Have you ever been changed by a song?

I have been forever changed by a song. But it wasn’t a song that I was singing. It was a song someone else was singing. How can we not be touched by the song that Pastor Saeed was singing? Did you hear his words from his letter?

“Yesterday when I was singing worship songs, the head of my cell room attacked me in order to stop me from praising but in response I hugged him and showed him love. He was shocked.” (Pastor Saeed’s complete letter on SaveSaeed.org)

Pastor Saeed is singing in the darkness of an Iranian prison. But more than that, do you see the huge amount of power that came from that song of praise?

Do you see the Supernatural love, the Agape -unconditional, no-strings attached love? The ‘even when the Love is rejected and thwarted’ the love that keeps on loving kind of love? Do you see the power to react to great trial – with Love?

I think of the song that we sing often in our churches,
“Amazing Love, How can it be?
That You my King should die for me?…”

this Amazing Love is a ‘death to self continually’ and a ‘poured out, ‘caring about others’ kind of Love – this is God’s Love.

But don’t you see? Because of an attitude of praise in Pastor Saeed, we have a huge illustration of the Power of praise. Power to love with God’s love and not our own feeble love.

Doesn’t it make sense now why God would speak to us in His word to,
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you my become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” Phil 2:14-16.

‘…in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.’
Isn’t it incredible that that is how the Lord appears to Pastor Saeed? He writes in his letter,
“I have often seen the Shining Morning Star in the darkness of this prison and I have seen His amazing and supernatural works. Oh, how beautiful is seeing the light of the Shining Morning Star of Christ in such evil darkness.”

And for us here in the States, God gave us a picture of all that beauty of the light in the reaction to an attack, with a hug! God’s grace and God’s love was extended through a man who wasn’t complaining about his situation, he wasn’t arguing, he was praising the Sovereign God who is in control of everything.

This is what the Lord is showing me again, there is huge power in praise.
Ps. 144 tells us,
“Blessed be the LORD my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle-
My lovingkindness and my fortress, My high Tower and my deliverer, My shield and the One in whom I take refuge…”

We are prepared for battle by training our hands and fingers on instruments as well, that lead us to praise the One who is able to help us!

“I will sing a new song to You, O God:”Psalm 144:9.

It’s not a ‘new song’ like we think, it’s a new attitude.
No arguing, no complaining – a new attitude of praise!

That is the message to the church. Remember, the church is just us ‘whoever’ people,the ‘whoever believes in Him’ people, not the buildings –

Maybe if we had an attitude of praise we would even see beauty in our dark world, perhaps our cup would become half full instead of half empty. Perhaps if we had an attitude of Praise we would believe for our children and our families and not fear,

“Psalm 144:12, “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style; that our barns may be full…”

that we would see the wonderful hand of God in everything that comes our way.And through the good, the bad, and even the ugly – that we would praise Him still and have the power to shine for Him…

whatever befall.

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Asking, seeking, knocking… no answer?

Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever felt that you ask, you seek and you pray, but there seems to be no answer. Time and time again?

What about all of the American church, not even mentioning the church around the world praying for a young American pastor, Pastor Saeed. Surely we have all heard his story, certainly we have prayed. Pastor Saeed, a servant of the Lord felt called to share his faith in Iran and build houses for orphans. He was arrested in September of 2012 and sentenced in the end of that year to 8 years in the Evin Prison. One of the harshest prisons in Iran.

Does it seem like God is not hearing? Does it seem that God doesn’t care. From our human standpoint, that is often how it seems – and we continue to pray.

What is God doing? Certainly He is in control.
There is a story in the Bible about unanswered prayer.
Hannah in 1 Samuel 1, prayed for a child. Day after day, Hannah prayed for a child because her husband’s other wife, (not a good idea when you read this story in 1 Samuel, certainly not God’s idea to have 2 wives) Peninnah had many children and tormented Hannah. The story is told, Hannah agonized and prayed for a son.

But in this story, we can get some insight from God. He was looking for a man to deliver His whole nation from their wicked ways. God waited. Hannah at first prayed, ‘give me a son so I can get out of my plight’, but as time went on, Hannah began to pray according to His will,
1 Samuel 1:11, ‘Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life,…”‘

Hannah bore Samuel,who was that man God used to deliver a whole nation from their wicked ways.

