Elisha was a prophet of Israel, but he also was kind of a spy letting the King know if the Syrian army was up to anything. The Syrians were aware of this so they figured if they capture Elisha it would solve their problem.
One night the Syrian army surrounded Elisha and his young, new servant. The servant was very concerned about the situation, asking, “What should we do?” But Elisha had a confident belief about him. He knew that God would protect them. He believed what King David had said that God’s angels would surround and protect them.
Elisha knew that this confidence comes from experience and knowing how God takes care of His own, so he prayed that God would open the eyes of his servant to see the Lord’s Angel armies all around them. And God did it! The servant looked around and there were horses and fiery chariots all around ready to protect him and Elisha.
Can you imagine that? …
Seeing all those fiery horses and chariots on all sides? How exciting!
Trouble on Every Side
2020 has been one of those years with so much trouble on every side. I pray that God has opened your eyes to see His armies standing ready to defeat your enemies. I pray that God will give you the confidence of Paul when he wrote. “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12
Let’s walked with confidence into the new year that God has it all under control.
Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart
Nought be all else to me, save that Thy art
Thou my best thought in the day and the night
Waking or sleeping, Thou presence my light
Be Thou my wisdom, be Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord
Thou my great Father and I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one
Be Thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight
Be Thou my armor and be Thou my might
Thou my soul shelter, and Thy my high tower
Raise Thou me heavenwards, oh power of my power
Riches I need not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance through all of my days
Thou and Thou only though first in my heart
High king of heaven my treasure Thou art
Oh high king of heaven, when battle is done
Grant heaven's joy to me, bright heaven sun
Christ of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, though ruler of all
When I was single, I longed for days when we could all be together again. I grew up with 5 siblings. There was always activity going on around the farm. But far from home with no family nearby, it could get mighty lonely. Phone calls only made me more homesick. I prayed to be able to see my family again. I prayed that Jesus would allow me to get home to see my family.
Oh, to be together as a family. My heart often aches because I live so far from my parents, especially now as they are aging. Not being able to check in on them and see how they are doing is difficult.
Paul wrote the same thing to the Thessalonians. They were like brothers and sisters to him. He desired to be with them to see how their faith was growing. He urged them to keep loving each other as an example and a reminder of how much he loved them. Even more so, how much Jesus loved them.
One day there will be a great homecoming and all Christians everywhere – and from every time – will be together forever. And even better than that we will be with Jesus. It is God’s preposterous promise… to be with us!
Won’t that be a glorious day? We will finally be home and together with Jesus.
Points to Ponder:
C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” [Mere Christianity] We were made for another world. Take a look at Genesis 2 and note this perfect world. Who did Adam and Eve walk with each evening?
How can we thank you enough, Lord? You have provided a way for us to be with you again. Thank You for sending Your Son to earth to live, die, and rise again to save us from our sins. Guide us in Your truth and cause Your love to increase in our hearts and for each other. Strengthen our hearts as we live for You and keep us blameless in holiness before You when our Lord Jesus returns. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.
Published with permission. Originally written by Mandy Farmer and published at the Discipleship Place ~ Women’s Ministries at The Church of the Nazarene November 2019
Is it really that big of a deal when we tell a little white lie? What does it hurt? The answer to that is, “It hurts God”. He created us in His image and that image is about His character. When we lie, are we reflecting the image of God? NO! Because God is Truth.
I recently wrote a Bible study for Gracefully Truthful on why God includes Lying in the Ten Commandments. I’ll share an excerpt to that study in this post but you can continue the study at Gracefully Truthful.
Mankind has grappled with the definition of truth throughout the ages. Hours before His death, Pilate posed this question to Jesus. But Pilate’s query was rhetorical, meant to dismiss the subject. He was only interested in the truth of Rome, Caesar, and political power (Morris).
Even today, the struggle to define and understand truth persists. Many people want to believe in a truth of their own, based on perspective or personal preference. But Scripture teaches God alone is our source of absolute, unchanging, timeless, big “T” Truth.
We see the day coming but we are no more ready to face the King of Kings and the Lords of Lords than they were in Joel’s day. We sit in our padded pews and “mourn” the sinfulness of our nation but ignore the subtle sins in our own hearts. Our nation will not “turn and repent” until they see that living for God looks different than the rest of the world.
When we look in the mirror of the Ten Commandments, what do we see? Is it righteousness or self-righteousness? Does reading this list cause us to fall on our knees in true repentance like the prophet Isaiah did when he saw the Lord in the temple?
Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Challenge to Examine Your Heart
I challenge you to read down the list of commandments. Ask God to show you where you have failed him. If you don’t see any failure, read it again. And then again. Slow down, read slowly, and consider the subtle things that Satan has blinded you from.
How much time do you spend with God? 5 minutes a day? Do you have a quiet time? study the Word?
What have you placed above God? Job, Success, family, sports?
Do you treat the Sabbath just like every other day of the week?
What ways do you honor your parents?
Have you stolen anything lately? Extra time at lunch? office supplies? Have you robbed from God, by withholding tithes and offerings?
Do you lie and cheat to climb the ladder of success? Do you gossip in the guise of a prayer request?
Are you jealous of those who have more than you?
Hmmm… I wonder why people want nothing to do with Christianity.
Yes. We are all sinners
It’s true. None of us are righteous. We are all worthless and separated from God. Even King David who was considered “a man after God’s own heart” sinned. And he sinned BIG!
The size of the sin is not what matters. What matters is our response when we see that we have sinned against God. This week I wrote at Gracefully Truthful about David’s response when he was confronted with his sin. Click the purple image to read.
Let’s take a look at the words of the prophet, Joel. He said if we repent, maybe God in His Mercy will forgive us and visit us once more. Let’s check it out.
“Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart and not your garments; Return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him;
True Repentance requires more than just “I’m sorry”. It produces change, a turning away from sin. Too often our apologies are not sincere. We are more sorry that we were caught than mournful of our sin. We say “I’m sorry” but we don’t turn from our wicked ways. There must be a change of heart and life. If it is real, the change will be noticeable.
Seek His Face
Many times God says in His Word if we seek Him, we will find Him. Right smack in the middle of the Bible is Psalm 119. It’s a poem using each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The entire chapter is all about seeking God and meditating on His Word. Start here in your search for God.
Don’t just read a quick devotion or a few verses and go on your way. Think about what it says and how it applies to you. Ask God to show you why that particular passage is there for you. What can you learn? If you need help with this, I would suggest the online study Gracefully Truthful or try the First Five phone app which studies a chapter a day. This and many others are free online. There are also some great Bible apps for your phone.
Also, invite His Holy Spirit to take full control of your life. Consider your heart as a house. When you ask the Lord into your heart when you are saved, He comes in. But do you only allow him to stay in your living room? Do you allow him into your kitchen? your bedroom? closet? attic or basement? God wants it all. He wants full control. And until we surrender it all to Him, we are still the one in the driver’s seat. We aren’t in full obedience to God.
Fast Weep Mourn
fast – Abstinence from food and/or drink as an element of private or public religious devotion. Today, some will fast other things they “can’t” live without. The importance is that you use this time for prayer.
weep –To express sorrow, grief or anguish by outcry.
mourn – The Greek word used for mourn is “pentheo,” which means to “wail or passionately lament, grief so all-encompassing it cannot be hidden.” The same word is used in Mark 16:10 to describe the emotions of Jesus’ followers after His crucifixion, a soul-deep sorrow.
2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us “godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation.” Thus, it is a necessary mourning, required for us to reach a place of complete repentance before God.
Honestly consider, have you been truly repentant for your sins?For the sins of the nation? Regrettably, I doubt that most of us have. In Bible times, people would tear (rend) their clothing in remorse. But sometimes this became just a show. (like the Pharisees) Try Anne Graham Lotz’s prayer from the National Day of Prayer. You can find it on her website here.
What rituals are you doing by habit or just showing off your spirituality? I’m reminded of the Pharisees praying, “Thank you, that I am not like them.” We need humility and true sorrow as we pray. This is what Joel meant by “rend your hearts, and not your clothes”
Let’s come to God with a broken and contrite heart as David did in Psalm 51. He was a picture of true repentance.
This summer (2020) Susie Larson is offering a free online study of her latest book, Fully Alive. This was such a helpful book for me, so I decided to repost this review. She is offering the book for only $10 [CODE: FAITHRADIO] and the study is free! Sign up at the end of this post.
NOTE: I received this book at no charge in exchange for writing this review. These words are my own opinion and I have not been compensated to say them.
Dare to Hope again
Have you been losing your hope lately? What is it that is pulling you down into
Earthquakes. Raging Fires. Hurricanes, Flooding, Food Shortages, Pandemic diseases. Riots in the Streets. When does it stop Lord?
