Beside the Still Water – The Vanity in Worry

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It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. (Psa 127:2) It is worthless, fruitless, empty and unsatisfying when one stays up late and gets up early to worry. I never gained a moment’s pleasure or peace from worrying. The Lord emphasizes here how futile it is to worry. In fact, the Lord promises His beloved children rest! He does not promise this wonderful rest to the unsaved. How do I know that? The verse says that His beloved receive sleep. Remember, when we are saved we become the children of God. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Rom 8:16) We are His beloved! A search to the word “beloved” in the New Testament will show that they were always referring to the brethren in Christ.

Noah Webster defines the word vain as:

Empty; worthless; having no substance, value or importance.Fruitless; ineffectual. All attempts, all efforts were vain.

Empty; unsatisfying. The pleasures of life are vain.

False; deceitful; not genuine; spurious. James 1.

Since I became a mother, so many Scriptures seem clearer to me. What would I think if my children stayed up nights worrying? I would be devastated first because my child is worrying. But most importantly, I would wonder why my child feels he cannot turn those worries over to his parents. I can just imagine how our Heavenly Father feels when we take upon our own shoulders the cares of this world which have not even happened yet. Our Father in Heaven loves us so much and wants so much to provide for us and comfort us. Why do we insist on taking this worry upon ourselves? I have heard that 85% of what we worry about doesn’t come to past and the other 15% weren’t worth worrying over. The time and effort spent in worrying could easily be spent in the Word and finding comfort there. The Lord has so many golden nuggets to calm our spirit with. We just have to search them out.

For example, Matt. 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (28 ) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (29) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (30) Good night, are there better verses? After reading these verses, I decided to do a phrase search for “give rest” – here are the results. I need not say anything more :-) Enjoy!

And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. (Exo 33:14) God’s presence goes with us (His Holy Spirit) and provides rest.

Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. (1 Chr 22:9) We find much rest from the book of Proverbs if we heed its warnings.

That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. (Psa 94:13) The chastened man receives rest from the days of affliction.

Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. (Pro 29:17) We receive rest when we have corrected our children – they will delight us.

And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,(Isa 14:3) Again, the Lord provides more rest from sorrow and fear.

Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: he shall throughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon. (Jer 50:34) Our Redeemer provides rest.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Mat 11:28 ) Jesus, our Redeemer, provides the rest we need.

Dear God…
May I always be looking to You
Until I find comfort in Your care
And rest from my burdens of worry
At Your feet will I lay them there

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Beside the Still Water – I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes

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Psalm 121:1-8, “[A Song of degrees.] I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.(1) My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.(2) He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.(3) Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. (4) The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.(5) The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.(6) The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.(7) The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. (8 )

We have all been through trials, haven’t we? How we deal with those trials all depends on how we prepare for them and how we handle ourselves during the trial. When you prepare for a long trip, what do you do? You make sure you have a full tank of gas, you check your tires and all the fluids in your car. Shouldn’t we be preparing for our spiritual walk in the same manner? Shouldn’t we be fueling ourselves with the Word of God and putting on the full armour of God so we can be sheltered by the Lord during our trials? Why do we make it difficult on ourselves by not doing so?

I am particularly fond of Psalm 121. I have run to this Psalm many a times. I have especially run to it as of late to find solace and my Lord’s love there because of a major trial I’m going through. This time, however, the Psalm meant more to me than it has ever meant. I noticed the different points the Psalmist had made:

1. I have to make a conscious effort to seek my help. God won’t force Himself upon me. But when I seek Him, He is there!

2. I have to recognize where my help comes from. I don’t rest in the counsel of my spouse or my friends, but I know that God is the One who will take care of my trial.

3. I realize that my Shepherd won’t allow me to falter. The more I am in the Word, the more my faith is built. Verses come to mind as I need them for encouragement. Each step is guided by my Shepherd.

4. I realize that my Shepherd never sleeps! Praise the Lord! This verse alone brings me to tears. Nothing happens that He’s not aware of. Nothing! My Shepherd is ever watching over me!

5. I have come to know that my Shepherd will keep me safe.The Lord keeps me – watches over me – provides me with shade when fiery trials are present. That shade is found when I sit quietly reading my Bible and soaking in what He has for me.

6. I trust that my Saviour will keep me from ole slewfoot and preserve my salvation. I know that everything that happens to me has been allowed in my life for my benefit so I can grow in my faith. There is great comfort knowing that my eternal security can never be removed because God is the One that preserves my soul, not me.

