As you attend church today, meditate on the first 6 verses of Psalm 139. They are precious and reveal much about who we are and who God is. He is to be praised.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
May you realize today that God knows you, all about you. Can you even imagine such knowledge? When you couple Psalm 139 with Nahum 1:9The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
and Psalm 23:1-3 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
you get a picture of our loving God who knows and cares for YOU.
And the journey continues….2 Kings, again. I love this book of history as God has so much to teach us within its chapters. Chapter 6 relates the story of what happened to Elisha when the king of Arman came after him. The king was at war with Israel and told his officers where they were going to camp. Elisha was forewarned by God and warned the king of Israel. The king of Aram was enraged and thought he had a traitor in the midst of his army. When the soldier told him it wasn’t them but the prophet Elisha who was relaying even the words spoken in his bedroom to Israel’s king, the king of Aram sent horses and chariots to come and kill Elisha. Elisha’s servant saw the army coming and ran to tell Elisha in fear. Here is Elisha’s response and what happened.
2 Kings 6:15-23. “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”17And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
Elisha was aware of God’s protective presence that was unseen by the servant until God opened his eyes. So it is with us. God has given us His angels to protect us even though we are totally unaware. Psalm 91:11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” God is always with us and will never leave us nor forsake us! Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” If you are in a difficult situation, pray and ask God to open your heart and eyes to feel and see His protection. Always remember that God is with you 24/7!
The last part of this story shows God’s mercy and compassion. The soldiers were struck with blindness, lead to the foreign city, their eyes opened and then treated with kindness and mercy just as if they were captives. The end result was the king of Aram stopped raiding and attacking Israel and God’s people were protected. James reminds us of this truth in James 2:12-13 that mercy triumphs over judgement. “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. This is how we are to treat one another, erring on the side of mercy and allowing God to be glorified through our merciful actions and attitudes.
There is one other incident from 2 Kings that I recall often as I feel it totally applies to our lives today. King Hezekiah was a good king and followed the Lord. He was attacked by Sennecherib the king of Assyria who was threatening to invade Jerusalem. Hezekiah knew their army was not strong enough to repel the attack. Sennecherib sent an envoy with a letter demanding their surrender and in it he mocked the God of Israel. Here is what Hezekiah did. 2 Kings 19:14-19
“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. 17 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”
God replied through the prophet Isaiah and foretold the coming destruction of Assyria. God also sent encouragement to Hezekiah and said the would be saved. 2 Kings 19:32-36 “Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: ‘He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. 33 By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the Lord. 34 I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’”
35 That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.
Why this story resonates so much with me is because Hezekiah was at the ‘end of his rope’ and laid his problem before Almighty God. He knew by faith that God was greater and that no other god was more powerful. God spared the faithful Israelites and the Assyrians left in defeat without a shot being heard. When I feel I’m at the end of my rope, I remember this story and practice laying my burdens before Him. I claim His promise in 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Both of these stories show how amazing our God is and how He will fight for us if we look for His presence, and humble ourselves before Him. May the all seeing God who can victoriously fight any battle be with you today.
And the journey continues… 2 Kings. This is a fascinating book with so many examples of God’s working in the lives of His people. The prophet Elijah ends his ministry in Chapter 2 when God takes him up into heaven without facing death. God made his departure spectacular as a fiery chariot appeared and took him to heaven in a whirlwind! 2 Kings2:11. The only other person God took to heaven was Enoch in Genesis 5:24.2 Kings highlights the ministry of Elisha the prophet and gives the history of the kings of both the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. There are many miracles written of Elisha; he was a man of God that walked humbly with God and followed His direction.
In Chapter 4 we find a widow whose husband belonged to a company of prophets who worked in Elisha’s service. She asked for Elisha’s help as her sons were about to be taken as slaves to pay their debt. He asks, “How can I help?” He asks her what she has in the house. She tells him she has a bit of oil. So Elisha directs her to gather a lot of jars, shut herself in the house and begin filling them. When all were filled and there were no more jars, the oil ran out. Then Elisha instructed her to sell the oil, pay the debt and use the money that remained to live with her family. I love this story as it shows Elisha’s compassion in helping the woman see how her few resources became great with God’s power. In that same chapter, Elisha often visits a well to do family in Shunem. The wife offers to make him a room on the roof, with her husband’s permission, so that Elisha and his servant could stay there whenever they are in the region. Elisha asks the woman what can he do for her as a way of thanks. She says she needs nothing but his servant points out she does not have a son and her husband is old. So Elisha calls to her and tells her she will have a son this time next year. She was amazed and grateful. A few years later the son is injured and she calls Elisha to come even after he is dead. Elisha comes and restores the young man to life. Here again we see Elisha modeling gratitude towards one who selflessly served him. God honored her attitude of devotion and faith in the man of God with a son. What touches me most is that she did not ask for anything, and yet God saw her hearts desire and then showered her with blessings because of her selfless attitude of service. Believe it or not there are still 2 other stories in Chapter 4. Elisha ordered a large pot be brought as there was a famine and he was going to provide a meal. A servant went out to gather herbs and accidently put a poisonous plant in the stew. The cook screamed for Elisha to come and he ordered they put in some flour. That fixed the stew and they all ate it with no harmful effects. The last miracle recorded in this chapter is the feeding of a hundred men. Elisha had 20 barley loaves and ordered it be given to the people saying there would be leftovers. To the amazement of the people, everyone ate and there was some left over as the Lord had said. These last 2 miracles show God’s sovereignty over the physical elements of this world and his compassion and care for those who believe in Him.
