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The God of Hope

 

Rom15-13--Hope(2)--AMP

Now may the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace in believing,

so that you will abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

—Romans 15:13

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Happy First Day of Autumn!

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Brothers and sisters,
be patient until the Lord comes again.
A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop
to grow from the earth and for it to receive
the autumn and spring rains.

You, too, must be patient.
Do not give up hope,
because the Lord is coming soon.
—James 5:7-8

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Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

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Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.

A Song of Ascents, of David.

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together;
To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord
An ordinance for Israel—
To give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there thrones were set for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
“May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

—Psalm 122

 

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God’s Everlasting Consolation

2Thes2-16-17--BeachSitting

 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
and our God and Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,
comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
—2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

One of my favorite places to spend time is at the coast, although we live far from there now. Almost 20 years ago I went on a solo road trip that took me up the California coast and back, where I decided to spend several days in Monterey. I enjoyed lots of time on the beach just sitting and contemplating the seemingly endless rise and fall of the ocean’s white-crested waves.

Recently it occurred to me how much the ocean is like God. For one thing, when you’re looking into the horizon, the ocean seems to go on forever. The rising and crashing of the waves keep occurring in a constant and mighty display of God’s power. This is not very surprising, considering the fact that He’s the One Who created the oceans in the first place.

Think of some of God’s attributes:

  • unchangeable
  • infinite
  • eternal
  • omnipresent

and several names we associate with Him:

  • everlasting
  • living
  • mighty
  • eternal

Some of these designations could describe the ocean’s characteristics, but all of them depict a God Who is unchanging and always there for us, no matter what is going on in our lives.

So many of us experience times when we feel like certain stressful circumstances will never change for the better. Or we’ll never find a decent paying job. Maybe we’ve finally realized that this chronic pain illness will never get any better. And then there are days when we think there’s no one who truly understands what we’re going through.

We start to believe we are completely alone.

That’s when we need to lean on God, “…Who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace….” We can always be assured that He will “…comfort [y]our hearts…” and give us the strength to persevere in spite of our circumstances.

Never give up, Beloved, because our God will never give up on you!

Please allow me to pray for all of us: Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful that You love us enough to be our everlasting consolation and comfort. Help us to remember to always turn to You no matter what we’re going through. Amen.

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God is Hope [REPOST]

 Here is another wonderful devotional by Patricia Knight. As always, I so appreciate you, Pat, and thank you for allowing me to share these special devotionals with my readers.

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God is Hope

By Patricia Knight

When we visited our grandsons at their home we were entertained with their evening after-dinner game. Our son, their father, would position himself on the carpet in the living room. Already the oldest boy was maneuvering into position in the kitchen for the run and jump assault on his Daddy. At age five and starting first, he gave himself a little thrust by pushing at arm’s length from the kitchen cabinets. In stocking feet he appeared to fly with a minimum of three to four steps to reach his Dad. Then, they both ended up in a congealed mass of love and fun rolling with arms and legs flailing out of control.

Daddy-Son-onthefloorNext in line, the four-year-old would rev his motors in the kitchen, his feet barely hitting the flour as he flew to his destination. His Dad was ready for him with arms outstretched. They would roll and tumble in the victory of the game, laughing and hugging in a big rollicking ball.

With each boy excitement mounted. The youngest was already running into the kitchen preparing for the game with his little fourteen-month-old body of determination. Having learned to walk only a few months earlier, he was hoping his actions would be the same as for his brothers; there was no doubt he had watched from the sidelines many times.

The littlest must have known he needed an advantage, for he started his journey in the middle of the kitchen floor. From the beginning he had a victorious grin plastered on his face. He was off and, uh, running. His shoes echoed “slap, smack” on the floor as he struggled to keep his balance while those hesitant tottering steps resounded on the surface of the hard kitchen floor.

He was gyrating with giggles and squeals. His top-heavy body struggled for stability with each new step. Just as he was ready to fling himself at his Daddy, he checked quickly for his parent’s outstretched arms. His Dad was waiting, smiling proudly at the mettle of his little toddler. The game ended all too soon with the son engulfed in a loving embrace in his Daddy’s arms.

Romans8-24-25

Most of experience hope many times a day. Even though they were unable to verbalize the process, the boys hoped their father’s outstretched arms would catch them, that his body would cushion them from the fall, or that he would laugh with hugs as he had done so many times before. “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:24, 25).

