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Weakness and Power

This entry from EDIFIED! (written years ago) is very relevant to me as I face issues with the zoning board here. The advice from this has been very helpful.
 
“When I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10b
 
Facing me is a situation where others, who are at odds with me, are going to decide my future. In this I am weak–and that is good. Yes, good, but uncomfortable. Praise you, Lord, that being comfortable is not the measure of anything important, spiritual or significant. Knowing your Word, trusting you, living in praise, obeying what we know to be true, these are what is important.
 
We need to train our faith to respond biblically to whatever comes. As Lilias Trotter, pioneer evangelist in Algeria in the 1800s, said, “Swinging out over the abyss without anything other than you, Lord, rejoicing in this need to trust in you and your power, praising for your goodness before any solution can be seen, this is trained faith.”
 
Praise you, Father that you are at work in ways I cannot see or foresee. I praise you for what you are doing and what you will do in this, for you are great, you are good —you are God.
 
“Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who trusts in Him” (Ps. 34:8). I have certainly tasted and seen your goodness over and over again, Lord. You have protected me many times in near accidents; you have provided an inner stability that in my past has prevented suicide, relational crashes and personal failure.
 
You have also guided me through a maze of difficulties in my life: the journey through depression in my 20s, adjustments in marriage, transition to life in the Middle East, dark days of deprivation and difficulty, accidents and expulsion, team turmoil, arrests, trials and uncertainty. You not only carried us through, but strengthened, deepened and matured us while utilizing us in your Kingdom. What a privilege it is to walk with you, to join you in the great plan you are carrying out to bring history to a conclusion and take us with you.
 
I have tasted and seen that you are the King of kindness, you are the Lord of love, you are the Ruler of righteousness and the Sovereign of selflessness. I praise you that you are only good—a stable, unshifting, sure good. In you there is no wavering, no toying with the fate of people, no partiality, no failure to pay attention, no being late, no compulsiveness, no capriciousness, no mood swings, no lack of knowledge, no hesitation, no uncertainty, no inconsistency.
 
You are the God who is pure in motive, perfect in planning, persistent in values, perceptive in understanding, purposeful in love. You are flawless in execution, abundant in mercy, rich in resources, overflowing in love, generous in giving, gracious in provision, limitless in creativity, slow in anger and positive in patience. You are a marvel, you are majestic, you are trustable, you are great. To you be glory both now and forevermore.
 
Prayer: “Lord, I praise you now for how you are going to work things out in my present uncertainties. I give you honor without seeing the end, for you are absolutely trustable. Keep me thinking these truths, help me to respond with love and grace and goodness, to fight the real enemy with praise, prayer and persistence in obedience. Amen.”

Picture: no matter how tangled the future may appear, God will make a path through.

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The Triune Wonder

Praise you, O God, my Three in One Lord: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Within your Trinity is a great demonstration of unity and diversity, of submission in equality, of humility in cooperation, of perfection beyond comprehension. I praise you that in you there is no lack, that you are totally self-sufficient, that there is nothing in all of creation that is necessary for you.
 
You are the One who exists outside of time, outside of space, outside of all other relationships, outside of need. All that you give, all that you do flows from a self-sufficient heart of love, for the good of others, out of perfect motives and pure desires.
 
Praise you for your engaged, committed, consistent, unwavering and intimate love for your creatures and creation, demonstrated clearly in not destroying all evil immediately after the fall. In spite of your great grief at this terrible failure, you press on with the creation story because you have higher and deeper, longer and wider purposes than your own comfort and ease.
 
You are the God of Wisdom, the Lord of Understanding, the Ruler of Insight, able to see into the next million years and know all that will come to pass. You have a plan and will bring it to pass.
 
I praise you that it is with this complete and rich knowledge that you make all the decisions concerning what will come today: what opportunities you will provide for glory-giving in obedience, what challenges, problems, pains and persecutions you will allow for our good, what successes, achievements and victories you will bring.
 
You are trustable, you are worthy of praise in it all, for you are the God of Glory, of Goodness and of Grace. You are always holy, holy, holy, the Three in One, Author of all.
 
I praise you now for all that will come today and for what you will do in your plan for me. To you be honor and glory in my life at each juncture. Amen.
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Spiritual Amnesia

Praise be to you, Lord, for your kind and consistent, detailed and direct involvement in our lives. I exalt you, Lord, for how you are so persistent in pouring pardon into our lives, giving us the opposite of what we deserve. Thank you for your patience with us as we zigzag along, bouncing between arrogant rebellion and abject self-pity.
 
