God speaks in the darkness…

“Whatever I tell you in the dark”…”speak in the light.” Matthew 10:27.

Have you ever felt troubled on every side? Troubled emotionally, troubled physically, and challenged spiritually? A time of great darkness?

Well, Jesus says in the Bible,
“Whatever I tell you in the dark…”

It’s as if, God allows at times for all the light to go dark in our lives – so He can speak.

This is what He has done for me. He allowed darkness, so He could speak. Maybe there was too much ‘self assurance’, maybe there was ‘pride’. Which is so easy in our world because we naturally all aspire to some level of ‘greatness’, and then we tend to elevate ourselves above others.
But, oh, how God’s ways are not like ours.

I can hear the words of Jesus, in Matthew 20:25,26.”You know that the rulers…lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.
“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”

God’s ways are so unlike our ways, He even says,
“And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave -” Matthew20:27.
For human beings, this is offensive. This is when the word, which is sweeter than honey at times, can really taste bitter in the stomach! And there is a verse in the Bible that speaks just that,
“Take and eat it; (‘the little book’ in the hand of the angel, God’s word) “and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.” Revelation 10:9.

Anyway, back to a time of great darkness for me, after my third chemo treatment, when the Lord spoke to me in my heart. In that darkness,
He didn’t rebuke me.

Maybe because it is true what He says, (because He is the Truth), even though we don’t always believe it – but-
He doesn’t see my failures,
He doesn’t see my sin, He doesn’t see anything like I see.

‘God doesn’t see the same way people see, people look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ 1 Sam. 16:7.

I had called on His name, I had called on the name of Jesus. I had been made new. My heart was seeking God; Even in weakness, even in doubt and fear, even in my failures, just like the Psalm proclaims:
“My flesh and my heart fail;”Psalm 73:26.

but the truth is,
“But God is the strength of my heart…”
In Him, my heart was cleansed.

But God!

I don’t know how a Holy God does this, but He does. He somehow sees me ‘covered’ in His blood and I am ‘perfectly complete’ in Him.
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, it doesn’t matter if you have failed over and over again…

“Whatever I tell you in the dark…”He knows there’s darkness! – but He is Holy? How does it work?

You see, I am imperfect, but ‘in Him’ I am a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17.
“A bruised reed He will not break,”…Matthew 12:20.
People don’t like ‘bruised reeds!’ They are ‘unfit’. But with God,
“A bruised reed He will not break.”
“And a smoking flax He will not quench…”
So the smoking flax can be very irritating, especially to the eyes, but God…

God does not quench a smoking flax-He breathes on it His breath of life and patiently waits for it to catch fire.

THIS is the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward you and me.
“For His merciful kindness is great toward us…” Ps. 117:2.

So Jesus spoke to me in the dark, not because of any work that I have done – because you and I both know the truth,
“In the past we were foolish people…”Titus 3:3. “We did not obey, we were wrong, and we were slaves to many things our bodies wanted and enjoyed. We lived doing evil and being jealous. People hated us and we hated each other.”
“But then the kindness and love of God our Savior was shown…”Titus 3:4.

So, WHAT DID HE SAY? You ask!

I have written these words before, and I will write them again,
He spoke to my heart,
“Not all know Me…
Not all know Me,
as their King. They pray, ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done,’…
but they don’t KNOW ME.”

So, that is why I speak in the light:
Know this – God loves.
and even better than this, God loves you.
Call out His name. He will draw near to you-
and wash you clean. Once for salvation,
daily and moment by moment for a bath from the constant filthiness from living in this world!

“He saved us because of His mercy,
not because of the good deeds we did to be right with God. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit. God poured out to us that Holy Spirit fully through
Jesus Christ our Savior.”Titus 3:5-7.


this is the story… now there’s a song!

I am always amazed at the sight that Fanny Crosby had – you see she was that old hymn writer from days gone by, who was blind. She penned ‘Blessed Assurance’.
The first verse to that hymn is quite familiar to most,
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood! This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long…” , quite familiar to most.

