In The Presence Of My Enemies

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“Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”.

Psalm 23: 5

I  wonder what good food would do for me in the presence of my enemies. Am I going to pelt my enemies with spaghetti and meatballs?  Do I poke their eyes out with bread sticks? This part of Psalm 23 didn’t really make sense to me and I would ordinarily skim right past.

But recently, I saw this verse differently. The table He has prepared is laden with everything I have inherited through Christ – every spiritual blessing, every physical blessing, every weapon I will ever need, every provision I will ever need. All there – laid out for me. When I am in the presence of my enemies there I will find my weapon. The God who spoke this world into existence and created the many species and ecosystems and gave each exactly what they needed not only for survival but also to work in relation to other ecosystems for mutual survival, prepared a table for us! An orderly, lavishly decorated table with everything we have need of in the face of enemies.

When the enemy of fear comes against me, all I have to do is look at the table prepared before me and find what God has provided to combat fear – peace, truth, the spirit of power and a sound mind.

When the enemy of pain or sickness comes against me, I can find on this table the healing Christ paid for on the cross.

When the enemy of worry comes against me,  there on the table lays the  peace that passes all understanding.

When the enemy of rejection comes against me, I browse the table until I find the adoption papers that assure me that I am His.

 

All these and more are piled to overflowing on this banquet prepared by the Lord. And all I have to do is believe and feast on His provision.

 

 

picture credit: weddingbuffet.net

 

A New Start

 

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If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;

Isaiah 1: 19

When the Israelites first came out of the wilderness, before they entered the Promised Land, they encamped at Gilgal.  It was a stopping off place for the Israelites. They were no longer in the wilderness where they had been for the last forty years, but they weren’t in possession of the promised land either.

The forty years leading up to this time in Gilgal had probably been marked by frustration ( when God when?) and unanswered questions (why God why?) and may have left them wondering if they would ever get out of the wilderness. Ever feel that way? You thought you were headed somewhere but it has taken so long to get there that you have given up hope?

These Israelites  were born in and grew up in the wilderness. They didn’t learn about faith from their fathers, they didn’t learn about fighting or even hunting. Basically, their skills for survival were limited. Their skills for taking possession of enemy owned land, even less.

But God brought them to Gilgal where He rolled away the reproach of Israel, all the shame and dishonor that came from being slaves rolled off leaving them better prepared to start afresh in a new life, one they could barely imagine.

It is easy to think when we go through a wilderness time, that our live will never be good again. That we will never get out of this, never have another chance and nothing about our life will amount to anything. That this time spent in the wilderness is such a waste. But that is not the message of Gilgal.

As God cleaned up the people and began preparing them to start a new life, I picture him looking over their resumes for transferable skills that would be useful in the promise land.

First, He would see that they know how to grumble and complain.

Second, He would see that they know how to set up and take down tents.

Third, He would see that they know how to gather manna.

Not terribly useful skills for their new adventure, but then He saw it:   they know how to wander; they had walked in the wilderness for forty years.

And so, He came up with a battle plan to take their first city – Jericho.

All these Israelites had to do was walk around the city with their mouth shut until God said to let loose the battle cry! These men knew how to walk and God saw a way to use that to lead them to victory.

God would do the rest.

They did what they could do, God did what only He could do and they took possession of their first city in the new land! They were willing and obedient and God used them to take possession of Jericho.

If you are in the wilderness, don’t lose hope. God isn’t angry with you nor has He abandoned you or forgotten you. He can take what seems like waste and use it to lead you to the victory you may have given up hope of every seeing.

It’s a new year and this could be your year to take hold of what God has planned for you! Hang in there!

 

 

pic credit: relentless.taketheinterview.com

God of The Valleys

Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”

I Kings 20:28

The Arameans were enemies of the Israelites and had just lost a battle with the them resulting in a great slaughter. The king of Aram believed that they lost because God was with the Israelites  in the mountains but perhaps not in the valleys and so they planned another attack the following year.  They planned to attack in the valley. So many Arameans filled the surrounding country that the Israelites were “like two little flocks of goats”. The plan didn’t work however, 100, 000 Aramean foot soldiers were killed in that battle and the 27,000 that fled were killed when a wall fell on them.  God delivered the Israelites just as He promised.

What is the enemy that has surrounded you? Pain, loss, disease, fear, financial pressures, uncertainty about the future, addiction? Our God is a mighty God, not just in the high places of our lives – the times when all is going well, when we are at the top of our game, but the God of the low points, the times when we feel surrounded  by a vast army and all alone. Sometimes, I’ll admit, when the pain is closing in on me and I can barely walk or breath because of it’s intensity, it becomes easy to think I am all alone, surrounded like so many little goats. But this verse tells me otherwise. There is no enemy greater than my God. No enemy that He can’t send fleeing. No moment when I am alone left to defend myself all by myself.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

Psalm 23:4

What more can I say than what You have already said? You are with me, You walk by my side and You send the enemy of pain packing. Thank You for being my Shepherd and my Defender, my Comforter and my Healer and my Ever-Present Help in time of need. Thank You for the high places where vision is clear and victory assured. Thank You for being with me in the low places when pain is bigger than my vision and victory seems less assured. Forgive me for the times of doubting Your goodness. Love, Diane

 

picture credit: onebighappyhome.com

A Change of Perspective

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.