7. I know that my Shepherd will guide my path forever more. When I am in the Word, feeding my soul, my Shepherd can keep me from taking the wrong path in life. I cannot claim this if I am not in the Word. NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psa 119:105) and Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psa 119:11)

I must seek for my help and know where that help comes from; I must recognize that this Help will keep me safe when I abide in Him; and lastly, my Help preserves my soul – which cannot be said of any other help this world has to offer. Why not go to the Expert? Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness in my life. Teach me what I must learn from each trial.

Dear God…
I cherish my time in Your Word
That peace and comfort there lie
I keep my eyes fixed on those hills
Where my Helper comes from on High

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Beside the Still Water – Taking Heed

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BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psa 119:9)

I wanted to write about how God uses the Word to bring conviction against sin to us. However, as I read and re-read this verse, it became apparent to me that the Lord used the words “young man (or woman)” here. Why would God use this adjective to describe the man? He could have just used the word man. So why did God interject with the word “young”?

I’ve seen older Christians who have remained “spiritual babes” because they have not spent time in the Word. Taking time in the Word is work but a blessing follows. Some of us work for a living and at the end of the pay period, we receive a check. At the end of our hard work of reading and studying, we also receive a check – a spiritual check. However, our check lasts for eternity. Paul spoke on these spiritual babes. 1 Cor. 3:1-2, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” Paul likened the spiritual babes as carnal. They were still more concerned about the things of the flesh than spiritual things. After all, isn’t that what a human baby does? He cries and cries unto he is fed. He is only concerned about his own needs at this point. Not once does this baby consider that Mommy is really tired and could sleep an extra hour if he would just hold off! Paul used the right choice of words here, didn’t he?

The more we grow in the Lord and by His Word, the more we become spiritual adults. We no longer have the same struggles we did as younger believers. We’ve learned to trust more in the Lord; we’ve learned that we can never lose our salvation and we’re sure of it and can prove it from the Word; we’ve learned that God is faithful and won’t abandon us; we’ve received this peace that young Christians and spiritually immature Christians can’t understand. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phi 4:7) Suffice it to say, however, that just reading the Word is not sufficient. One has to heed its warnings, as the Psalm continues to point out. What’s the use in reading a self-help book if you don’t apply what you’ve learned, right? Applying God’s Word to our lives is the key to maturing as a believer.

I know I sound like a broken record, but God stresses over and over in His Word that we need to be IN the Word and applying it to our lives! Without it we die spiritually. That baby would die without his Mommy feeding him, right? So will the babe in Christ stunt his growth in Christ by not opening his Bible and gleaning from its spiritual nourishment.

There’s a banquet table awaiting the believer who stops to eat!

Dear God…
May I come to you each day
With an open mind and heart
Let me search until I find
Your will, may I not depart

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Beside the Still Waters – My Hiding Place

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Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. (Psa 32:7)

My father used to own a piece of land that was nestled in the woods in Northern Maine. On it was a ponded creek with a beaver’s dam, very much like this picture. He and I would sit for hours watching the beavers swimming to and from the dam doing their work. When their work was finished, Dad would go over the dam and remove one of the big branches. This would cause the current to go through and the beavers would sense it immediately. No more than just a minute or two later, you would see a head pop from near their lodge and off to work they would go to repair the damage. My father loved this hiding place and he would take me to it often. Out of all the memories I have of him, this one is the most special.

So many times I’ve wanted to run away to this place where I can hide from the day’s drama! Unfortunately, Dad sold the land to someone I don’t know – plus we live a thousand miles away. But the Lord showed me this morning that I did not need a physical hiding place because I had my time with Him. That hiding place can be anywhere and any time. I don’t even have to waste gas getting there!

As long as I am in my hiding place with the Lord, He will keep me from trouble. The Lord will bring such peace that He will surround me with songs of deliverance and escape. Deliverance and escape from what, you may ask? Our cares, trials, tribulations, temptations, depression, anxiousness, sorrows, etc. God promises to give us song! It is not natural to sing when we are sad, is it? David says he was surrounded with songs of deliverance from God. Meditating in God’s Word surrounds us with the Lord’s goodness and mercy. All through Scriptures we are lifted up, comforted, given joy, given peace and comfort. How can we not have a song on our lips when we serve such a compassionate God!?

Where is your hiding place, my friend? Have you run to it today to discuss the cares of this world with your Shepherd? He awaits to guide you, comfort you and encourage you. All you have to do is show up.

So I retreat to that haven each morning
All my cares at His feet I do lay
I leave them with Him for He loves me
As I travel along life’s narrow way.

