There is Freedom in Surrender

But from eternity to eternity the LORD’s faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and His righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep His covenant, who remember to observe His precepts. Psalm 103:17-18

My church is nearing the end of a 21-day church-wide fast.  I have fasted with close friends before, but I’ve never fasted with a large group of people.  Our pastor said at the beginning of the fast that we would all be changed by the end of it.  He was certainly right about that.

On the first day of the fast, we were each given a sheet of paper that contained a list of prayer topics and verses for each day of the fast, and throughout, we have been provided with frequent encouragement via text as well.  This has proven to be very beneficial, as we are covering many needs for ourselves and our church family, as well as our communities, our country, and the rest of the world.  I will be writing about some of the things the Lord has shown me during this fast, but today I want to share about the very first thing that He began speaking about.

Submission.

The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines submission this way:

1. The act of submitting; the act of yielding to power or authority; surrender of the person and power to the control or government of another.

2. Acknowledgment of inferiority or dependence; humble or suppliant behavior.

3. Acknowledgment of a fault; confession or error.

4. Obedience; compliance with the commands or laws of a superior.

5.Resignation; a yielding of one’s will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring.

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9

We are to submit to God, to the government, to teachers, to supervisors…basically to anyone who is in authority over us. The Bible talks about wives submitting to their husbands, and children to their parents.  I am only writing today about submission to God.  Total, complete surrender.

What does submission look like to me?  What should it look like?

To me, it looks like writing when I don’t necessarily feel like writing.

It looks like fasting, when I’d much rather go get a plate of food, or even a little snack, right now, to satisfy my growling stomach.

It looks like continuing to pray when I don’t see any results, especially when the prayers include the salvation of loved ones.  God’s heart is for all to come to the knowledge of Him.

It’s not saying the first thing that comes to mind when someone has either wronged me or I have perceived a wrong.

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

It looks like speaking to a person I barely know because He has prompted me to do so, taking me out of my comfort zone.

It’s setting aside my plans for the future, which include staying in my current home, if the Lord is calling me to move.

It’s being content in whatever circumstance I’m in, and not constantly whining to the Lord about my desire to get out of it.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11

It’s allowing the Lord to be my wedding planner, as He moves things around in His way and in His time, instead of mine. Let me explain.  One day, when I was talking with the Lord (okay, maybe it was more like complaining), asking when the time will be right for my beloved and I to get married, He clearly spoke to my heart that He is my wedding planner.

Sometimes submission comes easily, and sometimes it’s a struggle.

I’m reminded of a pastor I heard once who was speaking on the topic of obedience, and, as he was wont to drive fast, said that his right foot was the last part of his body to get saved.  I confess that I laughed right along with everyone else, while at the same time sympathizing with him.  See, I have secretly believed that I was meant to be a race car driver.  😊

Thankfully, if we belong to the Lord and have surrendered our lives to Him, we don’t have to struggle with this alone.  We have help with submission and everything else we struggle with.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17

Those promptings to help us make good decisions, that’s Him.  The strength to not eat while fasting, or the ability to not retaliate when someone wrongs us, or the courage to do what seems impossible – that’s Him.

And the best part is – when we submit and obey those promptings of the Holy Spirit, the Lord says that He will reveal Himself to us! I don’t know about you, but that is my number one desire.  Jesus (Yeshua) said:

The one who has  My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him. John 14:21

The Lord has given me the word Freedom for this new year.  I’ll write about that another time, as the Lord continues to speak to me about it, but part of His revealing process was to continually bring to mind a song from many, many years ago that I hadn’t thought of in a very long time.  The song was made popular by Debby Boone, and is entitled Surrender.  You can listen to it here.  The entire song is beautiful, but the part that has been most touching to me is the chorus:

For the freedom I seek is the word that You speak

Running deep as a song of my soul

To be totally sure, and totally Yours, and totally surrendered

The Lord’s message to me this week:  There is freedom in surrender.

I pray that there is nothing I haven’t submitted to Him.  What about you?  If there’s anything you haven’t surrendered, will you pray this with me? The Lord can do far more with whatever we’re holding onto than we can.

Lord, if we are holding anything back, we repent, and surrender everything to You now. Help us to submit even when it is difficult or painful. We thank You for forgiveness, and ask for the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives to help us obey in everything.