But what is amazing about Fanny, is, she often wrote about ‘sight’, yet she had no physical ability to ‘see’. Verse two of the same hymn,
“Perfect submission, perfect delight! Visions of rapture now burst at my sight! Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love…”

‘Echoes of mercy’ makes me think of the two blind men that I read about in Matthew 9:27, who had been ‘following Jesus’ and as they did they were ‘crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

So, through the course of my challenging day yesterday, I kept thinking about these two blind men ‘following Jesus’. They didn’t have sight! How could they follow Jesus?

Someone must have been talking to them! Someone was telling them what Jesus was doing! So suppose you and I are the ones telling these blind men what was going on, the scene would look like this:

Blind men: “What’s going on? We can’t see.”

You and I: “Do you know this particular ruler in our city? Well, his daughter has died and there are people everywhere mourning her death. You can hear the flutes and all the crying going on, I am sure.”
“But wait a minute, the ruler has just come to his house with Jesus. He’s the man who recently healed a guy who was paralyzed on his bed. The paralytic got on his feet and actually walked home!”

Blind men: “That’s crazy! Impossible!”
“I hear laughing now, what is going on now?”

You and I: “You will not believe this! Jesus just sent all the party of mourners out of the house. they are all laughing at Him because He told them,
“Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.”
“Wait, just a minute! The company is talking. Can you hear them?”

Blind men: “Yes, what is that they are saying? She’s not dead?”

You and I: “They are saying the girl is alive! all we know is that Jesus went in – and now we are hearing reports that she is alive! Can you believe that?”

(Matthew 9:25: But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.)

You and I: “Oh, Jesus is leaving now.”

Blind men: “Tell us, which way is He going?”

And this brings us to Matthew 9:27: When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”
Which brings me back to, “Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.” It’s as if they could hear the ‘echoes of mercy and whispers of love’ and they followed Him. They were blind, but it’s as if ‘the true light which gives light to everyman who comes into the world’ (John 1:9), this ‘true light’ gave them light. But how did they see?

Think about it, these blind men would never have known what was going on unless someone told them. They were told what Jesus was doing, and they followed Him.

It is said that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
Jesus touched their eyes and they were opened.

but what happened next is a mystery to me. The Bible says in Matthew 9:30, “And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that no one knows it.”

this word they did NOT obey, because it is said, “But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country.”Matthew 9:31.

Everyone heard about Jesus because of these blind guys whose eyes had been opened!
And I am sure that if these two had a song, they would be singing,
“This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long!”

And what is even more cool than all this, is WE are the blind guys whose eyes have been opened. And we ALL have a story. And, of course, we have a song.

So, if you don’t have a story, and don’t have a song – spend some time following Jesus in the gospels – you WILL have a story. You will. Because He will touch your blind eyes as well, if you …believe He can do it.

In a battle to believe? We need our full armor to Stand!

These are words of Jesus, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”He was speaking to two blind men who were following Him. So, today, again, I am the blind man and perhaps there is another one out there, and the Bible describes these two men as ‘following Him’. Yes, I am following Him, and perhaps you as well, but we are blinded at this time, we just can’t ‘see’ what is going on.

“…two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”Matthew 9:27.

So we pray, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (exclamation point, end of quote.)

I don’t know what caused these two men to have blindness, but I do know what has caused mine – once again those enemies of Doubtful and Craven Fear, (names stolen from Pilgrim’s Progress!)
It seems as we go along ‘following Jesus’ all of a sudden fiery darts are shot into our very minds! In a moment, I can’t see anything good or hear anything good except, “this is impossible”, or “nothing will ever change”, “this is just the way it’s going to be forever.” So we follow Jesus and cry, “Son of David,have mercy on us!”

The Bible says that,“…when He had come into the house, the blind man came to Him. Matthew 9:27.