All of these miracles happened to everyday people living their everyday lives. We saw an attitude of gratitude in their lives that miraculously brought unexpected blessing. Who do you need to help see the resources God has given to them? Who do you need to thank for blessing you through their actions? Who are you feeding in the name of Jesus?
P.S. Take time to read Chapter 4 of 2 Kings and let the words bless you.
As I was praying about what direction to go with my blogs this summer, I was led to share with you my favorite passages from throughout the Bible. Each week I will seek to blog on one Old Testament and One New Testament passage. I am excited to glimpse lessons and truths from the whole council of God. He uses all His Holy Scriptures to speak to us so we can live full, fruitful and glorifying lives as we walk with Him.
This week I was studying in the book of Ruth. Calamity surely befell this young widow and her mother-in-law Naomi as they lost their husbands. Naomi seeks to send Ruth back to her family, but Ruth clings to Naomi and speaks from her heart. Ruth 1:16-17 “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” This pagan young woman saw love and faith in Naomi in spite of her circumstances and chose to cling to her and her God.
They return to Bethlehem where Naomi’s husband’s family lived and they owned land. Ruth was devoted to Naomi and went daily to glean in the field to provide their food. Boaz, a relative, sees her devotion, work ethic, and love for her mother-in-law even though she is considered a foreigner in their land and would be looked down upon. He treats her with kindness and Naomi instructs Ruth to approach Boaz and seek his aid in redeeming their life and their land. Through a series of events, Boaz cleverly presents the buying of the land to a closer relative but tells him thoughtfully that purchasing the land that belonged to Naomi’s husband would entail marrying Ruth, the foreign girl from Moab so that her husband’s line could continue. The closer relative refuses as it would put his own inheritance in jeopardy, so Boaz ‘redeems’ the land and marries Ruth. Boaz is the ‘kinsman’ redeemer which is a beautiful pictured of Christ.
Ruth and Boaz marry and have a son they name Obed. Naomi is uplifted and renewed by this new grandson to love and cherish. Ruth is cared for by a kind loving husband. Boaz is rewarded for his love and kindness by a loving wife and family even though he is older. God shows favor upon Ruth, Boaz and Naomi as Obed becomes the father of Jesse and Jesse the father of King David who are in the line of Jesus the coming Messiah.
What do we take away from this lovely story? I see God’s providential care of Ruth and Naomi who loved Him. There was no luck involved in their circumstances as God knew what they needed and provided for them in a miraculous way. I also see God’s Sovereignty over horrible things that happened to them in Moab, the death of her sons and husband, yet bringing good from all those hard times. Two promises come to mind as I ponder this story. Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, “ Naomi and Ruth loved and trusted God and He worked the circumstances of their lives for their good as He cared for them. Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Really hard things happened to Ruth and Naomi and God turned the circumstances so that they were mightily blessed and provided for. Ruth, the pagan girl from Moab, finds God, His people and has her life redeemed. God is indeed good.
Where do you see God’s hand of care and love in your life? Is He moving and changing things so that you can see Him more clearly? He drew Ruth and Naomi closer to Him. How is God doing that for you? Has something difficult happened to you in the past that you can see where God brought good out of tragedy? Many times we will not see why the hard things in life happen to us, but one day we will see how God has woven our lives with the dark and light threads of life into a beautiful tapestry. Until then, we need to trust Him and cling to His precious promises with hope and reassurance that He is sovereign and loves us beyond measure.
Take some time this week and read the story of Ruth. It is only 4 short chapters and will surely bring you hope and blessing.
Two heart verses spoke to me this morning. Knowing our hearts are deceitful and driven by original sin, God promises to do a work in our hearts that is amazing. Proverbs 3:5-6is a well quoted verse that speaks of God’s power to lead and guide if we will trust and acknowledge Him in our lives. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” God is the one with the transforming power in our lives if we will seek to know and trust Him.
My second verse is found in Psalm 34:17-18, The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. David wrote these words during a very difficult time in his life. He knew God. He knew God would hear his cries for help. David knew God would and could rescue him. He knew from experience that God was near to him when his heart was broken and his spirit crushed. David knew God and had experienced His love and care during times of great need.
God knows our hearts and sees what we need even before we ask for help. God knows our desire for guidance and He alone has the power to mend our broken hearts and crushed spirit. Seek Him like David did and lay your sorrows, hurts and needs before Him. He promises that those who seek Him will find Him. Moses told the children of Israel just before they entered the Promised Land, “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29 God promises to be found if we seek with an open heart. Seek Him today and tell Him about your broken heart, your crushed spirit or your desire to be guided by Him. God can and will answer your prayers, just as He promised.