All the LORD’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees. Psalm 25:10

Here’s something else I wrote about Freedom.  Check it out!

Whatever He Says, Do It

I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel. Psalm 32:8

I was recently given the opportunity to write something in which I mentioned some of the ways that we can hear God speaking. Some of the ways we can hear Him include Bible verses, songs on the radio, a still small voice within, conversations with friends, a stirring in your spirit when you read or hear something, and dreams and visions. The Lord will give confirmations as well when they are needed.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

Another way the Lord speaks is that an idea will come to mind, and it will be the very last thing you would ever choose for yourself, because it is costly.  Not necessarily monetarily, although that is certainly a possibility, but costly with regards to our lifestyles and comfort levels.

One biblical example is the prophet Hosea.  Hosea was a righteous man, and he was commanded by the Lord to marry a promiscuous woman.  The Lord used that marriage to illustrate His love for Israel.  Though Israel wandered and would get entangled in the pagan worship around her, God loved her and continually sought to bring her back to Him. As I read the story of Hosea and Gomer, I find it interesting that nowhere does it say that Hosea questioned God, questioned His motives, or had second thoughts about obeying.  He obeyed, and the Lord was able to use that obedience to both warn Israel and give her hope.

Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  Luke 11:28

It reminds me of a time when I was asked to take in a young woman who was going through a difficult time finding a place to live.  The person making the request knew her well, and spoke very highly of her, mentioning that the young woman, like me, was a follower of Yeshua (Jesus).

I said that I didn’t think so, but that I would pray about it.  I didn’t pray about it very much, though, not like I should have.  See, I had already experienced a roommate situation years before that began well but ended badly, and the last thing I wanted was to repeat the experience.

In addition to this, between family members and all of the pets, we already had a full house, and this full house needed repairs. So yes, I prayed, but only halfheartedly, and I really wasn’t listening for God’s answer.

One night, a few weeks later, I was getting ready to feed our pets, and realized that we were completely out of cat food.  It had been a long, busy day, and I was tired.  For this reason, my daughter and I drove to a higher priced store just a few blocks from our home instead of driving to the less expensive store farther away where we normally purchased pet food.

My daughter offered to go inside and purchase the cat food while I stayed in the car.  I gratefully accepted her offer, and within minutes, she returned to the car, with a bag of cat food in hand.

As we pulled out of the parking space, we saw something dark moving on the ground several yards ahead of us, moving between the parked vehicles at the end of the parking lot.  As we got closer, we saw that it was a kitten limping on three legs.  The fourth leg was missing.  Our hearts melted.

My daughter scooped some of the cat food into her hand and headed toward the kitten.  As she put the food down on the ground, several other kittens came running toward the food.

As I watched this, the Lord clearly spoke to my heart.

“You’re concerned about the kitten, and that’s a good thing.  How much more should you be concerned about My child?”

Ouch, that hurt!  Teary eyed, I drove home knowing that we were soon going to be sharing our home with this young woman.

I wish I could say that by now I have learned that what the Lord does in my life is always for my good, and that I bend obediently to His will, but there are times when I still question what He could possibly be thinking.  During those times, He calls me – calls us – to walk by faith and not by sight.  Obedience always brings blessings.  It may not be immediate, or even apparent until years later, but this is a truth clearly stated in the Word of God.  In this case, it was immediate, and the blessing far exceeded my “sacrifice.”

When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.  Luke 5:4-7

I am now facing another challenge, which I will write about another time.  It is another “opportunity to excel,” as a previous supervisor of mine was fond of saying whenever someone in the office was faced with a difficult task.

Have you experienced something similar?  Have you been feeling like the Lord has been leading you (okay, sometimes it feels more like pushing) into a place where you don’t feel comfortable, and don’t particularly want to go?  Trust God.  Seek Him.  Ask Him for confirmation.  Then, whatever He says, do it.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone water pots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. John 2:1-11

Worth More than Many Sparrows

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

The text read, “My husband noticed that one of the turbines on your second story roof is broken and opened up.  If it rains you could get rain in there and then a leak into your house.”

Sigh.  The second story?  An added expense with the holidays right around the corner?  Another sigh.

