August 23, 2017

My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

When darkness seems to veil His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

His oath, His covenant and blood
Support me in the ‘whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound
O may I then in Him be found
Clothed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before His throne

Sovereign Grace Music
Words by Edward Mote (1797-1874)

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We use the word ‘hope’ often in our daily lives.  We hope it’s a sunny day, we hope there are good sales when we go to the grocery store, we hope we sleep well at night.  There’s also the more serious hopes.  We hope our kids stay healthy, we hope we get the job promotion, we hope our budget stretches to the end of the month, we hope we make it to Heaven.  I’m sure you have heard all of those hopes, have even said them…and many more.

Those hopeful comments express the day-to-day feeling of desire for a certain thing to happen, a wishful thinking.  The hope that is sung about in this old hymn is based on a trust in something or someone.  Defined by one Biblical source it is an ‘expectation of, a looking forward to, something beneficial now and in the future’.  Another source uses the words ‘confidence, to anticipate, welcome, an expectation of what is sure, certain’, to describe this kind of hope.

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed)
of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see
and the conviction of their reality
[faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
Hebrews 11:1 AMP

…So that by two unchangeable things,
in which it is impossible for God to lie,
we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement
to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Hebrews 6:19

As a child, I remember ‘belting out’ the words to this chorus, “On Christ the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.”  I love the words of this old hymn, because they are true.  The hope I have is built on Christ, The Rock, His blood and His righteousness.  That is all I ever want to trust in. All other hope is “sinking sand.”  People, as caring and well-meaning as they can be, are not enough to secure my standing before God.  In the “high and stormy gale” there is no anchor that holds me like Jesus.

For it says in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”
So the honor is for you who believe…
1 Peter 2:6-7

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid,
which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:11

Here are just a few Scriptures of assurance that God is our Hope, our Refuge, our Strength in life:

On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Psalm 62:7 NASB

He only is my Rock and my Salvation, my Fortress; I shall not be shaken.
Psalm 62:6 ESV

You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7 NASB

The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1 ESV

God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear…
Psalm 46:1-2 ESV

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My Refuge and my Fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2 ESV

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 ESV

I encourage you to meditate on this parable from Jesus:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Matthew 7:24-27

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Who or what is your rock, your refuge?  Do you live in hope, in confidence, and in certainty of Jesus Christ as your sure foundation?  My prayer is that you can ‘belt out’ this song with me:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
IT IS SO!

You Are My Refuge

SeekingHimLogo

The Lord also will be a refuge and a high tower for the oppressed,
a refuge and a stronghold in times of trouble
(high cost, destitution, and desperation).
And they who know Your name
[who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy]
will lean on and confidently put their trust in You,
for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of) You
[on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity].
Psalms 9:9-10

You, oh Lord, are my refuge
You are holy and just
You are faithful and righteous
You, oh Lord, are my refuge
By Your mercy, You cover me

Under the shadow of Your wings
Lord, in Your presence I’ll remain
You are forevermore the same
You are my Refuge, my only Refuge

You, oh Lord, are my Refuge
In You I find rest
You’re my God and my Fortress
You, oh Lord are my Refuge
By Your mercy, You cover me

Under the shadow
Under the shadow
Under the shadow of Your wings
Under the shadow
Under the shadow
Under the shadow
By Your mercy You cover me

Cheryl Keaggy, singer/songwriter

A Perfect Protector

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As for God, His way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
He shields all who take refuge in Him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except out God?
It is God who arms with strength and keeps my way secure.
Psalms 18:30-32

Perfection.  I will go ahead and say that I have tried many times to be perfect. Have I ever achieved it?  No.  I never will. I have flaws.  I was born that way.  God made me with flaws for His own reasons.  I can either take advantage of those flaws to make myself better or let those flaws bring me down.  God gives me the strength to get past these flaws.

If we let our flaws bring us down, we can take refuge in a God who understands us because He made us.  God knew us before we born.  He knit us in our mothers’ wombs; therefore, He knows every fiber of our body.  This is one way He is our Rock and Shield.  He knows where we need protection and a fighting way against the evil of the world.  He arms us with the ways to stay strong and secure in our lives.

As Psalm 18:2 says, “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,” God delivers me from my flaws which allow me to fall into temptation and to feel down.  He arms me with the strength and tools I need through His Word—the Bible. I only have to make the choice (which I already have) to accept Jesus into my heart and to pick up the Good Book. Through this, I am armed with God’s Shield to protect myself and my loved ones from Satan, and I have a Rock to lean on in hard times.

