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Psalm 91

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:15-17

Happy Friday Friends! I pray your week has been a time to draw closer to the Lord and even a chance to stop and smell the flowers. The fragrance of God’s goodness is always a pleasing aroma.

In a recent post I encouraged you to meditate and pray over Psalm 91. Many have referenced this passage as an encouragement during this time. It seems to be the “go to” area of God’s word this week for many searching for comfort and a way to cope.

I just wanted to share my approach with you today and let you know I held myself accountable to the task as well.

As you can see, I clarified meaning (words in bold print) as I meditated on the verses. Then I wrote my takeaway throughout the scripture as a means to apply it to my personal life and current circumstances.

May it provide insight to your methods of digesting God Word and assist you in your spiritual walk.

Whoever lives in the protection of the one and only God will take comfort in pursuit of the omnipotent/omnipresent. I will continue to draw near to the Lord and seek His will for my life. I am grateful that He is ever-present and available.  

I will declare of the LORD, “He is my safe haven and my stronghold, my Abba Father, in whom I confide and depend.” I am not ashamed to claim Him as my Lord. I choose His truth and love as my substance. I bring my life under His authority. Help me Lord to be obedient to your word.

Without question he will rescue you from the enemy’s trap and from the terminal virus/pandemic/disease. Through His son, Jesus Christ I have been given life saving grace. The gift of the Holy Spirit has directed my pathway and made me aware of satan’s schemes. His Holy Word provides truth to fight against the poisonous lies and equips me with his freeing power. 

God will guard you with his armor, and under his loving arms will find a safe haven; his dependability will be your shield and barrier. The Lord is my barricade from earthly ways when I seek Him as my protection. He has proven over and over that He is worthy of praise and His word will withstand. His promises are true and will never change.

You will not have concern or anxiety about the fright of the dark world, nor the direct targeted trials that come by day, nor the pestilence that haunts and prowls in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. I will strive to put my trust in God and stay focused upon His goodness regardless. I will recognize the fear and try to remain calm in the storm of life and the panic of the world.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will be kept at a distance from you. You will only watch the punishment of the immoral. The Father will take care of His children who humbly surrender to His ways and keep His commandments. Lord, I need you. Strengthen me and let me flea from all unrighteous. Let me pray for my enemies and not fall prey to their evil.

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Lord of Lords your heart, mind, and soul’s residence, no harm will take you by surprise and engulf you, no disaster will come near your tent. The Lord will not let you endure more than you can stand. Draw strength from His protection and claim it.

For he will instruct his heavenly bodies concerning you to protect you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. I will cry out to my Father for His control and the protection from the spiritual war that rages all around me.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. In God’s timing will the trouble end and His goodness will reign.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will free him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in difficulty, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” The Father knows my true love and dedication for Him. He is my security and defense because I call upon Him in good times and in bad. Although the pain and suffering on earth may continue, He is always with me. I will embrace His pathway and find security under His authority. I will trust in His timing and wait upon Him for His answers. His promises will remain and He has assured me of an eternal life for His glory.

His Perspective

For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. Romans 15:4

We study the Bible because within it are the very words of God. God “breathed out” the Scriptures and inspired men to write His truth. It is an expansion of Himself to all mankind. As Christians, we rely on these words to complete us and equip us for every good work to bring the Father honor and glory. Can you imagine life without them?

The Father employs scripture and prayer to communicate. God is known as an intimate and relational spirit. When we speak with Him and ask for clarification of truth, God reveals wisdom and understanding. Remember, Holy Scriptures are fashioned to feed our souls with everlasting nourishment and refresh our mind. In Matthew 4:4 Christ reminds us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”     

Not only do we have God’s Holy Word and a direct line to the Father through prayer, but we possess the Holy Spirit. He lives within us as a helpmate. As we read in 2 Peter chapter 1, verse 21 discloses the fact that interpretation of scripture is never attained through human means but from part of the divine Trinity’s promptings. (aka Holy Spirit)   Just like Jesus informed the disciples in John 14:26, the Holy Spirit is a gift to us to guide and instruct. We cannot uncover truth in scripture through the use of our human flesh and thinking. Why?  God’s ways far outweigh our own and we would be fooling ourselves to believe otherwise. “For is anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:3.    

God’s word makes known His directives and assurances. They are a road map for righteous living. His perspective and outlook, along with faith-filled reliance on the Holy Spirit, empowers us to grasp His truth and live out God’s will. The bible is our source of truth, yet spiritual development and perception requires trust and dependence on the Holy Spirit AND continual interaction with the Father through prayer. Our reliance on these mutually supporting actions generates clarity and precise scripture meaning. Once clearness is obtained, we can commence to launch God’s truth into our present-day circumstances and daily living. Without God’s viewpoint and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we are left on our own accord to determine meaning based on our evaluation. How clear of a picture do we get using this method?