A letter from Pastor Saeed successfully got outside the walls of the Evin Prison and was posted on social media on February 22, 2013. This letter is written from his heart to the church.
All who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are the church.
It can be read in its entirety at SaveSaeed.org.

He writes of the conditions,
“The conditions here get s very difficult that my eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky. Various (bullying) groups, the psycological warfare, almost a year of not seeing my family, physical violence, actions committed to humiliate me, insults, being mocked, being confronted with extremists in the prison who create another prison within the prison walls, and the death threats…”

But Pastor Saeed speaks as a shepherd, as that is what a pastor is, a shepherd. He comforts the flock, and he leads them.
“I can clearly see what is going on and because I want to serve God, I see all these difficulties as golden opportunities and great doors to serve.
There are empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water and we can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ. Maybe you are also in such a situation, so pray and seek God that He would use you and direct you in the pressures and difficulties of your lives.”

Our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ has told us to , “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, , pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44.

Pastor Saeed writes in his letter, “There is another group who does not know the gospel of Truth. Instead of truly listening and meditating on God’s word, they are just waiting to see how I react to all of their pressures and persecutions what will come out of me during these intense times? But again, this is another golden opportunity for me to shine the light of Christ in this dark world and to let God use me.”

God is shining in that horrible place. Through His surrendered vessel.
Pastor Saeed writes more,

“Yesterday when I was singing worship songs, the head of my cell room attacked me in order to stop me from praising but in response I hugged him and showed him love. He was shocked.”

I have to confess, I have not prayed much for the Muslim people.I have not looked at them as individual people. I have been taught by the media that Islam is out to kill innocent people, especially Americans. But I have forgotten that each Muslim is an individual heart and that many are simply ’empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water and we can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ.’

I am praying continually for Pastor Saeed’s release as I know that you are as well. God has touched my heart through his letter to the church. He does not ask that he be released somehow, instead he shares,
“It is during these harsh conditions that I deeply need God’s Saving Grace so that I can be the fragrant scent of Christ in the dark house of Evin Prison.”

And prayers have been answered, not in ways that we prayed, but God has given him His presence,
“I have often seen the Shining Morning Star in the darkness of this prison and I have seen His amazing and supernatural works. Oh, how beautiful is seeing the light of the Shining Morning Star of Christ in such evil darkness…I love Him! He is Gracious, Merciful, and Righteous to me. I now know that I have not been forgotten and that we are together in this path. God gives me Grace.”

And as a shepherd, he gives direction to the flock,
“So:
-see your golden opportunities in pressures and difficulties.
-see the Shining Morning Star in the dark times of your life.”

Asking, seeking, knocking for the Love of Jesus Christ to reach those who will have ears to hear in the Muslim world. May the church have a heart in line with the will of God. He loves the people in the Muslim world. How we need to be praying that ‘the empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water’ will have someone who ‘can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ.’

Praying without ceasing for Pastor Saeed as he asked, that God would give him grace, God’s Saving Grace so that he can be a fragrant scent of Christ while he is in that dark house of Evin prison. Praying for the Muslim people as well, and that his cellmates might continue to be shocked by the Love of Christ through Saeed. And ultimately, that salvation would find its way in that dark place.
“With God, all things are possible.” “Lord, teach us to pray.”

God sings over me?

“Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel… Zephaniah 3:14.
We know that we are to ‘sing to Him.’ That is tradition from the beginning of time. We can always picture the church and the song.

But we need to remember, that He joins in and sings over you and me. God inhabits the praises of His people, and He rejoices over you and me with singing. Do you think about this? This is the word of the Lord to Zephaniah,

Zephaniah 3: 16,17,
‘In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem,
“ Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
The LORD your God in your midst,
the Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you in His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”’

But we are shown something in these verses.That this NOT a time when everything is going wonderful and ‘everything is going your way’ and you feel like singing – quite the opposite.

Take note, ‘in that day…do not fear; …let not your hands be weak, He will quiet you with His love.’
This tells us that there will come a day, and that we naturally will fear, and become weak. This might be a sad day, a sad, sad day – just like chapters 1 and chapters 2 in the Book of Zephaniah.
But chapter 3 of Zephaniah says,
“Sing… be glad and rejoice with all your heart,…
The LORD has taken away thy judgements, he has cast out your enemy.
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;”

Maybe we are told to sing because we’re reminded what is true and the truth will set us free. As we sing, He casts out the enemy of fear and discouragement, and doubt. And He sings over us.

