He Who Dwells

Studying and personalizing Psalms is becoming a personal favorite for me during my quiet time. Taking each Psalm slowly, meditating on the words, studying their meanings, and then responding is filling my soul with goodness.

Isn’t that what a loving relationship entails…really listening and then responding? The Lord first loved us. 1 John 4:19 reminds us of that truth, We love Him because He first loved us. We have a choice to respond. When I read the Psalms, I feel an urge to respond to the Lord.

This past week, I studied Psalm 91 and then responded by putting the words into my own and personalizing it as if it is between me and the Lord.

Psalm 91:

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.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

My response:

I stay in the protection beneath God and find refreshing relief in my position under the All-Powerful God.

I will tell others about God, “He is my protection and place of security; He is my God in whom I rely.”

Without doubt, God will save me from the traps of the devil and from deadly evil.

As a bird protects its young, God will cover me and be my shelter; He will keep His promises and be my protection and defense.

Day and night, I have nothing to fear. The evil in the dark and the destruction during the day will not bring fear.

I will only see the effect of the trouble that passes  by me. I will not suffer the punishment the wicked suffer.

I will be protected if I rest under the Almighty God, and yes, I do rest under Him – death will not come to me or my family.

He sends his angels as a bodyguard for the faithful. His angels will carry me so that I can avoid even small evils.

I will march victoriously over opponents, even over the most powerful evil.

Because I am bound to Him and cling to Him, He will rescue me. When I call to Him for help, He will answer me and rescue me and provide satisfaction and…

ETERNAL LIFE. 

Amen.

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Feeling Forgotten

As a mom, wife, woman, do you ever feel forgotten? Like everyone else is out doing the important work and you are just left blending in with the pile of laundry on the couch and the stack of dishes on the counter?  Ever have a day of just wanting to escape that blending in? Just wanting to be noticed for something other than meeting a need?

Those days usually hit me out of nowhere. They usually follow a day filled with highs. Then out of nowhere, I am found focusing on myself and my need to be noticed.

Picking up my pen today, I begin to write words of truth.

You see my pain. You see my loneliness. You see my frustration. You see my broken heart. You see my hurt feelings. You see my longing for more in this life. You see my need for rest. You see my need for contentedness. 

You see me making ME the center of my world. 

Oh, it’s the last line that stops me in my tracks. It happened again. I got stuck in emotions that began and remained with ME at the center. But, that realization leads to a clearing of my heart and mind and the beginning of the Lord’s answer to me.

You see me and You say, “Come to me, all who are weary and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

You see me and You say, “I am your shepherd, you shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

You see me and You say, “My compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22

You see me and You say, “Abide under my shadow. I am your refuge and fortress.” Psalm 91:1-2

You see me and You say, “I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

Let His Word wash over you today. Let Him see you. Let Him fill you. Let Him remind you that you are not forgotten. Let Him remind you that you are His.

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You Are the God Who Sees Me

IMG_1155She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

I can only imagine how Hagar must have been feeling. Most are familiar with the story of how Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands when they were desperate to have a child. They had been given a promise from the Lord. He had promised they would have numerous descendants. But, still, Sarah remained barren.

We can think about and put ourselves in Sarah’s shoes. Waiting on a promise to unfold. If you have been a follower of Jesus for any time, you have likely had times of waiting. You also may be familiar with the sting of taking matters into your own hands and not waiting on God’s promise and timing to unfold.

But, can we stop and think about Hagar? Hagar was the servant of Sarah, who became the instrument in which Sarah and Abraham’s plan apart from God, took place.

It seems that Hagar could have fled. She could have up and left the area when approached with the idea of bearing Abraham’s child in lieu of his wife, Sarah. She may have been able to try to talk some sense into Sarah by reminding her of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and unwaivering promises. But, she partook in the human-made plan to make Sarah and Abraham parents.

Hagar went along with the plan until the situation became unbearable. Sarah began mistreating her. I can imagine the bitterness Sarah would feel toward Hagar. And, I can imagine the pain, isolation, and loneliness Hagar would feel.

