“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
When I think of “peace,” I think of the quietness of early mornings with a cup of coffee, silence in the air, no telephone pings, no sounds of traffic, and no sounds from games on electronic devices. Even more so the peaceful tranquility within that comes with beginning a new day in some devotional time with the Lord. There are many mornings that this peaceful solitude is easy to enter into, yet other times it calls for a heart of desperation for His peace, as the trials and circumstances of this life can often linger from one day to the next. This calls for one to move past his/her immediate feelings, thoughts, and perspectives, purposefully setting one’s mind steadfastly on the Lord. Setting one’s mind to remain steadfast is to be firmly fixed in place or immovable on an object or person. Steadfastness requires the elements of faith and trust in the Lord – “trusting in Him, not on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The promise given here by the prophet Isaiah is of the Lord’s provision of peace, “You (Lord) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” This promise of God’s perfect peace is not dependent on one’s circumstances, but on the ONE who provides the Perfect Peace within the midst of the storms of life. Just as Jesus calmed the storms before the eyes of His disciples, commanding the wind and the waves (“Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” Mark 4:39), so He can quiet the hearts of you and I in our circumstances. Secondly, it is dependent on the connection between the ONE who provides this Perfect Peace and those who desperately reach out and call upon Him, placing their trust in Him to provide it. Speaking again before His disciples, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27) We too have access to this peace through the Lord’s promises for us and His spirit within us, understanding that His is a peace that surpasses all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
Today, if you sense in your spirit anxiousness and a struggle to find rest, pray asking the Lord to be your ultimate source of peace, not dependent on your immediate circumstances. Be desperate for His peace setting your gaze upon Him, purposefully setting your mind to be steadfast and immovable on the truth and promises of His word, trusting that He is faithful. He will give you His peace!
Father, You are always good, righteous, and faithful to Your children – desiring to be intimately involved in every area of our lives as we surrender to You. You are the author and deliverer of true peace to all who call upon You in sincerity of heart – desperate for Your presence and Your peace. Today, may You strengthen us to set our minds steadfast on You, knowing that as we trust in You, we will be kept in Perfect Peace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, 4and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about the peace and tranquility of a quiet Sunday afternoon nap that seems to take all of life’s cares away. I believe God created those occasions to “be still,” and we find in scripture, Jesus even taking time on occasion Himself, to be away from the crowds to become rested, refreshed, and refocused on His heavenly Father. The Apostle Paul begins here with two essential elements of our faith, first being “Justification by Faith” meaning we have gained access to God and salvation through Christ Jesus alone, and secondly, we have “access by faith into this grace (The Free Gift of Salvation – Ephesians 2:8-9) in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
Paul continues to explain that in light of these essential elements of our faith, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The theme of Suffering continually arises throughout scripture as one of God’s greatest tools for molding and shaping His people to make them more like Him, drawing them nearer to Himself. We must also notice that if we respond rightly to this suffering, God brings about glory and honor to Himself, and life transformation to us. Take note of the progression here – “Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, character produces Hope.” Paul unequivocally states that this “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” however, we must remain desperate for the Lord throughout this process in order to receive and maintain His life-giving hope.
Today, as we take small steps of obedience to remain desperate for Hope in Christ, we must set our gaze upon Him, knowing that we are “justified,” saved by grace alone not by anything we can do, and that God pours His grace (undeserved favor) over our lives daily. Being desperate for His hope means our willingness to surrender our lives to Him moment by moment, inviting Him into our circumstances, allowing Him to be our strength when we are weak, to be our refuge when we need a place to rest, and to thank Him for His faithfulness to us amidst trials of any kind.