God is not pacing the floors in heaven. His ways our not our ways. He doesn’t worry about us, He ‘suffers’ us, or in other words, He allows us to have our freewill.
We’ve been told,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

He is not standing over us disappointed and worried. God is love. His love is a trusting love.
God’s love does not demand its own way. Remember 1 Corinthians 13? To think that God’s love, as recorded in the Living Bible, ‘will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.’ God’s love is never glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.’ (1 Corinthians 13:5). God’s love is loyal unto death, He bears all things. God’s love always believes , God’s love hopes, God’s love is enduring.

God sees our failures, He knows we miss the mark. But He is drawing us unto Himself by His love.
Romans 2:4, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

He sees the end from the beginning. And He is …
“ patient and kind,” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

God’s love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8).

So, we have reason to sing to Him. Always,
even in the sad day. Even in the day of trouble.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

And this will be your song in that day…

“And in that day you will say: “O LORD, I will praise You; Though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and my song; He also has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:1,2.

‘for YAH, the LORD, is my strength and my song; He also has become my salvation.’

We sing, because there is power in the song – the Lord is in the song!

Give me Revelation

“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophesy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:2,3.

This Book tells you and me right off the bat that if we read it, we will be blessed, or simply ‘happy’.
And it also tells you and me that if we hear it and take to heart what is written, we will be blessed.

Now I am not a Bible scholar, but I believe that the word means what it says, that he who reads these words will be blessed.
You and I need to read the word, and we are promised to be blessed!

So, today I was in Revelation chapter 12. Let’s read, let’s hear:
“And there was war in heaven.
Michael and his angels fought against the dragon,
and the dragon and his angels fought back.
But he was not strong enough,
and they lost their place in heaven.
The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.
He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;Revelation 12:

(Emphasis mine.)
So,today,we read and we hear that there is a loud voice saying in heaven,
“Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ; for the accuser of the brethren is cast down…”
And we also read that ‘they overcame the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.’

There is nothing there about them overcoming the enemy by their prayers, or even their good works – first and foremost the enemy was overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony – by the blood of Jesus Christ and their testimony of being a ‘whoever believes in Him’ (shall not perish but have everlasting life).

I don’t know about you, but I am very blessed and happy to read these words, these words are good to hear. It is never about you, it is never about me – it is about Him always. ‘they overcame the enemy by the blood of the Lamb,’

remember the hymn?
“This is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
“this is all my hope and peace, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

So we have to get this straight- when we feel ‘condemned’ about ‘not doing enough’ or ‘praying enough ‘ etc. and it gives us this, “I give up” kind of attitude – that’s the enemy, that’s condemnation.

But if you are being ‘convicted’ by the Holy Spirit to read more and to pray more and follow the Lord, He will give you the hunger and thirst for God, He will draw you closer. Remember, God follows you with goodness and mercy.

So we have the end of the story. We can do this. James tells us how,
James 4:7
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…”

Read Revelation, it will make you happy, God promises!

What if I mess up? What now?

Thinking of two great believers in the Bible, Abraham and David. Did they make all of the right choices? Well, these two really messed up, but these great believers must have understood the ‘believers fire rule’: STOP, DROP, and TURN!
The wonderful Bible reveals it all.
Wasn’t it said of Abraham, “And he (Abraham) believed in the LORD, and He,(the LORD), accounted it to him (Abraham) for righteousness. “
Abraham was called the ‘friend of God'(James 2:23) .

And David, the great King and Psalm writer, wasn’t he known as ‘a man after God’s own heart?’
Don’t you consider these two men ‘great believers’ in the Bible?
But, we know for certain that these men weren’t perfect. The Bible records some pretty big flaws in Abraham because of lack of faith and choices made from fear, (Gen 12:10-20). Yet, he is known as the Father of Faith.
We also know that David committed adultery with Bathsheba and even planned out the murder of her husband. (2 Samuel 11-12). Adultery and murder and he is known as a
man after God’s own heart?

But there was something wonderful about these men,
for when they discovered they were in the ‘hot frying pan’, they followed the ‘believer’s fire rule!’ STOP! DROP! and TURN!
David confessed and David repented of his sin,
“…I have sinned against the LORD.”
2 Samuel 12:13.

