Be Still My soul!

I woke up with one line of an old hymn, “Leave to thy God to order and provide,-” As the hymn didn’t come to mind immediately, I searched my hymnal and found the beautiful old hymn, “Be Still My Soul!” I spent my quiet time with the Lord pondering the meaning of the words, the comfort and encouragement of  each thought expressed!

“Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain. Be still my soul! thy best, thy heavenly Friend thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still my soul! thy God doth undertake, to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still my soul! The waves and winds still know His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still my soul! the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still my soul! When change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

The words are so applicable at this time of year as we prepare to end one year and begin another. In the rush and worry of Christmas we need to spend time in stillness! Life is short and stress is a thief, robbing us of joy and often our health. Be still in your soul!

Psalm 46:10 expresses some of the same thoughts which I will paraphrase, “Cease striving, let go, relax, stand silent, Know that I Am God!” The reason we can have the stillness of soul is because we know God (intimately)! We have a relationship with Him that is immovable no matter what comes our way. He is my God!

The Psalm begins with, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help. He’s abundantly available for help in trouble (or tight places.) Therefore we will not fear even if the world blows up and the mountains crumble into the sea.

4-There is a river of joy flowing through the City of God, the sacred home of the God above all gods. God, Himself is living in that city; therefore it stands unmoved despite the turmoil everywhere. He will not delay His help. The Commander of the armies of heaven is here among us. He has come to rescue us. Come and see the glorious things God does.”

When God is in the city, in my heart, in my home, I can stand unmoved by the turmoil around me. I can commit my future to Him, leaving the ordering and provision to Him because I know He has looked after all my needs and even some wants in the past.

I refuse to let my hope and confidence be shaken because I know the waves and winds, the storms that come my way, are subject to Him. They still know His voice!! On the Sea of Galilee, Jesus spoke to the waves and the wind which stopped at His command.

This world is not my home! Someday all sorrows, disappointments, fear and grief will no longer have any place in my life and I shall go to my forever home to be with Him. In the meantime I make time to be still, to reflect on the goodness of God towards me. I spend time in His Word as He speaks to me and I talk to Him with thankfulness!

 

 

 

The People Who Know Their God!

Daniel 11:32 “The people who know their God will display strength  and take action (do exploits for God.) Daniel was talking about bad things that are going to happen, evil and wickedness will seem to be winning, but in the midst of it there will be people who will know their God, the true God, the Lord of heaven and earth and they will stand strong!

As we look at the world and we listen to the news we could feel sick. Because of the Media we are more aware of everything that is happening around the world and it does not look very promising! We need to know God in order to stand strong! I need to trust Him in every area of my life.

In my quiet time one day a familiar story in Mark 8 caught my attention. The disciples & Jesus were in a boat, crossing the lake when the disciples expressed concern that they had forgotten to bring food & had only one loaf of bread with them. Jesus said to them, “Why are you arguing about having no bread?”

“How is it that you do not understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? Having eyes do you not see? And having ears do you not hear? Do you not remember? When I fed the 5000 with 5 loaves of bread how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up? ” They answered “Twelve.”

And when I fed the 4000 with 7 loaves how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” “Don’t you understand yet?” He asked. Mark 6:52 says they had not gained any insight from the miracle of the loaves, their hearts were too hardened.

Like the disciples we fail to trust Him many times and in much the same ways.We forget His provision in the past. They had forgotten the miracles. He reminded them, “When I fed the multitudes there was more than enough!”

We look at our resources to meet our need. We think we have to figure out how He will do it! We look at what we have   and do not see how He will be able to do anything with the small amount we possess. The disciples knew one loaf of bread was not enough. We know our limited resources are not enough.

We don’t trust Him when we do not know Him or believe His promises. The disciples didn’t fully understand who He was. He told them but they didn’t believe His words. We do not trust Him when we allow fear to invade our mind & heart. We are afraid He won’t come through for us. We aren’t sure He cares!