Father, I thank You today that even in our suffering and trials of many kinds there is amazing hope found in You. You are our ultimate source of true hope by Your word and through Your Spirit within us. Help us to be desperate for that hope in You today and give us the strength to endure as You produce more of Your character in us – even if by means of suffering, knowing that You are with us in all things. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 23 is by far one of the most well-known and often quoted passages of scripture even to those who are not believers in Christ Jesus. It is one of the Psalmists’ David’s greatest writings penned within all the psalms he wrote as it depicts God as our True Shepherd – The ONE who is faithful to provide protection, safe pasture, and carry us through even the darkest of times in our lives. This passage possesses an underlying theme that is of utmost importance in our life’s journey with the Lord – His unending, “ever-presence.” God is always with us, in all circumstances, even when we cannot see evidence of Him moving, when we think we don’t “feel His presence,” when we think He’s not at work within our given situation, He has not turned away. However, it’s often you and I who have turned our eyes away from Him and focused our attention on our immediate situation, taking our lives into our own hands instead of inviting God into our circumstances. God’s desire is for us to desperately call on Him to be present with us as we walk through the valleys of life.
David writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Drawing from his personal experiences as a sheep herder by trade, David understood the protection and comfort the sheep received by remaining in close proximity to the shepherd. This applies to our lives as children of the most High God, who has promised to never leave us, nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). David knew that life would involve occasions in which he would be called to travel through deep valleys, even causing him to feel he may be coming to the point of death, yet he need not fear, because his God was with him.
You and I will journey on mountain tops and down into some dark valleys of life, at times feeling as if death is casting a shadow. Such can often be the case with prolonged seasons of trials, suffering, or waiting on the Lord, yet we have the same promise David held onto, “for you (God) are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” There are times when we will feel God’s direct presence come over us, other times will require us to simply trust in faith the comfort we find in the truth and promises of His word in scripture. Yet other times it will be the soft whispers of His Holy Spirit living within us that say, “Do not fear, I am with you. I will never leave you.” We must remain desperate for His presence by inviting Him into our circumstances moment by moment, especially when we need to be led through the valley.
Father, You are the True Shepherd who cares deeply for His flock in every way and desires to carry us through the valleys of life reminding us that we’re never alone. Thank You that I need not fear when entering those valleys because You are with me and will provide comfort and safety along the journey. Just as You have purposes for our “mountain top” experiences, You often use the “valleys” in our lives to mold us, test us, and draw us nearer to You than we could ever imagine. Thank You for Your faithfulness as my Shepherd to walk beside me especially when the valley becomes deep. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
28Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
In these final verses of Chapter 40, the prophet Isaiah is focusing in on some key themes that are essential for you and I along life’s journey. First, the Lord our Creator does not grow tired & weary nor do we understand all His ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Secondly, the Lord strengthens the weary and empowers the weak, renewing those who have put their hope in Him alone. However, found within these promises regarding our Almighty, powerful God and the strength we have access to through Him, Isaiah describes our struggle – the desperation in our frail humanity to deal with life’s struggles and hardships, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall.” Therein lies the danger of “doing life” in our own strength, frantically trying to reason our way out of situations, and solve our problems without inviting God to be a part of our circumstances, asking Him for the strength to endure. Isaiah reminds us here that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” I will say that hope requires an element of desperation as we must cast off all of our human efforts and reasoning to the wind, becoming desperate for the Lord to renew our strength.
However, selfish pride, our inner man, and our enemy would have us believe that we would be fools to lay down our guard and simply become desperate for the Lord. But we must remember that with desperation for the Lord comes a heart of humility and gratitude that brings about a peace that surpasses all understanding regardless of our circumstances. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Allowing ourselves to become desperate for the strength of the Lord, and continually placing our hope in Him, assures us of the promise that He will not allow us to grow weary (give up) or faint (be defeated) in the midst of our circumstances. From a worldly perspective it may appear that we have lost something, or someone has gained something over us, but in God’s perspective He is doing a greater work that only He may be able to completely see at the present moment, and in His time will reveal to us as we remain desperate for Him. Today, know that being desperate for God’s strength is not a sign of weakness, rather instead, a sign of maturity in your faith, understanding that He must always and ultimately be our source of power in this world where we can become easily weary and worn.
