in my lane, with his lane full of cars.  Had I not been supernaturally taken off the highway, I would have been hit head-on by that semi.  Only God could have accomplished this for me, removing my car and me from certain destruction. 

 

Meanwhile, my husband was also on that same highway, coming from the opposite direction.  He saw the semi in front of him, switching back and forth from lane to lane.  When he reached for his phone to call and warn me, he was led to not call.  He said it seemed as though the Lord pushed his hand away from his cell phone.  So, he settled back and began praying for me.

 

Still moving forward, I drove back onto the highway and headed for my destination.  Needless to say, I was significantly moved by the event, knowing I had just experienced a divine rescue.  I must admit that I am still a bit shaken, often finding myself crying tears of joy and wonder.  I am incredibly grateful to inform you that last week the enemy’s attempt to take me out was unsuccessful, and I was not hit head-on by a semi.  I continue to live, and to tell you about the goodness of God and His faithful commitment to His covenant promise in Psalm 91.

 

 

Psalm 91

 

1.  He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty

2.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” 

3.  Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. 

4.  He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. 

5.  You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day,

6.  Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. 

7.  A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. 

8.   Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. 

9.  Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place,

10.  No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 

11.  For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways,

12.  In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. 

13.  You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample under foot. 

14.  “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

15.  He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 

16.  With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

FROM MY PORCH SWING

November 13th, 2008

 

As I sit on my porch swing on the deck, I have a bird’s eye view of my surroundings.  I am in awe of the majesty of the panorama around me, with the trees swaying gently in the breeze and the sun casting shadows on the lawn below.  I watch as my neighbors enjoy the refreshment of being outdoors.  The expanse of the picture before me is lovely, but I know this snapshot can be distorted.  Many objects are far away and faded, and may present only a partial scene of any particular activity.  Consequently, the conclusions formed in my mind are not necessarily accurate.  Unless I come closer, I am in danger of making unwise decisions based on faulty information.  The scene reminds me that I cannot judge from the vantage point of my porch swing.

 

My daughter, a radiology student, tells me that her initial assessment of a person changes in an instant, the minute she reviews their x-rays.  A person who comes in looking all put together on the outside may be quite a different story on the inside.  Someone else who arrives short-tempered and impatient might carry the internal evidence of numerous painful setbacks in his life.  Quickly, complacency gives way to compassion.  Although review of the x-ray is an important part in determining the diagnosis, the medical staff knows that it does not tell the entire story of the person’s condition.  This scene reminds me that I dare not judge by focusing on one small piece of the puzzle.

 

The Word tells me that God looks at our hearts, not at our outward appearances.  He knows our every thought and action, and He knows the history behind every wound.  He asks me to also look at the heart of a person rather than judge him by his outward appearance or actions.  However, I cannot do that from a distance.  I must be willing to take a closer look, in order to get a clearer understanding of any given situation.  Then, like an x-ray machine, my heart can see deeper into his soul.  Conversely, I dare not take such a narrow look at one facet of a person that I overlook other elements of his character.

 

Drawn to set my musings into a story, I asked the Lord to reveal what He wanted me to know, and to share.  In my spirit, He showed me a big yellow plastic funnel.  I chuckled.  (Gee, all I could think about was funnel cakes!)  As He showed me how the funnel could illustrate the story, I began to get a better understanding.  If I put the funnel up to my eye with the small part toward me, I see a wide panorama, a bit like the view from my porch swing.  If I put the large part up to my eye, I get a very concentrated view, something like what my daughter sees on the x-ray. 

 

As I pondered this, the Lord showed me another possible distortion to the picture:  I often see others through the lens of my own emotional state.  If I am enjoying an afternoon shopping with my friends, I may not notice the exuberance of others who might also be enjoying their afternoon.  However, if I am filled with pain or anger as I rush through my errands, I may be judgmental toward others who are laughing and talking with their friends.  I remember going to the mall a few days after the loss of a grandchild, and I was extremely irritated with all the merriment I witnessed.  Everything in me wanted to scream at the noisy group.  Indeed, my mood colors my thinking, a point I must take into account when making judgments about others.

 

At the end of the day, blessings come when I allow love to prevail in me – in how I judge people and in how I treat them.  A person is not the sum total of what I see from a long-range view, nor does he consist of only the x-ray picture of his internal workings.  If I ask Him, the Holy Spirit will give me understanding and discernment about His children.  He will teach me to see others through His eyes of compassion and love.  Lord, teach me to operate in love in everything I say and do, and to find balance between what I see from the porch swing and the x-ray.

 

 

I Samuel 7b

“… For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

Leviticus 19:15

You shall do no injustice in judgment.  You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty.  In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.

 

Proverbs 31:9

Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

 

Luke 6:37

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged.  Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

 

John 7:24

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

 

Romans 14: 13

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.