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Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

According to James 2:23, Abraham was called the friend of God.

What does it mean to be the friend of God?

The friend of God agrees with God on everything. He is not like other friends with whom you can agree to disagree. With God, you must believe every word that comes forth from Him (every word of the Bible).

The friend of God:
obeys God
follows God–doesn’t veer from God’s path
walks with God–goes in the same direction
submits to God–isn’t his or her own boss
speaks God’s language
loves God’s other friends
worships God for who He is

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Psalm 23 is a well-known and well-loved Psalm. It is perhaps the most well-known of the psalms, often quoted at funerals. But Psalm 23 is not a psalm of death, it is Psalm that speaks of the abundant life of a believer–life with The Good Shepherd.

What makes Him the Good Shepherd? Consider what He does according to Psalm 23:1-3:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

My Shepherd removes my want and provides completely for me. He gives me a place to rest where there is food and water available to me.

He cares for my eternal nature–my soul–as well. He alone can restore my soul and make me whole. My soul was once far from God. Even now, my soul is often discouraged, but it seeks after its Maker.

He also is a leader, mentor and coach taking me forward in sanctification, leading me down paths of righteousness. He teaches me about Him and about me. He teaches me to walk worthy, instructing me about our relationship, and leading me through our relationship. These things He does for His name’s sake, to fulfill His promises.

But as we see in Psalm 23:4-5, this life with the Shepherd is not a life of ease or without trials:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

I will face trouble in this life. But my Shepherd is always with me. He never leaves me. He promises to be my companion through the dark times, times in the valley where death hovers near, menacing and threatening me. But I am not afraid because He uses His rod and staff to guide me and keep me on the narrow path that leads to life. His prodding and correction remind me that He is near.

He feeds me even when my enemies are near. He is not intimidated by them and let’s nothing interfere with our fellowship. They will not prevail over me.

My shepherd tenderly cares for me, anointing my head with oil to keep the pests from me, to sooth me and calm me. Life with My Shepherd is so full.

I can’t but proclaim as David did in Psalm 23:6:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I have no concerns now or for eternity. Blessed by the name of the LORD!

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Wait on the LORD;
be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 27:14

Wait on the LORD . . . In the Amplified version, this reads “wait and confidently expect.” This sentiment is repeated in the last part of the verse, reinforcing the idea that waiting on God is the beginning and the end of the matter.

Be of good courage . . . In the Amplified version, this reads, “be strong and let your heart take courage.” This speaks of choice. We must choose to wait. We must choose to believe. We must choose to be courageous. We must allow the Spirit of God to reign in our lives, in our thoughts.

Once we choose, then it is all God. He will flood our hearts with courage–the type of courage we know could never be ours. Once we are strengthened, we wait. God is still and always will be in charge.

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Deuteronomy 6:5  (NKJV)

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

  • “You shall love the Lord” . . . it’s a command; just do it
  • “with all” . . .  hold nothing back
  • “your heart” . . . desire, emotions, feelings
  • “with all your soul” . . . inner being; distinct from from the flesh life
  • “with all your strength” . . . physical ability; speaks of discipline and self-control

As the new year begins and many make their plans to do better, make your plans to love God. Seek Him with everything you have. He will be found by you.

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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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