I love to see horses galloping across the pasture, manes tossing in the breeze.
It gives me a sense of freedom, a feeling inside that makes me feel as if I am running with them.
The power that horses display as they race each other, back and forth, can be somewhat intimidating. The scene makes me appreciate the stature of such amazing creatures of God.
Although we have thoughts of freedom when we see horses displaying their playful antics, it is the fence surrounding the pasture that keeps them within the realm of safety.
The fence is as much a force to safely protect the horses inside its structure as it is a force meant to keep dangerous intruders without. It isn’t as if the horses aren’t able to jump the fence. They have the power to do so. But, they know and respect their boundaries.
The ranch owner inspects the fences he has installed on a regular basis. Any breakdown in the stockade must be repaired immediately.
A breach in the enclosure may cause an unsuspecting animal to run loose into the pathway of an oncoming vehicle or into a field with depressions that may cause a broken ankle or leg.
The rancher also inspects the pasture regularly to make sure that there is nothing to harm his animals. He looks for dangerous weeds and shrubs and destroys them in the proper manner. Animal holes or dens are closed and the inhabitants removed to other locations. The growth and abundance of grass is checked and areas closed off if necessary. His tasks are never-ending.
Just as a rancher strives to protect his beautiful horses, God wishes to protect His most precious creation, mankind.
God has given the Ten Commandments or Decalogue as a fence of protection. Its instructions are given to protect mankind from the heartaches and pains that are found outside His fence.
Some who do not understand the purpose of the rancher’s fence may see it as a restriction. In other words, they may see it as a detriment to the exercise of freedom. However, the horses are free to roam anywhere within the confines of the fence. Due to those confines, the horses experience security, freedom from fear, and freedom from painful experiences.
The world outside the fence is not constructed to protect the best interests of the horses. The roadside does not extend mercy to the horse, nor does the landscape provide a way of safety.
Wild animals may see the horse as an appetizing meal. Fresh water is not readily supplied, and a healthy meal is not always granted. Thorns and thistles, as well as, stones and pebbles abound. These can do great harm to the horses’ feet.
In the same way, those who do not understand the purpose of God’s laws may see them as restrictive or as a detriment to the exercise of freedom. However, God has given mankind the choice of remaining within His fence or roaming outside its protective borders.
The world outside God’s fence does not operate in the best interests of mankind. The snares of Satan lie in wait to entrap unsuspecting visitors. His deathtraps shed no mercy on those who stumble upon them.
Because the refreshing water of God’s Word is neglected, thorns and thistles grow around one’s heart leaving guilt and painful scars. The bondage of sin grows deeper and its vines entwine the mind and heart of those who enter its pathway.
In contrast, God’s fence brings freedom from guilt, insecurity, and bondage. It gives liberty to live happily and joyfully within its confines. Its inhabitants enjoy the blessings of God and receive His promises of fruitfulness. His laws also give value and meaning to life.
When the horse stays within the confines of the fence, he is protected by his master. But when he leaves the confines of the fence, he is open to the forces of destruction.
When we live within the confines of God’s fence, we are protected by our Heavenly Master. But when we leave the confines of His fence, we open ourselves to the forces of destruction.
God has given us His laws “for our good” that we may lead peaceable and happy lives. It is always in our best interests to live inside God’s protective fence.
And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. Deuteronomy 6:24
Share in the conversation:
What feeling do you experience when you see horses galloping across a field?
How do fences protect the horse?
How is God’s Word like a fence of protection for you?
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbol.” 1 Cor. 13:1
In A Chance to Die, author Elisabeth Elliot speaks of an incident where the missionary Amy Carmichael had taken several of her orphanage children and co-workers through a certain village.
After Ms. Carmichael had spoken to some men who were gathered in front of a temple, one of the children requested permission to speak. She proclaimed boldly to the men “pelting them with facts as to their folly in worshipping somebody who did not love them and had not made them.” (Elliot 1987)
Such boldness from a little child could come only because of her own personal relationship with the Creator God who had shown His love to her.
Love compels us to speak in truth.
Love for these men’s souls compelled Ms. Carmichael and the orphan girl to speak of the one true God who was able to save them.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind.” (1Cor. 13:4)
Love controls our responses.
Love continues to respond in love despite the circumstances. Love seeks truth and shares that truth with others.
Love does not compromise.
Love is compassionate, but it is not compromising when it comes to the truths of God’s Word. For it is the truth of God’s Word that sets men free from the bondage of sin.
Love is kind.
Love is also kind. It always speaks truthfully in a manner and tone that is friendly and amicable.
Words given kindly are more apt to be received than those that are perceived to be harshly given.
How do our words fall on the ears of those in our audience?
Are we speaking out of love for what is best for those listening?
How can we keep from sounding like brass instruments or cymbals which do not give a proper tone?
Wisdom—It’s something we desire to have. Yet many times we find ourselves sorely lacking in this area.
Have you found yourself asking God for direction, for guidance, for the answer to some problem you are facing?
Yes, we all find ourselves lacking at times. We all seem to find the wisdom we need at the moment elusive, just out of reach, beyond our grasp.
Yet, God tells us in His Word that wisdom is given by Him to a person that is good in His sight.
For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit. Eccl. 2:26
So, what is it about wisdom that we need to understand?
A man called Job gives us some insight about true wisdom.
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28
Having a proper respect for God and His purposes will bestow upon us valuable wisdom.
It is always wise to depart from evil. In other words, always do what is right.
In any situation we are faced with, we should always ask ourselves, “What is the right thing to do?” Then do that right thing.
A wise man will always strive to do what is right.
Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark
Looking for a Bible study that is applicable to today's Christian. Check out So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome by Peggy Clark. Published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan, this study includes workbook with space for response.
Pearls endure as an essential beauty accessory because they integrate well with any fashion or style preference.
From runway models adorned with draped ropes to royalty bedecked with single and multiple strands to fashion gurus flaunting their latest designs, even fashion magazine authors and Hollywood movie stars alike realize that pearls make an impression.
“Pearls are always appropriate,” so said former first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
Known for the three-strand pearl necklace she so often wore, Mrs. Jackie Onassis’s jewelry wardrobe consisted of a variety of pearl beauties. Her lovely pearl-drop earrings would catch anyone’s attention. She wore single and double-strand pearl necklaces and bracelets as well.
Being the classy lady that she was, her wearing of pearls certainly made an impression. Mrs. Onassis didn’t flaunt her pearls though. Instead, she wore them to enhance herself.
Instead of detracting from her beauty, pearls actually complimented her in a striking way. Just do an online search of her photos and you will see for yourself.
Queen Elizabeth of England frequently wears pearls. They reflect her desire to be modest yet fashionable. They are so important to her that she chose to wear a special two-strand necklace on her wedding day in 1947.
A pearl may also be found in now-deceased Princess Diana’s tiara which has since been presented to Kate Middleton.
Pearls are desired by the lowly, the modest, the well-to-do, and certainly the well-dressed.
It is not surprising that they be found on the latest wish list.
What is it that makes pearls so desirable? Is it their beauty, their costliness, their ability to impress or to enhance?
