What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, July 27, 2017

God is My Refuge

The Bible tells me, repeatedly, that God is our refuge. That is the theme of Bible study this week, and it is appropriate for me as I am struggling with feeling hopeless, helpless, afraid, and anxious because things in my life are not going the way I want them to. Those are troublesome feelings and possible indicators of an approaching depressive episode. There are just things going on right now for which I have no control leading me to frustration and anxiety.
However, if I turn to God (or if I don’t), the Lord Almighty is my refuge and protector. He’s an ever-present help in times of trouble whether I acknowledge and give praise, or wallow in self-pity. Psalm 46 explains that help, and I especially like verses 1-3:
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
Nothing like the catastrophes described above are happening in my area of the world, but the emotional world inside (and in my environment) are in turmoil. It’s a different kind of trouble, but it is still trouble that is infecting my thoughts and feelings. And God will help. As a matter of fact, He is already helping!
I do have some responsibilities if I want to see, recognize, and acknowledge God as my refuge. Foremost, I need to be looking for God at work. I also need to cry out to Him and reinforce verbally the truths of Scripture. I also need to be willing and able to tell others of the refuge He is providing for me. I can’t do those things if I stay focused on me, and my problems.
The passage I chose to memorize for the topic, “God is My Refuge,” is Psalm 91:1-2, because it clearly says God is my refuge (and fortress), but also reminds me to be calling out to Him and acknowledging that fact.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
A long time ago I memorized Psalm 91:11 and it brought me encouragement.
For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
However, in adding verses 1-2 to the picture, I now know why He will give His angels charge concerning me: because He is my refuge and fortress and His angels are His soldiers manning the castle I’m unassailably ensconced within.
Today, I will take notice of God’s protection around my thoughts and my feelings and praise Him for the help is has given, is giving, and will give me as I journey through life on this earth. Doing that should keep depressive thoughts and behaviors at bay and even give me glimpses of hope in the midst of this very present trouble.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

God is Trustworthy

I’ve known this concept for a long time: God is trustworthy. However, I have still struggled with not feeling like I can trust Him. This lesson has helped me see the many reasons and ways that David trusted God in the midst of all kinds of attacks and struggles. Psalms 31, 40, 55, and 56 address David’s trust issues and shows why he trusts God in every area of his life.
After noting many situations and David’s thoughts about those situations in Psalm 31, I noticed a pattern in the circumstances that prompt David to trust God. The circumstances (which were mostly the same in the other Psalms from this week’s study) encompassed physical, mental, emotional, and social situations in which David felt besieged. In some of the other Psalms I noticed that David was convinced he could trust God in situations where he was under military attack. David relied on God’s protection to see him through. Psalm 55 specifically addresses a situation where a very close friend of David’s betrayed him. David calls him a traitor (vs. 12-13). David is clearly heartbroken by the friend’s turning against him. David realizes that there is no one but God who is completely trustworthy to look out for his interests.
I’m not saying we should hold every friend in doubt and fear of betrayal. This passage just brings home the fact that mere men cannot always keep their words or their promises – whether out of treachery or just because they are human and make mistakes. People will, in general, fail us at one point or another just because they are human and fallible. However, God is not human and He will keep His promises He’s made to us. We can and should trust Him with every aspect of our lives.
I chose to memorize Psalm 56:3-4 this week because one of my go to emotions is fear.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in Thee.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?

I also like what C.H. Spurgeon had to say about Psalm 56:3-4:
It is a blessed fear which drives us to trust. Unregenerate fear drives from God, gracious fear drives to Him. If I fear man I have only to trust God, and I have the best antidote. To trust when there is no cause for fear, is but the name of faith, but to be reliant upon God when occasions for alarm are abundant and pressing, is the conquering faith of God’s elect. Though the verse is in the form of a resolve, it became a fact in David’s life; let us make it so in ours. Whether the fear arise from without or within, from past, present, or future, from temporals or spirituals, from men or devils, let us maintain faith, and we shall soon recover courage. [Emphasis added]