Hope is dynamic, involving a confident expectation. Hope relies on God’s blessings and provisions with the expectations of future goodness in our lives. Hope involves trust in One who can deliver. God is hope. We base our hope in God upon evidence of past events where He has proved He is able to keep His promises. Jesus is called the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). When we believe in our Lord and put our trust in Him, we transfer our worldly hope to Him.

Ps119-147Hoping in our Lord is so different from the hope of what will happen to us or around us. When we believe in God, we transfer our trust and worldly cares to Him. We are free to put our hope in God, awaiting His good works and provisions for us. “I have put my hope in your Word” (Psalm 119:147).

We willingly transfer our cares and concerns, wishes and desires, to God. If we only place hope in ourselves or in other people, there evolves a perpetually disappointing cycle. As we transfer our hope and trust to God, He gives us strength by removing the burden of hope from our own lives. God’s love and understanding are vast compared to our limited resources. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

There may be times when we are ready to give up on all hopewhen the situation seems hopeless and we have no more strength to hold on. God is in the business of hope and strength renewal.

Those who have no faith in God can only cherish a desire with anticipation, without any basis for expecting attainment. However, the Christian has his hope placed firmly in God, who is the fulfillment of all hope. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

We can place our hope on a firm foundation of God’s promises. All of His covenants to His people from the beginning of time have been accomplished exactly as God specified. Since God is immutable, all of His promises remain constant and without error.

1-corinthians-13-13Faith and hope are inseparable. Having faith in our God is defined as trust, belief, and hope combined. Faith and hope are both dependent upon belief in a God who is worthy of faith, hope, and love in God’s Word. “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

For centuries the Israelites were promised a Savior who would establish His kingdom and rule on earth. That promise was fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Like the people who had witnessed Jesus ascend from earth to His heavenly home after His three years of ministry among them, we, too, hope for the promise of Jesus’ second coming to earth to rule in righteousness. “There is surely a hope for you and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18). God wants to simplify our lives by assuming our expectations. His Word is full of promises to His people. We are able to expect a beautiful life and a future full of greatness when we hope in God’s Word.

During their nightly playtime our grandsons eagerly ran to their father’s outstretched arms, hoping the same events would play out in excitement as they had the previous time. We, too, are invited to run into the arms of our heavenly Father, the same arms that were outstretched on the cross for us. There is hope in the crucifixion and resurrection and the promise of eternal life with our Savior and Lord. We know because God has promised it from the beginning of time (Titus 1:2).

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“…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2)

“God is Hope” is taken from Pat’s book, REJOICE!

REJOICE

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How Many Cows [REPOST]

Another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from March 2013.

 

TREASURE TUESDAY

Once again I’d like to share with you a special devotional written by my friend and mentor, Patricia Knight.  This is another of the devotionals in her book, REJOICE! and it is not a coincidence that I decided to share yet another post with you about God’s extreme love for us.

How Many Cows

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A story was told me about a love story in a primitive culture a very long time ago. Amerigo was one of the brightest, most ruggedly handsome young men in the village. He was enamored with a young maiden named Maria. She was plain, shy, and self-conscious. In spite of Maria’s apparent flaws, Amerigo loved her.

In their culture, fathers demanded payment for their daughters in the form of cows. Two or three cows would buy an above-average wife; four or five cows for an exceptionally beautiful wife. When Amerigo was prepared to bargain with Maria’s father for her hand in marriage, Amerigo strode proudly into his tent, grasped her father’s hand and unequivocally announced, “Father of Maria, I offer eight cows for your daughter.”

The villagers were incredulous when they heard the news, not expecting Maria to earn many cows. Amerigo had offered the highest price ever paid for a bride, even one of extraordinary beauty. Amerigo’s word was honorable and he promptly produced the eight cows as his bride’s dowry. The wedding ceremony was then conducted that evening.

Within months Maria evolved into a new person. She gained new confidence, her eyes sparkled and she developed grace and poise. She had become a beautiful woman.