If you love us wouldn’t you save us from these evil times?
You are mighty to save, we know you can do it. [Zephaniah 3:17]
Where is God when you need Him?
God IS a Mighty God
It is true. God is a mighty God. His mightiness is seen in the heavens. [Psalm 19:1] With a word, He created the heavens and the earth. [Genesis 1] While in space, Astronaut John Glenn said, “To look at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is impossible”.
Throughout the Bible, we read about God using His might to save the people. He destroyed evil with a flood; He saved the Israelites from Egypt with His might by sending plagues and finally led the people through the Red Sea, drowning the Egyptian army. Then He walked in the fire with the Hebrew children saving their lives and showing His might.
Again and Again, He showed up with great power. So why not now?
He Sent Jesus to Save us
The prophet Isaiah pronounced that God would send a savior, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Isaiah 9:6-7]
Consequently, the Israelites expected the Messiah to come as Mighty God, a warrior to overthrow their enemies and to set up His Kingdom. But God had something different in mind. The Messiah came humble, meek, and mild. The Israelites could not grasp this plan of God.
God’s Ultimate Plan to Save
The Mighty God indeed had the power to set up His kingdom at that time. With just a Word, He calmed the seas, healed the sick, and raised the dead; however, these miracles were only to show us that He was indeed Mighty God. This was not His ultimate purpose.
What man really needed was not a rescue from slavery and tyranny. It was not for better health or wealth or to even have “peace on earth”. What man really needed was redemption from sin.
God showed up in all His might that Easter morning when He raised Jesus up from the grave, defeating the power of sin and death.
Ugh! This has always been a challenge for me. What about you?
I recall all my life being told that journaling was a good practice to get into. You may not believe this but I’ve always been a gal of few words. I was the one in my family of 8 growing up to just sit back and listen, not having much to add to the conversation. At school, teachers complained that I did not participate in class. I just didn’t see the need.
I never even had a diary as a young girl. I tried several times, but I would sit down and nothing came to mind. And if it did I didn’t dare write it down where someone might find it and read it. I tried, when my daughter was a baby, to write down the different events and funny stories. And there were a lot. I made a fabric-covered journal and started out with her week-long stay in the hospital with jaundice. That journal has about three pages written in it.
After being struck with chronic pain, I was again challenged to journal my experience so that I could share about it later. I didn’t do it at the time but about 5 years in, I starting blogging. I basically wrote about my Journey with Chronic Pain.
I really can’t even do a good job of keeping a health journal, which I really need to do with all the things I have going on. And, of course, a food journal would be really helpful. But, again, I last about two weeks and that’s the end of that.
But finally, I have seemed to find a place where I enjoy journaling and keep at it. That is Bible Journaling. Most of my journaling with Bible study still falls closer to copying scripture but writing out scriptures has made them so much more real for me.
My routine when studying and journaling goes somewhat like this:
Read the scripture, possibly in two or three different versions. While I read, I pay attention to particular scriptures that are most meaningful to me. There are probably thousands of reading plans to follow. And there are more than I know bloggers that offer there own monthly reading plans. I recommend Arabah Joy’s reading plans which are free just for following her blog.
Write out the meaningful (to me) portion of scripture.
On the second day, go back and re-read the scripture this time with a highlighter. There are several systems you can use which assign colors to themes. Download one of these or create your own. I recently received Lo Tanner’s Bible Study Key for free. She is hosting a NKJV Journal the Word Bible Giveaway all this month (June 2020)
If you love to draw or doodle, be sure to learn about Bible Journaling with art. The above-mentioned journal Bible is created for this. It gives you lots of room in the margins for pictures and doodles; but, then again, you could use the space for notes too! If you are new to this type of journaling, go to The Holy Mess and sign up for a little training and click here for some printables.
We’ve been talking about reading the scriptures. Let’s take it a step further and study the scriptures. When I was a young adult, I was challenged to start spending more time in the Word. Start with five minutes and increase it as you go. What I found, before long, I was spending an hour or more each day reading and studying the Word and loving every minute of it. And the Words have become a part of my life.
Susan Annete Muto states,
Our Spiritual life is refreshed whenever we take the time to savor these timeless values. They become a living part of who we are. The text is like a bridge between the limits of our life here and now and the possibilities awaiting us if we open our minds and hearts to God.