The disciples on the stormy sea woke Jesus up & said, “Don’t you care that we’re perishing? Do you know about our situation?” Overwhelmed & afraid, we don’t see any way out. Jesus said to them, “Why are you fearful? How is it you have no faith?” We can’t have fear and faith at the same time, they are not compatible!

Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man whose trust is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream & will not fear when the heat comes, but its leaves will be green. And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”

Consider four basic ways we can have faith that counteracts the reasons we don’t trust Him.  1. We can live in faith when we look back & remember His past provision! We know He can do it again! Jesus said to the disciples, “Do you not remember?” He reminded them of what He had done before. We need to look back at His miraculous provision in the past.

2. We can live in faith by not looking at what we have in our hands and trying to figure out how God can possibly meet our needs from that. Adrian Rogers told a story of some humanitarians who were caring for some orphans after WW2.  Every night the boys were waking up with nightmares.

It was thought they had fears of an uncertain future, so every night they were fed a big meal and they were given a piece of bread to hold in their hands which would be their breakfast. Somehow, just holding the bread in their hands helped them sleep better. Jesus is our supplier, He’s our bread!

3. We can live in faith by spending time in prayer &  His Word every morning. We get to know Him & his promises. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing but in every thing by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace which surpasses comprehension will guard your hearts & minds in Christ Jesus.”

4. We can live in faith as we do not allow fear to stay in our mind & heart. 1 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power & love & a sound mind.” God is not surprised by the things that happen to us and He is able to work everything out.

Romans 8:28 says, ” God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We can have hope even when the world around us is falling apart because we know God will take everything in our lives, the good & the bad, and He will work them for our good when we love & trust Him.

In his book, “The Coming Economic Armageddon,” David Jeremiah tells a story about a man named Samuel S.Scull who lived on a farm in the Arizona desert. “One night a fierce storm struck with rain, hail & high wind. Fearing what he would find, Samuel went out at daybreak to survey the loss.

The hail had beaten the garden into the ground; the house was partially unroofed, the hen house was blown away and dead chickens were scattered around. Destruction & devastation were everywhere. While standing, evaluating the mess & wondering about the future, he heard a stirring in the lumber pile that was the remains of the hen house.

A rooster was climbing up through the debris and he didn’t stop until he had mounted the highest board in the pile. That old rooster was dripping wet & most of his feathers were blown away, but as the sun came over the eastern horizon, he flapped his bony wings and proudly crowed!

That old wet, bare rooster could still crow when he saw the morning sun. And like that rooster, our world may be falling apart, we may have lost everything, but if we trust in God, we’ll see the light of God’s goodness, pick ourselves out of the rubble, and sing the Lord’s praise!”

An old song by Ira Stamphill says, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.”

“I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day, I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for it’s skies may turn to gray. I don’t worry o’er the future, For I know what Jesus said. And today I’ll walk beside Him, For He knows what is ahead.

I don’t know about tomorrow, it may bring me poverty, But the One Who feeds the sparrow is the One Who stands by me. And the path that be my portion may be through the flame or flood, but His presence goes before me, And I’m covered with His blood.”

Chorus  – “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand;                                                                 But I know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand.”

People who know their God do not fear tomorrow, they know He has it in His control.

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD AND THE BUMMER LAMB

I first learned about bummer lambs when I heard Sheila Walsh telling her story to Leon Fontaine on his TV show. Sheila grew up in Scotland and her mother did accounting for farmers and shepherds. Sheila saw spring lambs being born and loved being around the ewes and their lambs. Once in awhile a ewe would give birth to a lamb and reject it. She wouldn’t feed it or accept it in any way. These lambs were called, “bummer lambs”.

If the shepherd does not take the lamb it will die of a broken spirit. A good shepherd watching his flock finds the little lamb, takes it into his home, feeds it with a bottle and keeps it warm by the fireplace. Then once in awhile throughout each day, the shepherd carries it in his arms, close to his heart so the little lamb can hear and feel his heart beat.