I really love the little words, the in between verses. When ‘Jesus had come into the house, the blind man came to Him.’ First of all, a totally blind man cannot see – how can he be ‘following Jesus’?! I love this, ‘the blind man came to Jesus.’

So today, I woke up, (again) in darkness with my two enemies ready to destroy me,

but I came to Him.
He is ‘the true light which gives light to every man who comes into the world.’ John 1:9 (The Holy Spirit went right to work to strengthen me through this battle that I woke up to and brought me to His word.)

“And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

Well, right this moment with Doubtful and Craven Fear clouding my mind, I don’t believe anything! “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Do you believe that I am able to heal you?”
“Do you believe that I am able to get you out of this present situation?”
“Do you believe I will provide for you?”

“Do you believe Me, EVEN IN THIS?”
(whatever yours and my situation is).

Huge is my temptation to doubt and fear. Do you have the same enemies at times?
We must grab our swords and pray to the One who can help,
“Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil…”

We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, we struggle against powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms! (Eph 6). We’ve enlisted in the Lord’s army – we’ve got to keep our armor on in order to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

We need our full armor! Not just our belts on, they are ‘truly’ important, We need the truth, but we also need our breastplate, our chest protectors so we can ‘guard our hearts with all diligence’, because our hearts can really mess us up!
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; who can know it?Jer. 17:9. Ouch! The attack gets fierce and we forget everything, in one moment – we’ve got to keep that breastplate on, why? because God has said,
“I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God!” Jer. 24:7. We’ve got to know this!
And also we must guard our hearts and
“Cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” 2 Cor. 10:5. So much comes against us in the course of one day. So we must also grab our boots so we can ‘follow Jesus’ and His ways of Peace through the darkness and the …mess of life. Keep those boots on that follow Jesus, no matter what! We can’t give up and take those shoes off.

So, belts on! Heart protectors, on! Boots, on! But it’s not enough for this battle that rages.
We need our full armor now. You and I need our shields more than ever, our shields of faith – because these fiery darts are deadly – seriously – the Bible says that these attacks come from principalities and powers and against rulers of the darkness of this age. If we are to stand we need to take up the full armor – and we really need this shield of faith.

So now our cry after Jesus has calmed down the fear is, “Increase my faith! Increase my faith!” So if Jesus says the same thing that he said to the two blind me, “Do you believe that I am able to do this,…” we can answer, “YES, Lord, I believe!”

You and I, let’s grab our helmets – Yes, we have received Jesus. What did He tell us in His word? Let’s remind each other,
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim. 1:7.

Do you and I believe that Jesus can give us sight to see? The two blind men ‘said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”
Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.”

Matthew 10:30, “And their eyes were opened.”

He just opened my eyes. He wants me to see that ‘in light of eternity,’ God works.

He sees the whole picture, we only see – sometimes nothing but a mess!

God’s ways are not our ways, and we know all things work together for good to those who love God, and yes, having done all – to stand – and take hold of His promises:
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that neither death
nor life,
nor angels nor principalities nor powers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39.

We know our ‘cry’, but does God have a ‘cry?’

Many people have a ‘cry’ today that looks like Ps 60:1-3. In my Bible it is given a title: ‘A Prayer for Deliverance of the Nation’
“O GOD, You have cast us off;
You have broken us down;
You have been displeased;
Oh, restore us again!
You have made the earth tremble;
You have broken it;
Heal its breaches, for it is shaking.
You have shown your people hard things;
You have made us to drink the wine of confusion.”

Isn’t this our cry? Even individually, many a day?

But something huge happens between verse 3 of this Psalm and verse 4. There is a transformation, a change of mind,
“You have given a banner to those who fear You,
That it may be displayed because of truth. Selah”

A banner is a victory flag. And this victory banner is to be displayed,
because of truth.

We start out with the words ‘tremble’ and ‘broken’ ‘shaking’ and ‘hard things’ and ‘confusion’, but verse 4 speaks of a banner of victory being displayed because of truth.

