Enthroned

Psalm 102: 12 – 22

But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come. For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity. The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.” So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.

This is a large selection of text today, but hopefully it reveals a central truth and comfort. You might be interested to know that the title of today’s psalm is, “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.” What a title! However, this segment of the psalm does not sound like it is written by a person in despair and that is the key lesson. From despair, we lift our heads and see God’s glory.

The author may have wondered, like many other saints, “Where is God?” In times of trouble, it may seem God has abandoned us. However, as the psalmist indicates, our God is still on the throne and He reigns. He will save Zion, and your town, and rain down upon it His compassion and favor. Though the author was afflicted and had grown weak, yet he says of God, “He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” Then he tells us that this is recorded for a future generation, i.e. for us, that we might have courage and confidence in our time of need.

We are not abandoned, and God is not ignoring our plight. He attends to the prayer of the destitute, the needy. We will not ignore our cry for help. God will save us. He is with us and we will yet praise His name as we assemble to worship His name. His love surrounds and keeps us. He is Lord Protector and Father. Let us leave a testimony for a future generation too, that our Father lifted us and showed us His favor in our time of need.

Glory to God! Let the earth sing. Praises be to Yahweh; Father, Lord and Savior. Come Lord Jesus, show us your grace; shower us in your mercy and favor. Lift our heads that we might praise you with a joyful voice. Let the world see the beauty of your countenance as you touch and bless through your presence, your glorious, shining presence with your people. Amen.

Courage vs. Denial

Deuteronomy 31: 6

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

So, I’m working today and praying as I do and asked Father to give me a heart of courage that I may stand strong and confident during these trying times. He said to me, “Ivey, you have one of the strongest hearts I know. That does not mean that you don’t feel. There is a big difference between courage and denial.”

That was an eye opener for me, and I had to stop what I was doing and begin to write. He has told me before that I have the heart of a lion, but He has also shown me that I have a big heart. Are these congruous with one another? What’s more, over the last many years He has continually unveiled a tender heart within me. How does tenderness harmonize with courage? All of a sudden, I feel like the lion from the Wizard of Oz. Not so very brave and yet . . ..

A truly courageous person allows her heart to feel. Anesthesia is not synonymous with courage. As a young person I learned to be brave by anesthetizing my heart. To feel was to experience pain. Our Father had quite a job on His hands to get me to allow my heart to feel. I didn’t want to feel the pain, who does? Living without the ability to feel deeply and strongly is not the way. Learning to feel the full range of emotions and still stand confidently with the courage of a lion is the grown-up stuff of life and even (or especially) of Christianity. If your heart does not weep right now when you hear of the thousands of deaths around the world then you need God to perform heart surgery. The tragic circumstances should not cripple you though. Perhaps it brings you to your knees but in prayer rather than defeat.

As I have pondered this today, Father has shown me that the reason I am able to feel deeply and tenderly and yet be strong is because I have learned to turn to His presence within me. I do not meditate on negative thoughts or doomsday scenarios. I keep picturing angels with flame throwers. I seek God within me. I will tell you another truth. I do not inundate myself with press conferences or news. In fact, I try to stay far away from sensationalized broadcasts. Those people peddle fear and discord and I cannot afford to have those deposits made in my spirit.
Another thing I do is pray. I am praying more now than ever before. There have been seasons of prayer in my life previously, but I know that I need the prayer as does all the world. I am praying for you and every other person on this dirt ball that is hurtling through space. I feel the responsibility to pray but I also know that I am taking care of my spirit by praying. My own spirit needs more prayer and nurturing than normal.

Learning to be tough and tender has been one of the hardest lessons of my life. I am sure I am not where I need to be yet, but I thank my God for where He has brought me. I can feel the love and compassion of God and even express it, but I have God’s own strength to stand in a torrent and fight with conviction and vigor. I have finally realized that to be like my Father, I must be tender-hearted, allowing myself to feel things intensely, and yet be strong and courageous. Denial is not bravery. It is buckling to a lie, bowing one’s knee to cowardice. I will not buckle in this time of challenge. I will stand boldly, with you in, the name and faith of our Father. Let us, therefore, stand – shoulder to shoulder in compassionate courage.

If you need someone to talk to, you are welcome to call or email me. We are in this together.

Confident Stance

Luke 21: 25 – 28          GW

“Miraculous signs will occur in the sun, moon, and stars. The nations of the earth will be deeply troubled and confused because of the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint as they fearfully wait for what will happen to the world. Indeed, the powers of the universe will be shaken. Then people will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to happen, stand with confidence! The time when you will be set free is near.”

This momentous time in history in which we are living was prophesied by Jesus. We have certainly seen many signs in the heavens in the last couple of years including a total solar eclipse. We’ve also seen increased hurricanes and floods. The seas, indeed, have been roaring and tossing. Jesus said when these signs begin to appear that people will lose their heart, lose their courage. “People will faint” with fear. That is truly and well said. People are lost right now and immensely fearful, but Jesus has a message for you because you are set apart and different.

Jesus said that when these things begin to happen, as indeed they are, we should stand with confidence. We should be emboldened, not fearful for our redeemer, our savior, our sweet beloved is upon the wing ready to sweep us all into his loving embrace. He has prepared a place for us. Have courage, Jesus says. Be confident for your Lord is near.

It is important that you understand that you are set apart and less there be any confusion at all, you are loudly being called “apart.” We are to separate ourselves as God separated the Israelites from the rest of the world. He has a place of safety reserved for us, a land flowing with milk and honey. It is different this time though we are to follow the same glory which led the Israelites. Then God’s glory went before them in a cloud by day and a cloud of fire by night. Now, that glory lives within us but we are still told to follow the light. Follow the fire within. We are being called out of the multitude of nations to a state of divine love and protection.