Father, this morning I thank You and praise You for being my Everlasting God and the Master Creator of all that I see. Your creation speaks of Your mighty power and of Your daily presence with me for this journey. I place my faith and ultimate hope in You today to strengthen me when I become weary and to give me Your power when I become weak in body, mind, soul, or spirit. (2 Timothy 1:7) My desire is to become more desperate for you Lord in every area of my life, so that You can demonstrate Your strength, power, and glory within me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“I will praise you with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
I will worship toward your holy temple,
And praise your name for Your lovingkindness
and Your truth;
For you have magnified Your word above all Your name.
When I called out, You answered me.
And made me bold with strength in my soul.”
Praising the Lord by cultivating a heart of gratitude & thankfulness is an essential part of the Christian journey, but even more so in our lives as believers when we walk through seasons of trials, tests of faith, or suffering. On so many occasions it is the smallest expressions of praise and thankfulness to the Lord that enable us to find the hope and strength to press on, to take further steps toward Christ our Savior, and in persevering along the journey especially when the path becomes difficult. We can derive from this text of scripture, that the Psalmist was well-acquainted with struggle and hardship as well as the Lord’s faithfulness to both hear and to strengthen him, “When I called out to you, You answered me. And made me bold with strength in my soul.”
In the opening verses, the Psalmist places strong emphasis on the praise and worship of His God, our God, the One who created us and is standing at the ready to meet our every need, and to walk with us on every step of life’s journey with Him. “I will praise you with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. I will worship toward your holy temple, and praise your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” Even on our most difficult days, we can choose to worship and praise God for His faithfulness. We can thank Him for His provision, His grace poured over our lives, His strength in us through the Holy Spirit, and for the hope in Christ Jesus He gives us to press on one step at a time.
This process of praising and thanking God begins with taking a few moments to be still and observe simple things to show gratitude for; things that may seem small and insignificant to mention, but nevertheless they begin to cultivate a heart of worship. For example, “God, thank you for waking me up for a new day, helping me to take a small step to get out of bed, to take a hot shower, to get dressed. Thank you that I have clothes to wear, for a morning cup of coffee, for family, for salvation through Jesus, and the grace, love, & forgiveness you pour over my life today.” As we continue to thank God throughout our day for things both simple and complex, large and small – we develop a heart of worship that changes our perspective and recalls God’s goodness, faithfulness, truth, love, provision, protection, and hope – both eternal hope and earthly hope this side of heaven. This heart of worship begins with the smallest of steps – showing gratitude for the person of God, for who He is and the many things He has done for us. Through a heart of gratitude and worship, God will strengthen your heart and soul for the day’s journey.
Father, I thank You that I can call out to You at any time regardless of my circumstances because You care about every detail of my life. (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7) I desire to draw near to You as the Psalmist did through offering praise and worship for who You are and all that You are in my life. May You change the perspective of my heart and mind regardless of the circumstances or challenges I encounter today, strengthening my soul with Your word and Your presence. Continue to cultivate in me a heart of gratitude and worship so that I have eyes to see Your perspective on the events of my life, enabling me to wait on You to move. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
17The Lord is righteous in all His ways
Gracious in all His works.
18The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth.
19He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry and saves them.
20The Lord watches over all who love Him,
but all the wicked He will destroy.
21My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise His holy name
for ever and ever.