What happened in the heart of the psalmist? This proclaims ‘trust’ in action even before the ‘Red Sea is parted,’ so to speak.

Jesus has sent a Helper to us. The change that happens is by the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us about Him in John chapter 16.
“When He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement…”
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me…”

We have to know this, there are just too many words being thrown at us in all directions at all hours of the day! What is truth? For those who fear You God, respect and still hallow Your name, You give us a victory banner that will be displayed ‘because of the truth!’ And ‘He, the Spirit of truth, has come,‘ and ‘He will guide us into all truth.’

But this can be very hard stuff. And the truth can seem so offensive. But God has to hear our ‘cries’ to Him, what is His ‘cry to us?’
Take a breath, because this will hit hard to each and every one of us – God’s ‘cry’ can be found in James 4:4,
“You adulterous people!” (I told you this was going to hit hard. An adulterer is one who is unfaithful to the one he or she loves and has made a covenant with. Well, if God is our first love, is there unfaithfulness in our hearts? Are we guilty of putting other things first. ‘Ouch.’) Oh my, are you and I even willing to even hear the rest of God’s cry?
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

“I thought the Holy Spirit was supposed to be a Comforter!” you might respond!This is tough stuff, but you have to know what comes next, the Holy Spirit is a comforter, but He is more than that, He is a match maker! He woos us back, ‘because of the truth.’
“Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us envies intensely?” James 4:5.

He is jealous for me! He is jealous for you! God wants us to be His people. So the Holy Spirit draws us in and reminds us of what is true,
“But He gives us more grace,”…”God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”James 4:6.

Something happened between, “God, You have cast us off, You have broken us down; You have been displeased…”Ps. 60:1.

It’s the Holy Spirit who speaks truth in our hearts and reminds you and me:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God.”We have to go back to our first love and remember the covenant we have made, and keep it!
“Resist the devil.” Because the devil desires to ‘steel, kill, and destroy’ the beauty that God has created in our covenant love with Himself – life, love, purity, peace, etc.“and he, (the devil) will flee from you.
The Holy Spirit has the banner of victor for those who,
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to You.
wash your hands, you sinners,
(we are all guilty of being unfaithful to God),
and purify your hearts, you double minded. (Oh, how we want to ‘fit in’ and not offend anyone, but God’s ways are not the way of the world’s system. How we need help to be single-minded for God and His ways.)

(Lord, fill us, empower us with the Holy Spirit!)

“Grieve, mourn, and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.”
Holy Spirit, you break our hearts, but we must take time to face the truth.The Holy Fire has come. We must STOP, DROP and TURN.Your word tells us,
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart-These, O God, You will not despise.”Ps. 51:17.

– because if we
“humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord,
He will lift you
(and I) up.” James 4:10.
You Lord, will lift us up!

“God has spoken in His holiness”Ps. 60:6.

“You have given a banner to those who fear You,
That it may be displayed because of Your truth!” Selah Ps. 60:4

…because of Your truth.

“…Though the darkness hide Thee,”

Jesus was in Jerusalem, He had just taught the people saying, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” John 10:11.
He basically just gave them the gospel message.
And then there was a division among the Jews because of His sayings.

Many of them said,” He has a demon, and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?”
Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”John 10:21.

Well, the Bible tells us that Jesus walked into the temple ‘now it was the Feast of Dedication, (today, the festival of lights) in Jerusalem, and it was winter.
It’s the city in winter, always a festive time, and Jesus walked in. The Bible then tells us that,
“Then the Jews surrounded Him…” (Kind of reminds me of our day, at ‘Christmas’ time, oh, but I am told to be correct I must call it ‘holiday’ time.)

Back to the story,
‘Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do you keep us in doubt? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”‘John 10:24.
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe.”
He also reminded them of the miracles that He had done in His Father’s name, but then He said to them,
“But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
“My sheep hear My voice…”

Well Jesus spoke – but,
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.”John 10:31.

And Jesus spoke more – but,
“…they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.”John 10:39.

