Week 48 – The Shield

Standard

2 Sam

God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. 2 Samuel 22:31

We hear about God being a perfect shield over and over in scripture, so this week I wanted to really think about what a shield is and its purpose.

Wikipedia says this about a shield. “A shield is a piece of personal armor held in the hand or mounted on the wrist or forearm. Shields are used to intercept specific attacks, whether from close-ranged weaponry or projectiles such as arrows, by means of active blocks, instead of providing passive protection.”

Now, let’s put the power, protection, love, and provision we have at our disposal as Christians into perspective.

Our God loves us so much that He sent His Holy Spirit to be a part of us. A part of our own personal armor that is so close we can hold it in our hands. As our shield and defense, He will stand between any attack that is thrown at us from close-range or from fiery arrows that travel at fast speeds to try and surprise us. As a shield, He takes quick action to defend His beloved children. His protection is active, as He moves quickly and precisely to defend and protect.

And this isn’t just a cute little way to take a definition and turn it into a God thing… Look at all these scriptures that back up this incredible truth.

Psalm 28:7 – The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

Psalm 18:2 – The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold

2 Thessalonians 3:33 – but the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

And these verses are just a small sample. Take some time to search for other verses that back up this truth. The power of the Lord is real! He can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).  I pray we all realize His power in new ways this week. That we lean into it, accept it and trust it with all of our hearts.

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Advertisements

Week 47 – Enough Faith?

Standard

Hab

Lord, I have heard the report about You; Lord, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years. In Your wrath remember mercy! Habakkuk 3:2

Although we may not realize it, we have a lot in common with Habakkuk. He was vocal about how displeased he was with God. He felt as if God was just sitting idly back while His people ran amuck and suffered. He asked God a question that we still ask of Him to do this day. “God, where are you? Why aren’t you doing anything about all the suffering, the violence, and inequality?” Sound familiar? This small, three chapter book of the Bible really digs into the question of why God allows evil and the faith it takes to trust in God’s plan. The entire book deserves a read, but today are only focusing on one verse.

Although the first two chapters in Habakkuk tell the story, the third chapter is almost like a psalm of praise. The first two verses of Habakkuk 3 are a prayer. Habakkuk was worried that the Lord wasn’t keeping a close enough watch on His people. However, when he cried out to God about his dissatisfaction and God answered, Habakkuk’s worry changed. He wasn’t worried so much about God’s lack of a response anymore, but that God’s judgment was coming.

The Message Translation reads this way:

God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you, and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees. Do among us what you did among them. Work among us as you worked among them. And as you bring judgment, as you surely must, remember mercy.

Now, that’s a strong prayer! Have you ever prayed, “God, I’ve read all about how you had to judge and discipline your children of past generations? Please work in us as you did our ancestors to bring about change and good, but please remember Your great mercy when you do?”

Wow!!! Now that is a bold prayer. One our country needs if we are bold, brave and courageous enough to pray it. I have no doubt judgment will come for our nation that has fallen so far from God, so maybe it is now that we must begin to cry out (as Habakkuk did), “Father, do as you must, but please remember to have mercy on us.”

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Week 46 – No Masks

Standard

Psalm 51

Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within. Psalm 51:6

Psalm 51 is called a Prayer for Restoration (HCSB). David (who was called a man after God’s own heart) wrote this Psalm in response to breaking both the 6th and 7th commandments. He was heartbroken, had fallen short of what he knew God’s best for him was and was crying out to God.  David had not only set up a murder but also committed adultery. If you have never read David’s amazing story, I encourage you to explore his life in first and second Samuel.

But today I want to sit on this one short and simple verse that holds so much wisdom for each of us in our daily lives. My mind quickly goes to all the social media pictures we post of ourselves with filters, our families who are all smiles and our activities that look glamorous but have strained our bank accounts. We put on masks to make things look amazing and happy when marriages are falling apart, children have gone prodigal, loneliness is our heart’s cry or illness, stress and life have overwhelmed us to the point of exhaustion. We compare ourselves, we react to news with a thumbs up or a “smile” emoji instead of a prayer. We are digital refugees, but our children are digital natives and this is all they know. And I wonder. . . how will this change them? What will this look like in their own relationships, friendships, and marriages one day?

The hard truth today is this, you can attend church and not be saved. You can volunteer for hours a week and not truly care for others. You can be baptized and not saved if you don’t truly believe in the sacrifice of our Savior. The outside can look amazing and the inside can be rotting. God doesn’t care about what the outside looks like as much as He does the inside of our hearts. He knows that when the inside is changed the outside (our actions & deeds) follow.

This week, my prayer for all of us is that God allows a glimpse into the condition of our hearts and He will give us the strength and courage to step out from behind our masks to ask the tough questions, take a bold step of faith, trust Him on a deeper level and seek Him with every fiber of our being so that He can change our hearts and grant us the wisdom He desires to share with us.

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Week 45 – Life Lessons can HURT!

Standard

jonah

Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love, but as for me, I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation is from the Lord! Jonah 2:8-9

Can you imagine how wonderful it must have been, after being inside a big stinky fish belly for days, to be vomited out on the beach? I bet Jonah had never been so excited to feel the sun on his face, rub the sand between his toes and rinse fish goo and vomit off himself by the seashore. Honestly, I can relate a bit to Jonah. I mean, I’ve never been swallowed by a fish, lived inside it and been vomited out, but I have been through trials that seemed scary, uncertain and never-ending.

For me, it was over five years ago and it all seemed to happen in slow motion. It was a gradual downsizing. First, the Mercedes, then my precious housekeeper, our new home, the gym membership, an entire lifestyle that I had grown accustomed to was gone in just a few months time. As I type out all the things I had to give up, I sound like a very selfish and spoiled brat. But, was I? Most everyone around me had these things and much more. Why did I have to give them up? I didn’t deserve this? I lived a good Christian life. Ever had those thoughts enter your mind?

But, my husband and I agreed it was time for him to make a career change. I told him I was up for the challenge and I really thought I was. And so began a journey with God that revealed some distorted things in my heart. I am embarrassed to say, but there were many things I had much too tight a grasp on, and as He was prying them out of my hands, I admit that I didn’t let go easily or without lament.

I learned a lot during this time of transition. God revealed to me things I thought I had under control in this Christian heart: materialism, idols, pride, greed, selfishness . . . . As a “Christian”, these were things that should be easily conquered, right?! I found they were so familiar to me that is was easy to tolerate and overlook in myself than to face and defeat.

I knew that I didn’t have what it took to make this transition and so I began praying for God to change my heart and help me find joy in this “wrestling match” and transition. He not only gave me joy in my suffering, He began to open my eyes in a new way to His lessons, His truths and His desires for me and my family.

The crazy thing is, on the other side, I was thankful for the hardship and the lessons God taught me. I’m thankful to Him for the painful pruning and the fruit He produced. Notice I said . . . on the other side. Friends, when you are in the storm it is never fun or easy and sometimes it downright painful. It can feel lonely and dark (as I’m sure it was for Jonah in the belly of the fish) and seem as if it will never end. But, when the sun starts to come out again, you top the mountain and see the other side it can be so rewarding.

You can read the whole story of my journey in my book Revision of a Heart. And if you are reading this blog today and feel the dark storm surge overtaking you, I’m praying God’s strength, peace, courage, perseverance and hope to overtake the despair of your circumstances. May His great light and hope be a beacon for you in the storm until He carries you through. Amen

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.