Expressions of Beauty

We have been in the pandemic for 6 -7 months now. Our spirits tend to be weary and our perspective may need readjusting more frequently.  During this pandemic we have seen the sad reality of sickness, suffering and death, and we are receiving a clear view of the pain and ugliness of racism.

Each morning as I start my day, I sit on my back porch and look for beauty. I am never disappointed. The trees, sky and river express beauty. When I see the deep green of the trees; the architecture of their branches and leaves; the delicate wings of the birds; and the soft blended colors of pink, orange, blue, and purple in the sunrise I feel hopeful  because I see the beauty of God in the midst of the painful reality of these times.

I have always been intrigued by the concept of the beauty of the Lord. I imagine the beauty radiating from Him as a brilliant light, a sparkling and flickering of different colors.  Somehow I always come up short, expecting some type of ethereal, mystical encounter, but perhaps God’s beauty is less ethereal and more readily understandable.

The Beauty of the LORD
My heart and imagination are captivated at the thought of God’s beauty as prayed for by David in Psalm 27:4.  David writes of his heart’s longing.

  • “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and inquire in his temple.”

I am drawn in by the fact that David asks God to grant him the ability/opportunity to gaze on the beauty of God all the days of his life. Another fact stands out and that David believes it is attainable, we know this because the verse goes on to say that David seeks after this.

Start with the Word
I have to start somewhere in this quest so I start with the word “beauty” as used in Psalm 27:4.

There are several words for beauty in the Hebrew language, but the Spirit selected the Hebrew word transliterated “noam,” to be used in verse 4 of Psalm 27 perhaps because it refers to more than just the beauty of appearance.

 “Noam”  literally means delightfulness, but has an expanded definition of splendor, grace, beauty, kindness and pleasantness.

In Psalm 90:17 the word “noam” is defined as: beauty, favor, kindness or delightfulness.
The NIV, NASB, ESV, and HSCB translations of the Bible use the definition favor for “noam,” thus yielding another facet of the beauty of the LORD – His favor or grace.

“Let the favor (noam) of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” Psalm 90:17

The Beauty of the LORD – Jesus
The more I think of the different facets of the word “noam.” The more I begin to see Jesus, beautiful in grace, kindness, tenderness, and full of splendor.

I see the beauty of the LORD in:

  • Jesus reaching out and touching the leper (Mark 1:40-42);
  • Jesus looking around with grief in his heart at the religious leaders who want to withhold healing from a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6);
  • Jesus as he shows mercy to the woman caught in adultery by silently sending away those who would stone her (John 8:1-11);
  • Jesus calling his friend Peter to come walk on the water with him and then lifting Peter up when he fell (Matthew 14:22-33);
  • Jesus as he lifts up the “bleeding woman” and calls her daughter (Mark 5:25-34);
  • Jesus compassionately raising the only son of a widow from the dead so he can for his mother ( Luke 7:11-17);
  • Jesus hanging on the cross breathing his last and asking the Father to forgive his accusers and killers, (and us) (Luke 23:33-34);
  • Jesus letting a doubting man touch the nail holes in his hands in order to strengthen the man’s faith (John 20:26-28).

Reflections on His Beauty
So when I mentally “gaze upon the beauty of the LORD,” I see Jesus!

Surely Jesus is the beauty of the LORD.  Jesus exemplifies all that is delightful about God; all the grace of God; all the kindness of God; all the splendor and power of God – all His beauty.

Hebrews 1:3 expresses this thought of Jesus being the beauty of the LORD in slightly different terms.

  • “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his beingsustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

When I gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and see Jesus it renews my hope in this dark time. Remembering the beauty of the heart and character of God brings a sense of peace and inner calm.

I can become preoccupied with the fear of the pandemic; the hatred and pride in political controversy; and the grievous injustice of racism. Focusing on the truths of the beauty of the LORD in Jesus produces faith and courage in me to move forward and not be enslaved by fear, depression and hatred. I can move forward with hope and faith to become a part of His beauty as I build into others and into my spirit.

Take some time and reflect on the beauty of the Lord that you see in Jesus, let it refresh your heart, faith and way of living.

Fragmented or Focused

We are six months into living with the corona virus. Over the summer, with bright sun and access to open air, we felt a little more secure to get out and about, and more hopeful about life.

We are at the end of August moving forward into autumn and the beginning of the school year. Concerns, anxieties and full blown fears about the virus are beginning to surface This is understandable because, even after 6 months, we know very little about the nature and long term workings of this virus. So anxieties rise in our minds and hearts concerning the safety of our loved ones and ourselves.

Jesus Speaks About and To Anxiety
Many people define anxiety as worry; fear; or a preoccupation with the difficulties and problems of life. Such a definition has truth to it, but when we look at the definition of anxiety we can get a deeper understanding of the term and the process.

Jesus understood the process of anxiety and addressed it. In Matthew 6:25 to 33, Jesus uses the term anxious 4 times.

Here are the statements about anxiety that Jesus made.

  • 25 – Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious (merimnate) about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
  • 27And which of you by being anxious (merimnon) can add a single hour to his span of life?
  • 28 – And why are you anxious (merimnate) about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
  • 31 – Therefore do not be anxious (merimnesete), saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

What is Anxiety?
“Merimnao” is the Greek word used in these passages. It is translated anxious or worried.

There is a deeper understanding associated with the term “merimnao. It comes from a root that means: to be fractured or fragmented; to be divided into parts; to be drawn into opposite directions at the same time; to be distracted.