Do you remember what came next?
“He went away again…” John 10:40. This is Jesus, the good Shepherd, the One who would soon lay down His life for the sheep; He went away.

The people did not like what Jesus spoke, they took up stones, they seized Him; He went away. This breaks my heart. He never defended Himself, He just …leaves.
It is true what is said of the LORD,
Psalm 103:8, The LORD is merciful and gracious, s-l-o-w to a-n-g-e-r, abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.”

But the Bible just doesn’t leave us hanging, it tells us exactly where Jesus went after this rejection, this misunderstanding, this …evil.
“And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.John 10:40.

So we can go back to John 1:28 and find the exact location, so this must be important, it was in Bethabara. A desert region, remote and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is where John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” John 1:29.

Here in Bethabara, John the Baptist witnessed something amazing and he didn’t just keep it to himself – he ‘bore witness, saying,”I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.
I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
“And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”John 1:32-34.

God the Father who sent John the Baptist to baptize, spoke of the Spirit remaining on the Son. It’s the Trinity. Here in Bethabara! Here in this desert place in winter.

Don’t we despise our desert places and the ‘winter’ of life’s journey? Don’t we just want the heat and ease of a summer day? But the frantic pace of the everyday has taken a toll and brought discouragement. Can we find refuge?

Jesus was surrounded, stones were even taken up against Him…He went away, back to a quiet place. A place where it was proclaimed,
“Behold the Lamb of God…”

We might not be able to ‘get away from it all’ geographically, but we can find a quiet place away from the pressure of feeling ‘surrounded’, A place of refuge where you can see the Trinity:
Desert, winter? Go back (in time) and sing real slow, these words:
“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and Mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, Holy, Holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see.
Only Thou art holy; There is none beside, Thee
Perfect in Power, In love, and purity.

Holy, holy , holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name In earth, and sky, and sea.
Holy, holy, holy!
and Mighty!
God in three Persons, Blessed Trinity.”

And may we ‘go away’ in the Psalms:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His befits:
Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…” Psalm 103:1-5.

So whether it is winter in your soul and a desert time,
you and I can still make melody in our hearts to the Lord!

You have been chosen. Did you say, “Yes.”?

It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe,
the truth is, you are chosen.

“Before the foundations of the world were established,”… the Bible says in Eph. 1:4, “He chose us.”

Even if you’ve been ‘walking in the counsel of the ungodly,’
even if you have been ‘standing in the paths of sinners,’
and even if you ‘sit in the seat of the scornful.’ (Ps. 1).

Here is the truth, ‘In Christ, God chose us before the world was made and in His love he chose us to be His holy people – people without blame before Him.’

“Well, don’t put me in that category. I don’t belong there, ” you might say.
None of us can be put in that category, but that is what God tells us in His word, that you and I are chosen.

If by chance, hmmm, maybe a small chance, but if by chance you find yourself reading the Old Testament as your ‘new read’, you would read story after story of how God chose His people Israel, and how He loves them with an everlasting love, (not past tense, this is ongoing forever).

Jeremiah 31:3 tells us,
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”

God’s love is what draws us to Him. And since it has been before the world was made, obviously He loved us and has chosen us first.
God initiates love to us.
Isaiah 30:15 says,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
But you would not…

Oh, how we know our own stubborn natures. Or maybe we don’t know them, but God sure does.

But did you know? Do you know the heart of God? Have you ever read these words:
“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.
…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…
You will also defile the covering of your graven images of silver, And the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as an unclean thing;
You will say to them, “Get away!”
Then He will give you the rain for your seed with which you sow the ground…
In the day that the LORD binds up the bruise of His people
And heals the stroke of their wound…
You shall have a song… Isaiah 30:18,22,23,29.

God will faithfully love you and me no matter how we respond,
“I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me…” Hosea 2:19.

If and when you and I respond with “Yes, I need Your Love.” Then God pours out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5).