The Psalmist David compares two attributes of the Lord – “righteous” meaning He is upright, acting in accordance with divine law free of sin, and of the highest standards which must be upheld. Secondly, He is “gracious” meaning to offer unmerited divine saving action leading to forgiveness of sin to all of humanity. 17The Lord is righteous in all His ways Gracious in all His works. In this comparison we see a God who is just, yet one who is compassionate and gracious toward His creation, as well as one who is not far from those who call upon Him for rescue. We must first ultimately be rescued from sin and death by accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9), as David explains, 18The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. Next, he states that that the Lord explicitly fulfills the desires of those who fear Him and that He both hears their cries for help, saves, and watches over all who love Him. 19He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. 20The Lord watches over all who love Him…”
Today, hold on to these truths, call out to the Lord inviting Him into your circumstances because He hears your plea. He is near, He hears your cry, He watches over you, He saves you in times of trouble, and fulfills the desires of your heart as your desires become aligned with His. As you walk more closely with God day by day, you will develop a deeper sense of assurance that He is with you in all things and desires you to draw near to Him in both seasons of trial and seasons of peace. In closing, David includes an element of praise as he often does in his writings which always sets his gaze upon the Lord and develops a heart of gratitude that honors God regardless of one’s circumstances. 21My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever.
Father, I thank You for being gracious toward me in everyday things and ultimately through my salvation in Your Son, Jesus. I praise Your name for You are my God, as well as Lord and Master over my life as I surrender it daily to You. Thank You for being a God who is intimately involved in my life and who hears and answers my cries in times of trouble along with my prayers in times of peace. May the desires of my heart be aligned with Yours so that I will walk in the plans You have for my life. Today, I choose to claim the promises of assurance that You are near to me and watch over me as I fear You with a holy awe and reverence reserved for no one else. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
1How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Sometimes we wonder if the Lord has forgotten about our circumstances even as we’ve prayed earnestly for Him to intervene and answer our cries for help. In fact, as more time passes we can grow impatient and our questioning of God can become quite intense as exhibited by the Psalmist David as he writes, “1How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” This is a natural response to suffering, pain, hardship, and grief that lingers over an extended period of time, coupled with the inner battle of the mind searching for both answers and relief to life’s troubling circumstances. Whether our trials are from within or from without, if we determine they have taken a position of “triumph” over us, it can be a major source of anxiety and depression in our lives as we seek peace, rest, and refuge.
However, in the midst of his struggle, David rightly responds petitioning God for help, “3Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” David’s request is that God would open his eyes once again so he may fully see the glory, hope, strength, and faithfulness of his Lord to deliver him out of or to carry him through this difficult season of his life. One anonymous author wrote, “Often times we go through Strange Delays in God’s handling of situations.” Echoing these thoughts on God’s knowledge and perfect timing, Charles Spurgeon penned these words, “God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind.” God is always working on our behalf even in times of lengthy waiting or what we may deem to be strange delays.
Setting a great example for us in times of extended waiting, even times of waiting through hardship, David writes, “5But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” There will be many seasons and circumstances, some even extended and strange, filled with hardship that will test our faith, cause us to ask God some tough questions, and wonder if we’re winning the battle or not. But as David reminds us, we can trust in God’s unfailing love, rejoice in our salvation through Jesus, and praise the Lord for even the smallest blessings He has given us today. For there is not one day the Lord has not been good to us.
Father, I first and foremost praise You today because You by nature are always good and have my best interest in mind as I wait for You. I will not always understand the lengthy or strange delays in my life because Your thoughts are not my thoughts nor are Your ways my ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) I’m thankful that You know what’s best for me and You promise to walk with me through the circumstances of my life moment by moment as I seek after You. Lord, today may I trust in Your unfailing love and rejoice in my salvation even If I’m waiting on You to move in some area of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!
“He knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure gold.
For I have stayed on God’s paths;
I have followed his ways and not turned aside.
I have not departed from his commands,
But have treasured his words more than daily food.”
If you’ve ever had any exposure to the book of Job or heard any part his life’s journey, you would probably agree that he came to know a great deal about suffering, loss, tragedy, pain, and hardship in his life – none of which he brought upon himself. The Lord allowed Satan to touch parts of Job’s life but would not actually allow him to take his life. We know from scripture that Job was a faithful follower of God – loving and obedient, desiring to live his life in every way pleasing to the Lord. Therefore, there was no evidence for the calamities that came upon his life as was assumed from the standpoint of bystanders looking on as these events unfolded. According to their viewpoint, and to add insult to injury, Job must have done something wrong to deserve all of this. Yet, Job remained steadfast, pure, and a faithful follower of his Lord as he understood that God had complete knowledge of his journey regardless of its difficulty.