Later Amerigo was asked the reason for his high payment for his wife. If he was such a shrewd trader, why would he offer eight cows for a woman he could easily have had for three? He wanted Maria to be happy, but more than that, Amerigo recognized that the way a woman thinks about herself can bring about changes. “Before I came into her life, Maria believed she was worth nothing. Now she knows she is worth more than any woman in the village is. I wanted to marry Maria. I loved her and no other woman.” He paused and smiled. “But, I wanted an eight-cow wife.”

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We were nothing by ourselves before Christ purchased us with His blood. God loved us, His creation, so much that “He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God purchased a pauper with a king. There was nothing we could do to make ourselves more attractive, more honest, or more loving. When the unblemished Lamb of God purchased us, we were transformed. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Notice that God did not require that we first become pure and demonstrate our abilities before He would begin to work in us. He accepted us as we were, presented us with His Son, the greatest gift of all time, and promised His very presence and His gift of eternal life. This was accomplished by divine grace, not by human merit.

We can walk a little straighter, talk more positively, and live more joyously because through Jesus “we have access to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). The God of the whole universe is approachable. He allows us to pray to Him and he hears and answers every one of our prayers. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

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God is alive. His Word is alive. No other long-established religion in the world has the benefit of worshiping a living person, one who has experienced everything we do in our live. When Jesus walked the earth, He was exposed to every temptation known to man so that when we find ourselves in a bind, when we need delivery from a problem, Jesus knows what we are feeling. That is why He can answer instantly and appropriately whenever we call on Him.

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“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8).

We had a price on our head and now it has been fully paid. We have been freed, redeemed, justified. Christ paid the price for our sins, creating salvation for all who believe.

I know so little about the supreme love that sent Jesus to the cross for my redemption. But, this one thing I know—I am free! Jesus saved me from a life of servitude to sin, shame, and sadness. All of my previous transgressions are sealed in God’s possession, forgiven and forgotten by a righteous God.

Maria was purchased with cows so that she and Amerigo could form a union. We have been purchased by the blood of Jesus so that we could be united with Him on earth where we do His work, knowing that one day we will live with Him eternally in heaven.

Maria changed drastically after being complimented by a high purchase price. We too are transformed people. The old has passed away. The new is constantly evolving. God compliments us and elevates us by purchasing us with an extremely high price, the highest gift anyone could give. Jesus gave His life to redeem us.

Maria knew the reason for her new confidence. If her countenance and performance were changed by trust placed in her by Amerigo, how much more we can change, bloom, and evolve into a child of God. Our heavenly Father loves us beyond measure! Even when we mess up He is right nearby to clean up and set us back on our feet. There is no limit to His love for us; He gave His son as proof of that indistinguishable love.

Eph2-8-9“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

REJOICEIf anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of REJOICE! please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.

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The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

 

How Long, O Lord {Part 2}

Originally posted on TRC Magazine on July 31, 2014:

CHAPTER 2: GOD ANSWERS HABAKKUK

By Anna Popescu

Habakkuk is the prophet of faith. His name means “Embrace,” or “one who strongly enfolds.” Through all the mystery of sin and its apparent success, through the mystery of suffering and of God’s judgments, he lays hold of God’s promises, and clings to Him with faith triumphant. –A. M. Hodgkin

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I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; 
and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, 

and how I may reply when I am reproved. 

—Habakkuk 2:1

In chapter one, we considered Habakkuk’s confusion in a world filled with chaos. He felt that God saw and knew about all the injustice and corruption, but did not care enough about His people to do anything about it.

Habakkuk was understandably perplexed, but instead of internalizing his confusion, he let God know that he didn’t understand and asked Him to unravel the mystery. God now answers Habakkuk, who sees that, although God’s ways don’t seem to make sense, He is still in complete control.

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Recording the Vision

Having asked God for clarification, Habakkuk now declares that he will watch and wait for God’s answer. He was ready to wait patiently, believing God would answer his questions.

Waiting is never easy and in our current culture of fast food, video chatting, quick texting, and constant and instantaneous social media updates, waiting is harder than ever. We can’t even seem to take a walk without having our cell phones to keep us company.

God does sometimes delay in answering our prayers, not because He wants us to suffer, but because His timing is much different than ours.

222But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,
as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,

but everyone to come to repentance.
–2 Peter 3:8-9

 

Sometimes God wants us to learn something during the waiting. Other times, He is using the waiting time to orchestrate events according to His timetable. Mostly, He simply wants us to trust Him no matter what.