Don’t you see? He proposes to us, “I will betroth you to Me forever.” Hosea 2:19.

It is a marriage. “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Eph. 5:32, 31.

This is a relationship – not a religious duty!
Here is God’s heart,
“I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness…” (His faithfulness, not ours, obviously!)
There is nothing human about God’s love. God always remains faithful and maintains His love for you and me no matter how we feel, no matter what we think, no matter what we do.

So He is proposing, “I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness…”

Oh, say “YES” to His love. He is the best Lover of all times.
Say “Yes!” to Jesus. He has chosen you.

Deut. 1: 6,8,
“…the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure…the LORD did not set His love on ou nor choose you because you were …
(more and greater and better, )
…for you were the least, but because the LORD loves you.”

“Trust and obey…”

Crowds of people were following Him, Jesus. “Because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.” John 6:2.

Do we see the signs that the Lord is performing today in healing and restoration?

And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.  Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” John 6:3-5, NKJV

 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” John 6:8.

Jesus said,
“Make the people sit down.” John 6:10.

The Bible tells us that it was a very grassy place and that there were about 5,000 men who were made to lie down. The women and children weren’t included in this number, but they were there as well. There could easily have been more than 10,000 people there.

Have you ever tried to tell fifty children to sit down? It is an effort. Now imagine telling 5,000 men plus more women and children – to sit down! I don’t think they had a megaphone, and we know that they did not have a microphone!

“Make the people sit down.” Jesus said.
These were His words, and often times they are His words to just me.
“But wait a minute,” you and I might say, “the boy only has 5 loaves and 2 little fish. What are they among so many?” “We’ve got to go get lunch, not ‘sit down.”
Sometimes obeying the Lord looks so foolish. Sometimes obeying the Lord just doesn’t make any sense at all.

But these are the words of Jesus.

There is such a struggle at times,to trust and obey the word of the Lord.
But there is something in me that wants the prize. I stay in the race because I don’t want to be disqualified.

We must remember this hymn at times like this,
“But we never can prove The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows And the joy He bestows
Are for them who will Trust and obey.”

“Trust and obey, For there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.”

So finally the choice is made. ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.’
And we sit.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures.” Ps. 23.
All of a sudden, we realize how green the grass is.

And now, sitting down we can view, “Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise the fish, as much as they wanted.” John 6:11.

So Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to His Father, and then He hands the bread to us, followers of God,
to distribute to those sitting down and likewise the fish, as much as they wanted.”
Amazing story to me, because He has a plan. First, we must trust and obey – sit for a time, but how wonderful to see Him hand us the bread that we may pass it out!

“Then in fellowship sweet We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do,
Where He sends we will go,
Never fear, only Trust and obey.”
“Trust and obey, For there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.”

But wait a minute, did I forget to mention that they all ate as much as they wanted? And so that nothing is lost, Jesus told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftovers.’
Five loaves and two fish fed 5,000 plus people – and there were twelve baskets full of leftovers!

OK, THIS is incentive that we can ‘trust and obey!’

Bring our love for You Lord to boiling point

If someone were to ask you and I the question, “Do you love God?”
Many of us would answer, “Yes, I love God.”

I am reminded of the young woman in Colombine, CO who lost her life for saying those words, just a few years past.

And sometimes, our love sits nice and comfortable on the stove at simmer. But God, whom we say we “love” allows, life to happen.

We feel as if the rug is pulled from under our feet.  The “who” we really are is tumbled and thrown down, and sometimes, again, thrown down, tumbled, and tossed, . . .

then the temptations press in, “Where is God in all this?”

So the ‘heat’ of life is added and allowed by the Lord, yet just a little heat so as to raise the temperature to ‘Medium’.

“Certainly I ‘love’ God,” we say, similar to Peter’s answer in John 21:15 after Jesus asked him, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

And Peter said to Him,

“Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” In other words, Peter’s response was, “Yes, Lord, You know I love you with brotherly love.