One of the questions in the study asked, “What other aspects of the psalmist’s life were touched because of his trust in God?” I answered simply, “All areas. Relationships, health, emotions, physical protection and well-being, soul condition, spiritual condition, mental health, and vengeance upon enemies.” David’s faith and relationship with God blossomed because God has proven Himself worthy and shown His care and love for man. My trust in Him has also been growing as a result of new recognition that I can trust God for every aspect of my life – especially when I am afraid.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

God's Righteousness

We all have heard about God’s righteousness, and I don’t know about you, but I often equate that with His judgment. Of course, God knows right from wrong and only participates in what is right. Of course, He judges things when they are wrong, including people who are doing wrong according to His edicts and declarations. However, His righteousness also shows up in His mercy.
I am struck with how His mercy takes into account His laws and how we break them. Yet, He provided for the fact that mankind would break His laws and not follow through, not being able to only do righteous things. As a matter of fact, He’s the only one who can perform righteous deeds all the time. He knew that, and He knew He would have to judge, but He loves us and desires us to be in fellowship with Him (see last week’s blog article), so He provided a way to exercise His great and powerful mercy toward us. His mercy is demonstrated by the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.
Our faith is what determines our righteousness. Scripture gives us the example of Abraham’s faith: “Then he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).” Our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way we are made righteous in God’s eyes.
God’s righteousness is part of His character. He’s always been and always will be righteous. He’s the only one who exists with righteousness without the help of another. We need faith in Jesus to make us righteous. For us, we need both God’s judgment and His mercy to be made righteous. Without judgment there would be no need for mercy, and without mercy there could be no way for us to be righteous before God.
Psalm 103 talks about His judgment and His mercy being opposite sides of the same coin as far as our righteousness goes. I memorized verses 6-8, which indicates these things about God’s righteousness:
The Lord performs righteous deeds,
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made know His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
I also liked Psalm 71:2:
In Thy righteousness deliver me, and rescue me;
Incline Thine ear to me, and save me.
May you celebrate your deliverance through the recognition of God’s righteousness. May you see that it’s only by His judgment and mercy that true righteousness can be extended to us. May you draw nearer to God because you understand and appreciate His righteousness.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

God Desires Us

God created us to be in fellowship with Him! That’s an amazing thought. He longs for us. He wants to be close to us. Sometimes I get caught up in having to obey Him, which He does want, and lose sight of the fact that He loves us immeasurably.
As I studied several Psalms this week, I saw just how much God desires us. Psalm 8 speaks to that in verses 3-6:
When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers,
The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;
What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?
And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?
Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God,
And dost crown him with glory and majesty!
Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands;
Thou hast put all things under his feet,

God considers man to be worthy of dominion over His kingdom here on earth. He could have given that responsibility to angels, cherubs, seraphim, or some other created being, but He didn’t. He gave it all to us. He esteemed us worthy. He wanted us to be in communion with Him in such a way that we would know what He would have us do to care for His creation. No one gives that much responsibility to someone He doesn’t love or trust. What I find amazing is that even though mankind has screwed up and allowed the destruction of the planet, He still gives us authority to manage His world. He has high hopes that mankind will eventually get it right – even if it’s not until the Millennial Kingdom when He comes back to make everything right.
Another Psalm passage that spoke to me was Psalm 27:4-10 which talks about how He protects us and hides us from our enemies because He desires to keep us close to Him. I especially like Psalm 27:8 and have memorized it. It tells me that one of the first commands he gave us was to “Seek His face.” That is a primary desire of His – that we seek to be in His presence. The verse says,
When Thou didst say, “Seek My face,” my heart said to Thee,
“Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
He wants us in His presence! So much so, that He told us to seek Him and to be face-to-face with Him.
When I think about His desire for me to be with Him and communicate with Him I am overwhelmed by His love for me. Figuring out exactly how I can do what He asks and seek His face is a challenge, yet in studying the Psalms as I’m doing now, I feel closer to Him and I feel cherished and valued. It gives a new perspective to my place in the world. The God of all power and glory values me. That knowledge can give me peace like I’ve never felt before.