Pearls can be found naturally or can be cultured, farmed, or synthetic.
Looking through the glass cases at your favorite jewelry store, you may find it hard to discern real pearls from those that are cultured, farmed, or synthetic.
Real or natural pearls are formed by oysters or sea mussels (bi-valves) that are irritated by a foreign object that lodges inside their shells. The bi-valves then secretes a liquid that covers the foreign object in order to reduce the irritation. This process is continued causing a pearl to be formed in each.
For centuries, divers have risked their own lives diving for oysters with hopes of finding a rare pearl.
Pearls can be man-made instead of formed naturally.
Pearl farms have been created to culture pearls. Foreign substances are forcibly introduced into bi-valves. The bi-valves are fed and nurtured in order to harvest the pearls that are formed. The production of pearls in this manner has affected the market price of pearls.
Then there are the synthetic ones made of plastic, glass, or waxed glass. These can be distinguished from real pearls by how they feel when rubbed or bit with the teeth.
Natural pearls remain the most desired.
Natural pearls remain the most desired albeit costly. But due to pearl farming, anyone at any economic level can afford to purchase a set of pearls for their very own. Their value, however, is determined by their size and shape, as well as, several other factors. The price of cultured pearls can range in the hundreds, but natural pearls can range in the tens of thousands.
Pearls are mentioned in the Bible.
Pearls are also mentioned in the Bible. Their value is highlighted in the following verse:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46
Another Scriptural reference is in Matthew 7:6:
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Why would anyone want to cast a precious string of pearls into the hog pen?
Why would anyone want to take what man had risked his life to find just to throw it to swine?
Pearls evolve from a painful insertion of a foreign object. For a bi-valve, this may be a grain of sand or grit that somehow finds its way inside the bi-valve’s shell.
Small bits of matter can create great pain.
We realize that small matters can sometimes create the most pain. That pain causes oysters to create pearls.
It is these painful moments in our own lives that also somehow become pearls. Man-made hurts inflicted upon us cause suffering that we find hard to endure. Self-inflicted wounds are the hardest to bear.
However, when we take those pains to our Lord and Saviour, He covers them with His balm of Gilead. As our Great Physician, he has a way of turning our sorrows into pearls.
This doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that takes time. God’s grace continues to cover us as we go through the healing process.
In fact, it is actually the struggles of life that form Christ in us.
Pearls are our memorial stones.
As Joshua took up 12 stones out of the midst of Jordan for a memorial, so our pearls are a memorial unto us. They remind us of the victories that came as we allowed Christ to help us face each obstacle, fight each battle, and choose to love in spite of any circumstance.
Then why would anyone take the pearls that have been formed through such pain and cast them before those that do not understand their value?
Why take our pains and sufferings and present them to those who would only turn and use them against us?
Christ’s instructed His hearers not to cast their pearls before swine.
Swine were considered unclean. God’s chosen people were not to partake of these animals. However, Jesus is not talking about animals but uses these words as descriptive of those who ridicule the Word and ridicule those who follow the Word.
The unclean are those who do not understand or appreciate the value of our pearls.
It is those who do not care to learn the lessons we have been taught and who will not grasp the hope that we have found.
We have to be careful with whom we share our “pearls.” There are those who we can enlighten with our pearl formations, but there are those who will only use those formations to turn and destroy us.
Our pearls are precious. They are our gifts of victory from our Saviour.
True pearls glow from within. The more they are worn, the more they glow.
Our pearls glow from within with the glory of God.
They are a reflection of His faithfulness to us.
Cling to your pearls. As Jackie Kennedy Onassis said, “Pearls are always appropriate.”
Wear them proudly, but humbly. May others with impressed with Christ in us. May they be drawn to His beauty.
Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark
Do you have a favorite strand of pearls or a favorite set of pearl earrings?
Have you ever thought of your troubles and trials as a process to making pearls?
What “pearls” or victories through Christ do you have as a memorial?
May your pearls be used to bring glory to Christ. Remember the pain that the oyster endured to bring forth a pearl. Remember,also, the pain that Christ endured so that we could be victorious over our troubles and trials.
Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome. Published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.
It has taken its toll upon those who only see Christmas as an opportunity for person gain. Greedy for profits some merchants entice with promising advertisements that bring little to no satisfaction. The misled find themselves with lots of purchased merchandise but little joy.
How do shoppers find themselves depressed when they have striven so hard to please?
Was not that the doll that Susie wanted so desperately?
Didn’t Jack say he wanted that new red bicycle more than anything in the world?
Was Billy not pleased with the new shoes?
And why did Tammy just throw her game pieces across the room?
What happened to Christmas?
Did it come to steal and to take away?
Is it an imposter wrapped up in fancy wrapping and frivolous bows?
Why bother to celebrate it anyway?
What is Christmas?
Yes, people may argue about its meaning. Yes, people may refuse to celebrate it. Yes, people may use it for personal gain.
But, what is Christmas?
Christmas is not about getting what we want for Christmas.
It’s not about trying to please everyone with our fancy gifts.
It’s not about decorations, trimmings, light displays, or glitter.
It’s not even about the Christmas play.
Christmas is a memorial.
It is a day we set aside to remember the selfless action bestowed toward mankind by the Creator of the universe.
It is a remembrance of the day that the Almighty Creator God stepped out of Heaven and came to dwell with mankind. Placing Himself in the womb of a virgin woman, He became flesh and dwelt among us.
Christmas is a celebration of the very moment that God manifested Himself in the flesh.
Mary cradled Him. Joseph loved and cared for Him.
The shepherds told everyone about Him. Simeon lifted Him up and prophesied concerning Him.
The angels glorified Him. Anna thanked Him. The wise men provided for Him.
But Herod tried to kill Him.
Emanuel, God with us. That is what Christmas is all about. It is God with us.
Christmas is a remembrance of the day He came, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger.
His presence in the flesh lasted such a short time, only 33 ½ years. But God was with us.
He chose to come.
He chose to come even though He knew the cross would be his pathway back to Heaven.
He chose to give Himself.
And that is Christmas.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
November will soon be gone, and December will be upon us before we know it. This month, as we set aside time to give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us, may we not be quick to forget those sacrifices that many have made on our behalf.
Although November 11 is set aside each year to remember our military veterans, it seems these brave men and women who have given their lives are too swiftly forgotten in the bustle of activities that soon follow.
The brave heroes of the past include such great military men as General Douglas MacArthur, General George Patton, and General Dwight Eisenhower. These men led forces against the evil of Hitler, Mussolini, and General Tito’s aggressive and cruel regimes.
Others have also fought for the freedoms of peoples.
General George Washington led a small group of untrained and ill-equipped volunteers against the overwhelming forces of Britain’s highly trained military and their hired elite forces secured from Germany. His bravery and the men and women who fought with him led to the establishment of the United States of America.
Lieutenant Colonel William Travis led a small group of 182 men and women from Texas against the mighty forces of the Mexican General Santa Anna. Although they failed to win this battle, their sacrifices stirred the hearts of the Texan people to prevail in freeing Texas from the Mexican government. Afterward Texas was granted the privilege of becoming part of the United States.