Anxiety fragments our thinking and distracts us from a more clear focus. It impacts the way we think, reason, perceive and interact with our situation, people and God.

In the spiritual realm, anxiety pulls us between faith and distrust. It distorts and distracts us from trusting God and focusing our thoughts and activity on what God would have us do and be.

I believe Jesus was emphasizing the word “merimnao” and its meaning to conclude with a play on words to provide a solution. Jesus re-directs the anxious fragmenting thoughts by directing our focus on kingdom truths. Jesus uses a word that pulls fragmented thoughts together, he says, “Seek” (v. 33).

Seeking requires determined, continual focus and looking for. Seeking” pulls our thoughts and actions together and unites them to one focus, rather than for them to be pulling in opposite directions or scattered and fragmented into many ways.

Anxiety Close Up
An example of anxiety is seen in a follower of Jesus named Martha. We read this in Luke 10.

Jesus is visiting with his friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha. He is teaching and speaking with them and others, sort of like a neighborhood Bible study, without the Bible but with the “living Word of God.” Martha is anxious about her hospitality mainly meal preparations.

Her mind is fragmented, distracted and pulled in different directions that she misses the main focus of her hospitality which is to relate with Jesus. Her anxiety affects her thinking about her sister, her words, and her time with Jesus.

We don’t know the back story of Martha’s thinking, but my guess is that she wanted to hear and learn from Jesus too, but she became overly focused on serving a meal. She became focused on the details of the work of the meal rather than the joy of being with Jesus.

Her anxiety arose from the conflict of the seemingly opposing goals. She gave into the one and allowed it to fragment her thinking, distract her focus and pour out of her heart.

A Choice
Jesus helps Martha to refocus.  In verse 41 Jesus says, ““Martha, Martha,” the Lord replied, “you are worried (merimnao) and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion”

Jesus tells Martha, “Mary has chosen the better portion.” We can choose to be fragmented by anxiety by allowing the anxious thoughts free reign.

Martha could have chosen what would bring her closer to our Lord. Giving free reign to thoughts of resentment, anger, and jealousy did not bring her closer to God or to her sister.

Getting It Together
I cannot give you 5 steps to prevent anxiety in your life at this time. I do believe Jesus’ words point us in the direction of controlling our scattered thoughts of fear and “what ifs” and focusing on truths about God.

Throughout this time of uncertainty and upheaval, I have tried to focus on God’s faithfulness, his goodness, his sovereignty, and his proven love.

Pulling together my thoughts of fear and doubt by focusing on truths about God has helped me move forward in my relationship with God and others during this time.

In Psalm 86, the psalmist understands that a key to his relationship with God is pulling together his fragmented thoughts, emotions, and desires. I believe the psalmist understands he is unable to do this without the help of God, hence his prayer in verse 11.

  • “Teach me Your way, O LORD, that I may walk in Your truth;
    unite my heart to fear Your Name.”

In the Hebrew word “unite” we come full circle to what Jesus said about anxiety.
Anxiety fragments, distracts and scatters us. “Unite” means to join, to bring together all our parts and scattered pieces to be focused on God.

So when all else fails and anxiety pulls our emotions, thoughts and actions in all different ways, we can pray: “God, unite my heart to fear Your Name.”

Hugging God

The idea of “hugging God,” may seem a little odd or even irreverent. Yet, God actually commanded Israel to do just that. This is exactly what God tells them to do in Deuteronomy 13:20: “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name.”

You may read this and think, “I don’t see the word hug in this verse.” But it is. The word translated “cling” comes from the Hebrew word dabaq/dä·vak’.” It means: hug, cling, cleave, hold fast, adhere, or joined together. (Note:  “dä·vak’” is the spelling to help us with the pronunciation).

Our God desires an intimate relationship with us, and I believe God meant this word in all the intimacy a hug implies. Dä·vak is a word of connection and of relationship. It denotes a more personal, intimate aspect of that relationship. It implies need, devotion, respect, love and a desire for closeness.

Embracing God
In Jeremiah 13:11 God uses the image of a waistband that is closely fitted and tied around a waist to describe how closely God desired the children of Israel to hold onto Him.

  • “For as the waistband clings (dabaq/ dä·vak’) to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.’” (NASB)

In this passage, we see the term dä·vak’ bringing out the close connection that God desires with His people, as close as a waistband or belt around the waist. God wants us to be so close in relationship with Him that we are like children putting our arms around our Father’s waist and hugging.

When I was a child, I used to hug my dad in this way. I would put my arms around his waist in a clinging hug and stand on his feet. He would begin to walk around the room with me holding on and being carried along.

A Soul Hug
The above memory from my childhood of putting my arms around my dad’s waist and being carried along is a physical picture of a spiritual reality as noted in Psalm 63:7-8.

  • “For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings (dä·vak’)  to you; your right hand upholds me.”

This scripture speaks of our soul embracing God and clinging to Him. God is reciprocal in this relationship, as we put our arms around him, He holds on to us as noted in verse 8.

Joined Together
The Modern Hebrew word for glue isdevek which comes from the same root as “dä·vak’ .”
This word highlights the idea of adhering to God, joining to God much like glue causes two things to adhere, stick together or be joined together.

When we believe and are baptized into Christ, we are joined to him. Paul, the apostle expresses this truth in 1 Corinthians 6. Paul is speaking to the disciples about purity. He warns them against being “joined” to a prostitute, and reminds them that such behavior does not sync with the fact that they are joined to Christ, so much so that we are one with Jesus.