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Beside the Still Waters – My Refuge

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Of all the devotionals I have written, this is probably my favorite.  I would like to share it with you once again over the next month or so.  I hope you receive a blessing.

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (Psa 91:2)

How I love the Book of Psalms! I have to admit that this book is one of my favorites because it has brought me much comfort during trial and tribulation. It’s as though God knew His children would need uplifting and encouragement. I’m looking forward to doing this next set of 30-day topical devotionals on the Book of Psalms. I’ve had 30-days worth of teaching and chastisement and am ready for the Lord’s balm through the Book of Psalms.

In reading this Psalm this morning, I noticed that David began with stating “I will say of the LORD.” I believe David didn’t keep this information to himself but was telling others about what God was doing for him. He was bragging on his Lord. Do we brag on the Lord? Do we share the blessings God has bestowed upon us with those around us? It’s one thing to share a blessing during testimony time in church but it’s quite different to share what God has done for you with an unsaved person.

This is especially true when we are experiencing trials in our lives and the Lord has brought us through them. Sharing our experience with other believers serves to strengthen them in the Lord. Sharing our experience with the unsaved world shows them that we are sheltered and protected by our Heavenly Father and He sees us through difficult times. Speaking of God’s goodness is a testimony to others of His love and power.

David goes on to say that the Lord is his refuge and fortress. We all have a picture in our minds eye depicting what a refuge and fortress is. Oh my friend, doesn’t that just excite the spirit within you? Your Heavenly Father provides a refuge which shelters and protects you from danger, distress or calamity, and ole slewfoot!

When I think of a refuge and fortress, I think of Christ’s teaching about building our house upon a rock. I believe David built his spiritual house upon this rock through his faith in his God. His rock was God. There are countless Scriptures which show God as the rock. One that I love is, For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God? (2 Sam 22:32) David knew this rock intimately because he ran to this rock, his refuge and fortress, in time of need. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psa 61:2)

When I was first saved, I remember reading, And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (1 Cor. 10:4) Christ is our Rock!! I noticed that the word rock was capitalized. So I did a word search in my e-Sword for the word rock to see if rock was capitalized anywhere else! At this point, I almost came unglued! Here are the verses for you! Be ready to be blessed as you see verses depicting our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deut. 32:4)

But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. (Deut. 32:15)

Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. (Deut. 32:18 )

How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up? (Deut. 32:30)

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. (Deut. 32:31)

The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. (2 Sam. 23:3) (Christ speaking to the Father!!)

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (1 Cor. 10:4)

A simple word search revealed that the word rock appears 119 times in 109 verses. Out of the 119 occurrences, it is capitalized seven times! Seven is God’s number for perfection! Christ is our perfect gift and the Jews’ spotless Lamb and sacrifice. Christ is revealed throughout the Word in total perfection! Rejoice, oh my soul! What lovely nuggets You have given to me this morning, Lord!! What better refuge and fortress can be provided than by the Rock of our salvation, the Lord, Jesus Christ!

Dear God…
I never cease to be amazed
At the truths Your Word provide
I run to my Rock and refuge
In Your fortress I do hide

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Peace

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10931647_915874575098254_2806204772266512045_oPhotography by Connie Wentworth

Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

The structure of this verse is so wonderful when one takes a few minutes to meditate on it. In so doing, we receive a blessing beyond words. The Lord God tells us that we will receive abundant peace if we love His law (the Word) and nothing will be a stumbling block or an enticement to us. Noah Webster defines the word “offend” as:

To disturb, annoy, or cause to fall or stumble.

Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.

Have there been things in life which have been a stumbling block or an enticement to you? Are you quickly able to discern what should be done? The amount of spiritual discernment one has is equivalent to the amount of time spent in the Word. The more you are in the Word of God, the less you will be coming face-to-face with stumbling blocks and enticements in your own life.

It all boils down to what your priorities are. Do you spend ten minutes in the morning doing a devotional and call that your time with the Lord? How would you like to have only ten minutes of time with your spouse or your children? Would that be enough? Of course not. How much time do you spend on the internet? Is it more than the time you spent with the Lord? I’ve been in this situation and so I speak from experience. So I ask you:

Do you spend time on the internet and neglect your husband?
Do you spend time on the internet and leave your children to the television?
Is your house a disaster while you are surfing?