Jesus asked, “Do you love Me more than these?”

More than this, more than that, more than your title, more than your status, more than your health? More than your talents?

So we answer,

“Yes, Lord, You know I love you like a brother.”
I’m asking’ You for blessings, ‘seeking’ You for guiding my every day.’Knocking on Your door for opportunities, etc.

Well, after these things, and quite suddenly I must say, sometimes more of ‘life happens’ happens. The temperature increases, and it has been raised to HIGH. The heat of sudden loss and long-time disappointment and now grief have brought about change.

The hot water brings to mind the prayer of Jabez, 1Chronicles 4:10.
But does the heat NOT END? Is there no letting up? “O that You would bless me indeed, that You would expand my territory, that Your hand would be with me, that You would keep me from evil that I might not cause pain…”

Do you know this feeling? When all of a sudden you are brought to pray Ps. 22:1,

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of my groaning?”

But do you remember –
these were the words of our Lord.

And all of a sudden, you and I know – that He knows.

There is no help, except from Him –
We continue ‘knocking,’ pounding on the door, crying, knocking, “O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.”Ps. 22:2.

In our asking, seeking ,and knocking, we must remind God, of Psalm 22:3,
“But You are holy, Who inhabit the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them.”

“They trusted and You delivered them.”
Too tired to knock, and even ask, We have His word,
“I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.”Ps. 22:14,15.

How can we not conclude:

Jesus, You know what I am going through. You went through this suffering for …me.

‘Life happens’, the heat has been raised, and You Lord have brought me to see clearer than I have ever seen before,…

“For dogs have surrounded Me; The assembly of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet,”Ps. 22:16…

…Your love for me.

And that is how He has brought my love to the boiling point. He brought me to Himself.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”James 4:8.

It is then that we ‘know’ that “all things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.”

And after the scars are healed, He then calls us to declare these things, so that others will KNOW!
Ps. 22:22,
“I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the congregation I will praise You.”

“Who will show us any good?”

This is a verse from the Bible that keeps coming to mind, in the light of tragedy upon tragedy occurring in our nation. It seems as if it is true,
“There are many who say,
Who will show us any good?”Psalm 4:6.

But we are encouraged through the darkness to focus on the ‘helpers’.

This immediately helps us to focus on what is good.
There is a Helper that we cannot see. He often speaks in a secret and a quiet place.
Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. And trust in Me…John 14:1.
“If you love Me, you will do the things I command. I will ask the Father, and He will give You another Helper. He will give you this Helper to be with you forever.”John 14:15,16.

A forever Helper?

Apparently Job had this kind of Helper with him.

You see Job had 7,000 sheep and 3,000 camels. I can’t even imagine what that would be like-but there must have been a lot of land and a lot of servants!
In a moment the Bible says, “Lightning from God feel from the sky. It burned up the sheep and the servants.”Job 1:16. And that same day raiders came and attacked and stole the camels and killed all those servants.

Job also owned 500 pairs of oxen, 500 female donkeys AND a large number of servants to care for them, that same day – animals stolen, servants killed.
But the very worst was yet to come, while a servant who escaped death was telling him this horrible tragedy, another messenger came only to tell him that all of his 10 children had been killed in what seemed like a hurricane.

Unbearable news. How can this be in the Bible? Is this good news?

Job heard all of this. It says that he got up, tore his robe, shaved his head and then he bowed down to the ground to worship God. He said:
“I was naked when I was born. And I will be naked when I die.
the Lord gave these things to me. And He has taken them away.
“Blessed be the name of the Lord.”Job 1:20,21.

Job did not blame God. And to think that we get a glimpse of what was REALLY going on; Satan trying to prove to God that Job only loved Him because of all God’s goodness relished on him.

So Satan went back to God and God spoke about Job: “You caused Me to ruin him for for no good reason,(without a cause). But he continues to be without blame.” so Satan responded to God and said, “…reach out Your hand and destroy his own flesh and bones. Then he will curse You to Your face.”