  • “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”1 Cor. 6:17 NASB

The New Testament Greek word for join in this passage is “κολλώμενος” from κολλάω
which  literally means I glue;” but is translated to join; to adhere; to cleave, and to keep company with.

So the concept in the word “κολλάω” is very similar to that of the Hebrew term “dä·vak’.” Both terms imply a full embracing of God in a continual relationship.

Like Flesh to Bone
To emphasize the closeness that God desires let’s look at Job 19:20. Job is describing his physical state; he is in terrible condition from his affliction that he barely escaped death.

Job uses a form of the word “dä·vak’ ” when he says: “My skin and flesh cling (da be gah) to my bones; I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.” Job 19:20 BSB

So this verse gives us another description of closeness to God, that we should “adhere/cling/cleave” to God as our flesh clings to our bones and our skin!

The Ultimate Embrace
God’s desire, His will, His intention is for us to live so close in relationship to Him that it is like living a hug. We are to cling to Him as we walk with Him.

Jesus expresses this desire in His prayer. I know this passage is traditionally interpreted as referring to “unity;” which it is, but I believe Jesus is referring to an absolute closeness with God to the point of being “one” with Him. It is being joined in such a way that we, as individuals and as His body, the church) are taken into Him. We might look at it as the ultimate embrace that melds us into him.

 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (ESV)

Thinking about Hugging God
This concept has a deeper and truer significance than is noted at first thought. I give this study to you for meditation. As I studied this word “dä·vak’ ” and looked at God’s desire for me to be “huggingly” close to Him, I began asking myself questions. I will share these with you maybe they will help you in considering your relationship with God.

  • Do I “hug” God during my times with Him of reading His Word and praying, but release my embrace as I walk through the day? Am I like the picture of the child hugging her/his father around the waist while standing on his feet as we walk, a sort of dance of holding on and supporting?
  • Do I “cling” to God all the time or only during times of trouble and affliction?
  • In times of trouble, affliction and weariness with life, do I cling to God and trust Him? Or do I seek comfort or diversion in entertainment, social media, food, people, or ____________? (Fill in the blank).Or do I lash out at others and God in frustration?
  • Do I see myself as being “joined” to God so much so that I am willing to give up my will for His will, even if it means letting go of a relationship, a career, an addiction, a title or position?
  • If I were to give myself over to this concept, what would “clinging and adhering” to God look like in my life? What would my prayers sound like? How would this change my relationships; my view of difficulties and affliction; my view of other people?
  • What am I joined to; what am I cleaving” to if not God?

“Faith Spurs”

“Continue to pray and do not lose heart,” are words of encouragement that Jesus gives to his followers.

There are many situations and events in our world, our country and in each of our personal lives these days that can cause us to lose heart.  Jesus’ words give a sense of comfort and peace.

? Are you growing weary of:

  • social distancing
  • return spikes in the COVID virus
  • working at home
  • not working
  • limiting activities outside your home
  • issues in our society such as justice and equity that do not really change
  • concerns about marriage; being single; parenting ?

Are you weary of praying about these concerns and other problems and not seeing definitive answers?

Jesus Speaks to Weariness
Jesus “gets it,” and he addressed this weariness regarding prayer. In fact he addressed it using a parable concerning a social injustice.

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells his followers a parable to reinforce the truth that they should continue to pray and not lose heart. To emphasize his point, Jesus tells the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. (See Luke 18:1-8)

The widow had been unjustly treated, cheated out of what was rightfully hers (Luke 18: 3-4).

She went to the “source of justice” for help, but found more corruption there (Luke 18: 4).

The widow did not shrink back, she continued to speak out and seek justice from the “corrupt, uncaring” judge.  In the end her perseverance was rewarded, not because of the “good heart” of the judge towards her, but because he did not want to continue to be “annoyed” by her (Luke 18:5).

Jesus then assures his followers that God is the righteous judge who sees and will answer (Luke 18:7-8).

Know These Truths
Jesus teaches several truths here:
1. God is good and just unlike the unrighteous judge.

  • “He (God) loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” Psalm 33:5
  • “For the LORD is righteous; He loves justice. The upright will see His face.” Psalm 11:7

 2. God is the sovereign righteous Judge; he will see to it that justice and righteousness are brought about. 

  • God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow;he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.” Psalm 7:11-13

 3. Do not lose heart, keep praying. Prayer is to evidence true faith.

  • “… praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… ”  Ephesians 6:18

“Do Not Lose Heart
In Luke 18:1, Jesus states the purpose of this parable; “Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray at all times and not lose heart…”

What does it mean to lose heart? In the Greek New Testament the word is ykakein meaning: “to be fainthearted; to have inner weariness; to be exhausted; to be utterly spiritless; to lose enthusiasm and to become fearful.” Have you been feeling this way?

When we lose heart, we lose faith in the sense that we stop trusting in the goodness and faithfulness of God. When we become fainthearted and weary, we lose the ability to envision God answering our prayer.

When we persevere in prayer we continue to trust God. As Jesus walked and talked with his disciples he knew that keeping faith over time in difficult circumstances would be a challenge for his followers.

Jesus Increases Faith
Jesus understands how difficult it can be for us to believe what we cannot see; to trust that God will help when a situation seems beyond help; or to wait over extended periods of time to see God working.  Jesus understands that trusting God has its difficulties, so he provides truths and promises to help build up and increase our faith.

In Luke 17:5, a few paragraphs before Luke 18:1, we read that after Jesus taught on forgiving others, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. They realized how challenging forgiving others can be.