As the lamb spends time with the shepherd it comes to know him and recognizes his voice. When the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd puts it back in the fold with the other sheep and whenever he goes out and stands on the end of the field and calls “Sheep, sheep, sheep!” the first to come running to him are the bummer lambs.

They know his voice and they run to him as soon as they hear him call. They are not loved more than the other sheep but they believe they are loved by him and they respond to his call. When Sheila was going through a very difficult time in her life she remembered the bummer lambs. She was reminded of the shepherd’s care for those little rejected lambs.

When she was little she was a daddy’s girl but when she was 5 years old his attitude toward her changed and she didn’t understand why. One day as she was sitting on the floor playing with her dog the little dog suddenly growled. She looked up to see her dad standing behind her with his cane raised, ready to bring it down on her skull.

The look of hate on his face haunted her for many years and caused her to think there was something wrong with her that caused him to hate her that much. She questioned her value as a human being. Because he fell down when she ran, she blamed herself for his aneurysm and resulting death.  She never voiced it but she tried to stuff it deep inside.

After some years of depression one day everything came to a head and she fell apart. She contacted a Psychologist friend and with his help she checked herself into a Psych ward. About 3 am. as she was sitting in the corner of the room holding onto a blanket she heard the door open. Because she was being watched she didn’t look up right away.

The man came and stood in front of her, so she looked up at him. She thought he was probably a doctor, going off duty, but afterwards she believed he was an angel. Looking at her, he placed in her hand a little stuffed toy, a tiny lamb, and he said to her, “Sheila, the Shepherd knows where to find you!” She remembered the bummer lambs.

In that moment she knew that the Lord, the good Shepherd was with her. She recalled some scriptures that she loved, “Nothing can separate us from God’s love.” “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Today she says, “I’ll always be a bummer lamb.” The bummer lamb is close to the Shepherd’s heart.

Many people have suffered rejection and somehow being rejected or abandoned by a parent hurts the most. We think parents are supposed to love their children but it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it is not actually said in words but is expressed by abuse or neglect. Often our response to the hurt is not voiced but is something we carry inside.

This is not an uncommon problem. Some people who seem to have it altogether have been living with deep grief. I will mention two such people that I have heard recently tell of their own relationship with their father. Lee Strobel,  author of “The Case For Grace” told of his father’s words to him, “I don’t have enough love for you to fill my little finger.”

Alex McFarland, author of “The God You Thought You knew,”said that shortly before his father died, he looked at him and said, “You’re nothing to me but a big, dumb ape.” He went out in the dark backyard and sat on a swing. He felt like he wanted to die, like his life was futile. At that moment God spoke to his spirit, “Trust Me, you have value to Me.”

In my own life I have felt the hurt of rejection by my earthly father and I understand how devastating and far reaching the consequences of that can be but my feelings of self worth can not be tied to people or circumstances that change. Like Sheila, Lee and Alex I have heard the voice of the Lord, my Shepherd, telling me I am accepted by Him!

In John 10 we have some of the most precious statements Jesus made about Himself as our Shepherd. He said, “I am the door of the sheepfold” no one gets in except through Me. “I am the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.” I am the good shepherd and I know My own and My own know Me.”

“My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” As the good Shepherd, He goes out, looking for the bummer lambs, the lost, rejected and unloved lambs and He carries them close in His arms where they feel His beating heart.

Healing comes as the bummer lambs spend time with Jesus, our good Shepherd and we learn to know His voice. No one loves the bummer lambs like the Shepherd! Our acceptance is in Him, our worth and our value comes from His estimation of us. We are known intimately, loved deeply and greatly valued by Him.

