Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Promise of a Stronghold

Ever been afraid . . . oppressed . . . fainthearted? Ever think you have no place to turn or any means of escape from a terrible situation?

Good news! The LORD promises to be a "stronghold" to those who come to Him in faith for help.

The LORD is my rock, 
my fortress and my deliverer,
my God is my rock,
in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold."
~Psalm 18:2

You can hide BEHIND the LORD as you would a mighty rock. Nothing can penetrate Him to get to you. You are tucked safely behind the Rock who will protect you.

You can hide IN the LORD as one seeking refuge in a fortress. The enemy can't get to you without first getting past the defenses set in place by the Commander of the fortress.

You are safe BESIDE your deliverer, the Lord God Himself  . . . your stronghold.

Does this mean you will never again experience physical suffering? No, it means that God will give you:
  • grace to endure, 
  • wisdom to flee, 
  • understanding to change things, or an
  • escape of His choosing. 
It means that you will find rest for your soul recognizing that you are part of a larger battle than you thought. Your oppressor is not your enemy: your enemy is the one who inflames your oppressor. And the only One who can overcome that enemy--Satan--is God.

"The one who is in you is greater
than the one who is in the world."
~ John 4:4 (NIV)

So, rest in the knowledge that help is available to those who place themselves in the keeping of the God of the Bible: Father, Son, and Spirit. Don't be afraid to ask Him: He wants to help you. Find a Bible and read, read, read. Your soul will be refreshed and your heart will be strengthened.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Promise of Perfect Peace

Perfect peace! Can you imagine it? Even on vacation--even on the garden isle of Kauai--things can be less than peaceful. Did I mention the roosters?

But God has promised perfect peace to those who keep their minds focused on Him.

"You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal."
~Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV)

When we consider the eternal Rock on whom we base our faith, the One who never changes, whose compassion never fails, the One who is ever present and knows us by name, knows our hair count, knows our every thought and fear and circumstance . . . . 

We can rest in perfect peace if we only keep our eyes on the Lord--keep Him between us and our fears. After all, didn't Jesus Himself say "Get thee behind me, Satan," so that, rather than difficulties, Peter could see only his loving, all-knowing LORD?

Let the roosters crow a billion times! My eyes and ears are fixed on Christ, the Rock Eternal. And the things of earth are growing strangely dim.

What? Me worry?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Promise of a New Jerusalem

Our friends are leaving in a few days for two weeks in Israel! How excited they are to visit places mentioned in the Old and New Testaments! What a wonderful time they will have!

You and I may never make it to Israel, may never walk the Via Dolorosa or visit the Wailing Wall. We may never see Jacob's well or the place Jesus is said to have been born. But one thing is certain: God's people will see the new Jerusalem, described by the Apostle John as "coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband" (Revelation 21:2).

The new Jerusalem will not be scarred with bullet holes or filled with bitter animosity--Arabs against Jews. It will be a blessed land ruled by a blessed God.

"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.
They will be his people, and God himself 
will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away."
~Revelation 21:3-4

A few verses later, John speaks of the actual city as shining with the glory of God, its brilliance like that of a  precious jewel. The very foundations of the New Jerusalem were "decorated with every kind of precious stone."

Can you picture it? Neither can I. But we know it will be beyond anything we've seen on this earth. And we know it is coming soon because the final two verses of the Bible state:

"He who testifies to these things says,
'Yes, I am coming soon,'
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen."
~Revelation 22:20-21

And all will be as it should be. At last.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Promise of Reward (Part 3)

If children are a reward from the Lord (Psalm 127:3), then an added bonus usually follows. Ask any grandparent how they feel about their children's children.

"Children's children are a crown to the aged . . ."
~Proverbs 17:6.

While my daughter and I vacationed in Kauai last week, Grandpa Johnson stayed with the grandchildren (ages 8, 6, and 3) every day while Daddy was at work. Arriving at their house before 7:30 a.m., Grandpa wouldn't return home until 6:00 or later every evening. Did he consider this a sacrifice? Not at all! In fact, he hasn't stopped chuckling . . . .

Besides bringing joy to the present, grandchildren provide hope for the future. They represent the continuation of a family line. Better yet, they represent another generation to discover Jesus and His love.

May parents (and grandparents) be faithful to train up our children in the way they should go, and may the heavens one day ring with our mingled voices praising the Lamb who was slain for our sins!

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and 
strength and honor and glory and praise."
~Revelation 5:12

I'm oh-so-grateful that God put us in families. Aren't you?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Promise of Reward (Part 2)

Under her arm she'd wedged three boogie boards strapped together in a clumsy bundle, an enormous rolling suitcase nipping at her heels. She looked tired-but-happy as a trio of giggling children, each pulling a miniature rolling bag, asked endless questions: "How long till the plane comes? Where's the bathroom? Will Daddy get here in time?" 

When Daddy finally came into view, the children jumped for joy and Mommy's smile widened ever so slightly. Made me think of Scripture again:

"Children are an heritage from the LORD; 
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, 
so are children of one's youth.
Happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them . . . . "
~Psalm 127:3-5

Some believe there's a limit to how many children a family can responsibly bear. I don't find that line of thinking in the Bible. God says to be fruitful and multiply . . . to trust Him and leave the matter of providing for needs to Him. 

My husband and I only had the privilege of raising two children. But when I look around at larger families, I can't help but smile at the prospects of large family gatherings around their holiday tables for generations to come.

"Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house;
thy children like olive plants round about thy table."
~Psalm 128:3

If you grew up in a large family, what were some of the advantages and disadvantages you experienced?


Monday, March 1, 2010

The Promise of Reward

Traveling with my daughter this past week was a powerful reminder of God's promise of reward.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb is a reward."
~Psalm 127:3

In this day and age when children are often regarded as burdens or punishments, it's good to have God's perspective. Whether the timing is right in our eyes, whether conditions are perfect . . . these things don't alter the fact that the Creator of Life has extended a priceless gift . . . the gift of a child, an extension of the family line, an extension of the human race. To refuse His gift, either through abortion or child neglect, is to miss the reward He intended.

What untold blessings have been squandered?

How would you feel if your love gift was returned unopened or destroyed?