Given our current crisis, I would extend the message from Sunday’s service by encouraging you to draw out God’s perspective for Psalm 91. Read it. Meditate upon it. Through prayer and the Holy Spirit’s promptings, allow God to reveal His words for you as a means to cope during a time such as this.

LOVE AND PRAYERS for our world!

Manifested Loyalty

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Ruth 1:16

Happy Saturday friends! Our world has been turned upside down over the past couple of weeks and has shown to be an ever changing environment. Who would have ever thought we would be social distancing and desperate for essential items? (even medical facilities are short on masks) It seems like the world is on pins and needles when trying to deal with the unknown future.

Yet, this week I have seen faithfulness shown over and over. It has been heartwarming to see people show loyalty to others without it benefitting themselves. Such a different view than the “ever man for himself” view displayed as empty shelves, lack of goods, and heightened emotions.   

The love of Christ and respect for others was demonstrated when I witnessed:

1. Someone donating many rolls of toilet paper for those who may have a need instead of hording.

2. A friend willing to shop hop with you during lunch to find eggs for your husband’s birthday meal.

3. A college student assisted a couple unable to pick up a Walmart order during workhours by picking it up, delivering it, and even putting the cold/frozen items away!  (who does that?)

4. A church secretary taking toilet paper to a family who was running low and two of the family members had just undergone surgery in the past five days.

5. Administrators carrying out social distancing procedures and working out remote systems.

6. Employees putting in long hours without extra compensation.

7. People holding doors for others who were trying to leave the store with what they could possibly find with kids in tow.

8. Phone calls, emails and text messages-checking in with others and making sure everyone is doing okay.

9. Less comings and goings on the roads because people are following the health officials’ mandates/suggestions.

10. A doctor cancelling his family’s ski trip due to his concerns for his patients and their needs.

11. People dedicated to prayer and setting aside time every night at 7:00 p.m. to specifically pray for the coronavirus issues.

12. Social media postings thanking local medical staff.

13. Parents understanding the struggle of educating through online means and teachers scrambling to roll out online instruction.

14. Business owners following regulations despite profit concerns.

15. Restaurants giving away hand sanitizing wipes and/or toilet paper with orders.

16. Food facilities willing to sell eggs and bread to the public without price gouging.

17. Government officials taking things serious and unifying their efforts.

18. A teenage boy warming up lunch for his mother who is working from home.

And the list goes on and on…

I love seeing loyalty in action and not mere words. God brought faithfulness to mind this week when reading the book of Ruth. Her story highlights unselfishness and dedication. She stayed true to her family and did whatever was required. Ruth placed Naomi’s needs before her own and God showed faithful to meet their needs.

How is God using this time to resurrect your loyalty and faith in Him? Are you witnessing acts of love and concern during the COVID-19 outbreak? Take time to reflect on your personal journey and don’t forget to acknowledge kindness and the outpouring of love you see all around. May it inspire you to do likewise.

I know it has for me!  

FEAR

March Madness may have a different meaning in history for the year 2020. COVID-19 has caused a panic internationally. The wide-reaching virus has caused universal speculation and alarm. It has recently been referred to as a global pandemic. I believe the last count I read was 100,000 people infected worldwide with over 4,000 deaths.

Many are surprised to see the extreme self-preservation measures taken over the past two weeks since the virus has tripled in number. Travel restrictions are rolling out and cleaning procedures are being heightened. Although some say these are reactionary measures based on fear, it is reassuring to see authorities expressing concern for those under their influence.

However, these types of situations are often frustrating due to the conjecture and panic the media portrays. It truly concerns me when the upcoming generation witnesses a frightened society exhibiting extreme irrational behavior. I am not suggesting we take COVID-19 lightly, but I am proposing for the knowledge about the virus to be based on true facts. What is its main cause? What are some rational prevention steps to take? How can we respond?

Fear and panic were definitely emotions throughout my childhood. I can effortlessly recall all the physical outcomes I endured due to these triggers. And it was always because of concern for someone’s life being severely hurt. An alarm would ring throughout my mind, body, and soul and worry would bring on fright, distress, and absolute terror. I learned how to panic, shutdown, and be irrational because I didn’t know any different.

Through years of healing and assistance, I have mellowed tremendously and slowly learned to be cautious in my reactions. Honestly, years ago this recent virus news would have sent me into a tailspin. 