If so, the internet has enticed you and has become a stumbling block. There is no peace in that. Instead, you work frantically to get caught up on your chores – you’re bushed when hubby comes home so he gets what’s left over of your personality – you rush to get dinner ready – your kids are hyper because they’ve been sitting in front of the idiot box for too long and you wonder why they are uncontrollable. Priorities – priorities – priorities.

How different your day would have been if you had reversed the roles and spent more time in the Word, then your hubby, then your children, then your chores, and finally a few minutes for the internet, if any time is left. There is much to glean on the internet, however, it is a huge time waster.

So, how can we receive the abundant peace the Lord promises in Ps. 119:165? We must love His law. You cannot love what you have merely scanned over for a few minutes a day. Don’t believe me? Think of your favorite book – how many times have you read it over? You must have read it more than once because you say it is your favorite. I remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank over and over to the point where I knew what page to find a certain passage! I loved this book – and still do. However, do I love God’s Word more?

Although we have repented and received Christ as our Saviour, it cannot end there. Ten minutes a day in His Word won’t be enough to get you to the point where you “love God’s law”! Loving God’s law doesn’t come with hours of reading either. Loving God’s law is obeying it. And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Sam 15:22b) You can read the Word all day long but if you don’t obey it, your reading is in vain, my friend.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psa 119:165) The bottom line is if you love God’s Word by obeying it, He will give you abundant peace to the point where nothing will be a stumbling block or enticement to you. Nothing? That’s what this verse says. Nothing! However, you can only claim this if you love His law and obey it!

Are you being enticed today? Are there stumbling blocks in your life? The more you’re in the Word, the less you’ll have them. It’s a wonderful cure!

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Health Conscious

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Matthew 19:20-21 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

There is so much talk of weight loss and health consciousness today. Self help books line the book shelves but yet they collect dust. I don’t hear about too many books on spiritual health, however.

Just looking around any given city today, it is easy to see that America’s citizens are overweight! A reader commented on a previous devotional on Thanksgiving saying that even America’s poor are overweight! Our country is obsessed with food and, therefore, obsessed with bodily exercise and diets. Our citizens are overweight physically and yet terribly underweight spiritually!

In today’s text, Jesus tells the young man that although he has kept the Law, to be ‘perfect’ he must sell all that he owns and give it to the poor. Jesus saw what was in this young man’s heart. The Lord could see what consumed this young man’s thoughts and his daily life … riches. The young man was ‘full’ with his riches and could not see his undernourished soul. He could not see that his riches were more important to him than total commitment to God. He craved his riches more than he craved spiritual matters.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

I can diet and exercise all I want and it will benefit my body. However, Paul said that my exercising profits little. Paul isn’t saying that I shouldn’t diet and exercise but merely saying that I shouldn’t be more consumed with this than I am with walking with the Lord!  What does profit a person is godliness – a desire to be holy as God is holy. (1 Peter 1:15)

Nothing will change me until I make a conscious decision to redirect my cravings to the One who can satisfy those cravings! Are you over eating? Try consuming your thoughts with God’s word rather than food. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) – the Lord cannot use me if I do not keep myself healthy. However, when I take that to the extreme and consume my free time with diet and exercise, I’m not allowing the Holy Spirit of God to teach me how to control my eating habits. I’m crowding out His desire to teach me with outside influences. As in everything in life, moderation is the key. If I am to be compulsive in anything, it should be following after God. I must keep my body, soul and spirit fed and maintained properly so I can be used of God and bring glory to Him.

Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

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Fear of Dying

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11004600_932942563391455_646709439641941330_oPhotography by Connie Hebert Wentworth

Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

The fear of dying is probably one of those topics that is common ground amongst a room full of people.  Fear of the unknown is a powerful thing.  It can cause people to believe in mighty strange things.  But God didn’t leave His creation in the dark, my friend. He left us with His Word which clearly outlines what must be done to have eternal life in Heaven with Him.  God doesn’t want His children to be afraid of what is to come.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

We will all go into eternity but where we go is totally up to an individual choice.  Yes, it is choice. You can choose to deny Christ’s precious salvation or you can choose to accept it. There is no other way to Heaven but by Him, friend (John 14:6). It is only through repentance and belief upon Jesus’ virgin birth, life, death and resurrection that we can call ourselves a child of God. As a result of this wonderful adoption, we can rejoice with David in today’s Psalm and with Paul when we go through that valley of the shadow of death!

1 Corinthians 15:55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

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Ashamed?

