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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Who Do You Think I Am? - Our Shield

But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. - Psalm 3:3

There are three titles of the Lord tucked into this one verse, and we will cover each one in turn.  Today, I want to focus on the Lord as our shield.  Merriam-Webster has several definitions for the word "shield," but the most relevant ones are these: (1) one that protects or defends; (2) a device or part that serves as a protective cover or barrier.  Dictionary.com gives the most literal and well-known definition of a shield: a broad piece of armor, varying widely in form and size, carried apart from the body, usually on the left arm, as a defense against swords, lances, arrows, etc.  Our Lord fulfills all of these and more.

He protects and defends.

He is our knight in shining armor (I know that sounds a little weird for you guys, but hey, it is what it is).  He protects us from the enemy, the harsh storms and even ourselves.  He defends us against those who would harm or destroy us.  And while it seems that He sometimes allows the enemy to have their way with us, He is the One in control, and He will only let them go so far.  If He is giving them "free rein" to come against us, then there is a reason, and that reason is for our good.  Just like Joseph who suffered many years before reaching the place God had in store for him.  Or David.  Or many others in the Bible.  God will protect and defend us, and trust me, He is very protective of His children.

He is a cover or barrier.

I love this definition because it reminds me that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can get to me unless God allows it.  He covers me with His wings.  He is a barrier against anything and everything that seeks to do me harm.  Nothing can get through.  We call Superman "the man of steel," but even he had his weakness:  Kryptonite.  God has no such weakness, and nothing is getting past Him.

He is a defense against swords, lances, arrows, etc.

Fiery darts of the wicked?  God's got it covered.  Harsh winds and violent storms?  God can handle it.  Words that cut and actions that can destroy? God can defend me from those as well.  I'm reminded of Ephesians 6:12 which says, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Yes, God can defend us against flesh and blood, but He is also a defense against the enemies unseen.  After all, how can we possibly fight what we cannot see?  We can't, but God can because He sees all.

Some days it seems like the whole world is against us.  Our jobs wear us down.  Our families make us weary.  Our health refuses to cooperate.  Our dreams go unmet.  It's as if each disappointment is another fiery arrow that pierces our soul.  Like David in this third chapter of Psalms, we mutter, "There is no hope!"  But on the heels of his proclamation, David said this:  But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me.

Life is tough, but God is a shield for us.

The days are long, but God offers a defense.

The tears won't stop falling, but God has us covered. . . literally.

We can spend our days dwelling on the negative "buts," or we can focus on this positive statement:  "But God is a shield for me," and trust that nothing will come our way outside of God's will.  He is between us and our enemies, and He is will guard us with His life!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who Do You Think I Am? - Our King

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. - Psalm 2:6

What a fitting situation that the first title of the Lord we come across in the book of Psalms is "King."  The online dictionary defines the word "king" like this:  the male ruler of an independent state, especially one who inherits the position by right of birth.

Two things about that definition strike me.  First off, the word "ruler" gives way to the idea that the king is the One who is in charge.  Everyone under His authority answers to Him whether they want to or not.  He is the big boss.  There is none greater.  He makes the decisions.  He enforces the laws.  He is the final judge of all things.  He rules.  He is in control.

I don't know about you, but I already feel better.  Why?  Because God is not only the king of man, but He is king over all situations and circumstances.  He controls it all.  The laws of nature.  The laws of physics.  The heart of man.  The behavior of beasts.  Not a single thing happens on this earth that He is unaware of.  He knows, and He allows things according to His will.  Though things may be out of our hands or beyond our abilities to cope with, they are never beyond His.  Hallelujah!

Second, in the definition of a king, I notice the phrase, "who inherits the position by right of birth."  Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.  He was born to be King, and believe it or not, one day, those of us who are saved will get to reign with Him, as kings and priests (Revelation 1:6, 5:10).  We are royalty by birth.  We were born again into the family of God the moment we accepted Christ as our Savior.  We entered into the royal line.

