January 21, 2018

I Will Not Fear

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will triumph in Yahweh;
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
Yahweh my Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like those of a deer
and enables me to walk on mountain heights!
Habakkuk 3:17-19

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I am claiming this verse today…and I am placing my needs before His feet. Fig trees and olive crops are symbols for the things of this world that we may lack at this very moment.  August is always hard here.  School is looming and there are always needs: clothes, shoes, school supplies (and now with one in college), the list goes on…and on. But isn’t God so much bigger than any of these?  {yes!}

It’s funny how God leads me to certain verses on the days that i write…and it always is something that I need to hear and to pass along to you.  What are you believing God for today?  Are you struggling to believe at all?  Sometimes things feel so desperate (and, truly, they may be).  There may be no food in the pantry and no money to go purchase any.  Or a really big bill is due and you have absolutely no idea how you are going to pay it.  Or an illness and a bad report has you feeling like there is no hope at all.

But the good news is this: There is always hope in Jesus!

I know that my sound cliche but it is so true! If you put all your hope and all your efforts into just praising Him today—though the problems may still be there—there will be joy in place of sorrow!  Hope will replace hopelessness and praise will replace pity.  We may not get to choose the circumstances in our lives but we can choose how we react to them.  (I am preaching to myself!)

Fear and worry are stealers, and they come straight from the enemy who wants nothing more than to rob you of all you have.  He especially wants to take your hope away.  But if we let him have that…we have let him win.  The enemy doesn’t go after your salvation.  He can’t have it!  But he can take the peace that comes with the salvation that Jesus gave His own life for us to have.  One of my favorite passages is Psalms 23.  It was one of the first ones that I learned in elementary school and it is one that has gotten me through a lot of hard times.  In verse 4 is says:

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.
Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.

Today, as you read this verse, fill in the blank with your own valley.

Even when I walk through ________,
I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. 

And know beyond a shadow of a doubt that whatever it is you wrote down, that your God is able to do this and so much more.  Claim it with me today…and enjoy the sunshine today!

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Let us pray: Dear God, You are so full of love for us and Your grace is sufficient for every minute that we breathe.  You are the same always; You never change.  Thank You for Your provision and Your hand in everything that we go through.  You waste nothing, oh Lord!  I pray today for all these friends reading this today, that You would give them back their joy and peace, oh God!  And that nothing that the enemy throws at them can take away the hope that they have in You.  Silence his lies today and everyday.  Remind them that feelings are feelings but that Your Word is truth.  Lead them to the truth today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

It Is Well With My Soul

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When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot You have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul

It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul 

Jars of Clay
Original writers: Horatio Spafford, Phillip Bliss
This version: Chris Rice, Stephen Mason, Matt Odmark, Jim Cooper, Dan Haseltine, Travis Cottrell, James Brickman, Charlie Lowell

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Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.
Psalm 116:7

I can say that this is one of those hymns that the Holy Spirit brings to mind on many occasions and especially on the really hard days.  The Lord speaks to us through music, I know for sure.  Some days (even before the first cup of coffee) are already setting me up for failure.  I think in my head that there are words that I shouldn’t have said yesterday and I went to bed without an “I’m sorry”…and there will be words today that I will wish I could take back.  There are cluttered cabinets that need to be cleaned out, kind of like the cluttered  mind that needs to hear Jesus.  I am a frustrated perfectionist and I often compare my lack to others’ abundance.  But the Holy Spirit whispers early…in the form of a hymn…’it is well with my soul‘.  And it is….

In the 1800’s, a man named Horatio Spafford had lived through what he thought were the hardest trials of his life—his only son died and, shortly after, a horrible fire consumed all he had materially.  He recovered only to hit bottom two years later.  He put his wife and four daughters on a ship to England and he was to meet them soon.  Not long after they took off, the ship ran into another ship and the children sunk to the bottom of the ocean.  He received a telegram four days after from his wife that said, “Saved alone.”  He got on a ship to meet her and, as he went over the location where his daughters had drowned, these words came to his mind: “When sorrows like sea billows roll…” and there was birthed one of the greatest hymns of all times.

Yes, he lost his children (something I cannot even imagine).  But in all that tragedy, his God was enough.  The fact that Jesus loved him was all he needed to make it through.  He knew that Jesus was coming again to take him and his wife to meet his girls.  So here on earth, he would choose to live his days in praise.

What about you today?  Are you experiencing loss?  It may not be as severe as the loss of a child (or four children) but it may hurt still.  I pray today that you and I are able to look at all the chaos around us and still have peace and be able to say without hesitation that “It is well with my soul.”

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Let us pray: Dear Lord, You are awesome and mighty, You bring me to my knees in worship and praise!  You are Holy and You are worthy of all that we are and all that we have and we love You.  Thank You for the peace that comes from just knowing You and knowing that Jesus took away all our sins so that we are looked at as pure in Your eyes.  Oh Lord, I pray for all the broken hearts today.  I pray that You can mend them and put a new song in each one; one that says “It is well with my soul”…no matter what.  Your love is enough.  In Jesus’ name, amen.