The Lord didn’t allow Hagar to stay secluded in her pain. He sent an angel for her. The angel spoke direction to her and that is when Hagar knew the Lord saw her. Hagar declared, “You are the God who sees me.” What a comfort to know that God sees us. We see so clearly how the Lord was with and was leading Abraham. But in chapter 16 of Genesis, we see that none were forgotten. Hagar was not forgotten.

I pray for times like these in the lives of my children. When they are struck back by God’s presence. When they have no doubt that the Lord sees them.

My oldest daughter recently became separated from our family while on vacation. We were visiting Cannon Beach in Oregon, which is a bustling little town throughout the summer. There were 9 of us walking through the town in search of a place to eat dinner. Having made the mistake of heading into town without a plan at prime dinner time, we were faced with overcrowded restaurants with long waits. The adults all paused in our search to talk about where we would go next. After deciding on our next destination, we headed off.

Making our way through the overcrowded streets, our group of 9 seemed to kind of break off from one cohesive group to 3 smaller groups. After several blocks, I took inventory and noticed I could not see Mikayla, our 12 year old. “Jeff, do you have Mikayla up there with you?”

“No, I think she’s in the back group.”

“Dave, is Mikayla back there with you?”

“No.”

“Jeff, where is Mikayla?” panic filling my voice. Even retelling this story is causing my heart to beat faster and my whole body to tense. There is nothing like not knowing where your child is. The hunger and fatigue I had felt a moment prior, gave way to a huge adrenaline rush, as I pushed back toward the crowd, following the path we had just taken.

When is the last time I saw her? Had she mentioned wanting to look in a particular shop? What color was her shirt? Does someone have her?

Frantically calling her name, scanning the sidewalks on either side as I walked, I had laser focus. I would not stop until I found her.

Lord, help me. Be with her. Keep her safe. Lead me to her. 

Immediately after muttering that short prayer, the phone in my hand began to vibrate. On the caller identification screen it read British Columbia. Seriously a telemarketer is calling right now? I couldn’t take my eyes off the sidewalks. But, I glanced down one more time, and realized maybe it was someone calling me about Mikayla. “Hello! Hello? Hello?”

I look up one more time, turning my head to look down a side street and there she was. Oh, there she was! My girl! We ran toward each other and embraced in the middle of the road, crying and holding each other tighter.

We both cried on each other’s shoulders. “I just prayed,” I told her.

“Me, too. As the phone was ringing, I prayed.”

“Was that you calling me?”

“Yes. So many people passed me by as I sat there crying. But one older couple stopped and asked if I needed help. They sat down with me and gave me their phone to use.”

“Where are they? I need to thank them.”

We both looked back at where Mikayla had come from. “Is that them?” I asked.

“No. Mom, I don’t seem them anywhere.”

They were gone. I so wanted to thank them.

Suddenly, a supernatural chill came over my body as I pondered the thought that the Lord had sent angels. Remembering Mikayla’s words that “everyone else just passed me by, but one couple stopped to help”. This happened just as I was communicating with the Lord.

Angels.

Oh God, with the hundreds upon thousands of people walking around this town, you saw  us. You heard the prayer uttered amongst the chaos. And, you saw us.

Only God could change anxiety over a lost child to joy over knowing the All Powerful, Almighty, Sovereign King of the Universe sees you and your little family.

Thank you, Lord for keeping my girl safe. Thank you for leading me right to her. Thank you for seeing us. Thank you for never leaving us. Thank you for revealing yourself to my child in her time of need. 

Just as Hagar needed the reassurance that she was not forgotten, when we seek the Lord, He will show us that we are seen and remembered by Him.

Dear one, you are seen. You are loved. You are cherished by your Heavenly Father. Seek Him. 

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Straight to the Source

To be satisfied. It seems elusive. Only a dream. But, reading the apostle Paul’ s words in Philippians 4, a chapter my girls and I have been reading, re-reading and then reading some more, each and every morning, we see that it’s not a dream. It was a reality for Paul, a human being just like you and I.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4: 11,12. 