The old saying goes "It pays to know someone in high places."  So true!  And I know the Highest of them all.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and I can rest in Him knowing that He is good, just, fair, right and attentive.  He is my King!  Is He yours?

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. - John 18:37


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Who Do You Think I Am: A New Series

Who do you think I am?  This is the question Jesus asked the disciples during one of their learning sessions.  Most people weren't sure what to make of Jesus.  Some thought He was John the Baptist.  Others believed He was Elijah reincarnated.  Many believed Him to be Jeremiah or one of the other prophets of long ago.  But Jesus' question to the disciples here was directed to them alone.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? (Matthew 16:15)

Fortunately, Peter had the right answer:  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)

It seems that the Lord has been asking me the same question of late.  Through my various studies, lessons and readings about faith and building up our four walls of protection around our heart, a single theme has been present.  Could it be that I don't trust God like I should because I don't know Him as I should?  If I truly understood and believed His character, would I still be plagued by doubt, confusion and fear?  I think not.  I think faith is trusting in the nature of God, believing with all our heart that He is good and kind and faithful.

That being said, the Lord has laid on my heart a new series.  We've dealt before with the names of God, but I want to dig even deeper into the true character of God.  And more than that, I want to make it personal.  Who is God to me?  What is God to me?  In what ways can I best relate to God?

To accomplish this goal, we will be looking at the various titles given to God in the book of Psalms.  Covering one title per day, it will take us several months to get through, but I feel this is something the Lord would have us look at.  After all, how can we trust someone we don't fully know?  I'll probably be scattering some unrelated posts in here and there as the Lord directs, but other than that, I'm embarking on a mission to know God more, and I pray you'll join me for this exciting new series.
SaveSave

Monday, August 14, 2017

Everybody Says So

Do you ever sell yourself short and believe others are doing the same?  You think you're disorganized or scatterbrained, so surely, everyone else thinks the same thing.  You believe you don't have what it takes to accomplish a goal, and one glance around tells you that everyone else feels the same about you.  But you know what?  We're usually wrong—not only in what we believe but also in what we think others believe, just like the children of Israel.

And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. (Numbers 13:32-33)

This is a familiar account in the story of the Exodus.  After about two years of journeying in the wilderness, the children of Israel finally arrived at the Promised Land.  The land of which they had been dreaming all their lives.  The land God had promised to give them.  As soon as they arrived at the border, Moses sent in twelve spies to see what the land was like and what they were up against.  Forty days later, the spies came back with their report.  The land flowing with milk and honey was far better than they had expected, but it was occupied by mean, BIG enemies.  According to ten of the spies, there was no way they could take the land, but Caleb and Joshua had a different story to tell.  They understood that it wasn't up to them to "take" the land, for God had already promised to give it to them.  All they had to do was act in faith and accept what God was giving.

But the other ten spies were adamant about what they had seen.  Notice the last phrase of verse 33:  we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.  Well, that's an interesting statement, isn't it?  Not so much the first part.  I can see where that would be an appropriate response, but the last part:  so we were in their sight.  How did they know what the enemy thought of them?  They were supposed to be spying, which means hiding or, at the very least, not drawing attention to themselves.  If they did that, the enemy would have never noticed them let alone told the Israelites what they thought of them.  This reaction was nothing more than fear.  Yep, anxiety had them believing that the enemy thought the children of Israel were as insignificant and powerless as they believed themselves to be.  They had the attitude, "We're weak and no match for the trials ahead.  Everybody says so."  But everybody didn't say so.  Only they did, and I can prove it.

If we jump over to the story of Jericho, we'll see what the inhabitants of the Promised Land thought of the children of Israel.  Let's look at Joshua 2:9-11 and see what Rahab told the two spies who searched out the land at that time.

And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Terror has fallen on us.

Our hearts melted.

No more courage.

