Saturday, April 29, 2006

GALATIANS 5:22, 23 & 25
The Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . . . And if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


After a drought, a thunderstorm was approaching our valley in the Hill Country. I climbed the highest hill around and watched as it approached. The clouds rolled and boiled as they came closer. Because the sun was setting, the colors of the sky were constantly changing, creating a heavenly light show. Beauty and power were both manifest. The voice of the storm was fierce as the thunder reached my ears. It sounded like speech, but I couldn't understand the words; however, I was awed by the intensity of the sound. I thought I must be feeling a little of what the Israelites felt when they approached Mount Sinai just before God gave the Ten Commandments.

The Lord said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you . . .

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled . . .then Moses spoke and the voice of the Lord answered him. Exodus 19

It was a frightening encounter for the former slaves, so frightening that they decided they no longer wanted God to speak to them directly; they chose to keep their distance and let God speak to them through Moses. (Exodus 20:18).

How blessed we are to be on this side of the cross! Our sins have been dealt with, the Holy Spirit has been given, and we can now be led by the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit, whose voice produces peace in us rather than fear (Gals. 5:22).


"Ouch! Hallelujah!!"

--Joyce Meyer Seminar attendee upon hearing a hard
but redemptive word


My last article looked at our attitude toward God while we are dealing with enemies and waiting for Him to give us the victory. Today, we see the offspring of Israel at war in 1 Chronicles 5:18-22. They were ready and it was time to engage the enemy in battle. They knew how to handle their weapons (see Ephs. 6:10-18 for our New Testament equivalent). Particular mention is made of the shield (shield of faith, Ephs 6:16) and the sword (sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephs 6:17).

Even though they were able-bodied, knew how to use their weapons, and were "trained for battle," they still needed God's help!

They were helped in fighting them, and God handed the Harites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.

They won a decisive victory "because the battle was God's" (vs. 22). What moved God to help them? They trusted in Him and, more than that, they cried out to Him during the battle. The root of the Hebrew word cried means to shriek, as from anguish or danger. It is also a corporate word. They did this together. So two things are seen here: those who were doing battle were united in their cause and they were loudly and fervently calling on their God.

Most of us in western society tend to shrink back from such loud public displays. I know I do. Once I heard this after praying one of my nice southern lady prayers: "One-dimensional praying will not get the enemy off your back." Ouch! It's time to get out of my comfort zone. How about you?

Sunday, April 23, 2006


"Moses' God IS God."

--Pharoh in The 10 Commandments

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Example in the Psalms

My signature scripture (Ps. 68:11 & 12 Amplified Bible) for this blog makes reference to defeating enemies. What kind of enemies am I talking about? I don't know about you but the ones I struggle with the most come to my mind and my emotions. When I'm dealing with these kinds of enemies, I often look to the psalms for help and instruction.

Psalm 41:7 provides a typical example of the problem: All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, a vile disease has beset him; he will never get up from the place where he lies. What we have here is imagination providing images of disaster in our mind, fueled by a voice whispering that we deserve the worst and predicting exactly that for us.

Psalm 42:9 shows us another enemy. It reads like this: I say to God my Rock, Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Have you ever felt forgotten by God? There was a time of glory in your walk with Him but now there is silence and He seems to have withdrawn?

What do we do in times like that?
How do we deal with these kinds of enemies?

God My Rock

Photo by Carsten Clasohm
The psalmist was on the right track when He wrote, "I say to God my Rock." He started his complaint to God by acknowledging that God was his rock. His situation was threatening and his feelings were unstable. But God was his rock. He knew his circumstances and his feelings were temporary before a God who was His rock.

My Savior and My God

We see in vs. 4 that he pours out his soul to God. He doesn't whitewash how he feels. He remembers former good times with God. And in vs. 5 he encourages his soul. He exhorts himself to put his hope in God. He professes a future in which he will again experience God and praise Him. He addresses God as "my Savior and my God." He repeats this profession at the end of the psalm also.

In Psalm 43 the appeal for victory continues. Sometimes victories are a long time coming. Maybe the doctor's diagnosis was bad. Maybe a friend betrayed you and left you with a broken heart. At these times feelings and imaginations are incited and enlarged by the whisperings that come to us.

My King and My God

In the midst of this kind of struggle, the psalmist remembers that it is God who gives victory, and he adds this profession: You are my King and my God, through you we push back our enemies, through your name we trample our foes. He is saying, "Despite how I feel and the bad things going on in my life, I know that you are in charge. I put things in your hands. You are the one with the power and the wisdom and I trust you to bring victory when and how you see fit."

The psalmist has moved to a higher level in his faith and his profession. He may not have his victory yet, but he is expecting God his King to give it to Him. These psalms give us an example of how we relate to God while we are waiting for Him to "give us victory over our enemies and put our adversaries to shame" (Ps. 44:7). He will do it if we embrace Him as our Rock, our Savior, our King and our God.