God’s desire for me is to be content, satisfied, and at peace with where He has me right now. Rereading Philippians over and over, I am more convinced than ever of God’s desire for me to accept my life and the call He has for me. Each day, my girls and I gain something new from our reading, but each day it centers around being satisfied.

Joy

Thanksgiving

Rejoicing

Peace

Content

Aside from our Philippians discussions, if you have been to our house you know that our cats, Jack and Andy, are a popular topic. We recently changed cat food. Our cats love to eat. Being indoor cats, eating is their main activity. Feeding time is a frenzy. Both cats meowing loudly, rubbing against my legs, my stress level rises as I attempt to open the food bag quick enough to satisfy their meows. Our cats are large. In fact the vet has expressed concern. So, we measure out their food and only feed them twice a day. Tender hearts hurt for our cats when looking at their empty dishes and hearing their cries for food. But one look at their sagging bellies, reveals the truth.

The second the first morsel hits their dishes, they are wolfing down the food. It’s a race for the finish. Within minutes, both cats are done and their dishes are empty once more. Jack takes his stance back over by the pantry door, where he resumes begging for more. He just inhaled his entire meal and will not be fed again for 12 hours, but he is not satisfied. The cheap, grocery store cat food left him wanting more.

Recently, Andy, our oldest cat, began showing signs of having a food allergy. A trip to the vet left us reconsidering our food of choice for our beloved pets. So we did what any other concerned pet-loving family would do, we watched an entire documentary on pet food! Next came a trip to the pet store. Spending far longer than I care to admit at the pet store: reading labels, comparing prices, and debating with myself, I left with a grain-free, single-protein source, over-priced bag of cat food. Oh, they are just going to love this!

Andy beggingdish with foodempty dishAndy at dishjack eatingsatisfied AndyPlump cats

Bringing the food home, the cats hear the familiar rustle of the bag and come running. I pour their first serving into their dishes and wait. Andy looks up at me as if to say, “What is this?” Giving the food an inquiring sniff, they lean closer. Andy takes a little bite, then a few more. Now Jack joins in. Next thing I know, I am the one to be surprised. Both cats walk away from their dishes and saunter off to another room. My amazed younger daughter looks to me for an explanation, but all I can do is shrug. “Hmm. I guess they don’t like it.”

This scene replayed each day, as the cats ate a little bit and then left food in their dishes throughout the day. No more begging at the pantry door. No more aggressive pressure during feeding time.

One day while rereading Philippians chapter 4 with my girls once again, my mind stuck on the word content and my eyes drifted over to the still unfamiliar site of a pet dish with remaining food. Could it be, that the cats are content? Satisfied? The new, higher protein food is filling them up? This new food has more of the nutrients they need so they are actually satisfied? Suddenly our repetitive Philippians 4 reading was being lived out right in front of me. 

Paul tells us to meditate or chew on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. He tells us to do the things we have learned to do from God and the God of peace will be with us.

Like the veterinarian telling us a specific type of food to look for which would be better for our cats, or a prescription from a doctor which will bring the healing we desire, the Lord provides for us what we need to produce the satisfaction we desire.

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I can try in vain to fill up on devotionals, Christian books, and magazines. None of which are bad. I can glean encouragement, instruction, and knowledge from such materials. But, nothing will bring the satisfaction and true contentment the Word of God brings.

Why not go straight to the source? Why not drink from the fountain that always satisfies?

  • The Bible is like food for the believer, sustaining our very lives.

Matthew 4:4, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

  • The Bible is the very words of the Lord.

2 Timothy 3:15-17, And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

  • The Bible is our instruction.

Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Is the emptiness swallowing you up? Are you finding yourself always needing more? Never reaching the point of true contentment? I challenge you to feast on the Word of God. Put the other sources aside for the time being and see how the Lord will sustain you, fill you, satisfy you.