I am a bummer lamb who wants to spend more time with Jesus, my Shepherd! I want to know His voice and follow Him!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO AM I

A song was on my mind when I got out of bed this morning. It seemed to surface on and off through the day as I went about doing other things. The song, written by Rusty Goodman and sung by his daughter,Tanya.asks the question,”Who am I?” As with many songs it awakened memories, especially my journey in the past four years.

Looking back it doesn’t seem possible that so many things have happened in so short a time. My thoughts go back to the year 2011 when my ordered life took an unexpected turn. My husband and I had dreams of growing old together but God had other plans.Three weeks after having a major stroke he went home to be with the Lord.

Suddenly there was an emptiness in the suite, an empty place in my heart. An unexpected phone call from a Publishing company launched me on writing and self publishing. Although that was an adventure and I thank God for that opportunity. I also invested in my spiritual growth by enrolling in a seminar on hearing the voice of God.

The course, “4 Keys To Hearing God’s voice” was taught by Mark Virkler from the Communion With God Ministries. I was familiar with two way prayer and had, for a number of years, journaled my prayers and God’s answers but I felt I had a lot to learn in this area. At my request I was assigned a personal trainer. She was a blessing.

To some people this sounds rather audacious to say I can hear God’s voice. Who am I that the Creator of the Universe would actually answer my questions? The song asks the question, “Who am I that the King would bleed and die for? Who am I that He would pray not my will, Thine Lord.”

I ask the question, “Who am I, that God, the Creator of the Universe would want that kind of relationship with me?” He speaks and I listen but back and forth conversation is different. In Psalm 8. David expressed a similar thought, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man that Thou dost take thought of him?”

In 1 Cor 15:9 Paul said, “I am the least of the apostles who am not fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God.” When I come to approach the presence of Almighty God, I see my own unworthiness. Isaiah said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips!” (Isaiah 6)

Some people will scoff and say it is a bunch of foolishness and I am a foolish person for believing that I could hear God speaking to me specifically about things that I need answers to. I have not heard His audible voice but there are people who say they have and I believe them. God chooses what the world calls foolish.

1 Cor 1:26-31 “But consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God..” I can not boast in anything I do, I can only boast in what Christ has done for me..

WHO AM I  by Charles  “Rusty” Goodman

When I think of how He came so far from glory, came to dwell among the lowly such as I, to suffer shame and such disgrace, on Mount Calvary take my place, then I ask myself the question, “Who am I?”

When I’m reminded of His words, I’ll leave Him never. If you’ll be true I’ll give to you life forever. Oh I wonder what I could have done, to deserve God’s only Son, to fight my battles until they’re won, for who am I?

Who am I that the King would bleed and die for? Who am I that He would pray,not My will, Thine Lord. The answer I may never know, why He ever loved me so. But to that old, rugged cross He’d go, for who am I?

Communion With God website: http://www.cwgministries.org   Also  – http://www.cluonline.com

WHEN GOD SPEAKS

When I think about God speaking, words from an old familiar song come to mind. “He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing. And the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing. And He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” (In The Garden by C.Austin Miles)

When God speaks there are many different responses, some with consequences. The Bible is full of examples of God speaking. Right from the beginning to the end, we have recorded instances of God speaking. He spoke this world and all of creation into existence. He said, “Let there be -,” and there was! He made the first man & woman, breathing His very Life into them and His first words to them were blessing.

But people did not always choose to listen. Adam & Eve did not want to listen to God’s words and their disobedience resulted in a curse instead of blessing. Now, instead of knowing only love, they felt fear and when they heard God walking in the garden, they hid from Him. God knew where they were but He called out to Adam, “Where are you?” Adam needed to admit where he was and what he had done.

As time went on, God spoke in various ways, to many different kinds of people, who were in all kinds of circumstances. Sometimes He spoke through dreams or visions. In Job 33:14-16 Elihu says to Job, “-God speaks once or twice, yet no one notices it. In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleeps falls on men while they slumber in their beds. Then He opens the ears of man and seals their instruction,”

When Abraham was seventy five years old, God spoke to him and said, “Leave your country and go to a place I will show you,” and he went out, not knowing where he was going. Although he made a lot of mistakes along the way, he was known as a man of great faith and as the friend of God. As we read about his life we see that God constantly spoke with him.