I was thankful that my neighbor had noticed, and was somewhat surprised that I hadn’t noticed it myself.  We had had several windy days over the last week due to a tropical storm off Florida’s coast.  Branches had fallen down from the trees that had already been pruned by Hurricane Irma.

A quick review of the money in hand and upcoming expenses led to the realization that hiring a repairman was out of the question.  Someone was going to have to gather up the courage to brave the second story roof, and that someone was going to have to be me.

I don’t know about you, but I am no fan of heights.  I don’t even like ladders.  This began during my first pregnancy, when I was standing on a small ladder and suddenly felt dizzy.  It has remained with me even after more than two decades.

I didn’t know what the job would entail, but I needed something that would last through the holidays until I could hire someone to fix it properly.  A metallic tape that I had used before seemed like a good choice, so I grabbed the roll and a pair of scissors and made my way to our back balcony, which provided easy access to the first story roof.

I made my way carefully along the roof to the peak, where the two roofs were the shortest distance apart.  Turning around slowly so that I was facing away from the second story roof, I cautiously sat down on the higher roof.  My feet barely touched the lower roof below me.

My heart was beating rapidly as I viewed the street below.  My daughter smiled at me from the grass below, with phone in hand, ready to call 911 if the unthinkable happened.

She prayed, I prayed, and soon my heart slowed to a normal beat.  I slowly scooted backwards up the roof toward the peak, where the turbine sat crookedly.  Inch by inch I drew nearer, and was soon examining the turbine, where I discovered that a large screw had come out of one of the brackets that held the turbine in place.

Well, that was good news, right?  Just a screw?  Yes!  Well, except for one thing.  The thought of climbing down and repeating the climb back up was not exactly appealing.

I sat up there for a moment, trying to decide whether or not the tape might do to secure the turbine until I could gather up the courage to do this again.

As I contemplated the situation, my eyes were drawn to the other side of the turbine.  To my surprise and delight, not more than four inches from the turbine sat the missing screw.  Four inches away, on a slanted roof, after days of high winds.  Mind blown.

I twisted the screw back in and covered it with the tape for good measure, and slowly made my way back down, thanking the Lord with each little scoot.

A verse immediately came to mind.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

And if He remembers even the little sparrows, and cares enough to keep a screw on a slanted roof just for me, certainly He is more than able to help with the bigger things, too.

I think the Lord allowed this not only to build my faith, but the faith of my daughter.  See, my daughter knows how I feel about heights.  She had just seen her mother face her fear, and not only live to tell about it (smile), but experience the miraculous.  Maybe, just maybe, when she is faced with something that causes her to fear, she will resolutely face her fear, step out in faith, and will experience the miraculous, too.

Yeshua (Jesus) was tempted in everything we are, and yet was without sin.  He knows our struggles.  He knows our fears.  He doesn’t ask us to do anything that He Himself wasn’t willing to do.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

When Peter wanted to walk on the water with Him, “Come.”  He says the same to us.  Keep your eyes on Him.  If you falter, rest assured that His hand is there, ready and willing to catch you.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” Matthew 14:28-33

Perfect Timing

Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

My home is under renovation right now, and things are in disarray all around me. My house has two balconies, and both have wood that has to be replaced, after standing faithfully for more than four decades. Our plan was to also replace the wood siding on the second story of our home, in addition to several minor things that needed some attention.

The process is slow, and at times, frustrating.  There have been many delays.  I was particularly concerned when the contractor was unexpectedly called out of town shortly after being paid for the siding materials.  The materials were purchased and sat on the side of the house.  Each day that went by and the work did not begin, I grew more impatient. I thought surely the contractor would have arranged for one of the sub-contractors to install the siding while he was away.

He returned, but still the work was not begun. Finally I received a call from the contractor, and he informed me that the siding we had selected was no longer up to code. It seems that with every hurricane, the code gets stricter.

As I reflected on this turn of events, the Lord spoke a familiar, yet unwelcomed, truth to my heart: His delays are always for my good. Always.

See, had the contractor installed the wood siding when I wanted it installed, it would have had to be removed, and it would have cost me greatly, both in time and materials, and we would have had to pay for the more costly option of stucco. The delay saved me time, money, and a bigger headache.