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2 Timothy 1:12b … for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Prior to salvation, my heart was never settled in this area. I had been taught all my life that good works would out weigh the bad and that the only way to Heaven was through the church. There was never any guarantees and the burden was just too great for me. I was constantly carrying what felt like a heavy 100-lb. burden on my shoulders. I didn’t know it at the time but that burden was my sin. My heart was never at peace, no matter how much I tried to deceive myself. Going to church regularly only made me feel clean on out the outside but when I got right down to business, I knew that I wasn’t clean on the inside, despite my frequent trips to confession.

The fact of the matter is, after a dear friend lead me to the Lord and showed me what the Bible said about salvation, I learned that salvation had nothing to do with what I needed to do but had everything to do with what Jesus did for me!

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

There is nothing I can do to compare to what Jesus did – no amount of good works can even come close. His blood, and only His blood, paid the debt for our sin.  When we finally realize that our own works aren’t enough, we can understand just what Christ did for us. And since Jesus did it all, He is able to keep my salvation until I meet Him.  I cannot lose it – it is not the church’s to give – it is His.

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Fearful Respect

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~Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.

~Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding.

~Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments]: his praise endureth for ever. 

~Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding. 

~Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.

~Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility.

It is quite clear that fearing God is the very foundation of faith.  However, this “fear” is not the typical definition of fear.  We are not to be “afraid” of God.  If you wonder why I use Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary for my definitions, it is because meanings of words today are diluted.  When words were translated into English at the time of the 1611 King James Bible, they were translated based upon the definition at that time.  Today, however, those same words have been “weakened” or no longer pack the punch that was intended.  Noah Webster has a wonderful definition for this fear of God that we should have.

In scripture, fear is used to express a filial or a slavish passion. In good men, the fear of God is a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience. This is filial fear.

I will put my fear in their hearts. Jer. 32.

Slavish fear is the effect or consequence of guilt; it is the painful apprehension of merited punishment. Rom. 8.

The love of God casteth out fear. 1John 4.

7. The worship of God.

I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Ps. 34.

8. The law and word of God.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever. Ps. 19.

9. Reverence; respect; due regard.

I find that you can gauge a person’s personal relationship with God by his/her attitude toward God.  If a person doesn’t really know God, this same person views God as a tyrant.  If a person is truly born again, this same person views God as a loving Father worthy of praise, honor, reverence, and worship.

My correct biblical “fear” is dependent on my position with God.  If I am His child, I long to please Him and show Him my love – it’s a natural response to what He has done for me.  If I am not born again, I am not His child but the devil’s child (John 8:44).  Therefore, I really don’t care.  It amazes me that people are quick to call God a cruel judge when His judgment stems on their choices and decisions.

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Fearless

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Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. ~Isaiah 12:2

The born-again Christian has received the most blessed gift – eternal life in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. The penalty that we deserved was taken upon the Lord Himself and we are no longer under the bondage of sin! That alone should be enough to cause the Christian to rejoice.

However, the Lord tells us that we also can trust in Him to be with us during those difficult times. God never sleeps so He is always watchful of what happens to us.

~Psalm 121:3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

We have no need to be afraid of anything in our lives because the God who loves us and never sleeps is watching … waiting … diligently protecting us. Therefore, we can rest in His care! We can be assured that the problems of the day will be handled by the Master and we can enjoy peaceful rest. In fact, this verse says our sleep will be sweet.

~Proverbs 3:24 When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.

God’s strength cannot be measured – after all, He is not a man! What better arms to rest in than those of the Lord’s?

~Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

Serving the Lord and resting in His care will put a song in your heart!

~Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

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Fears

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10845733_1059963597366497_8193251703727178533_oPhotography by Cecelia Becker

Is. 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

We as Christians are so blessed because he does not only have access to God at certain times in our lives as those saints of the Old Testament. Today, the believer has full access, 24/7, to as much of God as he desires. But does the average Christian take advantage of this? If this were an exercised privilege by each and every believer, the world would be experiencing a revival as never before.

Isaiah needed reassurance and God was quick to give it to him. What compassion our God has! God’s child is not left to a cold, uncaring Father. Not at all! In fact, the scriptures tell us that He pities us in our weaknesses. (Psalm 103:13) As we dig into Isaiah 41:10, it is a blessing to see the verse picked apart and applied to the child of God. I discovered golden nuggets I had never seen before. God starts out dealing with Isaiah’s weaknesses: fear, dismay, weak, and lack of faith:

Fear not: What a weakness this is in many believers :-( Oh that the Christian would get a handle on this early on in his spiritual life. Why was Isaiah fearful, I wondered? Old Testament saints did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as Christians do today. Isaiah must have been feeling overwhelmed and fearful of the tasks at hand. So what was God’s response to him? … “for I am with thee.” God was reassuring Isaiah that He was there for this task. What a blessing for the New Testament saint because God is always with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He never leaves us!! 1 Cor. 6:19, 2 Tim 1:14 – The Holy Spirit lives within us and is, therefore, always to deliver us from our fears!

