“Oh come, let us worship and bow down…”

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.”Psalm 95:6.

Let us worship Him, not for the prayers that He has answered, or even the prayers that seem to go unanswered for a very long time, not because everything goes our way, but even if nothing seems to be easy,  let us worship Him because…

‘He gives us eternal life, and we shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages – to all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed. And no one is able to snatch us out of His Hand.’ (John 10:28, Amplified.)

We are in His hands.

And who are we? Who are we to have such a powerful promise of life eternal and protection from all powers?

We are those who have made a decision to say, “For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.”Psalm 95:7.

Are you a sheep of His pasture? He is the good Shepherd. But there is a thief. He comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But the good Shepherd has come that His sheep may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10. That is what is true.

“I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep.” John 10:11.

Today, do you and I have breath? Even if nothing is going my way,or if things are not going as you planned,  He laid down His life for me, and for you,  and gives us eternal life, we will never die; and He promises, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28.

Our lives are  in His hand.

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down.”

I may not understand one bit why things are going the way they are. Why worshipers die young, why worshipers become paralized from the neck down, why lovers of God even suffer homelessness, and cancer and great trials of loss.  None of this makes sense.

Yet, if He is our good Shepherd, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:31,32.

“…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Romans 8:35. “…For  I am persuaded beyond doubt -am sure- that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things things impending and threatening, nor things to come,

nor powers Nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38,39.

That is why we come and bow down and worship our King, the good Shepherd, because we have heard His voice and we choose to follow Him. Not because He has answered all of our prayers, but because He has answered the prayer that is most important -life after death- eternal life,

and  His perfect Love casts out all our fear because He’s got me, and He’s got you, in His hand.

And if you are not sure if He is your good Shepherd, Oh, come,  and worship Him. “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion.” Psalm 95:7. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…”Acts. 16:31.

Yes, outside there are still conflicts, and inside there are still fears,

NEVERTHELESS GOD. “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation!”Ps. 95:1

‘Even better than life, is the lovingkindness of the Lord.’

“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life…” Ps. 63:3.

When one’s life is taken, or when one suffers loss,  it is hard to ‘see’ the lovingkindness of the Lord.

‘There are some lives that were so yielded to God, that they left imprinted in our minds  a lived out’  view of God’s word:“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” Ps. 63:3,4.

Somehow, they were the very image of this verse, somehow they knew in the center of their being that ‘even better than life is the lovingkindness of the Lord.’

So, God has let me see this  with my own eyes. And maybe He has done this for you as well.  He doesn’t leave us in the dark about His lovingkindness.  In full view He shows Himself, His love and His greatness, through often-times, broken but yielded lives.

I don’t know all the stories, and I haven’t seen all the pictures, but I can share a few. I have seen a picture of a 4 year old little girl  sitting on a hospital bed with no hair and at a very weak point in her battle with cancer, lifting her hands up to God, in praise and adoration. Truly she is showing us, that ‘even better than life is the lovingkindness of the Lord.’ God had touched the heart of a very young child, and thus left a picture for us see her response, “my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.”

It is in the stories that we see the beauty of the Lord, and the lovingkindness of our God. It is not  only in a beautiful mountainscape view or magnificent sunset- or something grand, but  it is seen even more in the deep dark crevices of a cave that the diamonds are found.

In  a  fierce battle against the little ‘c’ cancer, God had touched a yielded life so intimately, that the big ‘C’ Christ was his very breath.  Words of hope, “I’m healed already!” always came from his lips. He was a visual of the verse, “My soul shall be satisfied as with the marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You  with joyful lips”…Even better than life, is the lovingkindness of the Lord.

It is not our way, God’s ways are higher than ours, He shows us His glory at times in a suffering servant. Why? we might ask. God doesn’t answer the ‘Why’, but He shows us His lovingkindness through these lives yielded to Him as Job did, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. He also shall be my salvation.” Job 13:15.

Have you witnessed a  yielded life? One who cries out to God and trusts even when nothing makes sense?  “O God, You are my God; …My soul thirsts for You My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.” Ps. 63:1.

And yes, you and I have seen with our own eyes, broken people chosen by God to magnify His light,  to be a living sanctuary, tried greatly, yet true, true to exemplify for each of us that ‘even better than life, is the lovingkindness of the Lord.’  Thus yielding a response of praise and a lifting up of his hand to the Lord.

We have pictures. We can see the lovingkindness of God, but we need comfort.

Comfort your people Lord.

“Comfort, yes comfort My people!” Says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended…Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God… the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth;

The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all eyes shall see it together.” Is. 40:3,4,5.

“I’m healed already!” “Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You.

Your right hand holds me up.” Ps. 63:7,8.