As We Set Our Tables This Year
As we set our tables this year and share our blessings with those we love and care for, may we also be reminded that the ability to share those blessings without fear of bondage and confinement, was paid for with the blood of courageous men and women whose sacrifices we must never forget.
Do you have a member of the military sitting at your table this Thanksgiving?
Do you have a family story to tell of sacrifices made on behalf of your country? community? family?
What plans have you made to give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon you and your family?
God’s Instructive Command Concerning Communicating to the Next Generation
Communication of historical events and family values is the glue that works to hold a family, generation, and culture intact.
When cracks begin to develop in a particular society, it comes many times as a result of the breakdown in the passing down of values, principles, and history from one generation to another.
Cooperation within certain people groups takes place because they share the same language, same values, and same vision.
When people within a certain group have different languages, cultural values, and diverse visions of their future, division and other destructive events begin to happen.
Psalm 78 enlightens us as to the importance of passing down the knowledge of historical events and the values and standards of a society.
Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
We are instructed to yield our hearing to a particular instruction that the Psalmist is about to impart.
I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
The Psalmist instructs us in the art of communication.
The Psalmist is about to instruct us in the art of communication to the next generation. He is letting us know that he also received this type of communication from his forefathers.
We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children.
The Psalmist is revealing how the LORD began this type of instructive communication Himself.
The LORD Himself gave us an example.
The LORD established a testimony in Jacob. In other words, He set an example.
God’s dealings with Jacob and his family reveals God’s pattern in dealing with those whom He loves.
Then the Lord appointed a law. This was an instructional command to be followed.
God appointed the law or instruction that was commanded to our forefathers that they should make these things known to their children. This type of instruction was to be perpetual, continuously handed down to the next generation.
The purpose for this was threefold:
To show the next generation the praises of the LORD
To show God’s strength and power
To show the wonderful works that God had done
That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children.
This was to be a generational task of revealing God’s threefold purpose in communicative instruction. Fathers are commanded to share this knowledge with their children. Those children were to continue in this pattern of sharing with their children. And so the pattern was to continue down through the ages.
That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.
The effects of following God’s instructive pattern is evident.
Following in this pattern would yield several results. The effect is seen in the above verses. That the generation to come might:
Set their hope in God
Would not forget God’s works
Would keep God’s commandments
Would not follow those whose hearts were not right with God
As we share with our children what God has done for us in the past, the telling of stories from our forefathers as to how our native countries came about, the opportunities that have been afforded us because of God’s intervention, and our thankfulness for His provisions even in the most difficult of trials, our children will give ear and desire to follow the God that is truly worthy of all our praises.
When we fail to follow God’s example in communicating the truths of history, we deprive the following generation of the knowledge of God and his intervening in the affairs of men. We then reap the results of a stubborn and rebellious generation that will not set its heart aright and follow God’s commandments.
Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark
A quick look through the Scriptures reveals the many times that the children of Israel were reminded of God’s deliverance from their captivity in Egypt, the mighty miracles performed at the Red Sea and the Jordan River, as well as many other such events. Are you telling your own stories of God’s deliverance from your captivity in sin and the many miracles that God has performed for you and those around you?
Our forefathers wisely placed the Ten Commandments in visible areas in each school classroom. Does your classroom have these commandments visibly placed?
Do the Sunday School classes where you attend have the Ten Commandments visibly placed?
What are you doing to continue the instructive pattern of communication that our Lord gave to us?
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Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome. A preview of this title is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Ask for it at your local Christian retailer.
The thought processes within a particular group of people control the direction in which that particular group or society continues. Although outside factors may influence one’s thinking, every person has the ability to choose the direction his life will take. His lifestyle is just an outward expression of what resides in his heart.
“For as [man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
Outward expressions of man’s heart is seen in his artistic, musical, architectural, philosophical, and scholastic tastes and achievements (or lack thereof).
Past societies are known by their cultural achievements. Some societies have given mankind a better way of living than was previously known. Others, however, have left destruction and decay in their aftermath.
In order for mankind to be able to change the culture into a “kinder, gentler” one, mankind must be willing to look into his heart and see the darkness that dwells there. He must be willing to allow the Light of God’s Word to enter in and enlighten him into what is possible when he yields to the precepts set in God’s Word. As he ceases to be conformed to the darkness of this world and yields to the transforming power of God’s Word, he begins to realize that his life has purpose and meaning.
That purpose is to glorify God and influence with godly seed the society or culture of which he is a part. The biblicly-enlightened man is to influence society, but he can only do this if his foundation is firmly established. Otherwise, he will be influenced by the society around him.
A look through the eyes of history will show how societies rise or fall, how their thinking processes dictate their treatment of others, and how their peoples prosper or suffer great cruelty under their governmental leaders.
There are marked differences between those societies and governments who allow the absolutes of God’s Word to influence their decisions and those who turn away from or neglect the absolutes of God’s Word.
How do we confront the culture of darkness for the betterment of mankind?
It may seem like a lost cause for a man to think that he is able to turn a society from the path of darkness and chaos. However, light penetrates the darkness no matter how small that light is.
Individuals with vision have changed the course of history. That course, however, has been determined by those individual’s worldviews. Whether a godly worldview or a humanistic, man-centered worldview, individuals have had great influence on the society around them.
Jesus, as an individual, exerted such a profound influence over His disciples that it was told that they “turned the world upside down.” These men stood strong in their determination to spread the gospel. Although highly persecuted, their stand for the gospel has influenced mankind ever since.
Paul was used mightily by God in confronting the evil in his day. Since his time, many other men and women have had a profound impact on their societies: Jonathan Edwards, George Washington, James Madison, Billy Sunday, Dwight Moody, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clara Barton, etc.
We also remember others who have had great influence on their societies: Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Huxley, Kant, Darwin, and Marx.
The above individuals’ influences have continued to impact societies today. Some for good, some for evil.
However, as individuals, we also have an influence for good or evil in our society. So, how, as individuals, can we confront the evil of this world? How can we make an impact that leaves society better for our having existed on this earth?
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:13
Speak with sound words.
First, we must speak with sound words. Those words convey the intent of our hearts. If our minds and hearts are set on glorifying God, we will choose our words carefully and purposefully.
“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
In meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
2 Timothy 2:23-26
Our words can make a deep impression in the lives of others. The way our words are expressed can make a difference in how receptive others are to those words.
Speak with words composed of truth.
Next, our words must be composed of truth.
“These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates” (Zechariah 8:16).
Our words should be composed of truth whether within our own communities, in the judgment halls, or in conversation with other nations and peoples.
Stand in truth.
“Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).
Then, we must stand in that truth.
No matter how the tide of opinion may try to sway us from our stance, we must uphold truth. It is truth that will bring liberty to those caught in the lies of deception.
Uphold truth to society.
Finally, we must uphold truth to society. Truth is not based upon man’s opinion but firmly upon the Word of God. The foundation of truth must be firmly established. It is the absolute upon which societies will be judged. It is also the glue that holds a nation together. Without it, all that is left is a society in chaos.
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).
Copyright 2016 Peggy Clark
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Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome. Available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan; Amazon; Barnes & Noble; and other retailers.