In his troubles, Job also had a conscious decision to make in his mind, heart, and soul. Would he choose in humility to walk the “Narrow road of Brokenness” or in pride and resentment, “The Broad Road to Bitterness.” The Narrow Road of Brokenness called him to place his trust fully in the fact that his life was in God’s hands regardless of his immediate circumstances. The opposing Road to Bitterness that many travel when faced with life’s difficulties, can breed a heart filled with bitterness toward God and others when life’s circumstances take an unexpected turn. When suffering, pain, and hardship become an unwelcomed guest there is a temptation to turn away from God and His truth, rather than turning to the Lord for His offer of help, comfort, strength, and hope.
Along life’s journey when we’re faced with unexpected events, life altering circumstances, or even tragedy – God desires the genuine brokenness of our spirit as we come to Him as His beloved children holy and dearly loved. In Psalm 51:17 we are reminded of how much emphasis God places on a broken spirit, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” If we have a desire to continually grow closer to Christ, even in our most difficult seasons of life, it will be through the brokenness and humility that comes through complete surrender of every area of our lives to Him. This requires us to relinquish control and take small steps of obedience on that Narrow Path of Brokenness toward God daily.
Father, today I praise You because I was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) in Your image for a personal relationship with you. I am reminded that You know the number of my days (Psalm 139:16) and that my times are in Your hands (Psalm 31:15) regardless of the daily challenges I encounter. Help me to remain on the Narrow Road of Brokenness that draws me ever closer to You especially when I am faced with the difficulties and trials of this life. Remind me of Your truth and promises during those times and strengthen me with the presence of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
1This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. Jeremiah 18:1-6
There are times, seasons, and circumstances of our lives when all we can see are “Broken Pieces” from our point of view which can cause us to begin to lose sight of God, His promises, and the hope we have in Christ. We can literally feel like broken vessels, unusable – simply living from day to day, trying to survive the next storm of life, resulting in an “existence mentality” that doesn’t thrive on hope, but goes through the minimal motions of life. If we’re honest, like it or not, these are the places we find ourselves at times when unexpected seasons of trials, pain, or hardship settle in for an extended stay, interrupting what seemed to be positive forward progress in our journey.
If you’ve had an experience like the one described above you’re in good company with many others like you, who will read this and say, “I can relate.” One of the most difficult parts of this journey is when all you can see are those Broken Pieces of life and your hope seems to be at a low point. You wonder where God is in all of this, or if He can even put all of those pieces back together into something that resembles someone even close to being filled with hope and useful to Him again. In order to answer this question, we must walk down to the Potter’s House with the Prophet Jeremiah and witness an object lesson in how God is able to take the Broken Pieces of our lives and reshape us into what He desires us to be, regardless of the painfulness and hardship we experience or the shape we appear to be in along this journey called life. “3So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand...”
Today, remember that regardless of the level to which you feel marred or broken, God has you in the hollow of His hands, and He is still the Master Potter, molding and shaping your life as it seems best to him. Many times this can be a strenuous, fiery, painful process – yet if we’re patient in waiting on the Lord we will find it to be for our ultimate good, for His ultimate glory and purposes, and for the benefit of others around us. God can use our Broken Pieces.
