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Posts Tagged ‘James 4:7’

(As most of you know, Steve will soon be retiring from the pastorate, after serving forty years in Florida. Mid-June we move to the Midwest, to be close to our sons and their families. Now if our daughter and her family would just move east from Washington State, life would be near-perfect!

No doubt you’re also aware that packing and unpacking are time-consuming tasks, so I’m putting the blog on hold for a few weeks.  But please continue to visit! I’ll re-blog some previous posts, and hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.

The following post was first published 12-3-12.)

 

When I was a little girl, my parents kept a large garden in the backyard. They grew corn, beans, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, and more.

Among all that produce grew something else: garter snakes. I was petrified of those snakes, in spite of assurances from Mom and Dad that they could do me no harm.

 

Garter_Snake

 

So what was my reaction if, while playing in the yard, I noticed the slightest bit of slithering? I RAN while emitting eardrum-splitting shrieks. No doubt those snakes took off just as rapidly in the opposite direction, but I never looked back to find out.

Those experiences make a good word-picture of what my response should be when snakes of negativity, worry, or hurt feelings invade my mind. RUN!

James recommended exactly that: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (4:7b).

But where should I run to? As a child, when seeking escape from the garter snakes, I often ran into the house, a safe and secure refuge. (Although I did have the occasional nightmare about smart snakes, who knew how to slither under doors and up stairs, so even the house wasn’t safe!)

As an adult, facing “snakes” of a different nature, where should I run?

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

That means, when my thoughts begin to turn to the negative, I need to run to God, my refuge of hope and help (Psalm 119:114).

When people speak or act unkindly and my emotions are bruised, I need to run to God, my refuge of comfort (Psalm 31:19-20).

When worry overtakes me, I need to run to God, my refuge of peace (Psalm 9:9).

Once my attention is focused on him, I must:

  • Look into his eyes and see the great everlasting love he has for me (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • Sense his strong arms around me, holding me close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11).
  • Hear him reminding me of all his promises and all the times he has blessed me in the past (Psalm 77:11-12).
  • Taste his goodness (Psalm 34:8) in all the flavors of his attributes: power, wisdom, holiness, loving-kindness, grace, and more.

And what will be the end result? “Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy” (Psalm 5:11a). That sure beats cowering, fretting, and flustering, doesn’t it?

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Thank you, Father, for availing yourself to us as a refuge, a person-place we can run to for help, protection, and peace. We love you, O Lord, our strength, because you are our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer (Psalm 18:1).

Thank you for caring for us, those who seek to trust in you (Nahum 1:7). May we avail ourselves of your gladness and joy rather than let the snakes of negativity, worry, or emotional hurt get the best of us!

(Photo credit:  www.wikimedia.org.)

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Most of the children who come trick-or-treating at our doors tonight will be dressed as princesses and super heroes.  According to statistics, these are the most popular costumes.

So even though Halloween is sometimes called Satan’s holiday, that bright red, fork-tailed, pointy-eared devil costume will not be a prevalent sight.

Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if the devil really did wear a bright red suit on his rounds.  We might find it easier to spot him and put up our guard.  In actuality, he’s quite the wily fellow.

For Eve, he took the form of a serpent (Genesis 3:4).  An interesting choice.  Serpents are noxious creatures that creep stealthily, hiss menacingly, and inject poison into their victims.  Need we say more about the similarities between Satan and serpents?

He’s called the evil one in Matthew 13:19.  Look up evil in the dictionary and his character is clearly described:  morally reprehensible, wicked, offensive, causing harm, bringing sorrow, distress and calamity.

Satan is our enemy (1 Peter 5:8).  He seeks to injure, overthrow, and confound us.  He is a harmful and deadly opponent, hostile, and filled with ill will.

In the same verse above, Peter says, “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  The Living Application Bible reminds us lions attack sick, young, and straggling animals, and Satan does the same.  When we are suffering, depressed, or being persecuted, that’s when he loves to move in for the kill.  And he often chooses a time when we’re alone and more easily swayed.

The devil is our accuser (Revelation 12:10).  First, he lies to us, trying to convince us that whatever he’s suggesting will make us happy.  Then he turns around and uses our sins to accuse us of disobedience and unfaithfulness before God!  In fact, Satan in Hebrew means accuser.  