Jesus responds with this encouragement: “He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:5-6)

Jesus helps the disciples out.  He reduces faith to the size of a mustard seed. Mustard seeds are 1 to 2 millimeters or 0.039 to 0.079 inches in diameter.  Jesus uses this small measure to reassure us that we can have faith in seemingly impossible situations.

When I am faced with a difficult situation that overwhelms me, I remember the measure that Jesus gave. In my mind’s eye I see a tiny mustard seed, the tiniest one in the pack maybe the size of a pin prick, and I think, “OK, Jesus, I can have this little measure of faith to trust you.”

Another encouragement that Jesus provides regarding faith is in Matthew 7:7-11.

  • Keep asking and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Here, as in the parable in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus emphasizes the idea of “keeping on” asking; continuing to ask, persevering in prayer.

I believe Jesus spoke truths like this at varying parts of his life to provide “faith spurs,”or faith encouragements for us along the journey.

Find Faith Spurs
I am weary. Sometimes I feel weighed down by everything that is happening, even though I see good in these things. Maybe you are feeling the heaviness of life right now. Look for the “faith spurs” that Jesus provided in the Word. Read them, pray them, and allow the words of Jesus and the Spirit to quicken your spirit. Then share them with your fellow travelers.

Got Justice?

Justice is not necessarily found in or confined to the courtroom. Justice and righteousness are qualities of God’s love and are reflected in the heart and lives of his sons and daughters.

I believe that God is shining a spotlight on our nation today and showing us the inconsistency and hypocrisy in our lives, our hearts and in our “religion.”

True Religion
Righteousness and justice
are facets of God’s love. The Word of God clearly connects love for our fellow man with our love for God. In fact scripture says it is impossible to have a right relationship with God while not loving our fellow man.

1 John 4:20-21 clarifies this connection.

  • “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

The two greatest commandments from God to mankind are to love God wholeheartedly and to love our neighbor as our self. Jesus states this clearly in Mt. 22:36-40

  • “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In John 13:34, Jesus re-states the second command with a slight change that makes it more powerful.

  • “A new command I give you: Love one another.as I have loved you, so also you must love one another.” John 13:34

This new command of Jesus defines the love we are to have for one another as a “lay down your life for” kind of love, which is exactly what Jesus did. Such love is characterized by humility; recognizing the image of God in others; valuing them; and being willing to do what is right for another person even at personal sacrifice to ourselves.

The racism that I have been seeing and reading about is not love. The recent spotlight on racism in our country is teaching me about the scope and depth of racism. I am learning that racism does not recognize value in another person or people; it does not meet needs in fact most often hinders access to having those needs met. Racism is grounded in pride, fear, and hatred; and wears boots of injustice and unrighteousness.

Racism is incongruous with being a Christian. As I have been looking through scriptures, and I am seeing that justice and righteousness are core values to God:

  • Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” Psalm 89:14

Justice and Righteousness Matter
The Law and the Prophets have much to say about justice and righteousness, and therefore have much say to us in the 21st century. I put forward some of these scriptures for us to consider. While the passages included here from both the Law and the Prophets have a specific meaning in their context with Israel, these passages speak very loudly as to what God values in His people, or those who claim to be in relationship with Him.

Before we look at some of these truths, let’s review some general definitions.

  • Righteousness in many of these passages refers to what is right, what is ethical, what is equitable and just.
  • Justice has several definitions but all of them have the same related undertone. Here are a few of the meanings of justice: judge rightly with a sense of truth, equity and rectitude

Righteousness and justice are often paired together in scripture and at times seem to be used synonymously.

Other words such as humility, compassion/mercy and love are used in association with justice and righteousness thus further describing what justice and righteousness look like.  These passage make evident the will and heart of God. God wants to see justice, righteousness and compassion in our relationships!

  • The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” Ps. 33:5

 Let Truth Impact
Please spend some time reading these and meditating on them. These passages are powerful in and of themselves, they need no commentary. They have much to say to the “church” today regarding racism in all its forms.

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly…” Lev. 19:15

“Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.” Deut. 24:17

“Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”  Deut. 27:19

“Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right” Micah 3:9

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more desirable to the LORD than sacrifice.”  Proverbs 21:2-3

“For the LORD is righteous; He loves justice. The upright will see His face.” Psalm 11:7

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute,” Psalm 82:3

“But you must return to your God, maintaining love and justice, and always waiting on your God.” Hos. 12:6

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’” Zechariah 7:9

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow’s cause…” Isaiah 1:17

“This is what the LORD says: Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.” Isaiah 56:1

“This is what the LORD says: Administer justice and righteousness. Rescue the victim of robbery from the hand of his oppressor. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow. Do not shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 22:3

A Concluding Reflection
Reading these passages one after the other screams out the heart of God and impacts my soul. As I read these passages, I am struck by God’s immense patience and grace, and his long held desire for us to love one another and treat each other with justice and righteousness.

In the late 60’s and 70’s, I studied about civil rights and racism and their impact on the education and development of young people. I was involved in preparing students for integration into formerly all “white” schools, but since then I have been distracted by life, even by my “religion;” and I have not been attentive to applying justice and righteousness in support of Black people.

I have not killed a black man out of uncontrolled rage and hatred; denied a black family a loan for a home; or equitable access to an education, but I deem myself a part of the problem. I have not given these injustices meaningful consideration. I have not spoken out against these and other injustices. Making “black lives matter” is part of my relationship with God and my love for Him.

I pray that you will not take offense at this article but rather I pray that all who read this will allow these truths to impact your heart and all your relationships.

Teach Us to . . .

