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ISAIAH 58:11

The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11 (NKJV)

This verse is filled with great promises offering hope. The Lord will:

1) guide you continually,
2) satisfy your soul in drought,
3) strengthen your bones,
4) make you a flourishing garden, and
5) make you a never-failing spring of water.

1) The Lord will guide. The road may be uncertain. The road may be bumpy. It may be very dark ahead. You may have no idea where you are going (most of us don’t), but He is with us. He will lead and guide us continually. God is our G.P.S.–He knows exactly where we are at any moment, and He will take us to where we need to be next. See Exodus 13:21-22.

2) The Lord will satisfy your soul in drought. Spiritual drought is inevitable. Just as there are mountain tops and valleys in the spiritual life, there are also deserts to cross. As we pass through the desert seasons, we experience drought. We get all dried up. God brings water of the word to refresh us and hydrate us. Then He brings His Spirit to seal us and protect us from the heat and dryness until the season changes.

3) The Lord will strengthen your bones. In life, we can grow weary. It can be the result of physical illness, aging or simply from trials and tests that sap our strength. God sees this need in our life, and He promises to restore us to strength. See Isaiah 40:31.

4) He promises to make us like watered gardens. In my mind’s eye, I see the watered garden, a beautiful tapestry of diverse shades of green leaves and stems, along with all different colored flowers, The word that comes to mind is life. A well-watered garden brings forth life. Psalm 1promises that the man who delights and meditates in God’s law will “be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3. The prophet Jeremiah said, “blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8.

5) He promises we will be springs of water that never fail. In John 7:38, Jesus promised, “he who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. The living water that flows out of us–believers—will bring life to those around us.

For further study on this passage:
1. Recall a time of drought either at the time of your salvation or in your walk with God when He satisfied your soul. Describe in a few sentences or paragraphs that experience.

2. When you imagine a watered garden, what do you see? How do you see (or not see) yourself like a watered garden?

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Voice of Truth

“You never loved me,”  His words laid open my heart.

It is hard to discern truth when someone tells you lies about yourself, even harder when it is someone you should be able to trust like a spouse.

I searched my heart. I searched my actions. I found no evidence to support his accusation. I had been doing all to love someone very difficult to love. I had asked God to help me to love–to give me the love. He had. This was a terrible lie.

It was even more terrible that he believed the lie.

After I cried a river, I let the voice of truth speak over me, of what I had done and not done. I was fully restored to confidence that I had loved and did still love.

My hurt was replaced with sadness. How sad for him–a person seeking to be loved so desperately–to be totally blind to the love being poured out–the love of  the One who loves him most.

But we were and often still are like that. We live oblivious to the love of the Father–thinking that no one loves us when in reality, He so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believed would have everlasting life with Him.

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 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

When you are attacked or betrayed by someone close to you, the world can feel very unsafe. The Psalmist faced such things as I do and you may.

He speaks of the “secret place of the Most High” which reminds me that God keeps me near Him–in a place only He and I know of–a place outside of time and space–a place of relationship. I am with Him. He will never leave or forsake me.

The psalmist uses the name “Most High” and I am reminded that no one is stronger or more powerful than my God. He is the greatest ally because He is all-powerful. He has no rival–no equal.

When he says, “shall abide,” I hear the promise of God that I will always live with Him–nothing can separate us.

The “shadow of the Almighty” speaks of protection. The sun can be relentless in Israel. A shadow is a place of escape from the heat, a cool pocket of relief from the elements and the danger of exposure.

God is my refuge–a place to hide from my trouble, to retreat from the world that wants too much and offers too little.

God is my fortress–I love that image. God is a huge castle behind the wall of which I am safe and protected from my enemies.

See also Philippians 4:4-9; Psalm 34:17-19

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What if?

WHAT IF?

What if God wasn’t God?
We would still serve something or someone.

What if God was not the creator?
We would never have emerged from the goo.

What if God never made any promises or covenants?
We’d have no assurance of coming good.

What if God had no power to save?
We’d have no salvation.

What if God had the power but no desire to save?
We’d be left in despair.

What if there were no miracles?
We’d have no hope.

What if God wasn’t with us, present in our midst?
We’d be profoundly alone.

What if He were not a refuge, a high tower, fortification, strength, or a hiding place?
We’d be exposed, vulnerable to everyone and everything.

What if God didn’t respond to worship?
We’d have no music, no poetry, no art.

What if God did not offer forgiveness, mercy, or redemption?
We’d be eternally damned and dead.

What if He delighted in our failures?
We’d be a source of never ending delight.

What if He remembered our sin?
We’d be wretched in His sight.

What if our God were made in our image?
He’d be selfish, self-serving, unforgiving, lawless, perverted, wicked and depraved.

WHAT IF?

BUT GOD . . .