You’d think that all these abhorrent traits would repel us from the devil and his cohorts.  But his opposition against us isn’t always obvious.  1)  We cannot see the spiritual forces of evil, and 2) Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

But!  In spite of his power (although limited) and sophisticated trickery, the devil has already been defeated.

I love what author and Bible teacher, Ann White, said years ago:

“The devil may prowl around like a lion, but Christ removed his teeth at Calvary!”

Jesus is much greater than Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15).  And Jesus is within us (1 John 4:4), empowering us to fight against him.

In fact, Jesus showed us how to fight him off.  Remember the strong temptations he withstood in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11)?  Jesus used scripture to refute the devil’s lies and twists of truth.

We can do the same, starting with one of Jesus’ responses in the passage above:

“Away from me, Satan!  It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” (v. 10).

And now that we know a bit more about our opponent, such resistance can be even more successful.

We can be ready–red suit or not.

(photo credit:  www.buckshappeningmag.com )

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Sky sunset

 

Think of the last time you …

… gazed in wonder at a blazing sunset,

…marveled at the heavenly aroma of lilacs or orange blossoms, or

…listened to a melody that brought tears to your eyes.

 

God has equipped us with amazing physical senses, enabling us to experience and enjoy the display of his creative genius.

But physical manifestations are not his only outlet of expression.  God also revels in displaying his fullness in our hearts.  The question is:  how do we become aware of such revelations in the abstract realm of our spirits?

A.W. Tozer presents a possibility in his classic, The Pursuit of God.  He suggests we use the senses of our hearts.

The Bible gives us glimpses of how these internal senses might work.

 

1.  TASTE

David urges us to “taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).  That verse reminds me of a father urging his child to try a bite of some new food.  “Try it—you’ll like it!” he says.

 

 

As Christians, we can “try” God—offer him a prayer, believe in a promise, trust in his love and care.  He will not ignore such efforts!  When we come near to God, he will come near to us (James 4:7).

 

2.  SMELL

Although Psalm 45 was written as a wedding song, perhaps for King Solomon, it also has prophetic qualities, looking forward to the day when Christ and his bride, the church, will be united forever.  Verse 8 mentions the groom’s fragrant robes:

“All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia,” says the psalmist.

 

 

Think of a favorite candle with a delightful aroma.  Do you light it and then leave it?  No, more than likely you place that candle in close proximity, so you can breathe in deeply the lovely fragrance and relish the pleasure.

We can draw near to God and relish the pleasure of his presence—the fragrance of his peace, joy, and comfort.

 

3.  HEARING

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

 

 

His voice represents wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and security.  Our primary source for those benefits?  The Bible.  But God also speaks to his children in other ways:  through creation, other people, events, even inner impressions.

Times of stillness are necessary.  If every moment is filled with chatter, we will not be able to hear God.

 

4.  TOUCH

Talk to those who have sought God during a crisis and without exception they will attest to sensing God’s presence with them.  For me, it’s like a holy heart-hug, infusing me with peace of mind and strength of heart.  Not that I am impervious to hurt or discouragement, but the touch of God provides respite and hope.

How?  Through praise and worship, especially as I meditate in the psalms.

 

 

5.  SIGHT

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

The verb tense used here is called “future continuous.”  The verse could read:  “They shall be continually seeing God for themselves.”

I’m reminded of a time Steve and I visited friends at their new home.  We turned off a familiar busy street and were almost immediately surrounded by tall trees.  The homes were set back from the road, barely visible.  The neighborhood was like a little piece of country set down in the middle of our metropolis.

 

 

“Who knew this area even existed?” I said to Steve.  He agreed.

We had both passed that street numerous times, but never saw it.

Isn’t that how it is with God?  We’re so busy, dashing from one task to the next, we never see God at work around us.  We aren’t looking for him so we miss him.

But!  When we are attentive for evidence of God’s presence and power, we will see him!

 

“When the habit of inwardly gazing Godward 

becomes fixed within us,

we shall be ushered onto

a new level of spiritual life.”

– A.W. Tozer

 

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Thank you, loving Father, that you do expand my understanding as I seek to know you more and strive to comprehend more fully the greatness of your glory.  Teach me to use the five senses of my heart to accomplish those goals.  With great anticipation, I look forward to the new levels of spiritual life to which you will guide me!    

 

(Photo credits:  www.flickr.com (2); www.roshchodeshnewmoon; http://www.canva.com http://www.pixabay.com; www.healycabins.com.)

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