And the Bible records his heart at this time:
Psalm 51:1-2, “Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.”

And Abraham? It is recorded that he “went up out of Egypt.(Abraham turned around and left Egypt…)
unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD. Gen 13:1-4 (Abraham called on the name of the LORD.)

What was it about these great believers? It wasn’t that they were perfect. But when they knew things weren’t the way they were supposed to be, they both made the choice to,
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; (STOP!)
repent (DROP!) and do the first works, (TURN!)” Rev. 2:5.

Abraham went back to the place where he first pitched his tent, and he called on the name of the LORD.
He had to get out of Egypt. He went back to the place where he first pitched his ten, in Bethel, meaning the “House of God”, and he went to the altar to call on the name of the LORD.
David, repented, and he ‘penned’ his heart’s prayer so we can pray as well:

Psalm 51:7-13, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
That the bones which You have broken may rejoice.
Hide me from the face of my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me with Your generous Spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.”

God alone can see a man’s heart, but we can read David’s heart of repentance and prayer for revival, and this can now be our hearts prayer:
Ps. 51:14-17, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O LORD, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart –
These, O God, You will not despise.”

And what a wonderful response for David after his turn of heart, “ And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” 2 Samuel 12:13.

So many moments in my day I find myself in the ‘fires’ of life, I must follow the example of these men, and make the choice to “Remember therefore from where you have fallen (STOP!); repent (DROP!) and do the first works,(TURN!)” Rev. 2:5.
Thank you Abraham for your example and thank you David for penning your heart.

* * * *

“Thus saith the LORD”, …

(Is 30)“You shall weep no more.
He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
When He hears it, He will answer you.

And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity
and the water of affliction,
Yet, your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore,
but your eyes shall see your teachers.
Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying,
‘This is the way, walk in it.'”

“Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers…”

and “You shall have a song, as in the night when a holy festival is kept, and gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute, To come into the mountain of the LORD, To the mighty One of Israel. The LORD will cause His glorious voice to be heard…”

 

‘Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it.”

Don’t you see? Can’t you hear? The song goes much like this,
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost ,
but now I’m found,
was blind,
but now I see.”

The prophet Isaiah in his book,inspired by the Spirit of God,described in chapter 30 the ‘Before’ and the ‘After’. There is a perfect ‘Before’ picture of the ‘blind and the deaf man’,
“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD,
Who take counsel, but not of Me,
And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit.
That they may add sin to sin:
Who walk to go down to Egypt,
And have not asked My advice,
To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh,
And to trust in the shadow of Egypt…”

And that of course is ‘a wretch like me.’
We all can relate.
How we ‘trust in shadows’.

But Isaiah describes the ‘saving’ so well, in Isaiah 30:12-14, because the ‘saving’ came through – (I will let Isaiah speak,)
‘Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel:
“Because you despise this word, And trust in the oppression and perversity, and rely on them, Therefore this iniquity shall be to you
Like a breach ready to fall,
A bulge in a high wall,
Whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.
And He shall break it like the breaking of the potter’s vessel, which is broken in pieces…”

Did you see that word, ‘breaking’? That word is the ‘saving’ word. Breaking comes, and it comes suddenly, in an instant…breaking can bring a repentant heart. Breaking is often times the ‘turn around’.

And, this is why this most amazing Book, not just Isaiah, but the 65 others as well, are called The Good News – you shall have a song, and it sings much like this, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound!”

And here is the ‘After’,
Isaiah 30:18, “Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted,
that He may have mercy on you.”

He will be gracious to you…

and ‘You shall have a song
As in the night when a holy festival is kept,
And gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute,
To come into the mountain of the LORD,
To the Mighty One of Israel.

the LORD will cause His glorious voice to be heard and show the descent of His arm.”

and ‘You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you.

And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction,

Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore,

But your eyes shall see your teachers,
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,

“This is the way, walk in it.” Is. 30:19,20.

thus saith the LORD.
Now you have a song, ...I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind
but now I see.

Know someone who is ‘pure love’? I did. Remembering Pastor Gary.

Today is February 13th. It is the day before the noted Valentine’s Day, America’s day of love.

I have been meaning to write about something- and for some reason have put it off, but today, God has put it on my heart, “Do it now!” So I write.