But they that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Not long after that, Hurricane Irma came onto the scene. I prepared my home as best I could, but there were some things I didn’t have the time, knowledge or strength to do – such as putting boards over my windows.

My beloved came to my rescue. Using leftover wood that the contractor had not yet removed, he, my daughter and I measured and cut the wood, and then covered our windows. My heroes!

I had not been happy that the unused wood was still here, but yet another delay worked in my favor.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25-26

I am in awe of the Lord’s goodness to me. If He loves me so much that He allowed these delays for my good, I can rest assured that delays in other areas are for my good as well.

That means your delays are for your good, too. Maybe you’re waiting for the Lord to send you a spouse, or a baby, or a job, or a car, or a house. Maybe you’re waiting for a loved one to come home, or come to the Savior. Maybe you’re waiting for healing.

Waiting is hard! We try to wait without complaining, try to remain cheerful and hopeful, but sometimes we fail. The Lord knows. He sees, and He understands.

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. Psalm 103:13-14

Sometimes He sends us reminders through Bible verses at just the right moment, or a message that we hear on the radio or television, or a conversation with a friend. Sometimes He sends us heroes.

I read recently that God is never early and never late. He is never in a hurry, but is always right on time.

Delays. I don’t know what it is that you’ve been longing and praying for, but I know this – the Lord hears you, He sees you, and everything is going to work out in His perfect way and in His perfect time.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

When God Stretches Us

Now the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, those who depend on His faithful love. Psalm 33:18

I’ve been thinking about the growth process of a Christian.  Growth seldom feels good.  Like growing pains in our childhood, it can be a painful experience.  It doesn’t seem to get any easier with experience, either.  In fact, it seems to be even more difficult, at least for me, because as we age, we develop mindsets that we believe are scriptural, yet which are actually based on church, denomination and family traditions and accepted beliefs rather than on the Word of God.  It has led me to question a few things about what the Lord uses to grow us, especially if we welcome His work in our lives and pray for His will to be done in us.

So…when I pray and ask the Lord to help me walk by faith and not by sight, am I asking for more trouble in my life?  More trials?  Is this an open invitation for Him to give me opportunities where I can only walk by faith because absolutely nothing I see with my eyes makes any sense?

When I ask Him to make me more like Yeshua (Jesus), am I asking Him to bring difficult, hard to love people into my life, because He loves difficult, hard to love people?

When I ask Him to give me His heart of compassion, am I asking Him to open my eyes to the pain and difficulties in the lives of those around me, even though it hurts so much to see people suffering, because He has compassion on them and wants to minister to them through me?

When we pray for His kingdom to come, and His will to be done, is this what we’re signing up for?

Yes, I think so.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

It has been a rough week. I have felt like I’ve been standing near the shore in shallow water, while wave after wave after wave has knocked me down. I get back up only to be knocked down again. Over and over. A car repair, an air conditioning repair, another car repair, another air conditioning repair, a contractor issue, a personality clash, added pressure at work, family and friends experiencing illness and life threatening issues, another car repair, a relationship strain…

Lately, I have not been walking by faith or by sight. I haven’t been walking at all! I sat down in the mud and had a pity party. I barely prayed, other than to ask the Lord to FIX THINGS, AND FIX THEM QUICKLY!

Yeah, kind of like a toddler’s tantrum. I am not proud of that at all. I wouldn’t even tell you about it except that I know I’m not the only one out there experiencing these things.

Beloved, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12

That’s not my normal way of handling things. If I’m having one of “those” times, it usually doesn’t last more than a day, two days tops. This one lasted an entire week. I didn’t even have communion with the Lord, which I try to do a few days a week, because I knew I would have to confess my bad attitude and repent. Sigh.

Today I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. The unleavened bread had sat on my table for days, and seemed to taunt me. In reality, it was beckoning me.

Come, be made clean again.

Come, renew your mind.

Come, lay that burden down.

Come, walk in peace again.

Come, be restored.

This time, I couldn’t resist, and I felt the heavy burdens roll off of my shoulders as I spent time with the Lord, confessing, repenting, and being forgiven and loved on. I felt hopeful again, for the first time in days.