Father, I thank You today for Your infinite knowledge of my life especially in times when what I see appear to be broken pieces. You are the Master Potter and the One who knows what is best for me as You seek to mold and shape my life for Your good purposes and for Your glory. Empower me through Your Spirit to surrender every area of my life to You, especially those areas that seem broken and need to be reshaped by You, my heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
You will often recognize the principle of “inviting God into our circumstances” included in many of the devotions I write. This spiritual discipline and practice of prayer, involving God in the daily circumstances of our lives is essential, not only in the ordinary happenings of life all around us, but especially in the midst of the spiritual battles we encounter more often than we realize. Both knowing and speaking the truth of God into our circumstances is our greatest offensive weapon which the Apostle Paul referred to as “the Sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God.” Armed with the Gospel of Peace in our souls (our salvation in Christ) and God’s truth and promises in our hearts, we are able to speak light into darkness, and dispel the lies of our enemies.
However, we often struggle with the promise that God is with us in the moment by moment circumstances of life with the same power with which He resurrected our Savior, Jesus Christ from the dead. We tend to more easily trust Him with our sense of eternal security, but find less comfort and peace in Him during what Paul calls our “momentary troubles.” Addressing this issue in his book The Full Armor of God: Defending Your Life from Satan’s Schemes, Larry Richards comments, ‘Paul is very aware of our human frailty. He knows how hard it is for us to trust God for today. Oh, we rely on Jesus to bring us safely to heaven. But somehow it seems more difficult to have confidence that He (the Lord) is here, totally involved in our lives right now…Satan and his demons can cast their fiery arrows, but there is no circumstance that can cut us off from God’s love or make God’s love for us ineffective.’
Some of the most devastating and fiery arrows of our enemy and his dark forces are the “accusations of past sins” which cause us unmerited guilt and shame, because once those sins were confessed to God, they were immediately forgiven (1 John 1:9) and also “cast as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12) - God remembers them no more. However, we can be made to feel isolated, separated, unforgiven, unloved, and unusable by God because of these “false accusations” believing somehow we remain unfit to be used for the glory, purposes, and will of our heavenly Father. This is certainly one of the great lies of our enemy used to render us paralyzed with fear, anxiety, panic, even prolonged depression – with little if any hope to hold onto.
Therefore, Paul reminds us in Romans 8, first using an emphatic “NO”, saying, “No, in all these things (in daily life, in family, in marriage, in parenting, in work, in ministering and caring for others) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” and continues to love us unconditionally, moment by moment, day by day. Paul closes this passage with a most powerful truth of assurance for us as we arm ourselves with truth for each daily battle. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are empowered by the truth and promises of God to persevere, even in times of hardship, trials, testing, and when we feel persecuted by enemies from within or without. But God, has set us apart through Jesus Christ to walk in His victory with simple steps of daily obedience, taking with us and holding onto His promises, that He will never leave us or forsake us. He will never stop loving us, and He has specific plans for each of our lives that cannot be thwarted by Satan, his powers of darkness, nor anyone on this earth who is influenced by them. We are free in Christ to walk in His power and bring glory and honor to Him.
Father, I thank you on this day for arming me with Your truth for the battle. Your promises are the greatest source of power, strength, and hope in my life moment by moment for this day's journey. If I experience moments of doubt, fear, or heaviness, may the truth of Your word and Your Spirit breathe life back into my soul enabling me to press on setting my gaze on You. Thank You that nothing can ever separate me from the love You have poured over me through Jesus my Savior. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
7Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
There are often moments along The Journey that our thoughts, feelings, circumstances, or our enemy (the devil) would have us believe that we are beyond the reach of God, even if but just for a time. For a believer, feeling out of the reach of the Savior, can be a place of loneliness and despair, a place where hope fades and the light of life grows dim. Their foundation of purpose, identity, and sense of being loved becomes fractured with doubts, fears, and anxieties of the future. There are more of us who have such experiences than we realize – the fact is we’ve just become really good at hiding these realities when we approach a friend, walk through the doors of the church, or are in a public place. However, the Psalmist David never denied us insight into his life as God allowed the curtain to be “pulled back” as he penned these scriptures regarding The Comfort of God’s Spirit.