“Let us run our races Lord, with our hearts and eyes on You, trusting and believing that You care and You know.Even when all ‘looks’ bad with the sight of our eyes, help us to ‘know’ Your love and faithfulness with the eyes of faith. Help us to put off our doubts and our fears and close our ears to the lies! Because Your lovingkindness dear Lord, is better than life!”

July 20, 2013. Another star has been added to my heavens.

July 20, 2013. Another star has been added to my  heavens. You see, I have written before about the stars that are in my sky, they are stars that shine like a ‘cloud of witnesses that surround me’ and they speak. Oh, yes, their voice still speaks!

I have heard it said, “We glorify the Lord when we endure trials in a heroic way.” The stars in my sky did just that. And each of the stars in my sky are heroes. And each had their own individual ‘song of deliverance’ but ultimately the words of their song was, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Neh 8:10.

Yes, I can clearly see from their witness that surrounds me that ‘if we sow in hope, we will reap in joy.’

We all know that when it is darkest, the stars shine the brightest. And the stars tell of the glory of God. And ‘day after day they tell their story…and their message goes out through all the world.” Ps. 19:1,3.

And their voice rings out with brilliance and reminds us, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Ps. 37:3-4.

And our heroes endured their trials and have glorified the Lord. Yes, we can see His faithfulness by their voices that tell their story, and we remember their witness when they were with us, “So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new everyday. We have small troubles for a while now,”

(and we know that their troubles were far from small),

“but they are helping us gain an eternal glory. that glory is much greater than the troubles. So we set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time. but what we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Cor 4:16-18.

And we watched them in their trouble, and we hear their voices; this is the speech of our heroes: “So we always have courage. We know that while we live in this body, we are away from the Lord.

We live by what we believe,

not by what we can see. So I say that we have courage. And we really want to be away from this body and be at home with the Lord.

Our only goal is to please God.

We want to please Him whether we live here or there.” 2 Cor. 5:6-9.

Oh, how their lights shine, how their voices encourage us, as they point to the One who loves,  as they point to the One Who is able, as they point to the One Who overcame. Their speech can be heard now, this is how they speak, our stars that have been added to our heavens beam with encouragement:

“Run the race that is before you and never give up. Remove from your lives anything that would get in the way. And remove the sin that so easily catches you. Look only to Jesus. He is the one who began the faith in you and He will make your faith perfect. (Their words are God’s very words. Hebrews 12:2. Children’s Int. Version.)

The night sky is so dark without the stars. Our stars remind us that Jesus suffered. He suffered for each of us. ‘But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing. He did this because of the joy that was before Him. And now He is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.’ Hebrews 12:2. And our heroes are right there with Him!

Thank you Paul Loures for always pointing to Jesus.  And you still are. We can hear you saying, “Look to Jesus’ example so that you will not get tired and stop trying.” (Heb. 12:3.) Your star is shining,  and it will forever, and forever… is a long time!

You are my hiding place, You fill my heart with songs of deliverance…

Perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18.   So why do we fear? What is it with fear? It seems to hide in the bushes and then it comes out  like a lion, prowling around, ‘seeking whom he may devour’! And we find ourselves out in the open – how we need a hiding place!

Do you know what I am talking about?  You and I are in need of a hiding place, a place of refuge. And it can be found, in God’s word, Ps. 32:7, You are my hiding place;  You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. Yes, this was a psalm of David. And God has used David through the Psalms to teach us to pray and sing,

so we pray, “God, be my hiding place. Surround me with songs, songs of deliverance.”

And there is an old song that was written to sing this truth, “You are my hiding place. /You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance, whenever I am afraid,/ I will trust in You. /I will trust in You./ Let the weak say, “I, am strong in the strength of my Lord.”

But God has included as psalm writers in the Bible, the sons of Korah. In Psalm 44, they began their psalm with remembering Gods works and how He drove out the enemy with His right hand. And then they proceeded to proclaim Him as their King, “My God, you are my King. Your commands led Jacob’s people to victory. With Your help we pushed back our enemies. In Your name, we walked on those who came against us.” Ps. 44:4,5. The sons of Korah even made vows to the Lord, ” You saved us from Egypt. You made our enemies ashamed.” “We will praise God every day. We will praise Your name forever. Psalm 44:7,8.

But look at what they wrote further on, in the same psalm, (!) they certainly were not ‘singing when the evening came’:

“Wake up , Lord! Why are You sleeping? Get up! Don’t reject us forever. Why are You hidden from us? Have You forgotten our pain and troubles? We have been pushed down into the dirt. We are flat on the ground. Get up and help us. because of Your love, save us.” Psalm 44:23-26.