God  does not just not only makes me feel secure…He is my security. Just like a child depends on a blanket for security, God envelops us with His loving and strong arms to protect us. We can get that same security blanket feeling if we just depend on the rock that is always giving us protection and love.

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Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the flaws that make us what we are. We can use those to make our lives our betters if we let You show us how to deal with them. You are perfect. We are not. Your perfection is what makes You our great Protector and Father. Without you, we would be lost to the world. In Jesus name, Amen.

Ever Present Help

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God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed
nd though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Psalms 46:1-2

This psalm expresses the writer’s trust and confidence in God during a time of instability and insecurity. We all experience spiritual barrenness at times. This is not the norm for God desires to be near His people with help and comfort. The power and ability to face the uncertainties and adversities of life are found in God.

Refuge shows a picture of shelter from danger, indicating that God is our true security in the storms of life.

Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there
a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night
over all the glory will be a canopy.
It will be as shelter and shade from the heat of the day
and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
Isaiah 4:5-6

Strength refers to His might when battling our foes (Exodus 15:13) and includes His energy that works powerfully in us.

To this end I labour, struggling with all His energy which so powerfully works in me
and enables us to overcome obstacles in life.
Colossians 1:29

God is an ever present help in times for trouble. God is available to His people and wants us to call on Him in any time of need.

Let us then approach the Throne of grace with confidence
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need
Hebrews 4:16

He is sufficient for any situation and never leaves our side, thus we need not fear. Fear is for non-believers and if you do not believe you are sinning. For with our hearts we believe and with our mouths we confess. How can we confess a thing that we have no confidence in? Therefore it is good we confess what we know for it to be established.

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Father, I thank You for You are our ever present Help. And Your promises to us are yay and amen. We come to Your Throne of grace for we know Whom we serve and we know Whom we are following. You have never failed us in our times of troubles. We call unto You even now as the mountains fall; we shall stand by the powers of Your hand and in Your heart of hearts we shall dwell. As the seas rage we know You shall calm them and there is going to be peace in our valleys, Lord. Help us realize that we serve You our miracle-working God Who is Omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time), Omniscient (all knowing) and Omnipotent (all powerful). In Jesus name we have prayed.  Amen!!!

My One Word ~ Joyful

I just love this concept of having ‘a word’ as a spiritual discipline. (I’m sure you have stumbled across this idea…recently the blogging world has been crazy busy writing about it!) Somehow…ok, God’s grace, of course…I was introduced to this idea three years ago. A bit ahead of the crowd which is sort of typical for me. You see, I don’t do trendy things, I surely dance to the beat of a different drum. But I am perfectly settled with that…it is who I am and who I imagine I will always be.

Here’s how it works:  the plan is to pray and, following God’s lead, choose ‘one word’ that will be your focus for the next year. In working through this concept it seems to be so simple and, yet, so vast in its application. I have found that my eyes and ears (and spirit!) are aware and attentive to ‘hearing’ my word whether in the Scriptures, or in study of other books, or in listening to a sermon or teaching, etc. But isn’t that just the way that the Holy Spirit leads, and guides, and teaches us? It is the still, small voice that we hear. It is His gentle leading that always bring us to ‘see’ a revelation. Haven’t you found this true?

Each of my words has always been in relation to Almighty God. My ‘one word’ in 2013 has been TRUST, in 2012 it was PEACE, and in 2011 my word was REFUGE. And these are the verses that I began with and stood upon:

TRUST
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
Psalms 56:3 and 4

PEACE
Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything,
but in every circumstance and in everything,
by prayer and petition (definite requests),
with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul
assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God
and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace]
which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard
over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6 and 7

REFUGE
But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them ever sing for joy,
and spread Your protection over them, and that those who love Your Name may exult in you.
Psalm 5:11

I can honestly tell you that drawing closer in my relationship with God in light of each of those words has changed my heart. No doubt about it; absolutely! And so I joyfully anticipate ALL that God is going to do in me in 2014 as I focus on one word—JOYFUL.

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Psalm 16:11

So, what do you think…is this something you might consider doing? If you have already been praying and asking God to lead you in selecting your ‘one word,’ I would love to hear about it! And, if not, pray! Seek God’s guidance and direction! He surely knows what your heart needs. He absolutely knows what will come along your path in the next year. And, most importantly, He loves you so very much and wants to guide you along the right path for you!

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.
Lamentations 3:25

I am praying for you, too! If you would like, I would love to pray with you…send me a FaceBook message!