We are so prone to spiritual amnesia! We so quickly forget the most basic spiritual truths:
 
–that we deserve condemnation and rejection but you constantly give us the opposite;
–that we can do nothing without you;
— that you are our Shepherd so we will not lack;
–that we can offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving instead of complaining;
–that we can keep on your full armor so we can effectively fight the devil rather than people.
 
But you do not give up on us, Lord. You are gracefully, lovingly consistent in correcting, reminding, protecting and, when necessary, rebuking.
 
You, Lord, are a wonder, too good to be true–but are actually even better than that! I thank you so much, Lord, for the privilege of not just being in your family, but of being able to come, at any minute, directly to you in the throne room of Heaven, and to crawl up in your lap for comfort, encouragement and redirection.
 
Help us to live in the light of your great goodness, your rich righteousness, your lavish love and your powerful presence. Help us to join you today in your plans, to shed our pride, our selfishness, our lust for significance and security, and instead to find rest in you alone, humbly bowing before you in the fear of God, joyfully accepting all you will bring in your plan for us.
 
Help us to move by prayer, to work through obedience and to overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit so that you may be honored throughout this day.

Psalm 11:1-2

 
Psalm 11:1 “In the Lord I put my trust;”
 
[Yes, Lord, I willfully choose to trust you, not myself, not people, not circumstances, not power, nor politicians. You alone are the One to rest in, for you alone are All-powerful, All-knowing, All-seeing All-present, and All-loving.
 
Therefore, I choose to praise you in and for all things–all the proof we need for trusting you, Lord, is found in your faithful, sinless, pure and positive character, displayed in the rich outpouring of your Love in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, I choose to trust you.]
 
“How can you say to my soul, ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain’?”
 
[No mountain will save me, no mountain will love me, no mountain is impregnable. Only You, Lord God Almighty, are the actual, adequate refuge and strength needed; you alone are my High Tower, my Mighty Rock and my Stronghold.
 
To you, Lord, I will flee when worry, fear, danger or loss threaten. To you I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving—praising you when it costs me, when I don’t feel like it–thereby honoring you and opening the way for your salvation to come to me. Your help is all I need.]
 
Psalm 11:2 “For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.”
 
[If I fly to temporal help, I make myself vulnerable to attacks of the enemy. If I set my heart on a desired solution rather than God’s glory, I have made myself open to attack, to loss, to failure, pain and death.
 
However, if I set my heart on praising you, Lord, rather than on having my way, my desire, my plan, than you will shield my head in the day of battle.
 
I may not get what I desire, but I will be able to exalt your name in praise, fulfilling the purpose you have for my life and live in the freedom of knowing you will do what is best.
 
What a privilege to live for you, my Great King, Ruler of the universe, Spinner of the Earth, Bringer of the dawn, Beginner and Ender of time. You are the One to be exalted, praised, honored and worshiped.
 
So I bow before you now in surrender, I will rise up before you to obey you this day with all my heart. May the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth be pleasing to you, my mighty Rock and my Redeemer. (Ps. 19:14)]
 
 

From EDIFIED!

 
“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
Psalm 50:14,15
 
I could feel the old, familiar tension rising as I approached the traffic light: would I make it through before it turned red? If I didn’t make it, I’d have to stop and wait, losing precious seconds! Worry, impatience, discontent all started to flow.
 
Then the Spirit brought to mind the verses in Psalm 50 that I’d been meditating on, highlighting the privilege of giving thanks no matter what happened. “He who offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me and prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God” (Ps. 50:23). This was followed by some insights on patience which came because the light did turn red and gave me a chance to think.
 
Patience is more an outcome than a quality: it flows from our relationship with Jesus. The more intimate our relationship is, the more patience will flow. This is because patience comes from knowing the character of God, knowing that He has a plan. It comes from exalting Him in our minds and hearts, grasping ever more deeply how big, powerful, wise, just and merciful He is. It comes from knowing that He is in control and is working things out on His time table, not ours.
Patience comes from trusting Him instead of trusting our own judgment which leads to worrying. It comes from accepting that He is in control, protecting us from what is truly evil, developing our character, carrying us forward to His goals. It comes from laying aside the idea of getting our plans accomplished and seeking instead to join God in what He is doing. It comes from setting our hearts on things above. It comes from abiding in His love, obeying the Truth He has given us.
That is why there is no place in Scripture where we are told to pray for patience. Rather, we are told to be worshipers and confessors (Psalm 34:1-3, 1 John 1:9). When we exalt God for His greatness and power, and in the light of this, confess our lack of trust, our fears, our selfishness–and instead focus on Him, our impatience melts away in the light of Truth. So when the traffic light turns red, instead of groaning, we can say, “Thank you, Lord, for what you are doing with this interruption.”
Prayer: “Lord, today I want to walk in the Truth of your character. Help me to remember how great and good you are when I am tempted to be impatient. Help me to rest in the knowledge of your power, your perfection, your patience at work in my life and move through whatever comes, trusting you to work out what is best. Amen.”
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Psalm 23:6

Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;”
 
[Goodness and mercy are your constant gifts to your children, Lord; it is a certainty that in each situation you are pouring these out into our lives. Very often we cannot see them at the moment– but when we can look back at a difficult situation, there they are: goodness and mercy were following us!
 
An example is the disappointment I had recently. After waiting two weeks for an overhead door installer to come, he only did half the job and then left, saying, “I’ll be back in about two weeks!” I could see no goodness and mercy in that! But, the next day while talking to one of my disciples, I found that he had worked as a door installer and he offered to come and finish the job for me.
 
We both profited: he needed some extra income; plus he knew where to get the springs I needed at a very reasonable price; and I got the doors done earlier. We both saw God’s goodness and mercy in the first man not finishing the job.
 
This pattern has been and will be true throughout the whole of our lives with you, Lord Jesus. You are always faithful, you are consistently good and you are deeply merciful– whether we can see it at the moment or not. Praise be to you my wonderful Shepherd!]
 
“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
 
[What a hope for the future: I WILL be in your presence for eternity. Therefore, death need hold no fear, the shortness of life no panic, the uncertainty of future no threat. We dwell in hope as we press on to what you have for us in this life, and more so in the next.
 
You, Lord Jesus, are the One we yearn for, live for, hope for. And our hope is as certain as your Love, as your Word, your Power, and your present Presence! Glory and honor are due your wonderful Name, Lord Jesus. May my life give you that honor today as I trust you through praise and thanksgiving in and for all–before I see your goodness and mercy.

Psalm 23:5

Psalm 23: 5b, “You anoint my head with oil;”
 
[Shepherds put oil on the heads of their sheep to keep away pesky insects, to heal wounds, to refresh and so when the sheep butt heads, they will slide by and not be badly injured.
 
Oil here can represent many things: the Holy Spirit, protection, blessing and healing. You, Lord, provide for us all these blessings and more in your gracious giving, pouring out continually from your unending, inexhaustible store of riches.
 
As it says in Ephesians 1:2 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who HAS blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians goes on to detail some of these blessings:
–He chose us before the foundation of the world.
–He has made us holy and without blame before Him in love.
–He predestined us to be adopted as His children.
–It was His good pleasure to adopt us.
–We are accepted in the Beloved, Christ.
–In Him we have redemption through His blood.
–We have the forgiveness of ours sins according to the riches of His endless grace.
— And in 1 Peter 1:3 it says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life….” ]
 
Truly, “My cup runs over.”
 
[You, Lord, give us what we need–and far more. What I actually need is air, water, food, clothing, shelter and love. But when I look at all you have given me, it is way beyond that, much more than what I need spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, physically, socially, financially and in every other realm.
 
Now it is my privilege and responsibility to share these with others, to let your blessings flow through me to those around me. For example, the joy you give me should bring joy to others as I am kind, thoughtful, positive and helpful to them, whether I feel like it or not.
 
The material provisions you’ve given I should be sharing around. The spiritual riches you give I should also be passing along, for, in your Kingdom, getting and hoarding is not the norm, but receiving and giving.
 
So, when we go to church on Sunday, we can go filled with the Lord’s riches and grace as well as insights from our quiet times during the week, ready to give to others as they have need, as well as to receive what the Lord may have for us. May we continually overflow with the wonder of our walk with our Shepherd, Jesus, bringing encouragement, hope and perspective to all around us.]
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Psalm 23:4

 
“I will fear no evil for You are with me….” Ps 23:4b
 
You, Lord God, are ever present, ever with us, your little lambs. If there is evil threatening, you are there, watching, providing, protecting in whatever way you deem best.
Often we are living in limbo, in fear of possible danger or disappointment, uncertain of what is going to happen. When the doors to the future open, we have no idea what is on the other side. But there is one thing we can be sure of: that you are there on the other side of that door, waiting to greet us with the path prepared.
 
As you announce in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” In you we can rest.
 
“Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
 
The shepherd’s rod is a stout club to beat off attackers. Your rod is powerful, effective, more than sufficient to protect us from whatever Satan can bring against us–for you are invincible, undefeatable and all powerful. You have already won every battle at the cross.
 
And then there is your staff, the shepherd’s crook used to guide and correct your sheep as we stray. You are faithful to warn us when we wander willfully out of the way: you tap us on the shoulder, or you pull us back, giving us a wack if we need it. You guide us persistently, even when we insist on rebelling, trusting ourselves rather than you.
 
You are absolutely faithful, fully wise and eternally good. Praise you that your pristine and positive character assure us of your perpetual protection and provision, all shown in the next phrase:
 
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
 
As the good Shepherd, you bring us into positive places to graze. On the edges of the pasture may lurk wolves, bears, lions, or the great serpent, Satan. Their presence, however, does not need to disturb us, for you are our protector. No one can skirt you, no one can thwart your plans or purposes. We can ignore the threats of the enemy and quietly, peacefully feed on what you have given, resting in your goodness, greatness and glory.
 
You are our Shepherd, our Warrior King who has defeated the enemy. As we remain in the shelter of your Word, your Way, your Wisdom, praising you in and for all, we are safe from true harm. You may lead us through many challenges, but in these you will protect and carry us through as we follow you. Help us, your little lambs, to do so today.

Psalm 23 Shepherd

As my “Psalm 23” Shepherd, Lord Jesus, you lead me beside the still waters—you give me opportunity to be with you, to take in, to gain eternal perspective.
 
You lead, but I must both follow, and then drink. I must choose to spend time in your Word, in worship, in intercession and confession, in pouring out my heart and lifting up my soul to you. And I can do this because you are “good and ready to forgive and plenteous in mercy to all who come to you” (Psalm 86:5 KJV).
 
As I choose to drink from your Word and revel in your presence, you will restore my soul: bringing refreshment, insight, wisdom, understanding, greater faith and more praise.
 
You work to restore my soul to more of its pre-fall perspective, making me more like yourself. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory…” (2 Cor. 3:18).
 
You will then lead me in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake—but again, I must choose to follow. And I can be sure that the way you lead me will be righteous and upright, pure and positive, godly and good, bringing honor to your Name.
 
If I sense leading which is not one of these, then I can know that it is not of you, but from the subtle and sinister call of the world, the flesh and the devil. These I want to reject, so I can give you glory in all I do. Therefore, for the sake of your name, help me to gladly follow your righteous lead, no matter how much self-denial it requires.
 
Praise you, Lord Jesus, for you are my Shepherd, my King, my Sovereign, the One to be obeyed and feared, loved and served. Praise you for the wonderful and powerful privilege of being both your sheep and your ambassador in a fallen and faulty world, bringing your light to deluded and deceived people.
 
Praise you for your Holy Spirit to fill, empower, guide and encourage. I praise you, Lord Jesus, my 23rd Psalm Shepherd, for your care, your protection, your provision and your presence throughout the day. May I be filled with your Spirit; may I be a vessel of grace to all I meet today; may I be a useful instrument in your hand, Lord, obeying you, living worthy of your calling and pleasing you in every way. To you be glory, honor and praise in and through my life today.
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Psalm 23

Home again from the hospital, doing well.
 
Psalm 23:1, 2 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.”
You, Lord Jesus, as my Shepherd, MAKE me to lie down in green pastures—you don’t ask what I think or want. You select the pasture I need now and keep me there as long as is necessary so I can grow and deepen, mature and develop to become more like Christ, a better instrument in your hand.
 
Joseph in the OT didn’t particularly want to be a slave, or go to prison, but those were the green pastures you had for him. And there he learned to deny self, to live for you and to be a good administrator. This made him fit to save many others, including his family, the Egyptians, and the line of Jesus–so the Messiah could be born and eventually save us!
 
When finding ourselves in green pastures that aren’t pleasant (sickness, time in the hospital as I just had, loss, disappointment, heartache or failure, to name a few), we can follow this advice: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you KNOW that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
 
In the hand of our Shepherd, difficulties are directive, problems are providential and heartaches can be healing if we cooperate with Him, continuing to lie down in the green pastures He selects.
 
A key aspect here is to embrace what He brings with thanksgiving rather than just suffering through with discontent and complaining. To embrace is to receive grace, to complain is to reject it: “God resists the proud [who reveal their pride by complaining] but gives grace to the humble [who accept with thanksgiving what He brings]” (James 4:6).
 
So, let’s trust Him to know what is a green pasture for us and join Him in what He’s doing in and through it, in and through us.