Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Lord Has Promised Good…

When my children were small, we memorized one scripture verse a week. I wrote them on poster board with bright colors and we posted them around the walls of their bedroom. I had a little box with “Precious Promises” in them and I would pull out a scripture that I thought was simple enough for them to memorize at five and three years of age. We started with the easy ones: Romans 3:23, Romans 8:28, John 3:16, 1 John 1:9. One day I came across Jeremiah 29:11; it was a longer verse and harder to memorize, but it was so appropriate for our lives at the time, that I taught it to them anyway.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

I'm not sure if at that young age they understood what they were saying, but I did. And every day as we repeated it over and over, it brought peace and hope to my heart. It wasn't until many years later that I "found" a couple of verses in Jeremiah 32, and it was just this week that I connected them to Jeremiah 29...

"I will make an everlasting covenant with them:
I will never stop doing good to them...
I will rejoice in doing them good."
Jeremiah 32:40, 41

This is a promise from God that, in my mind, not only clears and forges the pathway to our future and our hopes, but is built on a foundation of solid rock.

This morning as I was getting ready for the day, I heard this song playing:

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my Shield and Portion be
As long as life endures.1

Where is your hope today? Place it securely in the knowledge that God has promised to never stop doing good for you?


1 My Chains Are Gone, Chris Tomlin

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Water Buffalo vs. Lions. . .

"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour."
1 Peter 5:8

Someone sent my husband, Mark a video today that was shot at Kruger National Park in South Africa. In the beginning it is focused on two water buffalo and a young calf walking across the plain heading for the river bank. Slowly, the camera pans to the right and we see a pride of lions lurking in the grass. As the camera moves between the two scenes, there is a moment when the watcher realizes the cats have seen their prey. They begin to hunker down and prepare to pounce. As the three buffalo approach, the cats go on the attack; naturally, it's the young calf that gets their attention. The three cats attack him and push him into the water.

They sink their teeth into his flesh and grip him with their sharp claws, holding him down until the two other cats arrive. Slowly, they begin to pull him from the water onto the bank. So intensely focused are they on their task that they are unaware another enemy has approached. Suddenly from the water a crocodile swoops up the bank and clasps the hind quarter of the buffalo with his mighty jaws. Now the struggle really begins, with the cats on the front and the croc on the back and this poor buffalo being pulled in two directions. Finally, the cats get their prey away from the crocodile and pull him completely onto the bank.

The camera pans back again and in the distance is an army… the two water buffalo that had run away have returned with a hundred more! They boldly approach the cats and surround them. One buffalo charges right and chases a cat away, as the others continue to hold onto the young calf. Another buffalo goes to the left and flips a cat up into the air with his horns. As that one races off another ones follows. Now there are only two cats still clinging to the calf.

The buffalo continue to approach, closing the gap between the herd and the cats. Now, with only the two cats still gripping his flesh, and their attention being divided between his death and their own survival, the calf manages to slip from their grasp and disappear into the herd. They surround him, protecting him all the while still advancing on the enemy. Finally, the remaining cats give up and race away with a brave buffalo chasing them.
What an amazing sight! As I watched, it brought tears to my eyes as I realized that is exactly what we as the Body of Christ are supposed to do.

Our enemy is lurking in the tall grasses just waiting for us  to walk by, unaware of his schemes. When he attacks, we sometimes feel as though we are fighting this battle alone. And many times we are hit from the front and from behind, just as this poor water buffalo was attacked by the cats and then the crocodile, pulling us in two directions at once.

But, we have an army! We ARE an army! Just as those two buffalo left and came back with a hundred more, when we see one of our own being attacked by the enemy, we need to call in the troops and go on the offensive ourselves.

Leviticus 26:8 says,
“Five of you shall chase a hundred,
and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight

Who do you know that is battling the enemy? This is the time to do battle with them; pray for them, encourage them, defend them. And when the enemy releases them from his grasp, surround and envelope them in the love and grace of Jesus Christ. This is where the healing begins…. (sounds like a song!).


(Watch the video here...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Battle is the Lord's...

"Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."
Nehemiah 4:14

Once there was a people who, because of their disobedience, their cities had been destroyed and they were forced into exile. They lived this way for many years before the king allowed them to return to their land. But when they did, they were saddened to see their city in such disgrace and disarray.

One of the exiles heard of the disgrace of his homeland and became disturbed and burdened for his people. He prayed and asked God to forgive them as a people and to remember His covenant with Moses, that if they repented, He would gather them back from the farthest corners of the earth and return them to their land.

This people was Israel.
The city was Jerusalem.
The man was Nehemiah....and he was a cup bearer to the king

King Artaxerxes noticed Nehemiah was troubled and asked him why. He had never seen Nehemiah sad before. Upon hearing Nehemiah's explanation of the condition of his homeland and the sadness of his heart, the king not only gives him permission to travel to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding, but gave him letters for safe travel and all the supplies needed to restore the city walls.

Nehemiah gathered the people around him and handed out job assignments. The people came from all the neighboring areas and from all social classes. There were high priests, governors, perfume makers, goldsmiths, house servants, temple servants, sons, daughters, district rulers, Levites, guards and merchants. No one was too important for the work; no one was excluded from the work.

Restoration had begun...
But the enemy had other plans.

There were those who did not want Israel to rebuild and they tried to intimidate the workers. "What do you think you are trying to do? Do you think you can actually do this? Can you bring life back from death? This is hopeless! What fools you are!"

But the people did not give up...they cried out to God and kept right on working with all their might. And they began to close the gaps in the walls and fortify them.

But the enemy came again...plotting to come up with ways to infiltrate them. "Before they know it, we will be right beside them and kill them as they work!"

By now, the people were tired. They had been working night and day to restore what had been broken. The lies and intimidation from the enemy was wearing on them. "Our strength is giving out, and there is so much rubble, so much destruction we cannot finish rebuilding."

Hope was almost gone...

Nehemiah gathers them together and sorts them by families. He arms them with swords, spears and bows and says, "Don't be afraid... remember who your God is! Fight for your families!" He sends them back to work. But from that day on, they did their work with one hand and kept the other hand on their weapon. While some were working, others were keeping watch for the enemy. But the work was spread out around the wall of the city, and there was a great distance between the workers. Whenever the enemy as spotted, the trumpet was blown. Nehemiah instructed them...

"Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. 
Our God will fight for us!" 
(Nehemiah 4:20)

The enemy tried to wait them out, saying, "They'll get tired, they are weak; they will not finish!" But Nehemiah prayed, "Now strengthen my hands."

And you know what? The wall was completed in 52 days! And when their enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they became afraid and lost their self confidence because they realized...

The work had been done with the help of God!

This is the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls. I know... it's a very long story. But it is also the story many of us are living today. For some, the walls of our lives have been destroyed and there is rubble all around us.

~~The work is hard and we are weary.
~~There is work for everyone; no one is exempt.
~~No job is too great and no job is too small.
~~The enemy is constantly intimidating us and placing obstacles in our way.
And we cannot do it alone!

So, what can we learn from Nehemiah?

Humble yourself before the Lord.
Work with all your might at what God has placed before you.
Take up the weapons of warfare and carry them with you at all times.
Don't let the enemy intimidate you with his lies!
Call your brothers and sisters to help you... you are not alone!
Ask God to strengthen your hands when you become too weary to continue.
And remember... our God will fight for us.

"All those gathered here will know 
that is is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; 
for the battle is the Lords'."
1 Samuel 17:47


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Personal Psalm...

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know Your name trust in You,
for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You."
Psalm 9:9, 10

Where do I go when my heart is broken
when my thoughts are overwhelmed?

When it seems that all around me 
is out of control,
Where do I run?

I run to You, 
my Rock and Deliverer;
my Refuge in the storm.

For You O Lord are my only hope.
And hope does not disappoint.

"Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
for You are the one I praise."
Jeremiah 17:14

You, my God, are Strong and Mighty,
Greater than any foe;
You, O Lord, are faithful and true,
I will put my trust in You.