Whether rain, hail, wind, snow, or sleet, storms are a part of our world. Cool air masses meet with warm air masses and the weather becomes unsettled.
Storms, especially wind storms and blizzards tend to drive away everything that is not nailed down. Flood waters lift and carry items with such force that it simply leaves one in amazement at the sight of the devastation left in the flood’s aftermath.
Freezing temperatures from snow and sleet can leave the unprepared outdoorsman with frostbite or worse.
That‘s why we must be prepared for the arrival of storms.
If we know that a storm is coming, we won’t be caught off guard.
In the same way, when spiritual forces of light meet with spiritual forces of darkness, struggles develop. The conflict that follows can leave our world in turmoil.
Troubles and trials that ensue cause us to cast off idols that cannot bring deliverance. Thus, we are driven to the refuge of the True Master.
Storms, both physical and spiritual, will come our way, but they need not find us unprepared.
Prepare for the storm’s arrival.
Storms can be gentle, but many times they are a source of great danger. Knowing how to prepare will keep us from being overly apprehensive when a serious storm is forecasted.
Adequate preparations may not prevent damage but will keep us from being caught defenseless.
Don’t let the storm find you unprepared.
Results from dangerous storms may include downed power lines, fallen trees, structural damage, water-covered bridges, tainted water supplies, and even mud slides. Being prepared in the event such things may happen will find us thankful if and when they do come our way.
Keeping a fresh supply of batteries for items such as flashlights, lanterns, and radios will keep us supplied temporarily with the light we need to see and with updates we need to know concerning changing weather patterns.
Since batteries do not last forever, kerosene or oil lamps are a great resource to have as a backup for flashlights. (Just be sure to have a safe reserve of oil stored properly.)
Some radios have the ability to use solar power as an alternative in addition to battery or electric power. Consider those when making your next radio purchase as radio may be rendered the only means of communication with the outside world.
Storage of fresh drinking water is important not only for cooking purposes but also to keep us from becoming dehydrated.
Canned goods that can be eaten cold can help us survive hunger if the storm is prolonged.
Extra blankets and quilts help with warmth during power outages. They can also be used to cover freezers and coolers to keep items colder for longer periods of time. (Be sure to remove them when the power returns.)
A first-aid kit may be purchased at many department stores. One could also be assembled using a tool box, a lunch box, or a sturdy plastic shoe box and items purchased from local pharmacies or department stores. Pharmacy staff are very helpful in giving direction for compiling items that would be useful in such a kit.
Your insurance company or local fire department may be willing to check for areas of weakness and give advice for strengthening your home. This should be done before any storm is expected.
Spiritual storms that come our way may also leave us vulnerable if we are not prepared.
Physical storms and storms of nature can cause our faith to be weakened. Troubles and trials, though not of our making, may attack our faith; but being prepared with the gospel of peace will give us guidance when it is needed.
Having the Word of God embedded in our hearts, maintaining a right relationship with God and others, and keeping our fellowship with Him intact will arm and shield us against oncoming spiritual danger. Response time is critical and can avert disaster; therefore, we should especially know how to answer the trial of temptation when it comes knocking at our doors. Jesus Himself was faced with temptation, but handled it successfully with the Scriptures.
Stay in the place of safety.
Do not leave an area of safety when the storm hits.
If lightning strikes while you are outdoors, do not be the tallest object in an open area. Stay close to the ground instead.
During a tornado warning, a ditch or other low-lying area may be the safest place to occupy if a storm cellar is not available.
If flooding occurs, get to higher ground as soon as possible. Do not travel over water-covered roads or bridges. You cannot see when a roadbed has been eroded or washed away.
In windy conditions, stay away from windows that may break and send glass flying in your direction.
Speaking encouraging words to those around you will help to keep everyone calm and composed.
Encourage yourself in the storm.
It is especially important to stay in the place of safety when spiritual storms come our way.
Staying in God’s presence by prayer and reading His word will encourage us in our deepest trials.
Acknowledging the truths of God’s Word will keep us from making poor decisions that can jeopardize our safety.
The fellowship of God’s people will also give us encouragement as we navigate through the problems of life. Sharing our burdens with others will uplift us and cause others to pray on our behalf.
Remember that the trying of our faith works for us patience and brings us to greater maturity in Christ.
Encouraging ourselves in the storm gives us a hopeful outlook and confidence in God who is able to deliver us and/or carry us safely through any situation or circumstance. Our trusting attitude can strengthen and encourage those around us.
Be encouraged in the knowledge that Christ is our buckler and shield, our counselor and our friend. He will never leave or forsake those that are truly His.
Clean up from the storm.
When the storm is over, the clean-up process begins.Depending upon the severity of the storm, this can take a day, a week, or even months.
If there is major damage noted, the insurance company should be notified as soon as communication is restored. Carefully follow the insurance company’s directions and keep detailed records and receipts as clean-up is being completed. Taking photos of the damage may help you in your communications with the insurance agent.
Rubbish and other debris that litters sidewalks, yards, and roadways must be removed. Broken branches from trees may still be dangling in the air from overhead so be careful to look upward before proceeding to clean up those particular areas.
Remove debris to the proper designated areas.
Be aware of fallen power lines that may be tangled in any branches or trees that have fallen and do not go near them. Conspicuously mark off that area so that no one approaches and is endangered. Fallen power lines are a life-threatening situation that must not be ignored. Call the power company immediately and let them know of the situation.
Repair what is damaged. (Check with your insurance company first. They will probably want to do an assessment before you begin this process.)
Check outdoor lighting, gutter systems, sprinkler systems, and fencing for damage.
Look at the roof to see if any shingles have been broken, cracked, or blown away. Don’t forget to check animal kennels or animal houses for structural damage.
Inside the home, be sure to check the ceiling for wet or damp spots indicating a possible roof leak. Feel around window sills and dry any wet areas where rain may have entered.
Replace what is necessary to be replaced. (Check with your insurance company first.)
Hopefully, there will be no major damage from the storm, but sometimes items do have to be replaced. It may be an area of the roof, an electrical appliance, or a broken window. Take care of these items as soon as possible.
Roofing, structural, and electrical systems are the areas that should be considered first. Deficiencies in these systems will cause additional damage or may even cause a home to be destroyed if not taken care of properly. Hire a professional to take care of needed assessments and repairs.
Taking the proper steps will bring order out of chaos.
The disorder caused by a storm may seem unsurmountable, but taking the proper steps in the proper order will bring order out of the chaos.
Storms brought on in our spiritual life may also seem chaotic. The disruption to our lives may cause us to want to throw our hands up in despair. However, we have a Heavenly Father who is able to bring order out of our chaotic lives. We should seek Him first before we do anything else.
We may need to seek God’s forgiveness, ask for His cleansing, or just praise Him that He is in control of our situation.
Know that storms are not always brought to us because of sin. But if sin has brought our trials to us, the proper place to lay our sins is at the feet of the only One who is able to cleanse us and forgive us and restore us to full fellowship with God our father. That One is Jesus Christ.
Life happens to everyone. Just ask the Lord what His will is for you during this time of unsettledness. Follow His guidance. Be obedient and follow His direction; it may be that He is getting ready to bring a great blessing into your life.
