Be Encouraged

So, it’s definitely been a long while since I wrote anything. Having a mobile child who doesn’t have huge sleeps anymore changes how much free time one has during the day. Over the last week, Father has been really speaking to me and encouraging my heart and I want to pass that on to those who might read these words.

 

God created me and you in His image. He created us to walk with Him and reflect back to Him His perfect beautiful nature. Satan hates it when we live the way God intended for us to live. He hates God. He hates anything that brings glory to God. He lead a revolt with a third of the angels against Almighty God, and for that was banished from God’s presence (Isaiah 14:12-15). God will not give His glory and honour to another, and because of Satan’s rebellion he was cast out of heaven and doomed to hell. Satan could not stand the thought that God would win, and as a plan to get back at Him, he set out to destroy His most prized creation – humans. Perhaps he thought that if he could get us to rebel against God as he did, that the pain of the destruction of man would be enough to satisfy his desire for vengeance.

God is God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-sovereign and in control. He knew of Satan’s plan, He knew that humans would succumb to the lie told to them by Satan. He was not surprised. God had a salvation plan before He even created man. Before Satan existed He planned that He would send His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to die in the place of His rebel creation. He planned to crush Satan and any lie or stronghold he might deceive us with.

Satan must have thought he had the upper hand when the Son of God was hanging on that cross outside Jerusalem. Jesus Christ was dying in the place of the rebels and bearing the punishment for all their sin and shame. He thought that he had killed God.

Little did he know that God cannot be put to death. Jesus Christ willingly gave up His life. From the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, through His six trials, and even to His death on the cross, Jesus Christ (God in flesh) was in complete control.  Those who came to arrest Him fell down before Him in worship (John 18:6); He had to offer Himself into their hands (vs. 8). At His trials, the few words He spoke were truth and His accusers found it hard to pinpoint a charge against Him worthy of death. Even though He was beaten beyond recognition, wearing a crown of thorns, and carrying His own cross, He empathises with the future sufferings of those weeping for Him (Luke 23:28-31)). While hanging on the cross in excruciating pain, bearing the sins of the whole world, past, present, and future, Jesus Christ gives instructions for the care of His mother and one of His closest friends (John 19:26-27). He also welcomes a criminal hanging beside Him into paradise and asks His Father to forgive the very ones who crucified Him (Luke 23:34 &42-43). Even in His final cry “It is finished”, Jesus was in control and willingly gave up His last breath for us.

Oh how Satan must have revelled in that moment. He thought it was over. God was finished. Even better than destroying God’s most prized creation, He thought He’d destroyed God Himself.

But, Jesus Christ did not stay dead. He was raised to life again by the power of God Almighty! It was indeed the final blow to Satan. How the tables had turned. God was alive and had conquered the power of death, the grave, and Satan. Not only that, but He had nullified the accusation of our rebellion. Man was set free to become children of God, to walk with Him and love Him, and to reflect back to God His beautiful Person.

Satan hates us just as he hates God and will only ever tempt or try to deceive us as a means to spit in God’s face and to get back at Him.  Those who are not walking with God have allowed themselves to be deceived into letting Satan rule their lives. They are deceived because those who try to control their own lives and live apart from God are really just playing into the hands of the devil (1 John 3:5-10).

I am a new creation. I have been given a new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). I am a child of God (John 1:12). Satan will hate me and will do what he can to tempt and deceive me into believing his lies. But, I have the Spirit of Truth in me (John 15:26), bearing witness of Jesus Christ and all that He has said and done. I am restored, I am loved, I am chosen, I am holy and blameless in God’s sight. I am His child and I can rest in knowing that there is no better place to be than in God’s hands, walking with Him, and reflecting His glory and the beauty of the Person of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 31

God Knows my Future

in-gods-hands

‘But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand…’ – vs. 14

This statement of faith from David is so encouraging. I love the confidence and assurance in his words despite the circumstances. In the previous verses, David is describing his feelings of brokenness, hurt and betrayal from not only his enemies, but also his friends. He says:

‘I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel.’ – vs.12

In the face of some really hard times, he looks to God and chooses to trust in Him. He doesn’t let his circumstances dictate who he is, but rather he looks to God and allows the way God sees him to change his perspective on his circumstances. He knew that his life was in God’s hand and that nothing could snatch him from that place of safety. David trusted that God would keep him safe until his time on earth was up.

When I go through hard times or when I feel like everything is going wrong, I need to look to God and put my trust in Him. He is the One I can have confidence in and trust that my days are in His hands. He is in control. Nothing happens outside of Him allowing it. Nothing surprises Him. God knows my life.

‘In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?’ – Job 12:10

He commanded the moment my life would begin at conception and He knows the day that I will die and go to be with Him. He will only take me when He’s finished with me on earth. I should not fear troubles, persecution or sickness because He knows my days – my times are in His hands.

 

Psalm 30

God’s Anger is Momentary

‘Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.’ – vs. 4-5

God is so beautifully gracious. When He is angry, it is but for a moment. God doesn’t hold bitterness in His heart against me. On the cross, Jesus took the ‘moment’ of God’s anger against my sin. God took out all His anger at the sins of the entire world on Jesus hanging on the cross. Jesus bore the punishment that I deserved so that I need not bear it myself. Because of Jesus, I can live in the favour of God our Father. Jesus’ sorrow and suffering on the cross has brought me joy, peace and gladness.

