Praise in the Dark

There is a quip: “Believe in the dark what you learn in the light.”

We are followers of Jesus Christ and are learning to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). We haven’t arrived yet (Philippians 3:12), but God is working on us (Philippians 2:13), and will keep working on us until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6).

What incredible, awesome promises.

But, when it is dark, it is easy to forget God loves us. It’s easy to forget His loving sovereignty. It’s easy to forget that He is working all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11), and that all things will work to our good (Romans 8:28).

But He is and He does and He will.

Does it look dark out? Does the future look troubling?

The law is ignored and justice is never upheld. The wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.(Habakkuk 1:4)

God tells us He is doing something! (Habakkuk 1:5)

Our challenge is to believe Him.

Our challenge is to praise Him.

Our model is Habakkuk who saw the evil of his day, and whom God told He was using an evil nation to correct Israel. Habakkuk imagined the trouble that was coming, and determined—determined–to praise God.

I have resolved to praise God in the midst of these dark times. How about you?

 

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines,

Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food,

 Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,

Yet I will exult in the Lord,

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17–19)

~~~

Father, forgive me for not trusting You in these dark times. Forgive me for forgetting what You’ve taught me, for ignoring the promises in Your Word. Help me focus on who You are, Your righteousness, Your justice, Your mercy. Help me praise You, help me give You thanks in everything. And Father, in wrath, remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:1)

Why are You so Harsh with Yourself?

A granddad was talking with his very upset granddaughter. She told him she’d been talking to herself, and, well, “Things were said.”

I laughed when I read that, but I often say harsh and negative things to myself. I’m sure you do too.

We, too often, believe the negative, harsh things we say to ourselves, along with Satan’s lies. We, too seldom, praise God.

No wonder we aren’t more joyful.

Remind Yourself

Remind yourself that you are God’s workmanship, His poem.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Remind yourself that you are God’s beloved.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (Ephesians 5:1)

You [believer in Christ] who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ. (Jude 1)

But not Perfect

We are not to “beat ourselves up” for current or past sins. All that does is debilitate us, and make it harder to walk in newness of life.

We are to confess and repent, of course.

We should also remind ourselves that God is working in us and will keep working until the Day of Christ Jesus.

For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Resolve To:

Become aware of what you say to yourself.

STOP beating yourself up.

Confess and repent, of course, as the Holy Spirit brings sins to mind.

STOP confessing the same thing over and over.

Remind yourself that God is faithful to forgive when you confess.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Praise God

The cure for much of what ails us is to praise our awesome, almighty God.

Praise El Roi—The God Who Sees

Harry Durgin/Facebook

Where have you come from and where are you going? (Genesis 16:8)

You remember the story. (See Genesis 16:1-16)

Hagar, Sarai’s maid, ran away from Sarai and the Lord found her by a spring of water. He asked her those questions, and told her to return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority. (Genesis 16:9) The Lord also gave her promises.

Hagar called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, El Roi, the God who sees. (Genesis 16:13)

El Roi, the God who saw Hagar, also sees us.

If you wonder: “Where is God in all this?” The answer is that He is there; He sees what is happening.

You are not alone. You are not ignored. You are not neglected.

He sees our situation so He can guide us; So He can correct us, as needed. He went to Hagar on purpose. And He comes to us intentionally as well.

He sees our issues so He can rescue us.

He sees our despair so He can comfort us.

He sees our future so He can prepare us.

 

Praise El Roi, the God who Sees.

Alas!

Golden Gate National Cemetery, Bruno, Calif. The U.S. celebrates Veterans Day in honor of those who have served in the nation’s military. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

 

Before you read this post, please read Daniel 9:1-19.

My challenge—to myself and to you—is to write a corresponding prayer to Almighty God for the USA.

Daniel had been exiled in Babylon about 70 years when this prayer was written. He sought the Lord by “prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” (verse 3)

Do I—do you—care enough about the United States to seek the Lord with such fervency?

Daniel centered himself on the awesome Lord’s faithfulness (verse 4), and then confessed.

We have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. (verse 5)

Most likely, you and I are distressed by many of the same US attitudes and actions, even though we probably don’t agree on everything. Confess USA’s sins.