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God. Psalm 146:5

Beloved, if you are going through this now, don’t stay there like I did. It’s just not worth it. Bring it all to the Lord and tell Him how you feel. Let Him pick you up, clean you up, and set you back where you belong.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm. Psalm 40:2

I can only guess what the Lord is going to teach me through this, but one thing I know, He is faithful, and when all is said and done, I will look back on this time and be thankful for it. That is always His way.

Father, please forgive us for wanting the fruit without the pruning. Please help us to see things through Your eyes, with Your perspective. Help us not to lose hope, but to continue to walk with You in peace and unity. In the name of Your son, Yeshua, I ask these things. Amen.

 

Perception vs. Reality

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

Did you ever see the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?  In one scene, Indiana Jones must cross from one side of a large cavern to another.  There is a steep drop, blackness so dark that you can’t see the bottom.  He refers to the quest as the Path of God.  It seems an impossible task, and requires a step of faith.  His faith is rewarded as he lands on a solid, yet invisible (from his perspective) bridge, which enables him to walk across easily.  When he reaches the other side, he tosses dirt on the bridge so that he can easily find his way back.  As the camera angle changes, however, you can see that the bridge was there all along, clearly visible from another point of view.

Indiana Jones would never have known the bridge was there if he hadn’t stepped out.  It certainly didn’t make sense.  Based on what his eyes could see, it was foolish.

Isn’t that the way life seems sometimes?  Haven’t you felt like Indiana Jones, knowing that to move forward, you have to take a step into the unknown?  You wish for just a little dirt on the path so you can see where to go.  You want to grasp someone’s hand to walk along side you, but deep in your heart, you know that this is something you have to do yourself.

The process of reaching that point can be difficult.  It’s easy to give in to fear and refuse to move forward.  Staying where you are is comfortable, for a season, but then, like a treasured piece of clothing from your younger days, it just doesn’t fit anymore.  You have to move forward, like it or not, and take the leap of faith.  You land, get your bearings, and it’s at that point that your faith truly becomes your own.  You realize that though you can’t see Him, the Lord has been leading you all along, just as He promised.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

That movie scene reminds me of a dream I had awhile back.  In one part of the dream, I opened what appeared to be a closet door.  Inside was blackness, so dark that I couldn’t see anything except for a couple of feet of a rope bridge suspended over nothingness that led into the darkness.  All of a sudden, one of my dogs walked onto the bridge, expecting me to follow.  I quickly called him back and closed the door.  I have wondered about that dream many times, and I believe it is very much like the Indiana Jones scene.  In my dream, at least I could see the bridge, but I couldn’t see where it led and wanted no part of finding out, even with my trusted companion.

I believe I finally understand the meaning.

I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes and trusts in Me [as Savior—all those who anchor their hope in Me and rely on the truth of My message] will not continue to live in darkness. John 12:46

Jesus is the Light of the world. After His death, burial and resurrection, He ascended to heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. If He is seated in heaven, how is He then a Light here on earth?  He is a Light through us who believe in Him and have surrendered our lives to Him.

I have lived, for the most part, a pretty safe, comfortable life.  I don’t do things to get myself in trouble, try to be kind and encouraging to others, and try to please the Lord, who loves me and gave Himself for me.  Those are all good things, right?  But am I not also called to be a light in the darkness?

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Ahhh, and that’s where the trouble within me lies.  If I don’t step out of my comfortable, predictable little bubble, how can I be a light?  Instead, I must venture out, and learn to navigate in the world around me, comfortable or not.  Not to walk in darkness, but to be a light in the darkness.  Not to be afraid of the darkness, but to know that His Light overcomes the darkness.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. Psalm 139:7, 11-12

We are never out of His sight, never out of His reach, and never alone.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness. Psalm 33:18

In looking up the verse above, I found that the Hebrew word translated lovingkindness is chacad, which means merciful. I really like the Amplified Bible version, which translates the verse this way:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him [and worship Him with awe-inspired reverence and obedience], on those who hope [confidently] in His compassion and lovingkindness. Psalm 33:18

The Lord is merciful, loving, compassionate, and kind.  He is wise, and knows the end from the beginning.  He knows how to lead His own, and His compassion requires that I – that we – be the light that He has called us to be.

There is an old song sung by musical duo Harvest, entitled, “Send us to the World.”  Here is the chorus:

If we don’t believe then how will they know?