We know the story, from the top of his head to the soles of his feet his body was covered with painful sores!
But do you know, do you remember how Job responded after weeks of this, and add some miserable friends as comforters?

There was a spirit of God, alive in Job. Loss of everything, and here’s what Job said, (among other things, chapters of dialogue):

“Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever!

For I know that my Redeemer lives,

And He shall stand at last on the earth;
and after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God…” Job 19:23-26.

WHO will show us any good? Well, Job just did. This is good news!

And that is the bottom line for you and for me.
Do you know that your Redeemer lives?
We must live today knowing that our Redeemer lives.
Just as in that Hymn, that “Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and He shed His own blood for my soul. It is well with my soul.

“Christ has truly been raised from death – the first one and proof that those who are asleep in death will also be raised.
Death comes to everyone because of what one man did.
But the rising from death also happens because of one Man. In Adam all of us die.
In the same way,
in Christ all of us will be made alive again.”1 Cor. 15:20-22.

Verses came from the International Children’s Bible today, because we know that Jesus loves the little children, however, in face of tragedy, aren’t you comforted by the simplicity?

“Who will show us any good?”
The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Helper- in a still small voice, every time, without fail.

(I wonder if Job could sing?)

How do we pray for the afflicted? Remind me again.

Trouble has come for many in this day- our hearts break for the hurting, our minds are silent. It is as if in a moment’s time the Lord allows many to experience an unexpected darkness.
And, often,there are no words when praying over the afflicted. Times like this, it seems like the Bible on the shelf weighs 100 pounds. It is just too heavy to pull off the shelf.

Yet, I have heard that for those who have lost their sight and live in physical darkness, they have ears that hear far above those that see light.

THAT is how I will pray. That the afflicted will HEAR during this time of darkness. That they can now hear God singing over them. Where is that verse? What verse is that? The weight of the Bible just decreased and there is a willingness to get it off the shelf.
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 you 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.”

Can you hear the words of an old Hymn? Reminding you:
“Through every change, He faithful will remain.”

Through EVERY change, He faithful WILL remain. That is true,
it’s in His Holy Word, maybe reading the Bible today isn’t so hard –
Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Everything may have just changed, but He remains the same.
“Through every change, He faithful will remain, Be still my soul…”

Perhaps the prayer of the afflicted today looks like Ps.6:6-8,
“I am weary with my groaning;
All night I make my bed swim;
I drench my couch with my tears.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
It grows old because of all my enemies.

But the song: “Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake.”

We are shaken! We become moved! But there is a Psalm, it’s in there about being moved – it’s Psalm 62. Perhaps this Psalm needs to become as familiar in our day as Psalm 23:
Ps. 62:1,2,
“Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.”

so we remember the song and sing in our time of weakness and fear,
“Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake…”

And we pray for the afflicted, “Lord give them grace to ‘wait silently for God alone.’
Lord, that they hear Your song of faithfulness and that they wait on You as they heal:
Ps. 62:5-7,
“My soul, wait silently for God alone.
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.”

Yes, this is a time of darkness,
the Hymn reminds us of that, “All now mysterious”

So we pray that they may be strengthened to:
Ps. 62:8, “Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
and that they would know that,
God is a refuge for us. Selah

All now mysterious – most certainly:
Ps. 62:9,10, “Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed in the balances,
They are altogether lighter than vapor.
Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.

God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.”

We are reminded yes, “All now mysterious” BUT they “shall be bright at last.”

We pray for ourselves and the afflicted,

“Be still my soul, the waves and wind still know
His voice who ruled them
while He dwelt below!”

Lord, our prayer for the afflicted is increased hearing during this time of darkness, an increase in hearing of Your song over them, hearing of Your Psalms and Hymns to enable them to Be still and know that

“God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.
Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy…”Psalm 62:11.

Lord, that this would be their response to Your song:
“In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.”

“In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
And may we continue to speak to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs so that we can let light in our hearts through the darkness of this world.