Perseverance

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July 30

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Defeat or Victory.

After a thrilling chapter in Psalms-chapter 139-which in my book may be one of the most exciting chapters in the whole book, he ends with some very familiar words: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Verses 29-30]

What powerful verses those are! They stand even stronger when considered in the context of the whole chapter and also what is coming. Previously the psalmist has talked about God knowing us frontwards, backwards, up one side and down the other (a little poetic license there). Then he writes about how God knew us before we were born and how important His thoughts are of us. We have no other response other than to say, “Search me, O God.”

But as I read chapter 140 the other night, my eyes went to a logical presentation. I’m not sure why my eyes see things that way. 🙂 There are some words which stuck out to me. 

  • “Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men.” [verse 1]
  • “Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked.” [verse 4]
  • “Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked.” [verse 8]

I’d say the psalmist took seriously the threat of those who were his enemies. He wasn’t asking for acceptance of his plan to walk alongside them. He wasn’t making any plans to give into them. No…he was asking for God’s strength and protection as he fought. He was praying for God to provide a “way through” the fire. “Deliver me. Guard me. Grant not.” I think inherent in these words is a resignation to God of his weakness and need for supernatural intervention.

If I can say it this way: maybe the psalmist is praying that God will snatch defeat out of the lion’s jaws and bring about victory for him.

“Father, thank you for your steadfast concern and stand with me. Whenever I feel overwhelmed and to the point of defeat, bring me into your rest and into your arms of safety and allow you to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. FOR IN YOU, I AM VICTORIOUS!”

We make our way home today with a moving truck and Jo driving mine. If you think about it, prayers for safety would be appreciated.

July 25

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

My title for this devotion is My Wondering vs His Purpose.

When I was growing up, one of the questions teenagers asked was, “What am I here for?” I don’t know if that was a question asked by teens before that time or if the ’60s brought that question to the forefront. The ’60s was an age of upheaval and of being unsure of things. So we often asked “What is my purpose in life?” As I recall a parachurch ministry had a tract based on that question: “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”

As I was reading I Chronicles I read the section (Chapter 17) of David’s desire to build God a house. He was somewhat embarrassed that his house was better than the house where the Ark was and God’s presence was. He thought one of his purposes in life, especially after having his own house built, was to build a better house for the Ark. But Nathan took God’s words to David that building Him a house was not his purpose. His purpose (to make a long story short) was to be king. To act like a king. To fight like a king. To rule like a king.

In Psalm 138:8 it says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” David knows whereof he writes. He knows God will fulfill His purpose for me because David saw it in his own life. And no matter what it is God sticks with me. “His steadfast love endures forever.”

“Father, You are true to Your Word. You promised it. It shall be. Fulfill our purpose in me. Fulfill your purpose for me. I know you will bring it to completion and finish what you started. [Phil.1:6]. “

July 22

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Calm Waiting vs Anxious Waiting.

One of the hardest things to do-at least in my mind-is to wait. For years I have said that God has three answers to our prayers: Yes. No. Wait awhile. We aren’t too fond of the No because that means we have been denied. We like the Yes because that means God has “agreed” with us about our need. It’s the “wait awhile” that is sometimes hard to accept.

David Rupert, in his new book Living a Life of Yes says there are three kinds of dreams: Fulfilled (Yes). Denied (No).  And Delayed (wait awhile). The same thing said about answers to prayer can be said about dreams.

The delay-wait awhile-is tough. God’s promise to Abraham took 25 years to happen! Look what happened in the interim due to Abraham and Sarah’s inability to wait.  They weren’t very good at it.

Neither am I. Maybe that’s why Psalm 131:2 spoke to me: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within.” A weaned child is being fed. He is content.  I was struck by the words “calmed and quieted my soul.” So much of patient waiting relies on that…something I’m not very good at from time to time. But. need. to. get. better. at!

“Father, help me to learn to calm and quiet my soul. Help me to see your hand in my ‘wait awhile.’ Help me to wait calmly and quietly as you work. Help me to allow you time to unfold your plan.”

I will be in Ohio for most of this week bringing our job cleaning Jo’s sister’s apartment to an end. Next Sunday we drive there to load a Penske truck on Monday to bring things home. I will post this week as I have time and internet (she does not have it in her apartment).  Your prayers would be appreciated.

July 10

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Prayer of despair vs Prayer of desperation.

In my Scripture reading this morning in 2 Kings, I came to an interesting event. Hezekiah (H) became the king of Judah in chapter 18 and it says, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” [v.3]  It goes on to say he removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. He even went so far as to break the bronze serpent that Moses made because, it too, had become and idol. It goes on to say, “He trusted in the Lord so there was no one like him.” WOW! What a tribute.