When I am angry or frustrated with people or situations in my life, I need to look at the cross. I need to remember how much it cost God to not be angry with me. I need to be reminded of the love, compassion and grace that He showed to me through Jesus. May I show grace as I have been shown grace. May my momentary discomforts be outweighed by the joy of the grace I have been shown. Amen.

Psalm 29

God’s Words are Powerful

ball-lightning-good-postersusacom

‘The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.’ – vs. 4

God is awesome and powerful; He is creator of the wind, rain, fire, hail and storm. While these may seem powerful and frightening in their extremes, God is far mightier and in control. He made all things through the power of His voice and as Creator there is nothing beyond His command.

So many times the Bible speaks of God’s power through His voice or in the words He says. When God speaks, things are made, circumstances change, and people’s lives are turned around. Actions directly follow His words.

I don’t want to underestimate the power of God’s words in my life. May my heart be receptive and open when He speaks. May the power of His words take hold in my life and fill me with courage instead of fear, strength in weakness, love instead of selfishness, contentment where there is envy, belief where there is doubt.

Holy Father, You know me deeply. Speak to me and do not be silent. I long to hear Your words and to see Your power at work in my life. I want Your input and I want to know Your heart. Break down my selfishness and pride. Bring comfort and encouragement where needed. Fill me with Your love and compassion. May the power of the Word, Jesus, be seen in my life.

Psalm 28

God’s Word is Life

daily-bible-header

‘To You I will cry, O lord my Rock: do not be silent to me, lest if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.’ – vs. 1

God’s words to David were light and life. He is saying that if God were silent, life would not be worth living; he would be as good as one who was dead. The words that are spoken by God bring peace, joy, truth, calm and assurance; they convict, forgive, free, heal and restore. I can’t imagine life without His words.

May I love to hear the things that God says. May I not take His words for granted for there are so many people who live without His written word. It is only by His grace that He chooses to speak to me, so may I treasure what He says. May His words be life and strength to my soul.

Also, this passage draws my attention to God’s greatest Word, Jesus.

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of man.’ –    John 1:1-4

To think if Jesus, the Word of God, had never come to earth as a baby. What if He had never experienced everything that we ever could: every hardship, joy, pain and sorrow? What if He hadn’t died in my place and bore the punishment I deserved? And what if He never risen from the dead victorious and never left His Holy Spirit with us? Where would I be without the Living Word, Jesus Christ!

Praise God that He not only speaks through the written word, but that He speaks through His Spirit- who dwells in me and all those who believe in and put their trust in Him. May I live by every word that comes from His mouth. May I live in and through Jesus Christ, the Word.

Psalm 27

I love this Psalm! It has been a comfort and encouragement over many years.

‘The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me,
    when my enemies and foes attack me,
    they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me,
    my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
 I will remain confident.’ – vs. 1-3

  • I should never be afraid; in fact I have no reason to be afraid because I am on God’s side. He is all-powerful and in control. He fights for me and there is nothing that can happen outside of Him allowing it. Even if people throw insults or go so far as to take my life, God is my light and my salvation. As yesterday’s Psalm stated, “My times are in His hands”- so I will be here until God sees fit to take me to my heavenly home.

‘The one thing I ask of the Lord
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.’ – vs. 4

  • This is how Timothy Keller (in My Rock; My Refuge) puts it:

“Is there a certain music that gives you deep joy? Is there a view or landscape that does the same? If someone says, “What is the use of that?” you answer that the music or landscape is not a means to some other end but profoundly satisfying in itself. David’s supreme priority is “to gaze on the beauty of the Lord” (verse 4). “Gazing” is not a one-time glimpse but a steady, sustained focus. It is not petitionary prayer but praising, admiring, and enjoying God just for who He is. David finds God beautiful, not just for attaining goods. To sense God’s beauty in the heart is to have such pleasure in Him that you rest content.”

God, may I rest in You. May I look to You to see You for who You are, not what I can gain from You. Your heart is beautiful and marvelous and I want to find joy in simply gazing on You. Help me to love You for Yourself alone. Amen.

Psalm 26

God’s Opinion Counts

opp.jpg

‘Declare me innocent, O Lord,
    for I have acted with integrity;
    I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
    Test my motives and my heart.
For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
    and I have lived according to your truth.’ – vs 1-3

God’s opinion should be the one that truly matters to me. He is the One who sees my heart and my inmost thoughts and feelings. He understands my intentions and my thoughts and motives speak louder than the words I say and the things I do. When falsely accused, He is my defence and comfort. When I am pretentious or pious, He gently humbles me and reveals the truth in my heart.

People are flippant; their opinions vary as much as the seasons and the way they feel about me will probably change as many times as our government! While people are important and the things particular close friends and family say means a lot to me, ultimately God needs to have the first and last word in my life. He is God. He knows me and loves me deeply, like no one else.