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{ For those of you who love to read, Pastor Mike Ashcraft wrote this marvelous book My One Word: Change Your Life with Just One Word sharing the journey that he took along with the congregation of the church he shepherds. It’s a great book and in it he shares much more of the heart behind the discipline of ‘one word.’ }

God is Always There

SeekingHimLogo

A refuge is a shelter where you feel safe and protected. David, if anyone, knew firsthand what it was to trust God in all situations. David began trusting God as a young shepherd boy tending the family flock of sheep. God watched David grow in faith and strength, knowledge and love. As a child I always knew God existed around me. I would sing, I would pray, I would always marvel at His magnificent workmanship. He was there even before I knew who He was—watching over me and protecting me—creating a refuge to which I could go in faith and love.

Abraham had a faith from the moment God called him to follow Him. It must have amazed and been awe-inspiring for Abraham when God spoke to him.  Abraham chose to obey, leave his home with his wife and go to a land that God had chosen for him and blindly follow where God would lead. And Sarah must have trusted her husband to follow where Abraham led not knowing who God was. God always provided a refuge for Abraham and Sarah. God showed Abraham that no matter where they were…God was there to protect them. Even when Abraham did not seek God’s wisdom in different situations, God was still always there.

When my son, Brandon was young, I was able to recognize that I needed to cover him in prayer. Being divorced and both my ex and I remarried there were things that could happen of which I had no control over. I prayed against my fears and prayed for wisdom to know when to speak and when silence was best. I would speak to those at church who were familiar with our situation and who loved Brandon as much as I did. I learned from my neighbor what it was to cover him with prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to protect him when he was not home. I strove, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to create a refuge for Brandon when he came back from his dad’s. Praise God, Brandon still follows Him and is active in the church. I also thank God for putting those people in my life to help me become even stronger in my faith and trust.

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Father, thank You for always being there when I need You. Help me focus on Your Word and Your Will for my life. Give me wisdom and discernment to walk in Your ways. Forgive me when I fail. Never give up on me and my willingness to serve You. Thank You, in Jesus’ name, amen.

God’s Angels

SeekingHimLogo

For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 91:11

This verse has been sticking me for the past 24 hours.  God commands His angels to guard us no matter what we do.  Now, it does not necessarily mean that this angel is the angel we all see in pictures.  God’s angels come in all forms.  It may be somebody we know or may be in something that happens.

We have had many accidental deaths in our area over the past few weeks.  I am reminded of one accident where a girl was pulling out of her driveway and was hit by a drunk driver.  She was 18 or 19 years old.  She died.  When the paramedics and firemen pulled her body away from her steering wheel, there were hardly any marks or outward injuries present.  They said it was like one of God’s angels had wrapped their arms around her as she died.  It was like she was hugged and comforted as she entered eternity.  I am glad to know that when I die, or just in anything I am doing, that God will have Jesus or an angel there with me.

God is a refuge and a fortress.  When we are down or in trouble, we should take refuge in our God.  My son is having adjustment issues to kindergarten.  His first day went terribly.  I blamed myself.  See, he has been in daycare since he was 6 weeks old.  I have to work.  It was a family decision.  I blamed myself because I know he is acting out to get attention.  I felt like I had deprived him over the last 5 years.  Thanks to God’s angels (my husband, my mother, and friends whose own kids started kindergarten and had similar days), I was relieved to know that I was not the only one whose kid was having trouble adjusting.  I felt better.  God sent his angels to comfort me and bring me back up from my despair.

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God, I pray that You send Your angels to protect us in no matter what we do.  We know that You are our Refuge.  We can come to You no matter the time, place, or situation.  I pray that You send Your angels—spiritual and physical—to us everyday as a sign of Your love and protection.   Amen.

“I AM” Week 3 – Day 2: Check Your Attitude

Memory Verse

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:19

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I find myself telling my kids to check their attitude; how to do things we’re asked to do is just as important, if not more important, than actually doing it. If Girlfrineds Coffee Hourwe do things with a negative attitude we may as well not do it at all. The other day I asked my older son to help his little brother tie his shoes. After some huffing, puffing, and stomping over to the other side of the room the task was being completed, but no one was happy about it!  The older son was bugged about having to do it, and the younger son could tell that his brother did not want to help him.

I have to ask myself though, how many times God has asked me to do something and I have had a bad attitude about it!  How many times has my boss asked me to do something and I grumbled and complained. How many times I have looked at the daily tasks of being a wife and mother and have completed them with less than a positive attitude.

I don’t think God expects us to be unrealistically happy about everything, everyday. We’re a “why” people. Thankfully, we have a patient God who answers our why’s without punishing us, or saying, “Because I said so.”   As Teresa showed us, instead of being upset with Habakkuk for asking why, for questioning God’s motives and reasons, God took the time to show Habakkuk the beauty behind what He was doing.  He showed him the goal that He was accomplishing.