Habakkuk lived in a very different era than we do, but I’m sure he had been watching all the troubling events around him for some time. Even though he had been patient, he was probably wondering when God would finally provide him with some answers.

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Then the LORD answered me and said,
“Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets,
that the one who reads it may run.
For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
for it will certainly come, it will not delay.”
–Habakkuk 2:2-3

Habakkuk was the embodiment of Paul’s reminder to the Corinthians to, “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). He knew what he was seeing, but chose to wait on God to reveal the why of it.

Did you catch the phrase in verse 2 which says “that the one who reads it may run?” In this context, God is telling Habakkuk to record what He is about to reveal to him, and encouraging him to be well prepared to carry His message to his cohorts. To apply this verse to our current times, I believe God wants us to immerse ourselves in His Word so that we may be fully prepared to share the hope we have in Him.

Behold, as for the proud one,
his soul is not right within him;

but the righteous will live by his faith.
Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man,
so that he does not stay at home.
He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied.
He also gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoples.

–Habakkuk 2:4-5

The phrases “proud one” and “haughty man” refer to the Babylonians and others like them—those who are arrogant, filled with their own importance, and never satisfied. Although they have much, they constantly want more, even if it means crushing people (figuratively and literally) in the process.

These people place themselves above the Lord and do not recognize or acknowledge God’s sovereign authority. They are their own lords, and more is never enough for them.

In verses 6 through 19 (below), God answers Habakkuk’s concerns with five woes directed at the conceited, self-important Babylonians. These five woes are significant because God is telling Habakkuk that these oppressors will themselves suffer the same kinds of horrors they are inflicting upon others.

“In this chapter the five woes of God to the Chaldeans are universal principles. The principle is that everything that is evil will be met with the judgment of God. Habakkuk learns that the Chaldeans would be in power for a while, but the limit of their power and prosperity was absolutely fixed by God. The wicked may triumph for a while, but it will not last. Their doom is sealed.” –Dr. Harold L. White

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Revealing the Reasons

Cheating

6 Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him, even mockery and insinuations against him and say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his—for how long—and makes himself rich with loans?’

7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them.

8 Because you have looted many nations, all the remainder of the peoples will loot you—because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.

In verse 7, creditors, and those who collect from you, can be translated as, “those who bite you and violently shake you.” How many times have we read about loan sharks, people, and organizations who are more than happy to loan us money when we are desperate, but who also tack on high finance charges—sometimes more than the actual loan itself? People have been murdered when they cannot come up with the exorbitant amount demanded.

Covetousness

9 Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house to put his nest on high, to be delivered from the hand of calamity!

10 You have devised a shameful thing for your house by cutting off many peoples; so you are sinning against yourself.

11 Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, and the rafter will answer it from the framework.

For the Babylonians, more was never enough. They felt entitled to help themselves to whatever would satisfy them. If it took fighting and bloodshed to get what they wanted, so be it. They didn’t care.

How is this any different in today’s culture of robbery, murder and the like, simply to grab what you want merely because you covet it?

Corruption

12 Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence!

13 Is it not indeed from the LORD of hosts that peoples toil for fire, and nations grow weary for nothing?

14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Babylon became rich by waging war with the surrounding nations. Bloodshed was second nature to them in their zeal to get what they wanted. But God also points out that, even though the Babylonians are slaughtering people to get what they want, they will be repaid in kind.

Verse 14 is a comfort to those of us who are awaiting the return of Jesus Christ, when he will rule the earth. This is a direct reference to Isaiah 11:9:

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord    as the waters cover the sea.

Carousal

15 Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness!

16 You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The cup in the LORD’S right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory.

17 For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and the devastation of its beasts by which you terrified them, because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.

The Babylonians fueled their desire to possess more with alcohol and regularly drank to excess. They did their best to cause others to carouse along with them so they could take even more advantage of them in their diminished capacity.

Don’t lose heart though. You don’t have to look far to see that they will reap what they dished out. Verse 17 is a promise that the Babylonians will be hunted down and destroyed with as much violence as they imparted to others, probably more so.

Cultism

18 What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols.

19 Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside it.

Cultism is defined as, “obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing”—in other words, worshiping false gods or idols. We are also very good at worshiping things: money, fame, and more and better stuff. How about when we worship nature (creation), and forget to worship and thank the Creator for all the beauty we see around us?