Times like these truly give me an opportunity to display where I place my faith and who I really fear. I believe fear is a two-sided coin. Fear of God or Fear without God. Heads you win, tails you lose.

FEAR OF GODFEAR WITHOUT GOD
There is reverence for the Almighty Father who loves beyond compare.  Hebrews 12: 28-29There is no hope. Ephesians 2:12
God’s love overcomes earthly fears.
1 John 4:18
Fear without faith in God’s power is unprofitable. Matthew 25:25
God’s peace allows us to remain steadfast. 2 Timothy 1:7Worry only subtracts from life. Luke 12:25

While going through 2020’s March madness, I will place my faith in God. I will cling to Isaiah 41:10 and remind myself that God is beside me, strengthening and assisting in times of fear. I will stand on His word and claim God as my refuge during this troubled time. (Psalm 46). May we all remember Philippians 4:7 and rely on God’s peace to calm our hearts and minds.

God is on His throne and He knows our earthly struggles. Find comfort in God’s Word and adhere to His goodness. May we be His unfaltering light as we walk through the days ahead. Let us pray for the victims of COVID-19 as of today and in the weeks to come.

Spiritual Muscle

You’re killing me Smalls! How did I get roped into your “God Word”?
Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity… Ephesians 5:15-16

Anyone have spring fever? March is the month when spring break is the buzz word on the street and students are geared up for some fun away from school. Plans are being made and parents are requesting time off. During this time of the year, people begin to be out and about doing yardwork, washing cars, walking the track, spending time outdoors, etc. Seems like everyone is getting a little more exercise outside of the house.

Exercising and discipline use to be my middle name. I would follow through with my goals, plans, schedules, workouts, house cleaning, healthy cooking, you name it. Oftentimes, to a fault! The “pit” truly pulled me off track and Tamoxifen left me tired, unmotivated, and battling a thyroid issue. My pickup and go had packed up and left. Unfortunately, there was little discipline and I barely recognized nor felt like myself. What an experience to say the least!

Hang in there. I do have a point to make…

So, why did I reference spring? Last spring marked one full year of God allowing me to live out His directed pathway. He lifted me out of the valley and showed me the refining of my life amidst the storm. I cannot express the inner peace and joy I found after I humbly surrendered it all to Him. At this year mark, the Lord gave me the words for the Refining study, set my feet on His pathway, and then said “I gave you a year to recover now GO!” Here I am a year later in disbelief. God is truly a miracle worker. By His almighty hand, he has me writing. (an area that was never my strength nor my favorite) Never in my wildest dreams!!!

Last summer, when taking the pilot group through the Refining study, I received a new God Word. When we walked through the steps of “One Word”, the Lord gave me DISCIPLINE! I didn’t want the word nor did I want to be held accountable. Seriously! I did ask over and over, “God, why this word?” He answered when I read “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” in Luke 11:28.

Well, here I am nine months later eating better, walking when I can, reading through the entire bible, and applying “discipline” to my life. Let me tell you, I have a long way to go and I might have this God Word for several years. Why? Because I have allowed my muscles to be lazy in so many ways for waaaaaaay tooooo long. I allowed the spiritual battle to overwhelm physically and mentally. Somehow the enemy found a way to take away my value, self-control, and proper priorities.

The gig is up Satan!

Through God’s authority and power, I am retraining and strengthening muscles. Each day, I intentionally plan to make healthier choices because I am not my own. I was meant to fulfill God’s will and my entire body belongs to Him. The Lord wants me stronger and has fabulous plans for the days ahead. My Heavenly Father is giving me a workout and building my spiritual muscle beyond my imagination.

How’s your spiritual muscle?

I truly care about you my friend and your growth plan. I never want you to feel devalued and lifeless like I did several years ago. My prayer for you is to live a life empowered by His goodness and grace where you experience a secure connection with the one and only Lord. He delivers freedom and protection, but you must choose to engage in the workout.

Give God praise as Psalm 30:4-5 declares. Place your trust in Him alone because He is faithful as we read in Psalm 37:2-3. Stay in His word (Psalm 119:1) and talk to Him (Psalm 116:1-2). Be intentional with your time (Ephesians 5:15-16) and know that your creator will help strengthen every part of your body, mind, and soul because you are part of His magnificent design (Psalm 139:14). Set your goals according to His authority and commit to Him.

I am praying for you and your days ahead. You can do it! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone! Tap into your assets (Romans 8:37) and know you are created to bring glory to the King (Ephesians 2:10). You are a royal family member who God loves dearly.  

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3.  

P.S. Poor Jace. I made him walk five miles one evening this week. He hasn’t done that in several years.

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