The Lord be with you all!

II Thessalonians 3:16

Yesterday, two young Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. They asked the question, “what would you change if you could change one thing about this world?”  I answered that I would change people’s perception of God, which in turn would change their perception of themselves. The story comes to mind of Gideon.

Gideon lived in turbulent times. For seven years, the Midianite invasions left them stripped of crops and livestock and Israel was starving. They cried out to God to help them. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon as he was hiding in order to thresh his wheat. Then He addressed Gideon as, “you mighty man of valor”. He continued to tell him that God was sending him to rescue Israel from the Midianites. Gideon’s first response is much like mine would have been. What me? How? Really?! But I’m…just…so…me?!

Clearly God saw Gideon differently than Gideon saw himself. Of course, God has the ability to see the ending of the story before we even see the beginning of it. But more than that, God promised Gideon that He would be with him. Then God changes Gideon’s perception of God. He reveals Himself as Jehovah Shalom – THE LORD IS PEACE. Curious isn’t it that He didn’t reveal Himself as God –  “The Great Midianite Conqueror” or God –  “The Mighty Warrior”. No, He revealed Himself as peace.

I think God knew that whatever the circumstance, whatever we are facing, no matter how awful or overwhelming it can be, the one real thing each of us needs is peace. Not peace as in the absence of war, or peace as the absence of stress or conflict, but peace as in the Prince of Peace abiding with us and in us, giving of Himself so that we can give of ourselves.

Jehovah Shalom led Gideon and his team to victory in part because Gideon’s perspective of His God and himself were changed. A nation was preserved. I wonder what could happen in our lives and our small part of the world if we could see God as He presents Himself in His word and see ourselves as He sees us and tells us about in His word. What kind of victory and healing and deliverance could that bring to our world?

Lord, all too often, I feel like Gideon, wondering how on earth am I going to do the things You have placed before me. Things that seem monumental at times and totally out of my comfort zone. Thank You for being my peace, for giving me peace in every circumstance.  Help me to see myself the way You do, to rise up like Gideon and do all that You have called me to do, knowing that You, Jehovah Shalom go with me. Thank You Jesus.

4-H Lessons

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The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord.  Proverbs  21:31

When my three daughters were growing up, they each had a horse and were actively involved in 4-H.  I was the club leader for horsemanship and taught them and other kids how to ride and prepare and show their horses in the 4-H competitions.  It wasn’t easy for me or for them and it took a lot of work.  When show day arrived, there was really only so much more I could do; it was really in their hands to simply do what they knew to do.  Their victory was out of my hands.

Likewise, my victory is out of my hands.  Oh, I try to cooperate with God in my healing.  I try my best to follow my doctor’s advice.  I take the supplements prescribed by my wellness consultants, I have identified foods I am allergic to and removed them from my diet.  I confess healing scriptures, I have had people lay hands on me and anoint me with oil.  I have done what I know to do.

And yet the symptoms remain. I feel like I have prepared the horse for the day of battle and the war is waging and sometimes, I feel like I am losing, but I know that ultimately the victory belongs to the Lord.

When I get discouraged and wonder if anything I am doing makes any difference in my pain level or my healing,  I need to remind myself that the battle belongs to the Lord.  All through the Old Testament when the Israelites went into battle, God gave them the battle plans and when they followed His plan, they were victorious.

I have to believe that the doctors and the supplements and the advice of my wellness consultants are battle plans given to me by God.  My faith, however, can’t be in these things or in my ability to follow these things.  My faith is in God and the victory belongs to Him.

Thank You for sending Jesus to take my pain, my sickness, my disease so that I can be free of them.  Thank You for the doctors and my wellness consultants and the wisdom You have given them.  Thank You that are with me, leading me to victory and being my comfort through this difficult time in my life, Amen

Do What You Can, Captain!

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.  Ephesians 6:13  Message Bible

Years ago, we had a family reunion at a beach house on Galveston Island.  My nephew and niece were about 6 years old and they were standing looking out over the Gulf of Mexico with a telescope.  They were pretending to be on a ship that had encountered stormy weather and pirates.  Their dialogue went back and forth about the things they could do, and when those failed, what they could do next.  This went on for a while and it became obvious that their ship was in trouble and they were running out of solutions.  Finally, my niece turned to my nephew and said, “Do what you can, Captain”.  I can’t even count the number of times since then when I felt out of options that I have remembered those words and had to grin.

Whatever you are up against – financial pressure, physical limitations, relational problems, bad doctor’s reports, Ephesians 6: 13  tells you and tells me that we aren’t without weapons.  We have the Word of God and it is an indispensable weapon, but only if we use it.  It isn’t too effective laying on our table collecting dust.  Neither are truth and righteousness and faith if we don’t appropriate them.  Then after using the weapons, we stand firm.  Like my niece said “do what you can, Captain”.  Then let God do the rest.  Won’t it be awesome on that day when it is all over but the shouting and we are still standing?

Lord, be the Captain of my ship.  Deliver me safely through the storm, I pray.  Thank You for the weapons You have given me – peace, righteousness, truth and prayer.  Help me to learn how to use them so that You get the glory when my ship sails to safety.  Amen.