Pathways of Spiritual Living
Making Habits is Difficult
Habits always hard to get started but once we do, it really isn’t all that hard. Find the best time to do some scripture reading. It will refresh your life. Here are a few ideas:
Rise 15 minutes earlier. Start small with even just 5 minutes. And then increase it as you can. I like reading in the morningbecause it stays with me for the rest of the day. It seems to make my day go better.
Read during your lunch hour. Find a quiet spot where you won’t get interrupted. Go out to your car; up to your bedroom, or even the bathroom.
First thing when you get home from work. Sit down in your lounge chair and enjoy a few minutes with the Lord. If you have family, stop off at the park and read for a bit before arriving home. It might refresh your mind and help your leave work at the office.
At the dinner table. This is actually a great time to have family devotions. After all, you need spiritual food just as much as you need physical food.
At bedtime. This is a good way to remove all the crud out of our minds. It helps us have a good night’s rest.
Let the Scriptures Sink in. Study it.
Listen to it – There are many sources available now to listen to God’s Word. For some of us, we do better when we hear instruction then trying to read it. You could download the reading of the Word and listen to it on your way to and from work. I recently read from a fellow blogger that she started following along while she listened and it revolutionized her Bible Reading. Most Bible apps which I shared earlier, offer reading the word aloud.
Scripture – Read the scripture carefully. Maybe write the scripture out in your journal.
Observe – Consider what stands out to you? What questions do you have?
Apply – How does the scripture apply to your life? Journal it.
Kneel – Talk to God about changes you need to make or claiming the promise.
Hear God’s Voice – I love to use Ann Graham Lotz’s journaling study guide. You can go to AnGeL Ministries for a video lesson but here’s the short of it. And remember, you don’t have to do a whole chapter. It could just be a verse or two.
Write it Out
What does it Mean
What Does it Mean TO ME?
Online studies. Just ask around and find one that works for you. Reading and studying the Bible really will make your life happier and fuller. Arabah Joy offers excellent reading plans ever month. Follow her blog for some great guidance.
Proverbs 31 Ministries. You can join them online with great book studies by awesome authors like Lysa Terkhurst. This summer they will study one of my favorite authors, Wendy Pope’s new book, Hidden Potential. You can sign up now for more information. Or download the free app, First Five, and read a chapter a day – five days a week.
Gracefully Truthful – I found this online study last year and have thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so, that, not only am I studying with them every day I have become a writer for them. This is an online Bible Study for women using strictly the Bible. There is no cost.
Let’s Get Started Studying!
Come by next week and we will talk ” the joy of journaling”.
1 How happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the Lord’s instruction! 2 Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek him with all their heart. 3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. 4 You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept. 5 If only my ways were committed to keeping your statutes! 6 Then I would not be ashamed when I think about all your commands. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart when I learn your righteous judgments. 8 I will keep your statutes; never abandon me.
Those Who Read the Scriptures Regularly are Happy People
Scripture. Scripture. Scripture.
I can’t tell you enough how important it is to be in the Word of God daily. You may say, but Mandy, I just don’t have the time. But may I submit to you that you have plenty of time. You may have to give up a little sleep or some Facebook Time or maybe a little TV. But, as the Psalmist said, you will be so much happier and you won’t even notice the sacrifice. Let’s commit to reading the scriptures.
His Ways are Blameless
Have you ever been in trouble for something that you didn’t even know was wrong? It happened once to me in elementary school. The assignment was given when I was out sick. So when I returned and didn’t have the work done, I found myself writing out pages of “I will obey the rules.”
Maybe you got stopped for speeding but you didn’t see the speed limit sign. I’m sure that we have all been in a situation like this. And I am sure you weren’t too happy.
We can say we didn’t know but the truth is, we have allowed ourselves to be ignorant of the rules. It is still our own fault. When we stand before our creator, He will ask why we haven’t obeyed His law. “I didn’t know” will NOT be an acceptable excuse.
Make sure you know the rules. Pretty simple. And how do we know the rules? Reading the Scriptures. Study them. Memorize them. Today let’s start with reading the scriptures.
Maintain at all costs a daily time of Scripture reading and prayer. As I look back, I see that the most formative influence in my life and thought has been my daily contact with Scripture over 60 years.
from Frank Gaebelein: Character Before Career”
Scriptures Should be the Center of Life
Psalm 119 is an acrostic using the Hebrew letters of the alphabet. The Psalmist alphabetically speaks of the benefits of God’s Word by having each stanza major on a particular topic. The main theme of this chapter is God’s Word being front and center in David’s life. This chapter has 176 verses. It is the longest chapter of the Bible and I find it interesting that this chapter happens to be right in the center of the entire Bible. Coincidence? I think not.