Be not dismayed: The word dismayed means “deprived of courage.” Poor Isaiah. I have felt this way many times; especially when I am trying to give the Gospel to an unbeliever! Just look at God’s response to Isaiah’s dismay!! God said, “for I am thy God.” Nothing is too hard for God. It is He that gives us the ability to witness in His name. When we know that the Creator of all is the One who helps us in all of our endeavors, there is no reason to be deprived of courage. In fact, because the Holy Spirit resides within us, we have full resources! (Gen. 18:14, Jer. 32:17, Jer. 32:27) The word dismayed is not mentioned at all in the New Testament!! The Holy Spirit is God (1 John 5:7) and, therefore, God never leaves us (Heb. 13:5).

Our God will strengthen us. The word strengthen is only mentioned once in New Testament! However, it refers to us strengthening the brethren (Lk 22:32). I find that quite interesting, actually. Not because God won’t strengthen the Christian but because God is ever present in us to continually strengthen us. (1 Cor. 6:19, 2 Tim 1:14)
Our God will help us. Another truly interesting golden nugget in God’s word is that the phrase “help thee” is only found once in the New Testament (Phil. 4:3) and, again, it refers to us helping others. (1 Cor. 6:19, 2 Tim. 1:14) Since our precious Holy Spirit lives within us, He is, therefore, always there to help us in time of need. We don’t have to wait for a priest or a special occasion to receive His help :-)

Our God will uphold us. Notice that it is not by our own hand or might that we uphold our lives and circumstances, but it is with the right hand of HIS, God’s, righteousness! There is no righteousness in us (Isaiah 64:6). If there were, we would be inclined to believe that we can do it on our own. If there were, we would be inclined to believe that we can win our own way to Heaven! (Eph. 2:8-9) Isaiah points out that there is nothing good in our own righteousness. (Isaiah 64:6) Since we are being upheld by God’s righteousness because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, then we can be certain that it is lasting and secure!

Praise the Lord that it is ALL God that does the caring for us and not us! We will fail but God never fails! He is consistent and constant!

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Fears

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1 Samuel 1:6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. 

Fear can be likened to dominoes lined up one in front of the other. Once you allow fear to enter, you have knocked over the first domino in the row and down will come all the others, one by one. Fear not only creates havoc but reaches a point where it snowballs, then consumes us. We must confront the fears in our life, understand them and what God’s word has to say about the subject. Only then are we better able to deal with it.

FDR once said, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-” But that was just part of the quote. I love the rest of that sentence: “- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Fear can incapacitate us and prevent us from moving forward.

He was right – I have experienced fear that was nameless; I didn’t know why I was afraid but I just was. I wasn’t afraid of a particular person – but an unnamed problem. As well, there is no reasoning with fear and it will fill us with terror causing us not to take action. I have been in these shoes and, no pun intended, it is a fearful place to be – a dark place! So what does the Bible have to say about fear? Does God teach us how to deal with it? I shout a resounding “YES”!

First, where does fear come from? The Scriptures tell us:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)

When we focus on our fears and become consumed by them, we are not being sober and vigilant. Peter tells us that the devil does not play fair. Have you ever watched a nature show about lions? They do not go after the fastest and strongest gazelle. In fact, they will go after a young one or an injured one. This is how the devil works, my friend. He will kick you while you’re down. He will eat you alive. So how does a Christian overcome fear? We know that God does not desire His children to live in fear.

1 John 4:15-18 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

As we learn about our position with God and His love for us, we can realize the depth of His love. After all, He gave us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to take the penalty for a punishment that we so deserve. That is love! Once we are secure in God’s love through His Son, we must read, read, read! Reading the Scriptures opens our eyes to God’s love, His power, and how He guides His people. Do you recall all those men of Israel who were so afraid of Goliath that they all ran from him? David’s response was:

1 Sam 17:26 And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

In the same chapter, we read that when David finally confronted Goliath:

David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 1 Sam 17:48 (KJV)

This does not sound like someone who was fearful. If anyone should have been afraid, it should have been David. Yet, he ran towards Goliath! David knew his God and he knew that he was not alone to fight the battle.