“God is patient to let us ask our questions, process the answers and apply the knowledge to our lives.”  Having questions isn’t a bad thing when we come to God honestly, and with sincerity.

Habakkuk 1:2-4 (NKJV)

O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear?
     Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save.
Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble?
     For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife,
     and contention arises.
 Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth.
     For the wicked surround the righteous;
     Therefore perverse judgment proceeds

Habakkuk 3:2 (MSG)

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.

Look at the conversation between Habakkuk and God; look at the openness and look at the relationship between the two. Compare this to the words of Jonah:

Jonah 4:2-3 (NKJV)

So he prayed to the Lord, and said,
“Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still
in my country?  Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish;

for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God,
slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness,
One who relents from doing harm.

Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me,
for it is better for me to die than to live!”

“It is better for me to die than live!”—those are strong words.

When we’re asked to do something we have two choices.  We can either say “Yes, Lord.” knowing that sometimes that yes may come along with questions. Our patient Father is more than willing to answer our questions. Or we can turn the other way and spend time in the belly of a fish, not literally, but in our own way.

We are responsible for our attitude, and our attitude can change our outlook of the tasks we are given through life. I’m going to write this verse down and keep it with me; it will remind me that whatever happens God will make a way, He will provide for me. My job is to have a good attitude about the path He has placed me on.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NKJV)

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls –
  Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We are asked on a daily basis to complete tasks and do things in life that we may be less than happy about.  Lord, please remind us that instead of grumbling and running from the task, You will provide and make a way for the task to be accomplished, even when we can’t see that way. Thank You for Your patience.  Thank You for answering our questions. Lord, thank You for Your grace and for second chances when we run and complain like Jonah.  I pray when we’re asked to complete a task that we take the time to step back and pray, and check our attitude to make sure it lines up with You and Your word.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.

“I Am” Chapter 2 – Day 2: Seeing God in the Tough Times

We see God in the good times.  We see the blessings He gives us.  We see the provisions He makes for us, and we see all He does for us. He doesn’t have to reveal Himself in the good times, we see Him in abundance. But those bad times, the bad days, during the stormy seasons, He is not as visible. Not because He isn’t there, but because we allow the circumstances to block our view of God. We allow the situation to overshadow His promises. We try to fix our problems.

When I face tough times, I feel far away from God. I’m not implying that God has abandoned me or that He is leaving me to figure out my problems for myself, but I don’t feel as close or connected as I normally do. When I face tough times I have to intentionally seek out my Heavenly Father. In those tough times I need Him to reveal Himself to me. I need to see Him.

 “God  wants  us  to  rely  on  Him  and  only  Him  to  make  it  through our days”

This sentence stood out to me and made me look at how I handle my life in tough times. I will be the first to admit that when the tough times roll my way I do not always lean on God; sometimes my initial reaction is to lean on myself.  I try to figure a way out of the situation I’m in.   But thankfully, like with the Israelites, God does not get tired of repeating Himself.   He doesn’t lose His patience.  He doesn’t give up on me when I keep repeating the cycle over and over. He loves me through my good and my bad. My good behavior and my bad behavior.  My good times and my bad times.

God does not make bad things happen to us, but He does allow us to go through trials.  These trials bring us back to Him.  They cause us to seek Him for guidance and support. These times cause us to intentionally look for Him.  They remind us that we can not do it alone.  He uses these times to remind us that He is there and that we need to lean on Him.

 Ezekiel 20:7 

Then I said to them, ‘Each of you, throw away the abominations which are before His eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. am the Lord your God.’

Ezekiel 20:42

Then you shall know that am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers.

Ezekiel 20:19

am the Lord your God: walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them.

I love this following reminder:

If we look at the character of God in the Old Testament, we see a God who wants a personal relationship with us.” When we, when I, don’t give Him my good and bad times, I am limiting His power in my life; I am not trusting that He can handle the easy and tough seasons I will go through.

I want to make this one of my go-to verses:

 Psalm 34:8

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.

We need to be intentional about trusting God in my tough times. We need to be intentional about seeing God in our tough times.

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for not tiring of reminding us of Your love.  Thank You for not losing Your patience with us when we don’t seek You in our tough times. “You are the Lord our God.”  You desire a personal relationship with us. You desire for us to seek You when life is good and when life isn’t so good. Lord please help us to stand on Your word.  You are good, and we will be blessed when we seek refuge in You, in good times and in bad times.  Thank You for Your love.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.

Amen