Thursday, June 11, 2020

3 Encouragements From Psalm 46 for Times of Trouble

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, " Psalm 46:1-2a
The Power of God working for us. "God is our refuge and strength,"
God has the power to keep us safe.  He is our refuge.
Cities of refuge were provided in ancient Israel.  When someone killed another person by accident, they could go to the nearest city of refuge and know that the next of kin of the deceased would not be able to hurt them in revenge.  They were protected there.  We can run to the Lord for refuge in times of trouble for protection.  We can be secure in His strength.  He has only to speak the words and the earth came into existence. "The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted." (verse 6)
The Presence of God working with us. "a very present help in trouble"
"The Lord of Hosts is with us..." (Verse 7)
Jesus' name, Emmanuel, means "God with us."  And He said,  "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrew 13:5b). We don't have to face our troubles by ourselves.  We can pray for help.  Others can also pray for us.  This gives much hope that things will be okay.
The Peace of God working in us. "Therefore will not we fear"
"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (verse 10)
In Philippians 4:4-7, we are given a few steps to follow in order to have this wonderful peace in our hearts.  1.  Rejoice in the Lord always.  Note the word "always".  This means in good times and in bad times.  2. "Let your moderation (gentleness) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" We need to get along with everyone and be kind to one another. 3. Don't worry about anything. Pray, be thankful for everything and give your concerns and requests to the Lord. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
So, be confident and have peace in knowing that we have a mighty, powerful God, who knows and loves us so much that He wants to help and be with us through all circumstances.
Note: Inspired by a devotional by Derick Cleave from the UK.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Keeping Calm during Troubled Times

For around 3 months we have been at home during the Covid 19 pandemic.  It has been a scary/depressing time.  At first, not much was known about it, except that it was very contagious and deadly.  I used the extra free time at home to do some art work everyday.  I began to follow Shawn Petite's lead in making a calm art journal to focus my mind on good things.  As I started working on it, I realized that most of the words of the word prompts in the journal were the same as the "Fruit of the Spirit". 
 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 
As I painted each page, I would think of the word and what it meant for me.  I also looked up the word in the Biblegateway website and read and meditated on the scripture for that word.  It really was a great way to focus on the Lord. Through this exercise He gave me the peace I needed to get through this troubled time.  Here are the pages in the journal.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39
This verse always jumps out at me.  I am loved by God!  Wow!  You are loved by God!  He loves us so much that He gave his only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.  He was buried, and then 3 days later He rose from the grave. (John 3:16).  This is the greatest love.  Tenderness, kindness, others first, self sacrificing, caring, and commitment are other words that came to my mind as I painted this page.
"Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:" Psalm 66:1
My beautiful grandchildren fill up my "joy" tank every time I see them. They are such a blessing to me.  Other things that bring me joy are hearing birds singing, little birds, balloons, painting, my kids, nature, trees, music and flowers.
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
Wow, this verse really helped me.  No matter what happens, I know that Jesus will always be with me.  Other peaceful things for me are the ocean, a quiet lake, a singing bird, the sunset or sunrise, music, flowers, a hug, a cuddly little dog, a flickering candle, God's word, a smile, and a sleeping baby.
"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:4
The first 2 weeks were pretty easy to just stay home.  But, as the weeks turned into months, it got harder and harder to wait for things to be normal again.  It's been tough to wait.  It's been hard to miss out on our gathering together at church to worship and praise the Lord together.  Sure, it was great to at least join and participate with virtual worship on-line.  But, it's not the same.  Things won't be normal for a long time.  So, we continue to wait and be patient.  The Lord has all things in control.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
My faith in God and Jesus makes me who I am.  My faith gives me peace, joy, strength, love and many more good things.
"The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." Psalm 147:11
My hope is in the Lord.  It's so good to know that it gives Him pleasure.

"But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:" I Thess. 2:7
 Be kind to one another.

"Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9
 I was thinking of our brave medical workers and our wonderful military, who are the front line workers for us.  They practice courage everyday and I am so thankful to them.
I pray that as you read through this post and look at each journal page that it will help you to have hope, calmness and peace.  God bless you my friend!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Not everyone can be a Moses...But most can be an Aaron and a Hur

Exodus 17: 11-12  And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

BFF Morning by Janis Lee Colon
Pretty soon after the Israelites had been delivered out of Egypt, a hostile nomadic desert tribe, led by their leader, Amalek, attacked them.  I guess he didn’t like all these new people invading his turf.  I’m sure he must have heard why these people were there and how God had fought for them and delivered them with a mighty hand from Egypt.  I would think he would have thought twice before confronting them and their powerful God.  

Moses was a leader. God used him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and then gave him the laws for them to follow. All the people looked to him to lead them.  But, he was a mere man, with weaknesses, like all others.  At this first battle, he needed support in order to keep holding up the rod, so that they would win.  Aaron and Hur came along side of him and set up a rock for Moses to sit on and also stood next to him and held up his arms.  They were supporters.  The fighting lasted all day.  Without their support, Moses’ arms would have dropped down and the battle would have been lost.

Not everyone can be a leader. It takes special people with outgoing personalities, who can motivate and command a crowd. Although, these people seem to do everything great in each of their areas, they all have a group of people who are behind the scenes, working on everything needed for this person to succeed.

In church ministries, just a hand full of people are the speakers, preachers, ministers and singers.  But, all of us can be supporters in one way or another.  Here are just some of the ways we can be of support:  We can pray for our leaders.  It’s always so encouraging to hear that someone has been praying for us.  Giving encouragement via a phone call, note, email or card is always good.  Financial support is always needed and appreciated.  Providing physical help with things that have to be fixed, built or maintained can be of great relief.  There are so many ways that we can find ways to be a helper. 

This is such an important principle for us to keep in mind that God told Moses to write this account as a memorial in the book.  As you read the rest of the story to verse 16, it didn’t turn out too well for Amalek.  He dared to attack the people who have an almighty God, who fights and delivers them.

Just as Aaron and Hur played an important part and shared in the victory, we can also reap the blessings as we help each other.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 
2 Corinthians 4:7 
(Read 2 Cor. 4:1-7)

I recently saw a demonstration on pottery where the artist said,
”I like to play with dirt!”
Never really thought of pottery in that term before…
Peter with the pottery restoration.
Today, pottery is so beautifully finished with glazes of different colors and styles.  The pieces can last for many years. But, in ancient times, clay vessels were used much like we use paper plates today.  Used once, then thrown away. Very little value, if any, was put on them.  Today, archaeologist find volumes of pottery shards on their digs. Very rarely they’ll find a clay pot in tact.  My husband participated in a dig where he found 3 Roman pots in tact! He was the star for the day! Everyone stopped their digging and came over to see!  They let him hold it and take pictures with it.  But, they wouldn’t let him keep them!  Shards, on the other hand, were plentiful. After making sure there was no significant inscription on them, he was permitted to take some home. Part of his training was pottery restoration.  It’s like working an ancient jigsaw puzzle with shards to reconstruct the pottery.   Unique pieces got a place in the museum showcase.  All others were stored away, rarely to be seen.
In this passage we are pictured as earthen vessels (clay pots); made of dirt, cracked, humble and ordinary. Not a likely place to store a treasure.  Yet, God, who created the light to shine from the darkness, has chosen to shine the light in our hearts and to use us to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory and the gospel of the Lord Jesus to others who are still in darkness.  What a treasure!
Our human weakness is not a barrier for the power of God.  God uses ordinary people.  It is because we are blessed with this wonderful treasure that we should have boldness and confidence to live for the Glory of God.
Note:  Thoughts inspired by a sermon on “God’s Glory in our Witness” by Dr. Erwin Lutzer of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Being in the Presence of God Brings on a Reaction