That is what the Babylonians were doing, venerating themselves and their grandiose ideas of how to obtain even more to feed their huge egos. Their idols were themselves! The worst thing people can do is to turn their back on God and start worshiping themselves and the works of their hands.

The downfall of a nation begins in idolatry; it begins in turning away from the living and true God. –J. Vernon McGee

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Remembering His Holiness

Habakkuk, in spite of his questioning attitude toward God, finally gets it. God is God, and Habakkuk is not! He hears what God has to say and it soothes his heart, making him trust and praise God all the more.

20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”

God longs for us to worship and adore Him for who He is; He is, among so many other things, the great I AM; that means He has always been and always will be God. Since He created all things, He also knows all things, thus He has a much bigger picture of events than our puny minds can understand.

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel,
and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’
Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”;
and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel,
‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’

This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.
–Exodus 3:13-15

Habakkuk has questioned the Lord’s methods for dealing with the injustice he sees in his world, and the Lord replies by saying He is using the Babylonians for His purposes and will punish them for their sins in His timing. God reminds Habakkuk that no matter what he sees or feels, He is still on His throne taking care of business as He sees fit. Ultimately Habakkuk submits to God’s authority and continues to praise Him.

Beloved, what are you going through right now? Do you have faith that God knows what He’s doing, even if you can’t yet see the results of that trust? Do you truly believe He has your best interests at heart?

The word “believe” is defined as:

to have confidence or faith in the truth of,
to have faith in the reliability, honesty, benevolence of.

So, if we believe that God is the great I AM, do we also believe—in faith— that God wants the best for us? Do we choose to have faith and trust in what we know to be true rather than what we can or cannot see?

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Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
–Hebrews 11:1

On October 31, we’ll finish our study of Habakkuk, and see why Chapter three is considered a, “psalm of beauty,” according to J. Vernon McGee. I call it a song of praise and adoration to God.

For everything that was written in the past
was written to teach us,

so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures
and the encouragement they provide
we might have hope.
–Romans 15:4

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The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Victory [REPOST]

Another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from January 2013.

Treasure Tuesday

--treasure tuesday 001

It’s been awhile but today I’d like to share with you another special devotional written by my friend and mentor, Patricia Knight. This is another of the devotionals in her book, REJOICE!

Victory Over Circumstances

Elijah was God’s prophet. The Old Testament tells us that Elijah alone challenged 450 prophets of the false god Baal. God’s people refused to help so Elijah faced the formidable adversaries with only his God on his side. Each opposing team of believers was to offer a sacrifice on an altar but not set fire to it. Baal’s prophets were to call on their god and Elijah called on the Lord. The one who answered by fire would be declared the true God. Baal, of course, was unresponsive in spite of shouting and pleading by his prophets. Elijah then prayed that God would let it be known that He was the only living and true God. “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38).

elijah-and-prophets-of-baal

Elijah had just been triumphant against 450 prophets of a false god. He had believed in God and God was triumphant. One would think Elijah would be praising God and rejoicing after the victory. But, he had just received a message from wicked Queen Jezebel, saying she would kill him. God’s Word tells us Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. Other than being overtaken by fear Elijah was tired—just plain worn out. Imagine the energy he expended in the intense fighting against the vastly out-numbered prophets of Baal.

Elijah-angelWe cannot forget the all-powerful Jezebel, who was at that time threatening to do to Elijah what he had just done to the prophets of the false gods. 1 Kings 19:4 tells us, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” With God’s help he had just defeated all those men against all odds. Now we hear him pleading with God to take his life. “Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep” (1 Kings 19:5). Observe how God ministered to him. It appears that the cause of Elijah’s depression was lack of proper rest (vs. 5), improper eating habits (vs. 6), physical exhaustion (vs. 6), and loneliness (vs. 16). In the scene that is created for us of Elijah, God has sent an angel to minister to his needs. God healed Elijah by allowing him to rest, gave him food, and sent a friend for earthly companionship.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. 1 Kings 19:4-9

Interestingly, God didn’t condemn Elijah and tell him to stop his foolishness and get on with life. God, in His wisdom knew that Elijah needed comfort and understanding. God knew that what He had asked Elijah had not been easy for him to do. With his multiple needs in mind, God ministered to Elijah to refresh him mentally and physically. God still had more work for Elijah to do; He needed a rested and nourished man for the days ahead. God even demonstrated to Elijah His presence in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12).