Seeking His comfort and clinging to His promise as I walk with Him daily,
What is so special about the Joy we find in the Lord? First of all we know that joy is brought to us through the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 gives a list of the ‘fruits’ of the Spirit, those things that come to us as a believer when we accept Jesus as Savior and His Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. As we grow as a believer, His Spirit manifests Himself within us in these ways. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” How do others or even you yourself know you are a believer? These fruits should be evident in your life along with growth in godly character which I like to call growing more and more like Jesus. Theologically it is a process known as sanctification. This is the Holy Spirit’s work within us, growing us in holiness to be like Jesus. A good question to ask yourself is, what ‘fruits’ am I seeing in my life? Is my character changing as I seek to walk closer to the Savior? Am I more kind, loving, understanding, or do I hunger after God’s Word, seek other believers in fellowship, spend time in prayer, enjoy Christian music, or seek to be a peacemaker? All of these would be signs of growth in the sanctification process and the work of the Holy Spirit within you.
But back to Joy, scripture describes several kinds of joy that I will delve into in coming blogs. The first kind I want to talk about I call soulful joy.Joy that emanates from within your soul because you are loved and cared for by God. Here are some passages that describe this kind of joy:
Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.
Psalm 63:5-8 “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
Isaiah 49:13 “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
Jude 1:24-25 “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
May you recognize soulful joy in your life and bask in the light of His love for you. May thoughts of God’s love, protection and comfort bring joy to your soul and peace from within from His Holy Spirit today.
Multiple times in scripture God refers to himself as LORD. When the name Lord is written all in capital letters, it refers to the name ‘Yahweh’, YHWH which was so revered that it did not even say it aloud or write it completely as they left out the vowels. Another translation of this is Jehovah. In Exodus 3:14-15, Moses is called by God to return to Egypt, confront Pharaoh and lead the people. Moses voices several concerns to God and asks, What do I say when the people ask who sent me? “God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” God refers to himself as I AM and also The LORD. God repeated His name in Exodus 6:2-3 “God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD.3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.” The people did not have the full revelation of God yet and did not fully know Him. The full revelation of God came with Jesus Christ.
David often refers to God as LORD in the Psalms. Psalm 91 has several verses that point out the complete trustworthiness of the LORD and how He loves and cares for those who love Him. Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” God is my refuge.
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; God is my protector. his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, God’s presence dispels fear. nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you God cares for me. to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; God desires our love. I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; God is omnipresent. I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” God has salvation plans for me.
Today meditate on the completeness of your LORD and how HE reaches down and touches you.
“I am the good shepherd.” Jesus made this bold statement in John 10:11 and 14. He knew the people understood the job of a shepherd and the sacrifice it entailed. They were to guard their sheep with their life both during the day and night against wolves, bears, and any disaster that might come their way. He was their first and only line of defense against the outside world. Jesus was identifying and claiming this same relationship and responsibility with those who were following Him then and those of us who would follow Him in the future. I love the passage in John 10 as it gives me comfort and assurance of who Jesus is to and for me.
“11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Jesus promises that He is the good type of shepherd that will stick with us always. He was not hired to watch over us but is committed to us because He loves us. He affirms that He has a relationship with us in verse 14 and He knows us and we know Him. Jesus says He willingly sacrificed His life to save us and bring us into a close relationship with Him and the Father. Romans 5:8 puts it this way, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The attribute of being good belongs to God alone. It is His nature to be good where our nature is rooted in sin. So when Jesus says He is the good shepherd, He alone can claim this as He is God. Here are a few verses extolling God’s goodness: Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” Titus 3:4 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,” God’s goodness was truly shone when He sent Jesus to redeem us. He desires to know us and love us. Through Jesus we can be brought into the arms of our loving Father.
Jesus rightly claims to be our good shepherd, do you know Him? He knows you and desires to embrace you with His love and care. Step into His arms today and receive His love and protection and find that safe harbor in Him for eternity.
David saw God as His shepherd and wrote about him in Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. The shepherd provides. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. The shepherd guides. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. The shepherd restores. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; The shepherd protects and comforts. your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me The shepherd knows the future and in the presence of my enemies; prepares for me. you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me The shepherd is with me eternally. all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Do you regard the Lord God as your shepherd? The shepherd was the one who tended, cared, protected, defended and loved his sheep. God is described as the shepherd of the nation of Israel in Isaiah 40: 10-11 “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,….He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”Jesus described himself as the good shepherd in John 10:11 ““I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Then in John 10:14-16 ““I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. (Here Jesus was referring to those who were not Jews, the Gentiles.) I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” Jesus is the perfect image of the good shepherd. The sheep listen to Him, know Him and He sacrifices Himself for this beloved sheep. What a beautiful pictures of our loving God.
Today as you reflect upon God, consider the 23rd Psalm and Jesus’ words in John. Know that you are loved and cared for by your loving heavenly Father and that your good shepherd, Jesus, will guide, protect, defend, hear, and love you.