So, stand with confidence. Call upon the name of your God. Do not fear but have faith in the love of the Holy One. This situation is no joke. It is serious, but so is your Father. He and Jesus saw this coming many years ago and have prepared for it. These are the days of promise. This is the time of your redemption. Do not sleep through them because though they are some of the most challenging days of our lives, they can be some of the most enlightening as well. Stand boldly in the confidence of the Lord and see the glory of our Lord Jesus and the Father he serves.

Cheer and Courage

Psalm 31: 23 – 24              Passion Translation

Listen to me, all you godly ones: Love the Lord with passion! The Lord protects and preserves all those who are loyal to him. But he pays back in full all those who reject him in their pride. So cheer up! Take courage all you who love him. Wait for him to break through for you, all who trust in him!

I hope some of you took me up on the idea of reading each of these psalms in their fullness as your daily Bible reading. I recommend you read this psalm in the Passion Translation. It reveals David’s emotions and the context of his lyrics better than any of the other translations. If you read the whole psalm, you will see how he arrives at this concluding statement.

He felt abandoned by the Lord, but then realized God was on the scene rescuing him. David hid himself in the Lord and was vindicated despite those who spoke ill of him and mocked him. In the end, David and Yahweh have again triumphed.

David learned something on this journey and what he learned he summarized and attempted to convey through this song. The morale of the story is, take heart, be of strong courage. Let your heart be fortified because the Lord, your God, is on your side and together, you will prevail. God has never forsaken you and never will. Like David, there may be times you feel very alone. You may wonder where God is. Well, I can tell you. He is right there with you. If you close your eyes and listen to the voice of your heart, you will find God’s presence there with you.

David advised us to love God passionately because he learned that this is the secret to life and success in all things. Jesus, referring to Deuteronomy 6: 5, said, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH,” (Mark 12: 30). See, I am guessing there is a huge life lesson in here from David and now Jesus. What are they telling us? David and Jesus are teaching from the same book here. In fact, if you want to see how tuned into the spirit of Jesus David was and how relatable Jesus found David’s writings, look at verse 5 where David wrote, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit,” the words famously uttered by Jesus on the cross. Both of these men knew suffering. They knew what it was like to face unprecedented tribulation. And now, in this seminar living in the breakthrough their combined recitation is love God with all you are, with all the strength of your body, mind, spirit and soul. This is how we get our breakthrough. This is how we live in the blessing of the Lord. We throw our whole selves into a love relationship with he who died for us and the Father who gave him up for us. He is the Lord of the breakthrough, the one who breaks through the barriers and problems for us. Our part is to love him passionately, and why wouldn’t we?

Strength and Courage

Psalm 27: 14

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.
This is certainly a good verse for teaching about waiting on the Lord. I was really intrigued, though, over the line, “let your heart take courage.” I see in those words that we must make a decision to be encouraged. We have to decide to let our hearts fill with encouragement. You can choose to be discouraged or you can choose to be encouraged. Perhaps it takes strength to allow yourself to stand in courage instead of living in discouragement because David tells us to be strong. Certainly, in waiting on the Lord, you must decide to “faint not.” That means, don’t give up. Don’t give up on God or let your faith founder while you are waiting. Waiting in faith does take backbone. You have to decide to stand regardless of the appearance of the situation around you. You must decide to keep on confessing words of faith even when the circumstances appear bleak. You have to decide to let your heart be filled with courage. You can even learn to encourage yourself when you don’t have an encourager to do it for you. You purposefully decide to be of good courage. You purposefully decide to believe God and his word instead of letting your heart fall into discouragement. If you have felt discouragement lately, take heart; be of good courage because now you know that you can affect the condition of your heart. Allow yourself to be encouraged. Allow your heart to be filled with courage. The Word of God is the best encourager there is. Get in there and let your heart be full of the encouragement of the Lord.

Preserved

Psalm 31: 23 – 24

O love the Lord, all you His godly ones! The Lord preserves the faithful, and fully recompenses the proud doer. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.

This verse reminds me of Psalm 23 where it reads, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me.” What an amazing statement. God will sustain you, protect you and preserve you no matter what kind of situation you walk through. He will be with you even in your darkest day. He is not going anywhere without you. So even though you walk through some scary times and places, you can have confidence. You are secure in his care. Be strong, take courage, you are not alone. You have an attentive father who also happens to be the most powerful being in the universe as your right hand guard. Take heart. You are okay.

Made Strong

2 Chronicles 32: 7

Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed.

Here is a very important key in spiritual warfare. Be not afraid. If you want to know the key tenets of the Bible this is certainly one. I have heard it said that there are 365 places in the Bible where we are instructed not to be afraid. I have not counted them myself but if you take notice as you read your Bible, you will probably begin to believe that count is accurate. 

There is an interesting story in Luke 8. A synagogue official named Jairus entreated Jesus to go to his house because his daughter was ill. Before they could get there messengers approached him and Jesus with the news that his daughter had died. Before Jairus could take a breath or utter an exclamation Jesus said to him, “Do not be afraid, only believe and she shall be made well” (v. 50). Jesus knew that the outcome of the battle hinged on whether Jairus chose faith or fear.

If you think about it, fear really is faith in the negative outlook. Belief is faith in the positive outcome. You wouldn’t experience fear if you thought there was no merit to the negative report. It is only when we begin to doubt God that fear enters in. The more we yield to that fear the harder it will be for us to move back in faith and faith is what fuels our miracles and even our everyday answers. We must look to God and expect Him to be bigger than every situation of life, even death. Fear contaminates faith so in every situation we must hear the Lord saying to us “Do not be afraid.” This is a spiritual key.