I have treasured Your Word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.
Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
We recognize God’s Voice. We can know that God is speaking to us because we know the things He would say.
His Word is like a mirror, showing us the good AND the evil in our lives.
It calls us to salvation and holiness.
It revolutionizes our life. We become more and more aware of God’s instruction thus, it changes our life.
What is the best way to read the Bible?
The best way is whatever way works for you. I waver between reading an actual Bible right on my lap and reading from an app on my phone of kindle.
First, I want my family to know and see that I am reading the Scriptures. If I am reading from an app, who knows what I am reading? And later, after I am gone, will they see the notes and highlights in my app? I think that I am leaving a better legacy for them by reading from the written Word.
However, an app takes up no extra space. It’s not heavy and is likely with you wherever you go. If I’m sitting in the doctor’s office or waiting in line to pick up my child from school, my Bible is there waiting for me to take 5 minutes to read. It also provides many versions which I find advantageous. Therefore, I find myself going back and forth between the two.
Preferred Versions of the Scriptures
Many still love to hold on to the King James Version (KJV). The KJV is a wonderful version to read. I find it very poetic. and Since it is what I grew up with, most of what I have memorized is in this version. The New KJV is wonderful. The translators have removed all the Thee’s and Thou’s.
The church I attend has embraced the New International Version which is a more updated English version. It’s a bit more understandable being in modern English.
My absolute favorite at this time is the New Living Translation. The NLT is translated beautifully into Modern English. Many find it very understandable. Different from the Living Bible which is a paraphrase – Someone’s interpretation of the Bible.
Another paraphrase that is well-liked and reads with modern lingo is The Message. Both of these paraphrases are excellent reads and give a great interpretation. They are great for storytelling and even for help in understanding.
A Few Scripture Apps you May Like
There are many possibilities for download on your phone or computer. These are a few I have used. These offer several version options and reading plans. Some offer devotional plans and even books. I’ll give you the links and you can research further to find what works best for you.
It is often asked, “Why is God so angry in the Old Testament and so loving in the New Testament?” But if we look closely we will find that God shows a lot of love in the Old Testament. And indeed, we can find His anger in the New as well. So possibly, we need to understand the difference between God’s wrath and man’s anger.
Let’s Dig into God’s Wrath vs. Man’s Anger
Man’s wrath most often comes from being wronged or misunderstood. It is usually motivated by selfishness and focuses on punishing, hurting, or destroying people while perpetuating, or justifying one’s own sin and selfishness.
God’s Word says, “…the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God”. (James 1:19-20) Notice the connection between understanding and anger found in Proverbs 17:27, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”
The wrath of God is righteous anger. It is “revealed from heaven” (verse 18). God is holy and righteous, and He cannot be in the presence of sin and evil. He is angered at the evil ways man has chosen to follow while He upholds all that is right and just. He is angered because He loves His people deeply, but sin has separated Him from mankind. (Isaiah 59:2)
Man’s Attempt to Live a Pure Life
Under the law of the Old Testament, man could not live a righteous life because they would always fail to perfectly keep the whole law. The law reminded them daily of their sin. They felt the guilt and the wrath of God every time they broke the law.
Every year they would return to the temple with sacrifices to atone for their sin as they asked God to forgive them. But it didn’t stick because the blood of animals can never atone for sin completely, only a perfect sacrifice could do that. (Hebrews 10:4) Sin and its guilt always returned. (Hebrews 10:2-4)
But under grace in the New Testament, there is forgiveness once and for all because Christ, as the perfect sacrifice, gave Himself for us. (Hebrews 9:26) There is no condemnation for our sins when we are in Christ! (Romans 8:1-4)
Christ, the High Priest, has opened the way for us to be completely forgiven, once and for all. (Hebrews 10:10-14) Because of this Covenant of Grace, God’s love seems more prominent than His Righteous anger.
Do you have questions about God and the Bible? Follow the Questions study at Gracefully Truthful this month for some answers. If you would like to dig deeper on the subject of God’s anger, continue reading my post at Gracefully Truthful Online Bible Studies for Women this week under the theme – Questions. My study will continue on Thursday, March 5th on GT.
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