Assess the aftermath.
After any storm it is important to assess the aftermath. Yes, the insurance company will do an assessment, but you should also do your own.
List any and all damages.
Take an adequate assessment.
What was or will be the cost to repair the damages?
What will insurance cover? What will be your responsibilities and financial expenditures?
Where are the weak places? Are walls, floors, and roofs safe?
Was the first-aid kit adequate or does it need additional items?
Is my environment healthy at the moment? What will need to be done to prevent mold?
Are the remaining trees safely standing?
Are my neighbors okay? Especially be concerned for elderly neighbors.
Retain a resource list for future help during and after a future storm. These names and phone numbers may come in handy at a later time.
Just as we do after storms of nature, we also need to do an assessment of our spiritual lives after we have battled the storms that have attacked our minds and hearts.
Are we where we need to be with God?
How can we better prepare for the next crisis?
Did we have and are we continuing to have a strong devotional time each day?
Was and is our prayer life intact?
Are we in full fellowship with our Christian brethren? Do we have areas of unforgiveness and bitterness hidden in our hearts? Does restitution need to be made to anyone?
Have we allowed things that are not pleasing to God to creep in and distract us from doing His will?
Have we truly sought God for His assessment of our lives?
Prepare for the next storm.
After recovery from the storm, we must begin preparations for future storms that may come our way.
Look at yours and your insurance company’s assessments.
Ask yourself a variety of questions as you look at each item listed. These will help with your preparations for any future storms.
Why did the damage happen? Were any areas of danger overlooked? Have structures been maintained properly?
Have trees been planted, placed, or trimmed properly? Is there anything I could have done to minimize the damage?
Then begin to shore up the property where needed.
Store up extra supplies especially in areas where particular items were needed or depleted during the last storm.
Prepare for the future day when another storm will come.
Experiencing storms helps us to prepare for future storms. Do not take lightly the lessons that have been learned from previous storms. The safety of family members is of utmost importance. Take your assessment and prepare for that future day when another storm will come.
Recovery from spiritual storms may take moments or may take years depending upon the particular storm and our relationship with God.
Strengthen your spiritual life by attending church services, revival meetings, conferences, and Bible studies.
If you do not have a regular devotional time, begin one. Engage family members in this endeavor.
Prepare a place where you can pray without interruption. Spend some time meditating on and memorizing Scripture. Encourage your children and reward them for memorizing Scripture also.
Get professional Christian counseling if needed. Some storms require additional help. Do not be afraid or ashamed to seek this help if needed.
Job was prepared when the storm came his way. He was able to trust in God even though he had lost all physical possessions and all of his immediate family with the exception of his wife.
His thoughts may have questioned the reasons for the storm, but he did not question his salvation nor his future in heaven. He did not throw his hands up in despair, did not entertain thoughts of suicide, or retain bitterness against his friends.
However, the storm bought him closer to God than ever. He gained new knowledge of God and His attributes.
He also received blessings of restoration and encouragement from family and friends. To those around him, their perception of God was greatly changed.
Who knows how many people were and are still being changed because of the way that Job weathered the greatest storm that any man could endure.
Are you prepared for the storm? Are you prepared so that your testimony will remain in tact just as Job’s did?
Even though we may have the peace of God due to having received salvation, we may find ourselves to be experiencing difficulty when it comes to peace with God.
What is Peace?
Peace is having a settled mind, an untroubled heart toward another, not being anxious in the presence of another, feeling safe and secure, and experiencing the joy at being at one with another.
It is being able to fellowship with another without any hindrances or feelings of guilt, remorse, or unforgiveness.
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.
What is peace of God?
God the Father sent Jesus Christ His Son in the flesh to die on an old rugged cross so that you and I might be reconciled to Him.
That reconciliation is possible only because of Christ’s death at Calvary. When we received His gift of reconciliation, we were given the peace of God. God’s wrath was turned away from us and His mercy was bestowed upon us.
What is peace with God?
But to maintain peace with God after salvation, we must continue in the faith grounded and settled. We have been given the peace of God, but we must remain in a right relationship with God to have peace with Him.
When a man and woman join themselves in holy matrimony (a covenantal relationship), they are given the blessing of the law in that they are married and are considered as one.
Having the peace of that legal relationship, they are able to build a house, make purchases, and enter into business contracts, etc.
However, just because they are married does not mean that the man and his wife will always be at peace with one another. The relationship must be maintained. They must work at keeping a right relationship with each other. They must walk together, talk together, dream together, and share in each others’ wishes and desires.
When one spouse grows cold in the relationship, it unsettles the other. Insecure feelings creep into the relationship. Hearts become troubled. They are still married, but they are not enjoying peace with one another.
However, when the two renew the relationship with each other, peace ensues. Insecurity leaves and their hearts are at peace.
It is the same in our relationship with God, our hearts grow cold at times. We move away from our relationship with Him. Our hearts soon become insecure and weary. We become unsettled.
God woos us back into a right relationship with Him. When we allow Him to draw ourselves back to Him, our fellowship is renewed. We are at peace once again with Him.
Our conscience does not bother us when we feel His presence. We enjoy hearing His voice. We long to feel Him tug at our hearts. We engage in conversation with Him daily. That is when we have peace with God.
Do you have the peace of God?
Is your heart troubled?
Do you have the peace of God in a covenantal relationship (salvation)?
If He came for you today, would you be ready to go with Him to heaven?
If not, you can have the peace of God by asking Christ to come into your heart and cleanse you from your unrighteousness.
Do you have peace with God?
What if God interrupts your day with His presence?
Does true preaching given from the pulpit bother you in any way?
Are you reading the Scriptures daily?
Is there anything that is hindering your relationship with Christ?
Confess those areas to Him and allow Him to cleanse you and to renew your fellowship with Him.
Then you can truly enjoy having the peace of God and having peace withGod.
Dusting off the dried clumps of sand from her face and hands, she began her trek in the direction of the rooftop when suddenly there was a deep voice from behind her.
Turning she saw a gray-haired man with a fishing pole and a bucket in his hand. “Good morning, Miss. Fine morning isn’t it? And where did you come from?”
“Are you all right?” he said as she suddenly fell backward. “You must be hurt. Here, let me help you.”
She had not previously noticed the dried blood that covered her right arm and leg. Nor could she have seen the bruising on her face and other parts of her ravaged body.
As if shaken out of a daze, she began to weep uncontrollably. Memory now came to remind her of things she could not now bear to remember.
“Here, here, let me help you! You mustn’t cry. I won’t harm you. Stay still now while I look at your arms and legs.”
She nodded affirmation although the tears just would not stop.
The gray-haired man patiently checked for cuts and broken bones.
“Well, my lady. You’ve got some nasty cuts and bruises. Hopefully, you have no broken bones, but I don’t want to run the risk of injuring you any further. Will you trust me to run to the house yonder and bring round a truck? I won’t be any longer than I have to, I promise.”
She lay back and rested. Finally, help had come. Maybe Providence was on her side.