Neither are we alone to fight our battles! The same God who helped David with Goliath will help us with our giants – our fears! God’s word is filled with verses of encouragement in this area. This is how we grow in the areas of being sober and vigilant – we read God’s word and glean from its pages! Is there anyone in the Scriptures we can learn from better than David?

Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalms 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 118:6 The LORD [is] on my side; I will not fear: what can man do to me?

God desires that we rest in Him. (Matthew 11:28-30) We do not have to be afraid of upcoming circumstances because we have a Heavenly Father who is on top of the entire situation in our lives! When we become fearful, we become consumed with doubts and do not think clearly. (2 Timothy 1:7)

God wants us to rest in His care. What are these problems in life that the God of David cannot solve? (1 Samuel 17:26) This same God who helped David defeat his giant will help us defeat our giants: whether they are giants with flesh or abstract giants! Not all our fears are based on issues with people. Sometimes circumstances can stir up fears. These are giants nonetheless! The bottom line is fear. The Lord will not leave us or abandon us. He loves us! (Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 Chronicles 28:20) It’s always easier to go through difficult times when you have someone who will go through those times with you. We always have Someone with us. God promises us that He will never leave us or abandon us! (Hebrews 13:5) Praise the Lord!

Once we fully grasp God’s love for us, the fears are replaced with a trust that helps us to understand that nothing happens without God’s approval. Our fears will turn into child like trust and then will we be able to experience God’s power in our lives.

Psalm 56:3-4 In the time when I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do to me. 

Friend, are you afraid? Get in the Scriptures! Do you find yourself fretting over circumstances in life? Get in the word of God. In its pages are countless verses dealing with fear and courage. Each time I begin to fear, this is where I turn. I use different colored highlighters in my Bible. The color pink is the color I’ve designed for comfort verses. When I am afraid, I can easily open my Bible and spot the pink verses. As I turn each page in search of the pink highlighted verses and read them, I remember the circumstances which led me to highlight the verse in the first place. Each one is a testimony to God’s faithfulness!

If I don’t have the opportunity to open my Bible, I pray and ask the Lord to take my fears from me. I made Proverbs 3:5-6 my life’s verses about 20 years ago and have committed them to memory. Each time I cannot open my Bible when I am afraid, I quote these verses back to myself. They remind me of those times prior where I feared my giants and how the Lord defeated each and every one! I have lived Psalm 56:3-4 and the result has been the beautiful rest Jesus Christ told us He would give in Matthew 11:28.

Read, read, read your Bible! That’s the solution to fear! Your fears will be replaced with trust.

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Fear Not!

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Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called [thee] by thy name; thou [art] mine.

Love motivates us to do great things, doesn’t it? Just how far would you go to show someone how much you love him? Would you go so far as to die for them? God is love and He did just that. He paid the price for our sin so that we would not have to. Now that’s love!

God knows us by name, dear reader! We’re not some accident of evolution but His precious creation! We are His! What comfort that brings me – what do I have to fear in life. There is nothing that can happen to me without the Lord first knowing about it. If it happens, then He allowed it and will help me! Amen? We have such a wonderful Heavenly Father – we lack nothing! Thank You, Lord!

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My Constant Companion

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10931647_915874575098254_2806204772266512045_oDeuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

The born-again believer is promised by God that he is not alone and the Lord goes with him every step of the way! What an encouragement to the spirit! There is nothing to fear because our all-knowing Father is aware of every need we have, every task that needs to be accomplished, and every step we take. How comforting!

The unsaved have every reason to fear in life because they are walking alone – they do not have the assurance of where eternity lies for them. Are you one of those, dear reader? What is stopping you from reading your Bible and finding answers? It is your responsibility to search the Scriptures. The devil does not want you to do so as this is where the power of God lies and salvation lies within its pages.

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

Mark 12:24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

I challenge you to find that peace that comes with salvation!

Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid?

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10926268_915873368431708_5186166446508399169_o(1)Psalms 27:1 – ([A Psalm] of David.) The LORD [is] my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD [is] the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

The person who is not truly born again cannot possibly have the peace that comes with salvation. Salvation is not all about what we do but what God has done for us! (John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9)  Now that would bring fear to the unsaved person’s heart … or at least, it should!

Each day brings greater and greater uncertainty. I hate to think that someone would be purposefully delaying their decision to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He is truly our only hope in this world gone mad. It is only through Christ that we can have this peace.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Without Christ, there is no peace on this earth. Nor in the life to come after. Upon death, the unbeliever will be waiting to experience the second death: going from Hell to the lake of fire for all eternity. Now that is surely something to fear! Please, unbeliever, don’t delay your decision! Please, I beg of you!