But that did not leave him immune to siege by an enemy king and in chapter 19 that is what happens. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, lays siege to Jerusalem AND defies God in the process. H receives a letter from him demanding surrender and tribute. I like his response! He went before God, laid open the letter before Him, and petitioned for God’s help and answer. His was a prayer of desperation not a prayer of despair. (The prayer is found in 19:14-19). There is a big difference between “O God, it’s helpless. I give up” vs “O God, this situation is helpless. I need your help.” God intervened. An angel of the Lord wiped out 185,000 Assyrians.

It is easy to give up or to feel like giving in to despair. But it is in those moments of despair that a prayer of desperation should be raised to the One in control. He will answer. We may be unsure how, but He will. In H’s case, an angel of the Lord was sent to deal with the situation. Perhaps God will do the same…or something different. Who knows? But a prayer of desperation will be answered.

“Father, help me not to despair. Instead, help me to raise prayers of desperation to you. Help me to ‘lay out my letter’ before you, seeking your help. And then step back to watch you work.”

June 27/28/Weekend

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

As I have mentioned in the previous two blogs I have been “out of touch with the world” i.e. no internet or wifi. I actually did this devotion on the 27th but with my grandson’s ballgame tonight (double header) getting over about 11:00, traveling home tomorrow and probably having to cut the grass and also study, I doubt very seriously I will have much time to enter a devotion. So I’ve decided to combine the one devotion into multiple days.

My title for this devotion is Big vs Small.

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6: 8 and following. The king of Syria sent an army against Elisha because he found out Elisha was telling his plans to the king of Israel. Verse 14 says, “He sent horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.” Elisha’s servant got up the next morning and saw the Syrian horde of chariots and horses surrounding the city. He told Elisha and with fear said, “What shall we do?” Elisha prayed God would open his eyes and when he did the servant saw the mountains were full of horse and chariots of fire all around them. The story continues (I encourage you to read it on your own) with other events, but that has always fascinated me.

Elisha’s servant saw the giant; Elisha saw that what was surrounding them was greater.

That reminds me of David. While King Saul and the Israelite army saw the giant; David knew the giant-killer.

It is so easy to feel overwhelmed by circumstances, people, events, etc. It is common to feel “small” compared to the “largeness” of our challenge. But our God is bigger than any challenge, giant, roadblock, or mountain we may come up against.

“Father, remind me not to tell you how big the giants are. Help me to tell the giants how big you are. You are the giant-killer. Please give me eyes to see as Elisha’s servant did.”

June 22

Monday, June 24th, 2019

My devotion title is Happiness vs Joy.

We often hear, and I’ve often said, there is a difference between happiness and joy. And there is. To put it is a few short words: Happiness is based on circumstances; Joy in spite of circumstances. I’d have to say that is true. I’m finding myself in a situation that does not make me happy, but one I will need to find joy in.

I am in another state, giving up my time at home and work, to do something I find rather distasteful: cleaning up   someone’s mess. The mess could have been avoided and alleviated in other ways, but it wasn’t. My being here does not make me happy.

But I must and can find joy in this.

If I don’t it will be a ve-e-e-e-ry long two weeks. Let alone a miserable one. I’m going to find joy when I want to grumble. I’m going to find joy when I want to complain. I’m going to find joy when the job seems too big and overwhelming. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Paul did say he wanted to finish his race with joy (Acts 20:24).

And besides, I’m making the person I love the most happy. That is something to be joyful about!!

“Father, help me find joy today in spite of what has to be done. Help me find joy because of You. Fill me with joy so I can experience that fruit of Spirit.”

June 19

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Highs vs Lows.

I’ve been there. So have you. We’ve all been high. We’ve all been low. We’ve all been to the mountain top. We’ve all been to the valley. Sometimes in close succession. I’ve known what it is to complete a task, relish a victory, enjoy a feeling of euphoria, only to have that followed by a giant crash.

Sort of like Elijah. His story in I Kings 18-19 shows the highs and lows that often come to one who is faithful and obedient to God, especially when the “odds are stacked against you.” In chapter 17 Elijah comes on the scene with a prophecy of a drought and his time with the widow. But his biggest challenge was in chapter 18 where he challenged the prophets of Baal. After that victory and the rain falling which broke the drought, Jezebel threatens Elijah with death.  Elijah runs and then proceeds to have a pity party about being the only one left. He wants to die. An angel wakes him and tells him to eat. Again the same. Then God speaks.  But He wasn’t in the strong wind. He wasn’t in the earthquake. He wasn’t in the fire. He was, however, in the whisper.

The point for this devotion is not in how God speaks. It is actually two-fold;

  1. Elijah went from the thrill of victory (Mt. Carmel) to the agony of defeat (Jezebel and fear) in a heartbeat.
  2. God will “speak” to us on the mountain top and in the valley. He may appear silent but He’s not. He may choose the silence and despair of the valley to “speak” His loudest.