Recent circumstances in our nation have caused us all to turn a sharp focus on racism. Racism in the United States is real and is woven into the history of this nation.

I want to go on record as saying: I believe racism is wrong. I express my sorrow and apology for racism that has occurred and is occurring. I apologize for not being more outspoken against it.

As a Christian, I believe racism is a sin and must receive the same radical repentance as our Lord calls for concerning all sin. Racism is built on sins of pride and hatred. Racism mocks our Creator and devalues people that are created in God’s image.

An Appropriate Response
At this time in our nation, I believe that prayer is the most immediate response to this situation. The history of racism in our country has been established over centuries. Rebuilding and restoring right thinking and right interactions will be a process over time. We need the wisdom and power of God to do this.

I think we need to ask God to “teach us” how to view one another; accept one another and love one another.

We should not assume that because we have achieved a certain level of education in psychology, sociology, and theology; or, even because we have had certain experiences, that we know the answers.

The fact that racism has continued to abound in our country shows that whatever knowledge we think we have has been unable to produce genuine and lasting change.

God is love. Love is His nature and essence, so let’s cry out to God to teach us to love and lead us in the ways of love.

Teach Us
The concept of God teaching us is throughout the scriptures. “Teach me, teach us,” expressions are throughout the text of the Bible.

In scripture we see numerous references to different things that men and women of God asked Him to teach them. Presented below are a few of these requests.

Teach Us Your Ways
Moses was a man of great closeness to God, so much so that scripture reports that Moses face was radiant with light when he returned from a time with God. Later in Moses’ life, after walking with God, gaining much knowledge about God and his law; and having many experiences, we still see Moses asking God to teach him.

If we look at the context, Moses seems to connect being taught by God with growing deeper in an intimate relationship with God.

In Exodus 33 Moses asks God to be able to see God. God answers Moses’ prayer by passing before Moses and allowing him to see the back of God’s glory.

Moses seems to have a deep relationship with God, yet he wants to know God more and prays to see Him more clearly and deeply. We see this who walked fervently with God knew he had more to learn and asked God to teach him. In Exodus 33:13, Moses prays,

“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” Ex. 33:13

 King David understood the need to be taught the ways of God, the ways God wants man to live. In Psalm 25:4-5 David asked God to teach him God’s ways and guide him. This concept of guiding implies a continual teaching and leading, not just a one-time experience. David connects learning from God with salvation.

“Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; all day long I wait for You.” Ps. 25:4-5

 Teach Us Integrity of Heart
David, who the scripture describes as a man after God’s own heart, shows humility by asking God to teach him His ways. David wants to know truths about God, His character and His will (way), so that David can apply God’s truth to his life and relationship with God.

David asks God to teach him His ways and integrity of heart.

 “Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart
to fear your name.”
Ps. 86:11

Our hearts are scattered in seeking things for ourselves; be that power, position, titles, influence, or possessions. We can tend to seek these over God and over other people. We must ask God to teach us to have a oneness of heart that values God and other people. Is not this in line with the 2 great commandments: loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength; and loving one another as Jesus loved us?

Teach Us to Follow You, God
It is difficult for me to understand the power of my own self will, but I am learning it is strong. I can misidentify self-will as creative thinking; as exercising freedom, or as merely seeking excellence in my performance.

Jesus understood the power of the “self”. He knew it would be the thing that hinders us in following Him. So He commanded: “Then Jesus said His to disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Mt.16:24

King David understood the need to learn to follow God’s leading. David asked God to teach him to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. May Your good Spirit lead me on level ground”  Psalm 143:10

Teach Us How to Live
When King Solomon dedicated the temple to God, he prayed a prayer asking God for many things for the people. One thing he asked was for God to teach the people how to live.

“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.” 2Chronicles 6:26-27

King Solomon was given great knowledge and wisdom by God (1 Kings 4:29-31). If this man prayed for God to teach his people how to live perhaps we should follow his example.

Let’s Get Humble
It is my conviction that in order to begin healing our nation, we need to begin with “teach us” prayers. As for me, these are some things I will ask God to teach me. As you can see from my list, I have much to learn.

  • teach me to see the pride and arrogance in my heart that lead to pre-judging others
  • teach me to listen to others;
  • teach me to see and value the image of God in others’
  • teach me the meaning of respecting others;
  • teach me to accept others who do not look like me; think and act the way I do;
  • teach me to love others the way Jesus did;
  • teach me to teach my children to respect and love all people;
  • teach me to know how to speak out and act for the benefit of others;
  • teach me to know and understand how my love for others is indeed love for God.

What will you ask God to teach you? What should we ask God together so that we can overcome racism in our nation?

Grace Ticket

A grace ticket is: a ticket to stand firm; a ticket of help in time of need, a ticket to overcome; a ticket to endure, and at times it is a ticket of deliverance.

A grace ticket is when God “extends himself forward” on our behalf. This extending of God forward towards us is not something we deserve or earn.

The height of God’s extension of blessing to us is in the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus.  Grace is founded in God. Grace reaches its pinnacle in the redemptive act of Jesus. Grace is an ever present facet of the essence of God. God extends his grace to us, over us and around us as we walk with him. God’s grace does not end at cross, it continually flows.

  • “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Moses’ Grace Ticket
Moses received grace in time of need! When receiving his ministry from God in Exodus 3:1- 4:17, Moses is seeing himself as “not enough.” Moses believed he was incapable, and was sure of his eminent failure before he even began.