Ask for the Lord’s forgiveness on our nation and ourselves.

O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! (verse 19)

Alas!

Please bring us to confession. Please make us determined to walk in Your ways. Please send revival. Please make us a country You can bless.

Mistake or Lie?

Australia: Rear Facing Motorcycle Cam

 

Recently I heard a person condemned for citing incorrect statistics. Was it a mistake or a lie? Did the person believe the statistics were correct, or was there intent to deceive? There is an important difference, both for the one making a mistake/telling a lie and for the one being told.

Mistakes are part of being human.

Lies stem from the father of lies, that is, Satan.

What’s the difference?

Mistakes

We, human beings, do not know everything about anything! We can study endlessly and still get something wrong. We can assess and plan and still get it wrong. We can accurately relate a result only to find out the instrument was faulty. We can trust the judgment of someone else, only to find error.

When we make a mistake, our motive is to have gotten it right.

And, even if our motive was honorable, all actions have results, some negative.

Lies

Lies, on the other hand, involve deliberate deception. The motive is to deceive, aiming for a specific impression or result.

Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.(Colossians 3:9)

Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.(1 John 2:22)

A truthful witness saves lives, but he who utters lies is treacherous.(Proverbs 14:25)

Our Response

Mistakes:

Iif a person consistently makes mistakes, especially of the same type, it is an opportunity for a loved one, or a friend or employer, to speak the truth in love. Perhaps the person needs to be better informed. Perhaps the person needs coaching on how to better act in the situation.

If we are the one making repeated mistakes, we need to seek more information, and/or education in how to assess a particular issue and respond appropriately.

Lies:

We are to hate lies.

A righteous man hates falsehood.(Proverbs 13:5)

If we find ourselves lying, we need to recognize we have sinned, confess, and repent.

We need to be watchful of others, assessing accuracy, and distinguishing truth, mistakes, and lies.

If we see others lying, we need to be aware and wise.

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.(Matthew 10:16)

Prayer

Father, please help us speak the truth in love as we seek to walk in Your way, and glorify You in our lives. Please help us be wise in this troubled and evil world, discerning truth from lie.

We Are Witnesses

We are Witnesses

You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord.(Isaiah 43:10)

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.(Acts 1:8)

Me, too?

Yes, I am to tell people about Christ.

I am qualified and equipped: I believe in Christ, trust Him as my Savior, and have declared He is my Lord. The Holy Spirit dwells in me.

My failure to witness is sin.

It’s Personal

We are called to testify to what we’ve heard, seen, and felt.

Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen …(John 3:11)

Many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.(John 4:39)

So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him.(John 12:17)

Focus on Christ

I’ve heard and read testimonies that focused on the person and not on Jesus Christ. At least three-quarters of one book focused on the person’s sin-filled past and didn’t talk about the Lord until the end.

Contrast that with Paul In Jerusalem when the Jews sought to kill Paul and the Roman commander gave Paul permission to speak to the crowd. In three verses, Paul covered his life prior to Christ’s revealing Himself to Paul on the road to Damascus. Three verses! (Acts 22:3-5)

A lame man was healed, and when the crowd was filled with wonder and amazement, Peter redirected their attention to Christ.

Peter: “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?” (Acts 3:12)

Be Ready

When an opportunity arises to talk about Jesus, are you ready?

We are to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Are you ready to testify about what you have heard, seen, and felt? Can you provide a clear answer in a short period (an elevator ride)? Do you know what you’d say when someone asks you why you believe?

Go Therefore

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.(Matthew 28:19–20)

Prayer

Father, I want to faithfully obey Your commands. I want to be ready to give an account for my belief, to honor my Lord Jesus Christ. Help me be alert to when You would have me speak.

 

See Who’s the Star?

And Show and Tell.

 

Praise our (Perfect) Discipliner

God, our perfect Father, perfectly disciplines His children.

Christ took our deserved punishment so we, His followers, are not punished, but are disciplined in order to make us into the image of Christ.

Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.(Deuteronomy 8:5)

My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lordor loathe His reproof, for whom theLord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.(Proverbs 3:11–12)

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.(Revelation 3:19)

His Discipline

He disciplines us to correct our sinful ways, to prevent us from going astray, to educate us about His ways.

God knows everything, so He is never wrong.

Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. (Psalm 44:21)

Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. (Psalm 139:4)

God loves us with an everlasting love, and He always disciplines from love.

God perfectly knows everything from eternity to eternity, and has plans for us, so He disciplines us for our good.

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. (Hebrews 12:10)

Afterwards [discipline] yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)

Our responsibility

We are not to despise His discipline.

We are to repent when His discipline shows us our errors.

We are to determine to follow Him more closely.

We are to listen to what He is saying to us.

Blessings Ahead

His discipline leads to righteousness, to sharing His holiness.

Rejoice that God loves us so much He disciplines us.

 

Father, thank You that You love me so much You don’t leave me in the muck, but discipline me to avoid sinful paths, to determine to walk in Your righteous way. Help me listen to You, and repent as You show me. Thank You that You are leading me in the everlasting way.

 

 

Hummingbird Bully

Our hummingbird feeder was well used and needed refilling every 24 hours. It was fun to watch.

But then…

A hummingbird bully* appeared, chasing any hummingbird that tried to feed. After a day or two of raucous activity, the feeder now rarely has a hummingbird visitor. And those, not for long.

One web site counseled to enjoy the fight rather than the feeding.

Several other web sites said to have multiple feeders, some out of sight of the others.

I miss our hummingbirds.

This has also made me think about the dark side of humans. How often does someone destroy something, not wanting it for himself or herself, insuring no one can use it. Pride? Control? Envy? Greed? It definitely is easier to destroy than build.

Alas.

If anyone has a solution for hummingbird bullies, please let me know!

 

*A nicer web site called them “hummingbird-feeder-guardians.”

 

Course Correction

Flying

Once when we were on an instrument flight plan (a flight with a defined course and altitude, monitored by Air Traffic Control), I bumped the navigation device, changing the setting. And, instantly, we were on a flight path other than our assigned one. WHOOPS!

Air traffic control contacted us, we identified our (my) error, corrected it, and we were back on course.

If we hadn’t corrected our course, we would have ended up somewhere out in the Atlantic rather than where we wanted to go.

Our Christian Walk

And that is true in the Christian walk as well.

We can make a slight deviation from closely following the Lord, and end up in a wilderness.

Course Correction

The steps to correcting our Christian walk are similar to correcting our flight path.

One. We have a defined path, set out for us in the Word of God. (The instrument flight plan.)

Two. We fail to follow that path because we don’t know the word of God, from habit, from sin. (In our case, because I accidently changed the navigation instrument.)

Three. The Holy Spirit tells us we are off track. (Air Traffic Control told us.)

Four. We then have to agree we are off track, repent, and correct our course. (We corrected the navigation setting and rejoined our correct flight path.)

Our Responsibilities

We must determine to learn the Word of God and apply it to our lives.

We must pay attention.

We need a sensitive heart to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us about our lives.

When we learn we are off course, we need to

Stop!

Confess!

Repent!

Change course.

Prayer

Lord, please help us listen to You and follow closely. Please show us when we are off track, give us the determination to correct our course, confessing our sins, and changing our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Truth

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)

Nine little words; three critical concepts.

Sanctify

We, Christians, have been saved from the power of sin. We are now being saved from sin’s power as we learn to walk according to the Spirit. Sanctification isn’t always comfortable because suffering is often the tool God uses to purify His children.

Truth, though, is a key to sanctification that requires some discipline, but not pain, unless it is hard for us to give up lies we believed.

Truth

Truth is a tool of sanctification. As our minds, hearts, hands, lives are characterized by truth, our minds are renewed.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.(Romans 12:2) (See also  Ephesians 4:23.)

God’s Word

The Bible is Gods’ word, the truth.

All truth is God’s truth (the Bible doesn’t tell us everything about everything), but anything that conflicts with what God has to say is false.

Our Discipline

Here are things we can do (should do) that contribute to our sanctification:

  • Study God’s word, daily, deeply, prayfully.
  • Throughout the day, think about what God is saying to you through His Word.
  • Identify your own thoughts and beliefs that are contrary to God’s Word, reject them, and substitute the truth.
  • Use your knowledge of the word of God in discerning people’s words and deeds, and in evaluating current events.
  • Walk in truth. Obey. Your obedience increases your growth.

Pray!

Lord, help us build up ourselves (Jude 20), faithfully learning and applying Your word. Help us see Your truth, distinguishing Your truth — true truth — from what we might think on our own apart from You, or from what others may assert that isn’t from You.