Do you know someone who was a picture of ‘love’ to you? They might not even be around anymore, but you have that picture in your mind and maybe it was just a moment you remember that touches your heart deeply – no words, just ‘pure love’.

Pure love lasts forever. It doesn’t disappear. It is lasting – it has a fragrance that is ever present.

My someone who is a picture of ‘love’ to me is my brother in the Lord, My Pastor Gary.
Pastor Gary was the children’s Pastor of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge in NJ, (I do write ‘was’ because not only did we move, but he has gone home to be with the Lord.) He was, for me, a human form, a human example of my Jesus. But he was so humble that he wouldn’t know what to do with that comment, he would just say, ‘God is good!’

How he could oversee a children’s ministry of over a thousand kids and stay in the ‘slow lane’ I will never know.But he did. I wrote once about him that I always looked at him at having some kind of good ‘nerve damage’ – that I did not have! He just didn’t have all the nerves that most people have. He never seemed in a hurry or rushed. He took his time.
Well,I don’t think our Jesus rushed around flustered – I picture Jesus in the ‘slow lane’!
Thank you for your example Pastor G. Do you know someone like that?

I have a picture in my mind of Pastor G., a somewhat tall man standing in the hall to greet the children and the parents on a Sunday morning or a Thursday evening. He spent so many years exhorting our kids,(and us as well) with a very simple expression, “Be a Blessing!” It was always such a sweet affirmation and yet a little kick at the same time. Powerful.

And even though the words weren’t always spoken I would watch his approachable spirit and gentle humble smile- and see him bless each child as they went by- his very nature was affirming- “Such a blessing!” were the thoughts of his heart toward the children! And he knew these kids!

How I love my Pastor Gary. And I thank the Lord for giving me the privilege to have been ‘splashed’ by his love. It was really Jesus’ love. But his ‘splash’ of Jesus has touched my heart forever,
and you might know someone who has ‘splashed Jesus’ in your life – it’s like a splash of a beautiful fragrance, the fragrance of Christ.

So I think Jesus has a Valentine’s Day everyday, and His Valentine to us is His Word, and tucked inside His amazing letter to us, (though kind of long, 66 books long) He tells us what love is:

“This is love,
not that we loved God,
but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
1John4:10
(meaning, He sent Jesus to be the substitute for us in that the ‘wages of sin is death. Someone had to die, and Jesus said, I will.)

Now this is love.
I love Valentine’s Day! Thank you Pastor Gary for your example and thank you Jesus for Your love.

A whale of a Psalm. Ps. 34.

“Let me be singing when the evening comes, ‘Bless the Lord O my soul’…”

So, I must confess,
I was not singing when the evening comes.

‘Outside there were conflicts, inside there were fears –
but there was no ‘Nevertheless God’ in my thoughts.

I am going to express my feelings in words, but not my own words. I will use words that Jonah penned in Jonah 2. Jonah was thrown overboard a ship during a great tempest,(cause by his running away from God) and down, down, down he went – yet he was rescued by a whale.

OK, for the record, I am not running away from God like Jonah,(thanks to his story I have learned how rediculous that is!)

I am suffering from a broken heart.
Do you have a broken heart? Can you relate? No one is threatening to throw me overboard, but because of a broken heart, the thought of escape, or ‘jumping ship’ sounds appealing. Wait, maybe in a sense, I am running away after all. But I vow, if I run, I will run to God, who is my refuge.

So back to the story and Jonah’s words; for three days and three nights he sat, (well, he might not have been sitting,) nevertheless God…saved him.

His words while in the belly of very hot, humid, smelly, and good thing it was dark stomach,because I am sure that it was very gross, “For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ the waters encompassed me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;

That is that deep and dark feeling in words. Thank you, Jonah.

But we all know the story, God sent the whale. Here’s Jonah again, Jonah 2:6,7, “Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God.”

I write today because God prepared a whale of a Psalm for me this morning, and it might be for you as well, if you have a broken heart. The LORD literally got hold of me and lifted me up.

Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”
Psalm 34:17, “the righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.”Psalm 34:19, Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.”

No one wants to be around someone who is depressed, but ‘The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

I can hear Him today, “Toni, I wept. I wept over death. And I even knew that Lazarus would be raised from the dead! You will weep over death, I did. I love you with an everlasting love.”

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.”
Ps. 34:8-10.