Cliffs of Moher photo by Carsten Clasohm

Friday, April 21, 2006

Accepted in the Beloved

. . . He made us accepted in the Beloved.

The verses that surround this statement are rich and full and I recommend reading them all. But this single truth is profound by itself: when we are in the Beloved Son, we are covered by his righteousness and perfectly acceptable to the Father. It's not a mistake-free life that makes us acceptable, it is our position in Him.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

MORE Calm Down! Cheer Up!

Previously we looked at verses in Philippians 4 for biblical insight into how we can calm down and cheer up.

But we didn't look at Philippians 4:8 at that time:

Finally, Brethren whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.

The lovely phrases in Philippians 4:8 have always intimidated me. I knew that if I could get hold of the truth there I could, "Calm Down!" and "Cheer Up!"but somehow I just couldn't make them mine. Then I read John 16:33 (Be of good cheer!) and a light dawned: what God wants me to do is be full of good news, news that gladdens my heart. I don't have to figure out all the phrases in Philippians 4:8 -- instead, asking the Holy Spirit for help, I focus on being full of good news, one thought at a time, one event at a time. (But not to the extent of ignoring reality. See previous post, Opening Our Hearts to God.)

I used to get irritated when I went into a little store where the shelves and checkout stand were covered with injunctions to "Smile" and commands to "Cheer Up!" and such. Maybe that works for you, but it frustrated me. I found the words there to be like the Law. It can tell me what to do, but it can't help me do it. On a painful day, my willpower just wasn't enough to lift me up and keep me there. In God's word and by the enlightenment and empowerment of His Holy Spirit, I have found a way that works.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

God is Able

Is anything too hard for God?

These words were spoken by God to Abraham and Sarah when they were "well stricken in age." In the natural it was impossible for them to have a child. Gen. 18:11 reads like this in The Amplified Bible:

Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in years; it had ceased to be with Sarah as with young women.

Romans 4:19 contributes this information :

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead -- since he was about a hundred years old -- and that Sarah's womb was also dead.

In Hebrew, "too hard" is the word pala. It means to make great, to accomplish high things, to show marvelous works, to do miracles, to perform wondrous things. So we could paraphrase Genesis 18:14 like this: Nothing is too great, too high, too marvelous, too miraculous, too wondrous for God to perform.

Since our God calls Himself the great I AM, He is a "now" God. He wants to do amazing, marvelous and miraculous things for us now. Let us believe what He says and trust who He is and reap wonders in our lives!

Saturday, April 15, 2006


The following is an excerpt from the Easter music CD Max Lucado: He Chose the Nails:

History has only one main event.
Scripture has only one main event.
Others matter but only one is essential . . .
David's defeat of Goliath might reduce your timidity but only the cross prepares you for eternity.

For if there is no cross of Christ, then there is no truth to Christ . . .
To remove the cross is to remove the hingepin from the door of hope
For if there is no cross, then there is no sacrifice for sin.
If there is no sacrifice for sin, how will you face the sinless God?
Will you cleanse your own sin?
And if there is no cross of Christ, then there is no resurrection of Christ.
And if there is no resurrection, how will you live again?
Will you push back your own grave?

Let there be no mistake, the cross is not an event in history,
it is The Event of History.

Cleansing from sin, access to God's throne room, grace to help, defeat of our enemies, eternal life: Yes, the cross of Christ is The Main Event in history, both in mankind's history and in our personal history. It is the springboard into all the good things of God. Let us prioritize our lives around it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

JOHN 3:16-18
What's Good About Good Friday?

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed;

By believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. The Message//Remix

The original Good Friday showed us the depth of God's love for us. He made a way for us out of sin and into His presence when we believe Jesus is God and trust that what He did is sufficient to make us right with God.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

God's Complete Unchanging Doctrine Is in Jesus

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. NIV

The divine nature of God never changes. How Christ acts, that is how God acts. What He did in New Testament times, He wants to do today. We often look at the Gospels and ask why we don't see today the great and frequent miracles recorded there. Theories abound. But do they hold up to this verse?

I recently heard a message by Bill Johnson where this theme was repeated again and again: "Jesus Christ is complete theology." He said that our theology should start with Jesus. We don't start with an unanswered prayer or a person who wasn't healed and work out a reason for that. We start with what Jesus said and what He did. That's the starting point of Christian theology.

Colossians 2:9 is a supporting scripture: For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Calm Down! Cheer Up!

Great Advice or Pop Psychology?

I've heard these two phrases most of my life. But are they biblical? If you've read my previous article on recovering from weariness (click here), you know I'm looking for ways to bring newness to spiritual disciplines that have become routine. So today I'm quoting from The Message Remix because it sums up truth in precise meaty phrases that "cut to the chase." I found the following verses that relate to our title:

Philippians 3: 1: Be glad in God.

Philippians 4: 1: Don't waver. Stay on track, steady in God.

Philippians 4:4: Celebrate God all day, every day.

Philippians 4:6&7: Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.

Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Aha! So "Calm down. Cheer up!" IS good advice. It's just incomplete. It doesn't tell us how to be calm and cheerful. But Philippians 4 does: it's all "in God."

Stay in Him

We see from verses 6 and 7 that we stay in Him by noticing all the good things He does for us through the day(s) and valuing them to the point of celebration. When situations come up that worry us, we don't hold on to worry and try to work things out in our own minds but we ask Him for what is needed, thanking Him for the invitation to bring our concern to Him, thanking Him that when we come in obedience to His word, He hears us.

How long to pray on one specific issue? Philippians 4:6 and 7 give us the answer: Until Christ's peace displaces worry at the center of our lives.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

He Is Our Refuge

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. NIV

When you are in trouble, call on Him: He is good and He wants to help.

Friday, April 07, 2006

What Do You Most Desire?

Proverbs 19:22 in Today's New International Version reads like this: "What a person desires is unfailing love." Love that doesn't fail, that is the greatest need of all humankind.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way: That which is desired in a man is loyalty and kindness, and his glory and delight are his giving.

So we could say that someone who relates to others with unfailing love is loyal, kind and generous ("For God so loved the world that He gave ... ). Other translations use the word "lovingkindness" instead of unfailing love. Can you imagine the impact it would have on our neighborhoods and our world if all children were raised with unfailing love? If all marriages were based on unfailing love? A young man soon to be married asked a couple whose marriage he admired, "How can I make my marriage succeed?" The answer was, "Love your wife unconditionally and sacrificially." That's another way to say, "What a person desires is unfailing love."

Alcoholism and drug addictions not only destroy individuals and families but put a terrible strain on our society. Pastor Henry Wright in a tape on addictions states that all addictions are rooted in the need to be loved. Simply put, if we feel unloved, if our hearts have been broken, we are deficient in the neurotransmitters necessary to feel good about ourselves. It is easy for people who feel bad all the time to become dependent on activities or substances that make them feel good. But whatever the "fix," it is only temporary. Even a good thing (like food!) when abused, is destructive.

Here's the good news: Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds those who trust in Him.

How do we receive God's unfailing love? By trusting in Him. And if we want to trust in him but find it hard, He will even help us with that. How do I know? In Mark 9:23 we see a man who confesses, "I believe, help me with my unbelief!" And Jesus gave him what he asked.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

PSALMS 103:1-5
Sin Forgiven and Diseases Healed

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name, Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits --

Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Isn't that good news? Verse 3 in the Amplified Bible reads, "Who forgives [every one] of all your iniquities, Who heals [each of] all your diseases."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Sweet Release

Most of us have heard the story about the man whose sympathy moved him to open a cocoon to release the struggling creature inside, only to leave the butterfly crippled and unable to fly. The lesson he learned was that a butterfly shouldn’t be released before its time, that the struggle to break out is a part of what turns a worm into a strong beautiful butterfly.

But it’s the release I want to bring to your attention. Butterflies are associated with new beginnings and new life. What a sweet release to be set free from the thing that has bound us after a long time of struggle! And God, unlike the man in the story, knows just when to intervene on our behalf.

For an encouraging prophetic word about a heavenly release, click here.
3 JOHN 2
God Wants You to Prosper & Be in Good Health

It's a fact! 3 John 2 reads like this in the Amplified Bible:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and that your body may keep well,
even as I know your soul keeps well and prospers.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

It's Spring!

My husband and I just traveled from south central Texas to north central Texas and then back again so we could visit family and celebrate a grandson's 2nd birthday. This journey of 800 miles was made easier by the beauty of the countryside as it yielded to a new season. The budding out of trees and the greening of the fields seemed to shout: "It's Spring!" Everything along the way was bursting with new life. Lovely as it was, to a Texan, nothing says Spring like the appearance of the state flower. We love our bluebonnets! This photo demonstrates why.

A New Season is Springing Forth

Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? Is 43:18, 19

My understanding of this verse in light of other scriptures in the Bible is not that we literally forget the past. It is biblical to think on happy events of the past to remind us of the goodness of God. In that way we encourage ourselves and build up our faith. It is also appropriate to bring bad memories or traumas to our Heavenly Father for them to be healed. And, of course, as the Holy Spirit brings conviction, we remember things for which we need to repent and be cleansed. But we are not to continue in old fruitless ways and thoughts.

God is Doing New Things

I believe this verse is pointing us to the fact that our God is always doing new things and He wants us to follow after Him. Look at the last phrase of verse 19 ("Shall you not know it?"). This comment implies that we are walking close enough to Him to sense when He is starting a new season in our lives. Then we can cooperate with Him in letting go of the old and embracing the new, much as we do Spring after a long winter. Sometimes our reality will change gradually. And sometimes we will "Spring Forth" suddenly.

God loves suddenlies. I just received one. It was a long time coming and then POW!-- there it was and now I am on the other side, walking in newness. If you need a suddenly, I pray you receive it and enter into a new season, too.