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Christ died for your sins and paid the penalty so you would not have to pay it. That was the only way because mankind could not live a sinless life and all mankind would be spending eternity in this lake of fire. Wake up! You can’t be assured of tomorrow!

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Fear’s Results

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Photography by Connie Wentworth

Proverbs 8:13 – The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

When I was a youngster, I was Daddy’s little girl.  I loved my father so much and wanted to please him. When I did things I shouldn’t, all he had to do was to look at me in a certain way and I knew that I was in trouble.  I feared my father but not in a way where I was afraid of him. I respected him – I knew that he was the head of our home and when he spoke, I listened. I also knew that if I misbehaved, I would suffer the consequences.  I learned to follow my father’s directions and to live by his standards.

So it is, or at least it should be, with our Heavenly Father.  God’s Word provides us with all that we need to live for Him. First and foremost, we must be born again (John 3:3) and become a child of the King. Then, we learn to hate what God hates and love what He loves. It’s not rocket science! :) Today’s verse tells us what God hates and, therefore, we should hate those things as well.

One can park on those four items for a while and do a study on them. :)  The word fear int he Scriptures is not always necessarily being afraid. It also means reverencing God and recognizing/respecting who He is. When you love someone, you strive to please that person. If only we kept that foremost in our minds when it came to serving Him!

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Peace of Mind

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Photography by Cecelia Becker

Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Peace of mind … commercials speak of life insurance providing peace of mind. But does insurance really provide peace? In today’s chaotic, busy and noisy world, one is hard pressed to find peace and quiet unless he retreats to some favorite spot, and even then, it is merely an outward peace.

True inner peace can only come when one is guilt-free. Sin permeates our lives every day. Praise the Lord that the penalty for that sin has already been paid by Jesus Christ – what joy that brings to the forgiven sinner! To the one who is not born again, there is no peace – there is only “fear of the unknown.” The unsaved do not have the peaceful assurance that they will spend eternity in Heaven.

Total peace can only be achieved if one is truly born again. The born-again child of God has been set free from spending an eternity in Hell. That alone lifts an enormous weight from his shoulders, amen?

The uncertainties of life are replaced with peace knowing that God is in control. As we make our requests known unto Him (Phil. 4:6), God gives us peace knowing our prayers will be answered. This is not so for the unbeliever.

(Pro 15:29) The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Oh what a blessing to be able to go to our Father, crawl up on His lap and whisper our needs into His ear! Thank You, Lord!

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Fear of the Unknown

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77508_10151935547354077_1857118933_oProverbs 14:27 – The fear of the LORD [is] a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

If people are honest, they will admit that the fear of death weighs on their minds from time to time. But to the true born-again believer, the fear is removed because the believer knows where he is going once he dies. It is like walking through a door from one room to another. God has promised us that the sting of death (the fear and the feeling of being alone) will be removed!

1 Cor. 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

But to the unsaved, it is not so. The unsaved does not know the outcome after he dies. He has no assurance of peace but only one of doubt.

To the one who has been “religious” his whole life still has no assurance.  He can only “hope” that all the good he has done will out weight the bad. It just does not work that way friend! If good works could earn you a place in Heaven, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Jesus was sent as a gift to us to receive. He is the one that paid the price for our sins. Just as you would gladly make bail for someone you love who has been arrested, Jesus did just that. He paid the penalty so you could be free from eternal damnation in a burning Hell. It’s not your deeds that will count. What will count on the judgment day is what you did with God’s gift, Jesus Christ.

Eph. 2:5-9 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Can you imagine if one could go to Heaven because of what he did on this earth? It would no longer be a gift, as the Bible clearly states (Romans 3:23 is another verse). One would boast of his accomplishments and it would be all about the person’s abilities and not about God at all. Friend, your good works are all for nothing if you are not born again. God compares them as filthy rags!

Is. 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

If by reading this, you have seen the error of your ways, read the Gospel of John three times and read about the goodness of God and His precious gift to you, Jesus Christ, and what He has done for you. Ask God’s forgiveness and repent of your sin. Repentance brings a change in one’s life. (2 Cor. 5:17) The old sinful nature will be replaced with a new nature that wants to please God. Write to me and let me know of your decision! :)

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Taking a short break

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My husband has had surgery and I’ve not had time to write.  I will resume writing next week.  Thank you for your prayers and patience. :-)

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