God is Holy, Almighty, the Great I AM.
(Exodus 3:14, Isaiah 43:13; John 8:24, 28, 58; Revelation 1:8)

God is the creator of the ends of the earth and everything in it.
(Colossians 1:16-17)

God has made covenants with His people.
(2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 7:22, 8:6, 9:15, 12:24)

God is our salvation. It is His desire that all are saved.
(Luke 9:56; John 3:16, 17; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10, 14)

He is the God of miracles.
(Exodus 3:3, 4:3, 14:21, 15:25; 1 Kings 17:12-23; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 11:14; John 2:1-11 and more)

He is ever-present in our midst.
(Psalm 139:7-12; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Matthew 18:20)

He is my refuge, my high tower, my fortification, my strength, my hiding place.
(Psalm 46:1, 7, 11; Psalm 91:2, Psalm 94:22; Jeremiah 16:19)

God offers forgiveness, mercy and redemption.
(Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 130:4, 7; Jeremiah 33:8; Daniel 9:9; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14)

God remembers not our sin.
(Jeremiah 3:34)

We are made in the image of our God.
(Genesis 1:2 ,7; 1 Corinthians 11:7)

Sometimes when the heart grows cold or the sin nature seems to be gaining a foothold, we may forget what we know or should know about our God. He is not like the cold, lifeless idols of the pagans. He does not leave His people, his followers to go on without him.

The Bible teaches that everyone will serve something or someone. It teaches that we will become like the god we serve, based on the how we understand our god and interact with him/it. If we view him as cold and standoffish, harshly judging us or disinterested in us, we will become like him. If we know our God (the Almighty One, the Great I Am, the true and living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), if we see His face and seek after Him with all of our heart, mind and strength, we will be like Him. That is the miracle of a serving a loving and merciful God.

Thank you, God, for Your abundant mercy.

Copyright MaryBeth Mullin

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In His Arms - 7

 

I sang a praise chorus to myself quietly this morning…

Thy loving kindness is better than life

Thy loving kindness is better than life

My lips shall praise Thee–thus will I bless Thee

I will lift my hands up to thy name

A prayer rose up in my heart.

O Lord, my battered, broken heart remembers the security of your love.

I am a little bird and my beak is open, waiting for you to feed me.

I am fearful and afraid – and you are a great flood of power and majesty.  You are my King Jesus, riding on your white horse.  Sweeping beside me, you scoop me up in your gentle hands and place me safely behind you on the horse.  And ride away to safety.

I love You, Jesus, because you first loved me.  See how love gushes forth from my soul like a fountain – my grateful response to all that you are, to all that you have done for me!  To all that you are doing and are planning to do.

I lift my hands up…please take me with you!

    Copyright MaryBethMullin 2016

 

 

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The Bike Rider

Sometimes, Lord, I imagine that you might let go and leave me alone…

     To see what is in my heart.

     To see if I will believe.

How well I remember the days when I taught my little girl how to ride a bike.  I close my eyes and it all comes back to me – I’m holding the bike front and back, balancing her, encouraging her to pedal.  At first I’m doing ninety percent of the work.

Then, she begins to pedal on her own, but I’m still holding the bike.  She’s still not as steady as she needs to be, and she turns to look at me.  Her expression tells me she’s still very much unsure of herself.

But I know it’s time for the next step.

Suddenly I’m only holding the back of the bike – and letting her do the rest.  I’m running behind her, shouting, “Good job!” – providing the slightest help with balance but nothing more.

“Don’t let go, Mom…I’m gonna fall!”  Her voice is insistent.  Fearful.

Oh, how I know that feeling – not just from learning to ride a bike, of course, but from learning to trust Him.

To trust what He’s taught me.

To trust what I’m still in the process of discovering.

In learning to ride a bike there is stress and uncertainty.  That’s because there’s a big step in the process that simply can’t be skipped – that inevitable moment of truth.

Every good teacher knows that a test must come eventually – an assessment of the student’s acquisition of her knowledge and skills, a real-world application.

And it’s in times like these that I cry out, “Abba, Abba!”  I can’t see Him and my pain threatens to overtake me.  And I’m unable to remember what He said.  How am I to make it through?

When darkness envelopes me I wonder where He is.  I start to lose my balance.  Then I start falling!

“Don’t let go! Abba, don’t let go!”

This is my cry of desperation, and hearing my own fear, I tremble.

But He who is both wise and good keeps me in the place of testing long enough to assess whether I’m getting the lesson, and He always makes sure I’m never in this place any longer than I need to be.

Looking back on these moments, I see that I have learned to trust Him and abide in Him (albeit falteringly).  But more importantly, I see that He is the one who has done everything else.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

copyright MaryBethMullin 2016

bike

Young girl learning to ride a bike.

 

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Here’s a great post written by a friend of mine from high school.  It offers encouragement to those who are facing difficult circumstances.

The Ultimate Rescue Operation

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