God, our encouraging and faithful Father, came alongside Moses and gave him a grace ticket, so to speak. God was frustrated with Moses (Ex. 4:13-16), but gave him a grace ticket, in that God did not condemn, ridicule, belittle, or withdraw from Moses. Instead God supplied what Moses needed. God gave Moses credentials that were the signs of God’s support. God revealed his name to Moses for the people to believe. God provided Aaron as a partner, an assistant for Moses. Finally God said he himself would go with Moses. (Exodus 3:12)

There have been and are times I feel not smart enough; not skilled enough; not talented enough; not reputable or respected enough; not a member of the right group; not faithful enough and so on. When I think this way, I pray God will help me remember the story of Moses and the truth that God encourages me and gives me grace in time of need.

Hannah’s Grace Ticket
We read about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1. We see a woman sorely troubled, embroiled in a conflict with a woman with whom she shares a husband and a life. Hannah is “bullied and harassed” by this woman who feels superior to Hannah (I Samuel 1: 6-7,8-16).

Hannah felt judged and taunted because she did not have a child by her beloved husband, while the other woman did. Hannah sought her value in having a child and thought her worth to her husband and her standing with him was dependent upon that. Her adversary believed that her own worth was in having children, so she used her status to harass and humiliate Hannah. No a picture of sisterly love but it is the reality Hannah knew.

In the course of the story we see Hannah turns to God in faith, crying out for help. God’s response is to encourage her, to come alongside Hannah. God showed Hannah that he knew and understood how she felt. God gave Hannah a grace ticket.

God could have said: “I am enough, you don’t need a child.” God could have ridiculed or chided Hannah telling her she is looking for her value in the wrong thing. He could have told her to “buck up” and move forward in her situation. But he did not!

A Ticket Backed by Compassion
God understood Hannah’s need, her desire. He understood how frustrating and hurtful the situation was. Amidst all the sufferings in the world, God stopped and came alongside Hannah and encouraged Hannah. God’s grace ticket for Hannah was her son Samuel.

Have you ever felt bullied; harassed; intimidated; pushed out by someone who seemingly is more powerful, more reputable, somehow more accepted than you? Maybe you feel this on your job; within your extended family; within your community, school or church. Or, perhaps you are in a sense “bullied” by a task or event occurring in your life that you feel incapable of doing or getting through.

God’s heart is to encourage, to extend himself to us, to walk alongside of us and to give us the grace we need as he did with Hannah. Also, God uses our pain and his grace to work his purposes. In this case, Hannah’s son, Samuel, who was given by God to her, was  used by God to lead and strengthen his people.

Paul’s Grace Ticket
Paul, the apostle, is one of the most prominent disciples in the New Testament. He is highly qualified in handling the Word of God. Paul had a powerful ministry to the Gentiles and he was a diligent shepherd to the first century church.

Yet, Paul struggled to overcome something that was painful, frustrating and discouraging to him. We do not know what that was, though many scholars speculate about it.

We do know, it was painful to Paul, so much so that he beseeched God to remove it. God chose not to remove it, but God did give Paul a “grace ticket” to help him through it. That grace ticket was God’s grace.

  • “Even if I wanted to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. So to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.”2 Cor . 12:6-9

Grace Tickets and You
Grace tickets are costly, they are backed by the suffering and blood of Jesus, the Son of God who transfers all believers into the realm of grace.

  • “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:2-5

Grace tickets do not mean that God will instantly remove you from difficulty and suffering or give you everything you want. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3 are examples of God giving them a grace ticket that was not a pass out of the fiery furnace, but rather an escort, God himself, into and through the fire.

Grace tickets are a pass to walk with God through all types of difficulties. God will be with us in trials and produce good with us and for us through them.

What are the difficulties and struggles you are experiencing now? Reach out to God for a grace ticket, he will give it to you in your time of need.

Alert forThanksgiving!

ANXIOUS! UNEASE! VIGILANT! ON STANDBY! TRUSTING! ADAPTING!. These are all terms that might express your status as we end week six of sheltering in place.  Perhaps you are a mixture of these or you fluctuate from one state to the next. Some days we may experience a sense of adaptation and making the most of the situation, while other days we may be struggling to think straight.

In week 5 I had some ups and downs as I tried moving forward. I found myself on edge asking my husband questions like, “Well, what did you mean by that?” Or “Why are you doing that?”  I am not sure what I felt, maybe at best I felt a pervasive unease which seemed to have no source. A spirit of restlessness and unease began to slowly and subtly wear away at peace and joy.

As a believer in God, when I am off center, I know I need to take time out and refocus through reading the word of God and prayer. Being still with God not only renews my spirit but it also resets my mind. (Ps. 46:10 – Be still! and know that I am God…)

So I began my time of “stillness” with reading about prayer and communicating to God about this sense of unease or generic discontent that I was feeling. As I read, an interesting pattern emerged, that is: prayer was often mentioned in association with thanksgiving.

The Bond of Thanksgiving and Prayer
Let’s look at a few of these passages.

  • Philippians 4:6
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • 1 Timothy 2:1
    First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men
  • Colossians 4:2
    Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
    Rejoice always;pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
  • Ephesians 1:15-16
    For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
  • Psalm 100:4
    Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and bless His name.
    (The expression “enter his gates” and “enter his courts” refers to the Israelites coming into the temple which was the central place where they met with God, where they communed with God in songs and in prayer. The expressions “enter His gates and come into His courts” are in a sense, signifying coming into the presence of God. We commune with God through prayer and meditation. According to this verse then, we should always enter our time with God; enter His presence in prayer with thanksgiving.).