“In my distress, I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.” 2 Samuel 22:7
We may ask why the journey of life had to take us down a particular path, why we were left alone to struggle through the waves of trials and temptations that sought to overcome us, and why it took us so long to get to a place of safety and respite.
Storms come as unwelcome disturbances in our lives.
Those disturbances present themselves in a variety of ways. They may consist of a ripple, a splash, a flood tide, or even a tidal wave.
When our vessels filled with the lower pressures of mediocrity, complacency, and sinful desires meet with the higher pressures of holiness, compassion, truth, and situations not of our choosing, struggles develop.
Our response to God’s trimmingmakes the difference as to whether our sails are filled with the wind and prosper spiritually or are ripped from their spars and toppled in defeat.
Sometimes our response of grasping on to whatever lies before us drowns those who are trying to liberate us from our muddy waters.
We resist the command of submission to someone else’s control and find ourselves drowning in despair.
It is when we look upward instead of downward that we catch a breath from God and see His hand reaching out in deliverance.
No matter how surprised we may be at the onslaught of the storm, we find that each disturbance does come with its own special blessing. Those individual blessings may be hidden at the moment, but they are there just the same.
We are strengthened as we struggle through the swelling waters and find that God is on the tip of every resounding wave, inviting us to come and walk with Him on the water.
We discover that His is the only Voice that has the power to calm the storm in our souls.
“[B]e not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10).
After the storm we wake to find that the rubble in our lives has been loosed and carried far out to sea. If remnants remain, they are only there to remind us of our deliverance from that which sought to destroy us.
Our outlook is freshened and intensely set on things that are of greater importance than the mediocrity of the past.
Our vessels become known as seaworthy, able to withstand the storms of life, and able to lead others through troubled waters.
Why does it take us so long to get to a place of safety and respite?
It takes as long as it takes for us to realize that God is our Life Preserver, the Tugboat who draws us into His safe harbor and can give us calm waters in the midst of any storm.
It takes just as long as it takes for us to accept this truth.
And accepting Truth is how we survive the storms of life.
Suddenly she was awakened by the earth eroding underneath her. A loud roar sounded in her ears. Warmth surrounded and tugged at her body, slowly pulling her back into the sea from whence she had come.
She must resist its deadly grasp. Now awakened, she slowly began to pull herself forward once again. This time she was able to make progress although every movement caused her body to wreak with pain.
Finally, turning over on her backside, she let the sun shine fully on her face. The aching inside told her she must have help and soon.
“Help, I must have help,” she repeated to herself but her body gave way to fatigue before she could muster enough energy to cry out.
Once again the forces of nature or some power from above cried out to her. Seagulls screamed in increasing volume desiring some morsel of food as if to say, “Get up and give us,” but she had nothing left to give.
Startled, she was awakened to a new day. A new day in all its splendor. She embraced its warmth and drunk in its laughter. Birds sang cheerily and a butterfly fluttered about her head.
She reached out and touched one of its wings. It danced away toward the morning rays of sunshine and out of her sight.
What was that in the distance? Peeking out above the trees that lined the shore was a gray rooftop. She listened intently for sounds of life and heard dogs barking in the clearing just ahead.
Hope sprang up in her bosom even though she found herself struggling to get up from the ground.
Why does our journey of life take us down a particular path?
Why are we left alone to struggle through the dark waters of turbulent forces as they try to overcome us?
Overwhelmed by successive waves of circumstances beyond our control, our inclination is to grasp hold of whatever lies before us.
Human nature digs our fingers in deep and splits our fingernails in anxiety. We exert all our energies in resisting the forces of change.
Our first reaction is to turn back to the past, to that which we are familiar, until we are entrapped in its undercurrents. The old man gently tugs and teases, whispering in our ears his deceptive voice. He wishes to erode our faith. Our foundation of sand quickly vanishes away.
Panic sets in as we realize we cannot stand against these forces alone. The intensity of the storm obliterates our view. Blinded, we cannot see the shoreline just ahead. Moment by moment our strength weakens as the undertow pulls at us.
Crying out for deliverance, we strain to hear an answer. None is heard except that of the vultures as they rob us of that which we hold to be of value.
Yet, the voice of resistance is heard from somewhere deep inside reminding us that we must resist the temptation of giving in to that which wishes to destroy us.
Rays of hope peek through the dark clouds allowing faith to swell up in our hearts.
Hope then gives faith the surge that is needed to overcome the depths of our trials and preserve us from drowning in despair.
Hope befriends faith and says, “Believe. There is a tomorrow.”
He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.
With each grasp her fingers slid downward, backward, away from her goal. Every part of her body ached, resisting the desire inside her to continue forward. Gasping for her next breath, her body heaved with every ounce of strength she had left.
Warmth spread over her body, teasing her to give way to its unceasing pull. Again and again its tongue surrounded her, tugged at her, wooed her back into its grasp.
It did not want to let go.
Suddenly, with strength from some source beyond her own, she reached forward one last time before collapsing on the shore.
Foamy water continued to nudge her body, gently lifting and then leaving her behind as it gathered itself once again to make its attempts at retrieving her.
She was alone on the deserted shore. She and this substance that had carried her for days and now refused to let her go.
Morning came. Sunlight shone down on her sand crusted body, warming her with its intensity as if to say, “Arise my child! Arise!”
But her body did not want to arise. Every bone cried out to be left alone. She could hear the sound of the waves crashing behind her, roaring out their call for her return.
She had made it! She was alive! She had found somewhere, but where was she? At this point, she didn’t care. All she knew was that she was alive and that her body was lying on solid ground. Relieved, she closed her eyes, exhausted.
Many of us have experienced the joys of walking on the earth, alive and well, when suddenly a storm blew into our lives.
That storm, with all its intensity, found us struggling to catch our breath. It may have been the death of a spouse or the departure of a loved one or a turn of events at our workplace.
Whatever the cause of the storm, we were left paralyzed with fear and anxiety about what the future held for us.
Overwhelmed by the turbulent forces of our situation, we felt pounded by the everyday events that were well beyond our control. The reservoir of our faith soon ran thin. We quickly depleted all the strength of our own resources.
We felt alone on a deserted shore.
Somehow we made it through, though exhausted. That’s when we felt the earth beneath us again.
Looking back at the onslaught we encountered, we are left wondering how we ever made it through alive.
We may ask why the journey of life had to take us down this particular path, why we were left alone to struggle through the deep waters of each wave as it overcame us, and why it took us so long to get to a place of safety and respite.
However, at the end of the storm, we knew we were still alive. And at that single moment, that was all that mattered.
When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God. 2 Samuel 22:5-7a
A loud screeching sound jolted me out of bed this morning. I grabbed a flashlight as I went out the door and hurried to the chicken pen.
There I encountered an intruder inside the fence. I could not open the pen for fear the inhabitants would fly out and I would be spending the rest of my day trying to retrieve them.
Faced with the intruder, I found my weapon of choice would not work as it should. Tearing back to the house, I retrieved another weapon of choice.
Sadly, I had to work with this weapon for several minutes which allowed a clean getaway for the intruder, but not until he had devoured my beautiful black bannie rooster!
I searched diligently for the intruder but to no avail. How did he get into the pen? I thought that the double-layer fortified fencing was sufficient to deter any invading varmint, but not this sly devil.