Hmm, it sounds like the people of Canaan were more scared of Israel than the other way around.  They were terrified, waiting for the day when this great host would come and destroy them.  So, how is it that the enemy was so frightened while, at the same time, Israel felt they didn't have a chance?  It's easy to "see."  Notice the statement from the children of Israel again.

The people that we saw.

We saw giants.

We were in our own sight.

So we were in their sight.

What were they looking at?  The enemy and themselves.  No wonder they were afraid.  The enemy looked so big and bad, and the situation seemed impossible.  But now, look back with me at Rahab's statement.

The Lord hath given you the land.

The Lord dried up the water for you.

The Lord is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

Interestingly enough, while God's people were looking to themselves and the enemy, the enemy was watching God.  They saw what God was doing, and it scared them senseless.  If the people had believed Caleb and Joshua, the Israelites could have marched into the Promised Land and said, "Boo!" and sent half the crowd running.  That was how much faith and fear of the Lord the enemy had.  Unfortunately, the children of Israel had more faith in what they thought the enemy believed about them, and it cost them the Promised Land.

Don't lose your Promised Land because you're convinced you have the enemy figured out.  Who knows?  They may be more scared of you than you are of them.  You'll never know unless you press on, looking to God, not the enemy or the circumstances.  Look at what God is doing and what He has done for you in the past.  Have more faith in the God who slays giants than in the grasshopper mentality that says you're not good enough.  Only then will you reach your Promised Land.


*Here's one of my favorite songs that really drives home the point of today's lesson*

Friday, August 11, 2017

Going Back for Seconds

I don't like bugs. They're creepy and crawly. They have no concept of personal space, and they're forever wandering in uninvited. That being said, sometimes I enjoy watching the busy little creatures. After all, if God tells us to be more like the ant, it stands to reason that bugs can teach us something. And I had just such a lesson the other day.

I was watching a particular insect crawl across the window sill when suddenly, it ran into a spider web. (Don't judge me! You probably have a few spider webs in your house too, right?) Anyhow, as his front feet encountered the sticky web, he immediately backed up, turned around and hurried the other way.

I wanted to applaud him for his effort and good sense, but before I could, he did a 180 and headed back toward the web again. "What are you doing?" I cried. "You know that's dangerous. You were lucky to get away last time. Don't do it!" (Yes, I was getting emotional. What can I say? I'm wired that way.) So, Mr. Bug waddled his way back to the web and once again got his front feet stuck. In a panic, he fought until he was free and hurried off in the other direction.

Unfortunately, he didn't go very far before he turned around again and went right back to the danger zone, only this time, he wandered in a little too far and got himself stuck permanently. In a way, I felt sorry for him, but a part of me argued, "You dumb bug! You knew it was dangerous. You almost got stuck twice. Why, oh why did you have to go back again?"

I believe God often asks us the same question. Why do we return to sin? Why do we turn back to the people who have hurt us? Why do we turn away from the good and right and run to danger? I guess we're no smarter than the bug. We fail to realize that while there is pleasure in sin for a season, there are always consequences. Sure, it may seem like we're getting away with something or perhaps like our sin is just a "little sin" and no big issue. But I remind you that Jesus died for all sin, even those we label as little. Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong. Danger is danger.

Over the past several months, I've been working hard on my health, and one of the biggest changes I've made where my diet is concerned is to stop going back for seconds. I don't need seconds. If I give my food time to digest properly, I soon realize that I've had enough. I don't need more. Now God is teaching me the same when it comes to sin and temptation. Once I've seen the danger, I need to retreat and never turn back. Seconds are not an option.

In what areas are you struggling? Do you return to sin or maybe to people who are toxic to your
Christian walk? I pray you'll heed the lesson of the bug. Stop going back for more. God has a better way, a better life, and better opportunities in store for you, but you'll never reach them if you're too busy going back. Press forward. That is where your future lies.

Now, if you would please join me in a moment of silent prayer for the dumb bug which gave his life so we might learn this lesson.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. - II Peter 2:20-22