So then, the application of these words to my heart and life is that I need to put God’s filter on what other people say about me. Do they see my heart? Is there truth in what they say? What does God say about me? What does God want to say to me through others?

Also, how quickly do I judge others? Do I evaluate others by their actions and words, instead of looking for their intention and motives? Do I seek to find the truth about others instead of jumping to my own conclusions? I need to see them through God’s filter- and that is Jesus Christ. He sees them as lovely and blameless because He sees Christ. May I love them by ‘believing all things and hoping all things’ to their benefit.

Lastly, how often do I judge myself and forget who I am in Christ? Paul even says:

‘My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.’ – 1 Corinthians 4:4

When I forget that I’m a new creation in Christ and I allow guilt to influence my life and ministry, I need to look to God and how He judges me. He judged my sin, guilt and shame when it was laid on Jesus on the cross. He took all of God’s judgement that I deserved and took the punishment instead of me. God now sees me as righteous, holy, and blameless. Praise be to God!

‘My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.’ – 1 John 2:1-2

Psalm 25

God Teaches us His Way

wooden_path_2-wallpaper-1920x1080

‘The Lord is good and does what is right;
    He shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right,
    teaching them His way.
The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
    all who keep His covenant and obey His demands.

 For the honour of Your name, O Lord,
    forgive my many, many sins.’ – vs. 8-11

I found this passage really beautiful. God has mercy on us again and again. He shows us kindness and draws us near to Himself. He accepts the truth about us- that we are lost and broken apart from Him- and He makes the effort to repair us and to bring us near to Himself. When we are humble and repent, He shows us grace by pardoning our sin. Not only that, but He gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us in the way He would have us go so that we don’t keep on sinning against Him.

Verse 14 also really stood out to me:

‘The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him…’

God confides in those who are humble and seeking His will and His way. He shows them Himself and reveals His plans to those who would seek to know. I want to be a confidant of the God of heaven and earth. I want Him to share His thoughts and His passions with me.

May I seek Him and desire to know Him more than anything else in this world. May all other things fade in comparison to knowing Him.

Psalm 24

God wants to be Pursued

‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths. Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.’ – vs. 1-6

I found a really wonderful explanation of these verses that I had never really thought about before and I want to share it. (I could reword it, but he says it too well!)

All money, talent, health, power, and pleasure in the world are God’s. But the greatest treasure He can give us is life in His presence. His face – not the gifts of His hands, though they are welcome – is where we find the glory that other things fail to provide. To know His presence, however, is to “ascend” a hill or mountain (verse 3), and doing so is always a struggle. You must repent, seeking a clear conscience (verse 4). You must know your idols and reject them (verse 4). And you must wrestle in prayer and seek God’s face, as did Jacob (verse 6), who said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me” (Genesis 32:26).     – Timothy Keller in My Rock My Refuge

This explanation really spoke to me. Western culture is so materialistic and often so selfish. Our gods may not be literal idols, as in many other cultures, but instead they have become our possessions, status, money, power, even our self-opinion. I was challenged to think about the things that I fear losing the most, and, most of the time those things become an idol in our lives. For me, I value my family, my ability, my health and comfort very highly.

I should not and cannot hold them higher than the One who gave them to me in the first place. God reminded me that I mustn’t hold so tightly to these things because they won’t bring me the satisfaction and joy that lasts. He is the creator of all these things, and only He can give what will fill me and leave me longing for no more. May God be my all in all. May I want no more than life in His presence.

Lord, You alone are the fountain of the life and love I have looked for in other places, to my misery. I want to love You for Yourself alone and know Your fellowship and presence. That will be a long journey and a struggle. But I commit myself to it today. Amen.

Psalm 23

God is Enough.

shepherd-lost-sheep-1225064-wallpaper

‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need.’ – vs. 1

This Psalm is so well known to me. I’ve read it again and again over the years and it has become imbedded in my memory as a result. The amazing thing about God’s word is that its alive, and every time I read a passage of scripture He can bring something to my attention that I hadn’t really noticed before. Or what’s even more wonderful is that God often shows me scripture that is really relevant to something I am going through or He keeps bringing up a common topic that He wants to address.

Something that God has been showing me lately, and was reaffirmed through this Psalm, is the concept of being content. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I was struggling with jealousy of other people and their ability and freedom to do things that I’m unable to do at the moment. God reminded me that He has me where He wants me and that He needs me here. He showed me that pining after something I’m unable to do at the moment renders me useless for what I am called to do here and now.

This verse helped me to look at it in a different way. When God is my Shepherd- the One who leads me and guides me; the One who gives me spiritual food that is satisfying, and the Water of Life that will quench my thirst; the One who is my Protector, who is ever-present; the One who fills me and gives me joy despite my circumstances- what more could I want?!

I want to desire God, to know Him more and more. I want Him to be enough for me. As I trust Him more and allow Him to be all that it means to be my Shepherd, I know that I will know more fully what it is to be satisfied and to lack nothing.

Oh Lord, be my Shepherd. Fill me Yourself that I may want no more than You.

‘…Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.’ – Philippians 4:11

‘Now godliness with contentment is great gain.’ – 1 Timothy 6:6