He had obviously found a vulnerable spot somewhere and slid his white wirey-haired body through my fortification. There was no tear in the fence or any hole dug underground. Oh, he was a sly one for sure! He had to have crawled through an opening between the rafters.
Then I thought about how the demonic forces of Satan seek for the vulnerable places in our lives. Just when we think we have ourselves sufficiently covered by the armour of God, the evil one finds an area of vulnerability and seeks to devour his prey.
Yes, he is a sneaky one. Just as the intruder must have went to the top of the fence and climbed through an upper opening, Satan goes for the upper parts of the body. He seeks to invade our minds with his damaging thoughts. He taunts and rages in whispers and lies.
His teeth sink into our thought patterns and seeks to devour us with his unsavory words. We must be armed with a working weapon of choice.
That weapon of choice is the Word of God. God’s words will defeat the intruder’s attack upon our minds. But we must be ready! We must be armed with the Word! We may never have a second chance.
Several chicks hatched at our place several weeks ago. The mother hen has always been faithful to hatch out several batches each summer. This time, however, she would not leave the nest. We were not concerned about this because other mother hens helped with taking care of feeding the chicks and teaching them the skills they would need to survive.
This week another chick hatched from the leftover eggs. Even though its birth was delayed, it has shown itself to be healthy and active.
Such faithfulness to remain steadfast in mothering is amazing to me. The new life of a chick hung in the balance but this mother hen was determined to sit on the nest until she felt no more life underneath her.
How many times have we given up hope for a lost soul? How many souls have been left struggling in the spiritual birth canal? How many souls were on the pathway to life just as we decided there was no use?
This mother hen did not give up hope and new life is peeping underneath her wings. May we not give up hope as we see new life coming forth from the earthly pits of sin and deceptiveness. I have heard it said many times, ‘Where there is breath, there is hope!’
God is able to do exceeding above all we could ask or think! Let’s keep asking Him for those “new chicks” springing forth in new life.
The biblical book of Judges tells us about a woman named Hannah. She was married to Elkanah and resided in Ramathaimzophim.
As if it wasn’t difficult enough to explain where she lived, she also had to deal with the fact that her husband had another wife. That wife wasn’t too friendly either. She was jealous because Elkanah loved Hannah more than her.
The fact that her husband loved her more didn’t help Hannah’s problems either. She wanted children and the other wife had plenty. To make herself feel better, the other wife was always rubbing it in. The other wife was able to give Elkanah something that Hannah couldn’t — children.
Talk about being depressed, Hannah had a lot to be depressed about — or so she thought. Why couldn’t she rest in the love that her husband showed to her daily? No, Hannah couldn’t rest. She wanted children!
Yearly, Elkanah took his two wives and all his children to Shiloh to worship and to sacrifice. Yearly, she endured the trip and the provoking of the other wife. She finally had had enough. Children was what she wanted. She realized that the only way she would ever have children was to cry out to the One who could provide the miracle she desperately desired.
Into the temple she went. Crying out to God, she poured out her heart’s desire. Her burden had become so great and her heart so heavy, she fell before the altar with her face in her hands. She would not stop praying until she had an answer. She was serious.
As she continued pouring out her supplication, she caught the attention of the high priest. In her earnestness, she had not cared who noticed her. But he, having not seen such earnestness in so long a time, thought she had to have been drinking. So sad that the man of God did not have the spiritual discernment to realize she was a woman in spiritual travail.
As she defended her actions, the high priest told her to go in peace “and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.” Hannah left that day with confidence that God had heard her prayers.
Today our churches are without children. We have barren wombs but no desire. The ‘lost wives’ of the world mock and torment because they have a multitude of children led away by the great deceiver. We must find our tears again.
O for children to present to the Lord! O for fruitful wombs bearing precious souls for Christ’s glory! May our burdens be heavy for lost souls and may we find ourselves weeping at the altar where the Lord awaits our petitions.
May we have an abundance of Samuels. Yes, praise God, Hannah had a son. But not only did she have a son, but God opened her womb for many more children. She was able to rejoice over seven while her adversary’s womb waxed feeble.
Hannah is a picture of the church today. She is being persecuted by those who are jealous of Christ’s love for His own. But as the church cries out to God, precious children are being born. The arrogancy of the proud will be brought to nought. The children of the Most High God will prevail. May we follow Hannah’s example and cry out to the LORD who is the only One who is able to deliver us from barren wombs.
There are several tools that we may use to help us study the Bible; however, they are no replacement for the Bible itself. One can study the Bible alone and with the aid of the Holy Spirit be successful in attaining knowledge and wisdom. Never underestimate the power of the Written Word.
Sometimes it helps to add some tools to help us get a job done faster. Those tools assist us as we work toward the goal of repair or correction or as we build on a new foundation or continue a construction project. Every mechanic needs a good screwdriver and every plumber needs a good pipe wrench.
One tool that will greatly assist the Bible student is a concordance. A good study Bible will contain one in the back of the book. It will list a variety of words in alphabetical order and give references where those words are found in Scripture. However, this type of concordance is limited due to space.
I personally use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. There are many others but this is the one that I prefer. It lists every word in the Bible and gives every reference where a particular word may be found. This is very helpful when you are trying to find a particular verse but can only remember a part of it or can’t remember the reference. This particular concordance contains a Hebrew dictionary for the Old Testament and a Greek dictionary for the New Testament so that you can also find the meaning of any given word.
Another useful tool is a good Bible dictionary. Some are called Pictorial Bible Dictionaries. These give definitions of words, character studies, information on Bible places, archeological findings, etc. The pictorial ones obviously include many pictures of places and things. Use discernment with these as they are not a replacement for the Scriptures.
Other tools that may assist us are Bible atlases, Bible maps, Bible handbooks, and commentaries. A good map can help us understand where a story took place, learn about the terrain of an area, and the distance one had to travel between locations. Commentaries can give us another person’s insight on a particular scripture passage.
Just remember that these tools are available to assist us in our study not to become a replacement for our study of the Bible itself. If there are any discrepancies, then we must not let these tools sway us from the truth of the Scriptures. Remember, God’s Word is truth and mankind is fallible.
May your knowledge of the Bible be increased and your skills in teaching others the Word be maximized as you put these tools in use in your daily Bible study time.
My grandson asked me a question about a story in the Bible which prompted me to think on the story of Gideon as told in Judges 6 and 7.
He was puzzled about the event because he did not have sufficient background information to understand the reason for the conflict and subsequent deaths of so many people. As I continued to think on the story long after our discussion, I thought about how pertinent this story is to today’s dilemma with terrorism.
You see, the people of Israel had wandered away from God’s guidance, direction, and plan for their lives. Their continual disobedience brought a division between God and His chosen people. As they continued to defy His commandments, God allowed them to follow their choice to go their own way.
Sometimes, as stubborn children, we too have chosen our own way, and we have also reaped the consequences of our poor decisions. This was just the case with Israel. Their poor choices had brought them into conflict with the neighboring countries including those of the Midianites and the Amalekites. They also fell into conflict with the countries of the east.