The more I read the clearer the bond between prayer and thanksgiving became. I conclude: thanksgiving is an essential element in my relationship with God. It is the defining characteristic demonstrating trust in my Father and dependence on him.

A Key to Entering the Presence of God
In the Old Testament scriptures, we read that giving thanks and praise to God was akin to offering a sacrifice to God. The giving of thanks to God was an integral part of worshiping God, honoring God and being in relationship with God.

  • Psalm 116:17
    I will offer to You a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
  • Psalm 107:22
    Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and declare His works with rejoicing.
  • Psalm 54:6
    Freely I will sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good.

As I read these passages my heart felt lighter. God redirected my mind. I focused on the things of light and goodness in my life. I had been looking at what I couldn’t do; at how I felt restricted; at the difficulty of being still, and perhaps the reality of what God was showing me about myself.

TRANSFORMATIONS of THANKSGIVING
I began deliberately choosing to thank God for everything. That is when I noticed a change, a light-heartedness, a more genuine faith and joy.

When I express thanks to God regularly throughout my day it changes my focus from “me” to God and others.

Thanksgiving and Perspective
Giving thanks to God transforms my perspective. Instead of looking at restrictions, I see abundance and new space.

In Psalm 18:19, David proclaims the blessing of God broadening his view after God delivers him from his enemy.

  • “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Ps. 18:19.”

Like David, if we focus on thanking God and seeing his blessing we will feel we are in a safe, spacious place.

Thanksgiving and Mood
Focusing on giving thanks to God changes my perspective which results in changing my  mood. The act of thanking and praising God lifts up my spirit and fills me with joy because I am focusing on the wonderful deeds of God.

David expresses this process and truth. Focusing on God and trusting in Him yields joy.

  • “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Ps. 28:7-8

Thanksgiving and Relationships
Another blessing from giving thanks to God is realized in our relationships. When I began choosing to thank God, it was like I had a new way of seeing. I began seeing characteristics of God in my interactions with and thoughts of people.

In Colossians 3:12-13, we are reminded that because of the great salvation worked for us by God, we, out of thanks and awe to God, turn and bless others by deliberately putting on compassion, and forgiveness.

  • “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Col. 3:12-13

Feel It or Not – Give Thanks!
Giving thanks to God is an act of the will. Yes, there are times of great emotional response, an out pouring of thanks to God. Yet remember, “thanksgiving” requires loving God with our mind as well as heart and soul. It means I deliberately think of God and His goodness; His wondrous deeds; and His faithful love. Choose to thank God every day! Thank God for 7 things every day and record the transformations you see in your perspective, mood and relationships.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.
Col. 2:6-7

A Name for Such a Time as This

When I was a young girl and got into spats with friends I can remember a common retort to a threat was: “Yea, You and what army?” As we battle our way through this pandemic let us remember that we are with God and his army.

A Powerful Name
One of the names God reveals to us is, LORD Sabaoth translated LORD of Hosts,

  • “You show steadfast love to thousands … O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of Hosts …” Jeremiah 32:18

The word “tsaba” is translated several ways. It means army, or host (as in a large organized army). It is used most often to refer to the angelic armies of God. It is a war term and is often used in association with various battles and struggles.

It is used to indicate God’s supreme and unlimited power, authority and judgment. (On occasion it is used to refer to the actual physical heavenly bodies of the sun, moon and stars).

Here are a few of the passages using the word “tsaba.” (The name LORD Sabaoth is used 261 in the Old Testament).

  • “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army (tsaba) of the Lord. Now I have come.” Joshua 5:13-14
  • “Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host (tsaba) of heaven standing on his right and on his left…”
    2 Chronicles 18:18
  • “Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts (tsaba)!” Psalm 148:2
  • “Our Redeemer—the LORD of hosts (tsaba) is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 47:4

A Shepherd Boy and the LORD of Hosts
David knew God’s name of LORD Sabaoth. This name revealed to David that God is almighty and sovereign over all. Armed with this knowledge about God, David was confident that God was with him as he approached Goliath.

David refers to God as the Lord of Hosts as he faces off with Goliath. David, still considered a youth, comes to fight a giant of a man with a sling and a few stones as the Israelite army cowers in the background.  As David moves towards Goliath He says that he is coming to Goliath in the name of the Lord of Hosts.

  • “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45

Goliath could not see any “hosts” of God, so he laughed and scorned. All he saw was an army hiding in fear, but David knew who God is, David knew God’s name –LORD/Yahweh Sabaoth.

David believes that God truly has an army of angels. David calls upon LORD Sabaoth. David claims God’s  power over every force,

David incorporated truth he learned in intimate times with God and from his past experience with God, so he was able to depend on God’s all mighty power as he stepped up to face Goliath. This is an example of how David’s intimate knowledge of God became a part of his real life.

A Woman in Conflict and the Lord of Hosts
As I read about the word “tsaba” in scriptures I came across the story of Hannah. The scriptures describe Hannah as a woman sorely troubled.

In the account in 1 Samuel 1, we read of this struggle between the two women, the bully (Peninnah), and the victim, Hannah. Hannah was a woman sorely troubled in two ways.

She was grieved because she was barren, and she was grieved, even vexed, by the taunting of Peninnah (Elkanah’s other wife) who had children.

  • “And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her.” 1 Samuel 1:6-7

In her struggles regarding both barrenness and the taunts of this other woman, we read that Hannah prays to God.

In her prayers, it is interesting to note, Hannah does not address God as Merciful Father, or Compassionate God as one might think, but rather because of her struggles she uses the war reference to God. Hannah addresses God as “LORD Sabaoth in her prayer.