‘You have brought up my life from the pit’. Now, THAT is a whale of a Psalm.

T and P – Tried and Proven

It is said that old saints would put a mark in their Bibles alongside the promises that were T and P, tried and Proven.

So, can imagine the solid foundation of faith that could be built as the ‘T and P’ are marked day after day, or week after week, month after month and even year after year- as if laying bricks side by side next to one another? What a solid foundation of faith would be laid.

If I were to just choose one promise, just one – I think by now I would have a book, and perhaps it would be called, ‘God’s Hand.’

The promise, Isaiah 26:3, “Thou,” (You, God, The Creator of the Universe, the One who knows the number of hairs on my head,) “Thou will keep him (or her!) in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on Thee, Because he (or she) trusts in Thee.”

This was proven ‘T and P’ over and over again. I chose to labor naturally using a childbirth method known as The Bradley Method on 11 separate occasions. “Stay in the present!” is a main theme, among other practiced techniques! (Exclamation point is understood by anyone who has been through labor.)

So the promise of God that I clung to during each labor: (My paraphrase) “He will keep me in perfect peace as I keep my mind stayed on Him.” Is. 26:3.

T and P – a little rough sailing at times, but Tried and Proven nonetheless!

This is a moment by moment kind of promise. “Stay in the present. Keep your mind on Me.”

This is the promise I look to while surviving lack of finances. Do any of you struggle with lack of finances? “Stay in the present. Don’t panic.

“Do you have what you need today?”
Today? OK, today, I am O.K. “Just don’t go one step ahead,” you might be thinking.

“Take it to your Father,” (the One in heaven that owns the cattle of a thousand hills), is how I am counseled.

Today – Today – “He will keep me in perfect peace if my mind is stayed on Him.”
then I think of words from the Communion Table,
“Remember Me.”
“I will keep you…whose mind is stayed on Me.”

But what about all of the unknown health issues that have us ‘concerned?’
We know that the Bible talks about worry. We know it tells us not to worry.
Well, it is in Matthew 6:25-34,
“…I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?…” “therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

So, today, I take my very heavy burden and once again, cast it on Him – for He cares for me, and He cares for you.
“He will keep you in perfect peace…” But what about this? What about that? How am I going to do this? How am I going to do that? Such a struggle!

So I am reminded of Martha, all burdened and worried. And where was Mary?
She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, in perfect peace.

“He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him.” Is.26:3.
Today, we must will to keep our minds ‘stayed’ on Him.

Today, I think of an old song, “One thing is needful O my Father. One thing is needful O my God. That I sit at Your feet, and pour out my love. This thing is needful O my Lord.
I sit and worship You my Father. I sit and worship You my God. Yes, I sit at Your feet and pour out my love -this thing is needful O my Lord.”

T and P – tried and proven. This foundation is Solid ground.
Hey, that kind of makes me think of another song!

“But God didn’t heal.” Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death…”

“How could she have died?”
“How come he is gone?”

The storms of life come in – mighty, and powerful winds blow hard.

You and I pray to the One who is able to calm the seas –
but the storm continues on.

We remember His words,
“In this world you will have tribulation,
but be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world.”

“Why didn’t He bring her safely back to port? I believed in my heart that He would heal.”
These words are similar to Martha’s words to Jesus about her brother, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Can you hear the Father’s heart?

“This life I have chosen to be a trophy of My grace.”
“I raise this life – that others might see – Me.”

We, so much want to put this all together, to make sense of it all. The Father must have planned it that way. And He knew that we would need to see a sign, but He only gave us one sign,
Matthew 12:39,40 “…no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

“Only one sign I will give,” says the Lord.
“And it will be enough. This sign is sufficient.”

The Lord has spoken, in my heart, it is as if the Father speaks His words back to you and to me,
He says, “You pray, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” “Do you remember when my Son told you, (John 6:39-43) “this is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And again, Jesus said, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise Him up at the last day.”

And Jesus has told us as well that “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day”. (Three times we are reminded that He will raise us up at the last day.)

Could it be that our Father in heaven, answered our prayers according to His will, and He has chosen this life to be a trophy of His grace –
so others are drawn to His Son –
so He will raise them as well,
at the last day?

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,
He who believes in Me,
though he may die,
he shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

And the Father asks us gently,
The winds do blow hard, but the roots grow ever deeper-
“Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.”

“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”