David is essentially proclaiming the truth that The Comfort of God’s Spirit Knows No Boundaries as he writes, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Basically, David understands that anywhere he is, there God will be and already is, because He is omnipresent (God is present everywhere all the time). David’s concluding words are the most comforting in that wherever he finds himself, in whatever situation or circumstance, he says of the Lord, “even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” This statement reminds me of a children’s Bible story I learned very early on in life which still holds true today – God has the whole world in His hand; He holds you and me by His Spirit in the hollow of His hand, and He will never let us go, nor can we be apart from Him because He is always right beside us. God’s Spirit brings comfort, strength, wisdom, guidance, and direction to our lives as we seek to follow His will and unique purpose for which He created us.
Today, remember to walk in the truth of the Apostle Paul’s writing in Romans 8:37-39…
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,k neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s love for us began at Creation, continued at the Cross through our Salvation in Jesus, and now will last throughout this life and all throughout eternity in heaven. But until we reach heaven, His Holy Spirit is ever-present in us and with us through all things. Our heart’s desire each and every morning should be to say, “Holy Spirit you are welcome here.”
“Praise the Lord, O my soul; All my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Psalm 103:1-6
When the “battle” seems fierce our tendency can be to take our gaze away from God and place it on our outwardly or inwardly circumstances. There are many times when our inner battle is more fierce than our outward battle, because if our enemy can thwart our mind’s focus on the truth of who we are in Christ and the promises of God, the greater opportunity he has to defeat us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and relationally. These are all aspects of our lives with which God created us in His image as holistic beings, and with which we can be attacked by the “flaming arrows of the enemy."
In verse six of Psalm 103, David writes, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed,” meaning that when we experience any type of oppression (the feeling of being pressed or weighted down), God remains faithful to be with us, and to never leave us, continuing to work on our behalf. Things of this world such as depression, anxiety, and fear of the uncertainty of the future can cause a sense of oppression leading to deeper feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. We can, if not careful and alert, be drawn away by our feelings and emotions from the very promises of God regarding our position in Him, and His promises to go before us in order to carry out His plans for our lives through the victory we have in Jesus moment by moment each day.
Our enemy and his dark forces would surely despise us at any point claiming the very truth of God that sets us free - for with freedom comes transformation, and with transformation in Christ comes lives redeemed for His glory and purposes. Therefore, in verses 1-5 of Psalm 103, David provides a prescription for times of discouragement in the battle and along our spiritual journey. He writes, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
In this passage, we are given a key element of truth that becomes part of our offensive and defensive strategies against our enemies. This most important element of the battle is praising God, “Praise the Lord, O my soul…praise His holy name…Praise Him and forget not all His benefits.” Praising God in the midst of adversity, struggle, and the trials of life reminds us that He is still in control and is able to go behind and before us as our refuge, strength, provider, and protector in all circumstances. We are also to praise Him for He has forgiven us of all our sin, heals our diseases, redeeming our life from the pit and crowns us with love and compassion satisfying the deepest needs of our soul. Not only that, but God renews our strength in Him, “so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” As we take small, simple steps of obedience toward Christ each day, we will be drawn nearer to Him through our praise and worship of Him for who He is and for all He is doing on this day, and in our days to come. For as we began with verse six, so we end, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Therefore, today if you have feelings of discouragement, anxiety, depression, or oppression in your spirit, reach out to the Lord by simply looking for opportunities to praise Him. This will guard your heart and redirect your spirit toward Him and away from a central focus on your circumstances.
Father, today may I find opportunities to praise and worship you even in moments of trial and testing, even when my emotions and feelings shout otherwise. Thank You for being ever-present, able, and in control of all the circumstances of my life. Regardless of what battles I experience today I know you are with me and that you go before me. Help me be quick to remember all of the benefits of being Your child - forgiven, redeemed, loved, and cared for in every way. Lord, You are always good, may I praise you for that moment by moment throughout this day. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.