Don’t despair if you find yourself on the mountain top one minute and the valley the next. More often than not a valley follows a mountain top experience. Listen for God’s “voice.” Sometimes that is when He speaks the loudest.

“Father, I know there will be highs and lows. Help me to never get too high or too low so as not to hear your voice. Please keep me receptive to you no matter where I’m at.”

June 12

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

My title for today’s devotion is Autopilot vs Striving.

I read recently that pilots are become more susceptible to making errors due to auto-pilot and all the advancements made to flying and self-flying. One of the commercials I have seen lately has been one of the major car companies (Nissan) introducing a “Driver Assist” to the Rogue. I’m pretty sure the other car makers have as well. That sort of concerns me. I know how easy it is to get distracted while driving with the steering wheel in my hands, let alone be “relaxed” when it comes to driving with awareness.

Vigilance is a word that I think has lost its oomph. In some ways many have hit autopilot when it comes to their Christian walk. When I sat down at my kitchen table this morning to have my Quiet Time, I prayed earnestly (I don’t always) that God would give me something from His Word. The old hymn Break Thou the Bread of Life came to mind. “Beyond the sacred page, I seek Thee Lord; My spirit pants for Thee, O Living Word.” Another stanza has these words: “Show me the Truth concealed, Within Thy Word, And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.” (My apologies for the King James English).  🙂

One of the things I want to guard against is being on autopilot. I want to continue to hunger for God’s Word. That’s why Psalm 92:12-15 (Please stop and read it) stood out to me today. Not only do I want to flourish but I like the phrase “They still bear fruit in old age; they are full of sap and green.” What a vivid picture that puts in my head!  I want to continue striving, reaching for, and sweating with arms outstretched and hands wide open. No autopilot for me!! The only “driver assist” I want is God’s help to stay the course and keep going.  I want my last breath to be still seeking Him.

“Father, please don’t let me be content with autopilot. Even at age 66 I still want to be striving with arms outstretched and hands wide open reaching for all you have for me. I don’t want “couch-potato” to describe my remaining years.”

May 29

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Starting Strong vs Finishing Well.

David got tired in battle.  The Scripture is clear and plain in saying that. (2 Samuel 21:18). So much so that a Philistine giant would have killed him if not for Abishai. It was then his men said, “No more.”

It’s hard to accept aging sometimes. I ought to know.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I can still ride my bike. Just not as far nor as often nor as demanding a ride back to back. I can still lift weights. Just not as much. Nor can I bulk up like I used to. It is hard to read that a man like David grew so weary his men were alarmed and said, “No more.”

We all grow weary at time. Whether it’s age or simply the baggage of life, we sometimes feel like giving up. The important thing to remember is no one remembers how you start the race. Who cares if a team scores 9 runs in the 1st inning but loses 10-9? Who cares who won the first day of the Tour de France? It’s the one who stands on the podium in the yellow jersey 3 weeks later who is memorialized.

No one cares because it isn’t the start but the end that matters. It’s like Saul and David. Saul started well but finished dead last. David started and finished well. He made a few mistakes along the way (don’t we all?) but his legacy is intact. I’m reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy: “I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim.4:7)

“Father, aging is part of the process. The alternative for the follower of Christ is a good thing (death), but it happens. The important thing is to finish well. Help me to stay strong; to stay the course; and to finish the race well.”

May 27

Monday, May 27th, 2019

My title is Giving Up or Moving On.

Today I read what has always been a hard but strange passage to read and understand. First a little backstory.

In 2 Samuel 13 we read the story of Amnon’s rape of his sister, Tamar, and then Absalom’s revenge by killing Amnon. He then flees and is exiled by David. Eventually he is allowed back but lives in isolation for 4 years from his father. In chapter 15 Absalom conspires against his father and rallies people to his rebellion. David then flees Jerusalem.

Here is where I find this passage both hard and strange. Why did David flee? He was the king for crying out loud! Why didn’t he fight? His men would have fought for him at the drop of a hat. David does set up quite a network of support within Absalom’s own circle. Spies for lack of a better word. Long story short, David fights.  Absalom is defeated. His hair gets caught in a branch of a tree and his donkey continues on. Joab is told and kills him. But David mourns his death.

So many questions. A few, but not many answers. I do know this: David could have given up completely. Put himself under the “mercy” of Absalom. He didn’t. Why he fled I don’t know. Maybe it was guilt. Maybe it was weariness. I don’t know. but he didn’t quit. He didn’t give up. Even in his pain he set a network in place. He moved on. When the time was right he struck.

Dark days are often followed by days of clarity. Just like a hard day on a bicycle is often followed by a day of freedom and strength, so is life. There is always a day of sun after darkness. The Bible calls it “God turns our mourning into dancing.”

“Father, help me not to give up but to keep going. Help me to see tough days will be followed by Your strength. Let me live Psalm 71 (I encourage you to read it).”