When the people refused to hear God’s voice, He would speak to the prophets or the leaders, who would then tell the people what God said. Moses was one leader who talked with God , “face to face just as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex. 33:11) After spending a long time with God, Moses had to cover his face with a veil because the people could not stand to look at the glow on his face.

God’s ways of speaking were not always the same. In 1 Kings 19 we have the account of God speaking to Elijah at a time when he was very discouraged. After God had given him a great victory, he suddenly became frightened of a woman’s threat. Jezebel sent word to him that she was going to kill him. In fear, he ran for his life into the wilderness, sat down under a tree and said, “Oh Lord, take my life!”

After sleeping , he was awakened by an angel who gave him food & drink that sustained him for the next forty days and nights. When he came to Mount Horeb he stopped at a cave. He heard God asking him a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”His answer was, “I have been very zealous for you. … All the other prophets have been killed, I’m the only one left and they are trying to kill me.”

The Lord instructed him to stand  at a certain place on the mountain. Then the Lord passed by with a mighty show of force. First, a great, strong wind tearing up the mountain and breaking the rocks into pieces. But the Lord was not in the wind!  After the wind, an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Finally there came a sound of gentle blowing.

When Elijah heard that, he wrapped his face in his mantle and stood in the entrance of the cave. The voice of the Lord came again, asking the same question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah gave the same reply, ending with “I’m the only one left and my life is being sought.” God then gave him instructions to return and choose certain people as leaders. He says, “I have 7,000 other faithful people.”

Elijah listened to God’s voice and obeyed His instructions.  He was a great prophet who was known for his amazing faith with which he performed miracles. He is one example of a man who wanted to hear from God and was blessed because of it. Of course there are also examples of people who did not want to listen to God and ended up with unwanted consequences.

When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn the people that he was going to deal with them about their wickedness, he did not want do it, so he got on a boat headed in the opposite direction. He told the seamen that he was fleeing from the presence of  the Lord. God sent a terrible storm which threatened their lives. At his request they threw Jonah overboard and the sea was calm.

The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow him. In his distress he called out to God to rescue him. After three days in the belly of the fish he had a change of mind and was ready to listen to God. The Lord commanded the fish and it vomited him out. I imagine the fish was just as glad to get rid of Jonah as Jonah  was to leave! In His patience, God spoke to Jonah a second time.

God wanted him to go to Nineveh and warn the people that the judgement of God was about to fall on them if they didn’t repent and mend their wicked ways. The people believed the message and the king, the nobles and ordinary people fasted and prayed and turned to God. But Jonah was angry because God showed compassion, forgave the people and did not bring the calamity he promised.

God speaks today! Above the tumult of war threats, nations rising against nations, kidnappings by Boko Haran and murderings by ISIS, God is speaking! Above tornadoes, earthquakes, drought and changing weather patterns, God is speaking! Many people do not want to hear God’s voice. They believe they have a right to live their life as they wish without any interference from God. They don’t fear Him!

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Verses 20-29″Wisdom shouts in the street…..because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel, and did not want my reproof, I will laugh at your calamity….they will call on me , but I will not answer….because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord.”

God is speaking! He is calling out a people for Himself to have a relationship with Him. Hebrews 1:1 – 2 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” He sent His Son, Jesus to bring us into fellowship with the Father.

God speaks to the whole world generally to return to Him but He also speaks to each individual person, calling them to walk with Him. I can tune Him out or I can make time to listen. Each day as I spend time in fellowship with Him through His Word and in prayer I get His perspective on everything around me and I can face whatever comes my way, with confidence that He is there.

When God speaks my best response is a listening ear. “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.” (In The Garden by C. Austin Miles)