I was listening to an inspirational song, where the songwriter tries to imagine what he would do when he sees Jesus face to face in heaven.  Would he stand or would he fall on his knees?  Would he sing Hallelujah or just be silent?... It’s a beautiful song.  It got me thinking; does the Bible give any examples of people’s reaction, when they came into God’s presence?  Here are a few that I found.
In the presence of God:
  • Adam and Eve hid themselves, after they disobeyed God in the Garden (Genesis 3:8).
  • The people were afraid – When Moses went up the Mountain to meet with God and they heard the thunderings and saw the lightning flashes and smoke. (Exodus 20:18)
  • Ezekiel fell on his face (Ezekiel 1:28)
  • All men will shake (Ezekiel 38:20)
  • Jonah fled (Jonah 1:3)
  • People feared (Haggai 1:12)
  • Isaiah saw his own unworthiness and said, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
  • The Apostle John fell at his feet as dead (Revelation 1:17)
  • The people, who had rejected the Lord Jesus Christ were standing and waiting to be judged from the books at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-12)

These examples sound like it’s a very scary thing to be in God’s presence.  For sure, we must have reverence before Him.  Yet, there is comfort in knowing that if we know and abide in the Lord, we can feel safe.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High 
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; 
My God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:1)

We can also experience fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore in His presence!
“You will show me the path of life; 
In Your presence is fullness of joy; 
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

How can we “know” Him?  The only way is through The Lord Jesus Christ. 
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6)
Jesus told us that we need not be afraid.  He has prepared a place for us in Heaven.  Not only can we imagine, but with joy look forward to seeing Him face to face!
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lamentations – Finding Hope Out of Sorrow and Grief

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

For most people, when you turn to Lamentations in your Bible, the pages are still stuck together. Right? It’s not enjoyable to read about sorrow – true sorrow. Lamentations tearfully describes the grief experienced when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC.

As you read, you can feel the devastating pain from every perspective -the observer, the victim, the city, God, and Jeremiah.

An applicational thought: As a healing process for grief, it may help to see the situation in other perspectives, besides our own.

How could such a thing happen to Jerusalem, where God chose to place His name? The people no longer loved or served God. They turned away to follow other god’s. Prophets warned of the impending judgment. All they had to do was to turn back to God. The warnings were ignored to the very end. Then it was too late. Judgment came.

The main question asked when trouble strikes is, “Why is this happening to me?” There are many reasons for why trouble occurs. But Lamentations zooms in on this one thought. It is God’s way of getting the attention of His own who have gone astray. God means what he says and says what He means. Continual persistent disobedience will end in grief. Make an assessment on how you are living your life. Are your thoughts and actions aliened with God’s will? Is He trying to get your attention? The lesson learned here is not to ignore these warnings. But to humbly submit and return to Him.

This book is dark and gloomy. But, wait… there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel! - It’s called Hope! Our sorrow will not consume us, because of the Lord’s mercies and compassion toward us. Even in the darkest of nights, just as the sun will rise afresh in the morning, so His love and mercies will renew us each day. Morning is coming- He is merciful (3:22-24). The Lord is good to all those who humble themselves, seek and wait patiently for Him. God doesn’t take pleasure in grief.

It’s so wonderful to know that no matter how bad our circumstances are the Lord will help us through it. In the end, we can find hope out of the sorrow. For “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Looking Ahead

As I start this new year, I know that God already knows what will happen. It's wonderful to know that He has it all under control in His will. I will continue on as He leads.

I found this great poem in a simple frame hung on the wall of the Jacksonville Baptist Theological Seminary classroom, where I attend classes to finish what I started over 40 years ago and get my bachelor's degree in Christian Education. It really spoke to me and I hope that it will be an encouragement to you as well. (The poem is like a prayer to God.)

Looking Ahead
I'm looking ahead to those things that
You will have me to do,
Those places You will have me to go,
Those things You have purposed for me.

I'm looking ahead with power,
and determination
Knowing that the past is behind me,
the present is before me,
and the future awaits me.

You know what's ahead of me
You have prepared the way
You have straightened the crooked paths
and smoothed the rough places
Stumbling blocks will become instruments
in Your hand for my good
and Your purpose
Detours will serve as opportunities to tell
others about You.

I can look ahead
because You are my Guide.

Louvenia Lee Aka Love Lee

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Note: Picture is a photograph I took at Deerfield Beach, FL in the early morning.