How will they hear, if we never go?

Oh, Lord, send us to the world!

If we don’t believe, then how will they see?

How will they know that they can be free?

Oh, Lord, send us to the world!

Two bridges.  One unseen but there nonetheless, and another seen but leading into the darkness.  One led to the other side, where he found what he needed.  The other outcome wasn’t certain, but would have been taken with a trusted, faithful companion, had I had the courage to step out and bring light into the darkness.

We must remember that we do not walk alone, and we do not go unprotected.

You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

May we have the courage to walk where He leads, to be lights in the darkness, and to bring the message of hope, freedom and redemption to people who don’t know the Giver of those things.  Jesus would.  Jesus did.  May we walk by faith, and not by sight, and so please Him.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

 

Freedom

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts. Psalm 119:45

♫♪♫ “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom…” ♫♪♫

This chorus has been on my mind quite bit lately.  I don’t know the whole song, just that line, but it doesn’t matter.  I sing it over and over again, joyfully reminding myself of that I am truly free.  The song is from a letter that the Apostle Paul, who called himself a bondservant of Jesus Christ, wrote to the Corinthian Church.  Paul knew a lot about freedom.  He knew that he didn’t deserve it. He knew what he had been rescued from, and he threw himself upon Jesus, offering his life to the One who had rescued him.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 

With each note, I am declaring that I am no longer bound to my old ways of thinking and living, but have a new life in which I am free to express my love for my Savior and my thankfulness to Him.

Then Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath. And when He stood up to read, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then He rolled up the scroll, returned it to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him, and He began by saying, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21

Yet we do have an enemy, the same enemy that was in the garden with Adam and Eve.  Like us, they chose to believe the lies that he whispered.

Did God really say that you must not eat from any tree of the garden? Genesis 3:1

But that wasn’t what God had said.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”  Genesis 2:16-17

He told them not to eat from a particular tree.  The enemy twisted what God had said, but Eve didn’t have it completely right, either.

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” Genesis 3:2-3

I wonder at this point if Eve even understood what death was.  She had not seen anything die.  The Bible clearly says that sin and death came into the world through the sin in the garden.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Genesis 3:4-5

She chose to believe the lies and ate, and her husband, who was there when the instructions had been given, also ate.  Their eyes were opened all right, but not in the way they expected.  They were instantly aware of their sin, and they were filled with shame.  For the first time ever, they hid from the Lord who had walked with them in the garden.  Their relationship with Him, and each other, was broken.  They hid, and we’ve been hiding from God because of our sins and mistakes ever since.

Even then, the Lord had compassion on them.  He shed the first blood, right there in the beautiful garden, to make clothing for Adam and Eve.  Even then, the Lord had a plan.  Death, both the physical and the spiritual, would be overcome.  People would offer sacrifices as a temporary measure, but one day, a Savior would come who would be the final, perfect sacrifice.

According to the Law, in fact, nearly everything must be purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  Hebrews 9:22

Because Jesus shed His blood for us, we can sing songs about freedom, because we have been set free from everything that separated us from God.  But still the enemy whispers, and we often choose to believe him.

“You’re not smart enough.”

“You’re not good looking enough.”

“How could God ever love YOU?”

“You only live once, so you’d better get all you can now!”

“You deserve it.” (whatever IT is, and whatever the cost)

Just because someone chooses to follow Jesus doesn’t mean that the enemy whispers any less, in fact, I believe he whispers even more, because now they’re a threat.  He will bring up the past, distract us, and try to get us to focus on “being good” instead of spending time with Jesus.  He certainly doesn’t want you to start telling people about your newfound freedom.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be encumbered once more by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

So how can we keep from listening to the lies?  Is there a way to block them out, or make them less effective?  Yes, there is.

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered. “We have never been slaves to anyone. How can You say we will be set free?”

Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:31-36

The Word of God is filled with so many truths and promises that we can fill up on.  The more we know the truth, the less we believe the lies.  The lies won’t stop coming, but we’ll have the weapon of truth to fight with. Spend time with Jesus.  My prayer is that you will come to know the freedom that Jesus offers, and that with that freedom, you will seek to set others free.

For you, brothers, were called to freedom; but do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Rather, serve one another in love. The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Galatians 5:13-14