Continued poor choices led the Israelites into a downward spiral of fear and dread of those who had become their enemies. Their previous boldness became cowardice as they hid in silence instead of facing the enemy and protecting their homeland. They sought protection in the dens of the mountains, in secluded caves, and man-made strong holds instead of seeking the God who had previously shown Himself strong on their behalf.
The nation’s economy took a setback as each of the enemy nations came and took possession of the land with the purpose of destroying it and all its increase. The food supply was cut off as the agricultural industry was destroyed. Unable to feed oxen and asses caused the transportation and engineering industries to be destroyed as these animals provided the power to move, transport, and carry equipment, food supplies, and other necessities.
Immigrants continued to pour into the nation bringing their idolatrous worship and disrespect toward the citizens. The nation was under siege. Finally, in desperation, the Israelites cried out to God. In response, God sent a prophet to remind them of what God had done for them in the past and how they had chosen to disobey and disrespect His desire for them.
But as they continued to cry out, God visited a man named Gideon who was secretly threshing wheat in an obscure place beside the winepress. This would have been in the vineyard where grapes would be harvested later in the year. Gideon hoped no one would suspect he would be there since the grapes would not be ready at that time of the year. Being desperate, he sought to winnow enough wheat to feed his family before anyone noticed his whereabouts.
The messenger from God struck up a conversation with Gideon. In that conversation he let Gideon know that God was with him. The messenger described Gideon as being a mighty man of valor. Gideon asked the typical question many are asking today. “[I]f the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? [A]nd where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of?” In other words, If God is with us, then why is all this happening to us?
The LORD’s response shocked Gideon. “Go, in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?” (Or maybe it was not such a shock. Did not the Scripture say, “H]ave not I sent thee?” I wonder if God had dealt with him before about this issue.)
However, God told Gideon He had sent him. That is of utmost importance. This was a call directly from God to Gideon. Go, and do something about it!
“Go, and do something about it!” That is what popped into my mind as I pondered the story after speaking to my grandson. We talk about the terrible events happening across the land. We ask ourselves and others, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about it?” We say. “This shouldn’t be happening.” We question, “How can people be so wicked to do such terrible things?” We even say a quick prayer, “Lord, do something about it!” But do we really ask God why with the intent of knowing why and with the intention of correcting whatever may be the problem? Are we truly asking God to do something, or are we just speaking the words? Just how concerned are we about what is happening?
If we are truly concerned, then we must “Go and do something about it!” We must go to God and seek repentance for ourselves and for our nation. We must seek His direction as to what should be done to correct our waywardness and disobedience. We must beseech Him to raise up leaders that can lead us in the right way. We must humble ourselves and ask for the deliverance that only He can give.
Yes, we must go to God, because He can do something about it. We must once again listen to the man of God as he brings God’s message. We must seek God’s intervention for the deliverance from our enemy’s evil tactics. We must battle for God’s will to be done no matter the excuses, fear, or lack of what we perceive as financial cost.
Gideon’s excuses were of no consequence to God. Our excuses are of no consequence to God. For God is God and when He is with us, we shall smite the enemy “as one man”.
So how did Gideon deliver Israel? He did it with trumpets and lights. Trumpets sounded out the message that God was present. Lights showed His presence through His chosen men. The enemy had no choice but to run.
So lift up your voice like a trumpet. Break out of your comfort zone and allow the light of God to shine through you to others so that they may see your good works and glorify God in heaven. Proclaim God’s words and be a vessel though which others may see God.
Remember Gideon’s words, “The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.” It was God’s words and Gideon being willing to stand that made the difference. This is how we “Go, and do something about it!”
“And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.
When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.”
David took notice of those whom he described as in the way. The in the way’s were giving off such a sweet savor of life that David desired what these people had with all his heart.
Who were these in the way’s? David left us a description of them in the first eight verses of Psalm 119.
2) Walk in the law of the LORD
3) Keep God’s testimonies
4) Seek God with their whole heart
5) Do no iniquity (sin)
6) Walk in God’s ways
7) Keep God’s precepts
8) Keep God’s statutes
9) Respect God’s commandments
10) Know God’s righteous judgments
David said that the in the way’s were a blessed people. Their way of life set an example for David to follow. Their influence obviously affected David in a tremendous way. As a young man, David began writing psalms, singing praises to God, and living a godly life.
1 Samuel 13:14 tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart. He greatly desired a heart like God’s; and he definitely touched God’s heart in a special way because God chose him to be king over His people.
Truly, as David became one of the in the way’s, his life was blessed beyond measure.
Summer is the time that creepy, crawling things appear. Snakes, grass fleas, ticks, and even ants become nuisances to our day-to-day activities. Although small, these creatures can wreak havoc in our lives. Just spread out a picnic cloth and see how many decide to come and visit.
Scripture tells us that it is the small foxes that spoil the vines (Song of Sol. 2:15). Small animals bite at the foundation of the vine and damage its structure preventing nourishment from reaching its outermost parts where fruit is produced.
In the same way, it is the small sins that seem to overtake us as individuals. The little things manage to get in our way and spoil our pleasurable moments. These small sins prevent the fruit that draws sinners to our Lord from being produced.
“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour.” Flies are little flying creatures that can land on the ointment, get caught in it, and die; thereby, causing the ointment to spoil. The ointment thus being spoiled is devalued and cast aside.
“[S]o doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor” (Eccl. 10:1). What we tend to take for granted as acceptable may possibly turn out to be the sin that so easily besets us and destroys our reputation and testimony. What may be classified by some as a small sin is still as harmful as any other sin because it cuts off the spiritual nourishment to our branches and renders us fruitless.
Just as steps must be taken to rid ourselves of those day-to-day nuisances of pests and other creepy creatures we dislike, we must also take steps to rid ourselves of any sinful thoughts or actions that displease our Lord.
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (I John 2:28). No one wants to be caught with little foxes biting at their heels when Jesus returns. We want our vine to be running over with fruit that brings glory to Christ.
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:12-14
We are not to let sin reign or have control over our bodies. We are reminded that our bodies are mortal. In other words, our bodies will one day die.
We are not to obey sin or yield to its desires. Nor are we to allow our bodies to be used as instruments or tools of unrighteousness which results in sin or a sinful lifestyle.
Instead, we are to yield to God because in Christ we have been raised to new life and are therefore to be separated unto Him. Yielding means that we give God the right of way. We yield to His commands and to His desires for our lives. Our instruments which are our eyes, hands, feet, ears, mouths, etc., are to be used in service to Him.
As we yield to God, we are no longer under the dominion or control of sin. When we were under the law, we had no desire or ability to abstain from sin.
However, after we have been saved by Jesus Christ, we are set free from the control of sin and are able to live righteously because of the grace given to us by God. Because of that grace bestowed to us, we have the power to abstain from sin.
Therefore, sin shall not have dominion over us because we have experienced the power of God’s grace working in our lives.
This is the liberty that only the saved in Christ can experience.
Amy Carmichael was an Irish missionary who spent her life ministering to peoples in Asia. She founded the Dohnavur Fellowship to minister to children who were rescued from the dangerous streets in South India. Her last years were spent writing and ministering from her bed.