“After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of Hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…” 1 Sam.1:7-11

This is amazing. Hannah knew God’s name. She understood the meaning and believe the truth in it. From this knowledge and belief Hannah intimately pours out her heart about her conflict, her battle, to the LORD of Hosts.

The LORD of Hosts and You
Knowing God as “LORD Sabaoth or Lord of hosts” gives me confidence and security.
I can call upon my Father who is LORD of the angel armies, and feel secure as I battle against sin, fear and the shadow of darkness in life.

During this present Pandemic, knowing that God is Lord of Hosts and that He fights for us, reminds me that God is sovereign overall. This truth brings peace into my heart. It helps me focus on our Mighty God and not on the circumstances around me.

The Lord of Hosts will walk with us through this. He will calm our fears and strengthen us. He will sustain us in our relationships with one another as we shelter in place. When stressed and overwhelmed from being in close quarters with children all day, or when experiencing bumps with our spouse  Lord of Hosts is near to help. As the Lord of Hosts responded to the hurt of Hannah as she cried out to Him, he will respond to us.

Meditate on the concept of Lord Sabaoth. Think about what this means to your faith, your life. Teach this to your children. Lord Sabaoth is the true super hero.

Today when you pray, cry out to your Father, Lord Sabaoth, on behalf of your family, your friends and the world.

Awe Inspired Faith – 1

What are you looking at?

In this time of fear and anxiety about the threat of well-being to you and your loved ones we need to make sure we are looking at the right things.

In Psalm 40:5, David says: You have multiplied O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and thoughts towards us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.”

It is believed that David wrote this Psalm upon being delivered from some pressing trouble which was overwhelming him. I would say the current pandemic is a pressing and at times overwhelming trouble.

After reading Psalm 40, I have had to ask myself, “Am I seeing the many wondrous deeds and hearing the wondrous thoughts of God?”  Or is what I am seeing and what I am hearing blocking out the truths about God?

Truths of Wonder
Reading about the wonders of God always lifts up my faith. The mighty deeds of God remind me of the power, the supreme authority and the steadfast love of God.

Remembering who God is directs my focus on him and takes it off of me or my circumstances.

In these troublesome times think back on the wondrous deeds of God and let these remembrances cause you to bow in praise to God and fill your heart with faith in our Father’s love and care for you.

Presented below are some of the “mighty deeds” of God. I encourage you to take time to read the references, meditate on them and turn your focus on God.

God Divides the Sea
In Exodus 14:10-31, the Israelites had been freed from Egypt but now being pursued by Pharaoh and his army. Their backs were up against the Red Sea with nowhere to flee. They are full of fear, panic and thoughts of impending doom. They resort to fear, regret and blame.

Wow, does their reaction sound familiar to you? In deeply troublesome times I have said, “Where are you God? I trusted you. Why are you letting this happen?”

What about now as you and your families face the pandemic. Do you feel an inner tug of war between trusting God and blaming him? With each new report of more cases or even friends having the virus do you ride a wave of faith and fear, up and down, in and out ?

In Exodus 14:13-14, Moses advised the people to be still, to hush their fears, to stand back and watch the deliverance of the Lord. Moses did not panic and scream, “Run for your lives.” He did not even direct the fighting men among them to take up shield and sword. He turned their eyes and hearts to trust God.

  • “Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14

The truth is that no matter how bleak the circumstances, God is fighting for us. In seen and unseen ways God delivers us. During the pandemic, each of us is fighting to gain a sense of stability in our faith.

What God did as recorded in Exodus 14 is true. Look at the God of that truth and be encouraged. Take time to share with another person how the truth of God in Exodus 14 encourages you.

The Walls Fall Down
In Joshua 6, we read of the account of how God brought down the protective walls of Jericho for Joshua and Israel.

In Joshua 6:1, we read that the gates of Jericho were securely barred, no one went out and no one went in. We do not always see how God is going to deliver us.

Anyone looking on might consider it an insurmountable task to take this city. It was not immediately evident as to how this would occur.

Perhaps some of the Israelites were saying, “This is impossible, we don’t have the resources or equipment needed to get through this wall and take the city.” Others, may have been sitting around the camp fire making plans of how to do it.

But God, gave a plan to Joshua. God’s plan had nothing to do with resources or the strategy and strength of man.

  • “Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men…” Joshua 6:2

The Israelites followed the plan of God. They marched around the city, as prescribed, carrying the ark of the covenant with them which signified God’s presence with them.

  • “When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them… When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.” Joshua 6:8, 20

In Hebrews 11:30, we read: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.” So it was not the men, or the resources that brought down the wall, but God’s power and their faith in God.

In the same way today as we face the seemingly impenetrable wall of this pandemic, it is the presence of God and faith that will bring it down.

Our trust in God will bring down our wall of fear, of anxiety, of questioning the goodness of God, of frustration and sorrow. Our trust in God healing and taking down the walls of the corona virus.

This account of God bringing down the walls of Jericho reminds me of:

  • the wisdom of God;
  • of his strength in my weakness;
  • and in God bringing about good and teaching good in all things.

As I reflect on the account of the walls of Jericho, I am making a choice to trust that God has a plan, and that He is working on our behalf in ways I do not understand or readily see.

Can you imagine the conversations of the Israelites after the battle; “Did you see that? What just happened here? Did you feel the earth shake?”

Let’s open our eyes of faith and see God helping us, strengthening us, reviving us drawing us, restoring us and holding us close as we walk through this with Him.

Imagine the conversations we will have of the many mighty ways God has worked during this time!