There is nothing that we experience
that God has not been through.

That is why He so readily understands our needs.

There was a time when God allowed Satan to test Jesus in the wilderness for forty days. Though Jesus did not sin, He knew the energy it took to resist constant temptation. That is why He can minister to us and completely meet our needs when we are worn out, over-worked, or have a long list of demands facing us.

Like Elijah, our typical response
may be a desire to crawl into a corner
and tell God and the world to go on without us.

“And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God does not expect us to be super heroes.

Nowhere does He even hint at that. He only tells us to obey. A concise way to remember the importance of obedience when we can see neither the purpose nor the outcome is to recall this quote:

God takes full responsibility
for the consequences of our obedience. —Anon

There will be a day, soon, when you will feel like smiling inwardly and outwardly. For now you need to rest and restore and renew. Only God can accomplish healing and in His precise time. It is not comfortable to be in a dry area. Look at all the great men of the Bible. They had their wilderness wanderings when God took them away from the crowd to teach and refine them. Moses was out in the fields where he escaped to Midian after murdering a man. He lived there for forty years until God called him to do his life’s work. Or, visualize Joseph in prison, wondering why God took him so far, to then have him forgotten by family and those to whom he was devoted. Job teaches us about physical and emotional suffering; he learned that he had no right to question God. In His time, God restored Job’s health and showered him with many more possessions than he had before. Even God’s own Son spent those forty days resisting Satan in the wilderness.

Cracked desert dry tree

I have been in dry spiritual times and I have resisted greatly. It is neither fun nor a comfortable place to be. “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going… These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever. So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” (2 Corinthians, 4:8, 9, 17, 18, TLB).

The Psalmist David was named “a man after God’s own heart.” What a distinction and honor! Yet this is what he admitted, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1, 2). It is wonderful that God chose to write examples of very real and flawed people in His Word so that we can relate to those about whom we read and apply the lessons to our own lives.

When God sees us in the “pits,” He reaches down and lovingly rescues us, lifting us up to higher ground. Through Him, we are triumphant, like Elijah of centuries ago. Trust Him because He has already won the victory!

REJOICEPat, once again I thank you for allowing me to share your writing with my readers. You’re the best and once again, your writing has blessed us all!

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AnnaSmile

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In Memory…

In memory of the brave Granite Mountain Hotshots who perished on June 30, 2013

 

GMHSInMemory

I am blessed and privileged to know several firefighters. All of them—and I know this holds true for all firefighters—put their lives on the line every time they suit up in their turnouts. Whether on the job or in their personal lives, they are selfless and giving people who always seem to think of others before themselves. They are the embodiment of 1 John 3:16:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 

The collage below shows the long funeral procession from last year, 19 white hearses accompanied by fire and police vehicles. The lines of people on both sides of the highway spanned miles.

The memorial service took place in Prescott, close to where we live, and Rick and I were privileged to open our home to my son, Alan, along with Justin and Zane, two firefighter buddies from Dallas Fire Department who are also members of the Dallas Pipes & Drums. Each of them attended and were involved in the memorial service, along with many, many others.

HotshotCollage

 

Let’s not forget the sole survivor of that Granite Mountain Hotshots crew, Brendan McDonough, who read “The Hot Shot’s Prayer” during the memorial service:

When I am called to duty, Lord …

To fight the roaring blaze …

Please keep me safe and strong …

I may be here for days.

Be with my fellow crew members …

As we hike up to the top.

Help us cut enough line …

For this blaze to stop.

Let my skills and hands …

Be firm and quick.

Let me find those safety zones …

As we hit and lick.

For if this day on the line …

I should answer death’s call …

Lord, bless my hot shot Crew …

My family, one and all.

 

Ps34-18--brokenhearted

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I want to thank all firefighters for their unselfish and giving service, even though that never sounds adequate to express what’s in my heart. God bless you and your families with His everlasting love and peace…

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My Peace, My Comfort, My Hope

Psalm27-13-14--wait

I would have despaired
unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
yes, wait for the Lord.
—Psalm 27:13-14

 

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