Do you ever feel this way? Perhaps, even today, this may be your cry. I know that it is mine. But God showed me something so incredible in this Psalm today. You see, their trouble is recorded. It’s all written down, and you and I can really relate to it in many ways. The sons of Korah are suffering, and they cry out,

“But You rejected us and shamed us. You don’t march with our armies anymore. You let our enemies push us back. Our enemies have taken our wealth. You gave us away like sheep to be eaten. You scattered us among the nations. You sold Your people for nothing. You made no profit on the sale. You made us a joke to the other nations. People shake their heads. I am always in disgrace. I am covered with shame. My enemy is getting even with insults and curses.

All these things have happened to us, but we have not forgotten You. We have kept our agreement with You. Our hearts haven’t turned away from You. We haven’t stopped following You. But You crushed us in this place where wild dogs live. You covered us with deep darkness. We did not forget our God…”Ps. 44:9-20.

Great trouble came about for these sons of Korah, but even bigger than their trouble and even bigger than mine, or yours at this time,

is… our Jesus.

He knows. His experience on the cross is recorded for us, it is not a fable, He was a man, and He suffered, “But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised of the people. All those who see Me laugh Me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head…”

“Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help. Many bulls have surrounded Me; Strong bulls … they gape at Me with their mouths, As a raging and roaring lion. 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..”

This is our Jesus. He knows we are suffering, and He knows how hard it is, because He ‘bore our griefs,’ our sicknesses, He bore our weaknesses, He bore our distresses, He even carried our sorrows and our pain and even our punishment, all on the cross, because He was willing and His heart is full of love for us.

Our Jesus, He  knew  that you and I need  peace.

With the stripes that wounded Him,  we are  made whole.

“You,  Jesus, are my hiding place, You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance whenever I am afraid.

So, we cry like the sons of Korah did at times, but Jesus – You KNOW, and YOU are a refuge for us.

“When the enemy comes in like a flood.”

Have you ever experienced this? “When the enemy comes in like a flood.” and all you can perceive is confusion? It’s as if you are a little one engine plane happily flying the skies of the day, and all of the sudden there is malfunction – and the plane begins to spin and plummit toward the ground.

And you find that you are not ‘singing when the evening comes.’ to say the least, you are not singing when the evening comes!

At times we  feel that we are crashing down, and down. But Jesus prays for us. He prayed that, not that we would be taken out of this world, but that we would be ‘kept’ from the evil one. John 17:15.

I am sure that it felt like the ‘enemy came in like a flood’ on that most dreadful day and night that Jesus was beaten and scourged, and asked to carry His own cross up the Calvary hill to be crucified for you and me. I am sure that it felt like the ‘enemy came in like a flood’  to the woman who watched   from afar, all that Jesus endured on the cross; flooded with emotions of confusion and horror over the cruelty, and sadness and loss.

But the women, it is told kept their eyes open and observed where Jesus was laid, so after the Sabbath was past, ‘Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.’ Mark 16:1.

“And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” Mark 16:3.

“But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away – for it was very large.” Mark 16:4.

The enemy came in like a flood, my song was stripped away in the evening, my one engine plane began malfunctioning -confusion, chaos, and anger  enveloped my thoughts.

But I’m His girl, and He will not let me fall. He has prayed for me and He has prayed for you as well. You see, “When the enemy comes in like a flood,

The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19.

And when the women looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, for it was very large. Just like my sin of doubt and fear, it is very large. But I am ‘kept’ by the power of God, because Jesus has prayed for me. So, I can sing in the morning because I can agree with the Psalmist,

“I acknowledge my sin to You. And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” Psalm 32:5.

So now I can agree as well, that “Blessed -happy, fortunate [to be envied] – is he who has forgiveness of his transgression continually exercised upon him, whose sin is covered.” Ps. 32:1.Amplified.

‘Who will roll away the stone?”When the enemy comes in like a flood.’

“In a time when You may be found;

surely in a flood of great waters They shall  not come near me. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with…songs

of deliverance. Selah.” Psalm 32:6,7.

The stone is rolled away, the flood of great waters has not come to destroy me, and today – I sing a new song. Selah.

“Like a bird from prison bars have flown, I’ll Fly Away…”

“Like a bird from prison bars have flown, I’ll fly away…” sings the words of one of the happiest hymns there is. Isn’t that what we all want? We feel imprisoned, in this life with all the ‘tribulations’ that Jesus even told us beforehand that we would have, how do we ‘be of good cheer’? How can we be free like a bird?

Something has to change. Because, if we are behind prison doors, freedom only  comes when they are opened.

Well, in that wonderfully happy hymn, the words sing, “When the shadows of this life have grown, I’ll fly away.” And we first understand this to mean the end of of our days, and because our life is hidden in Christ we become a new creation – no longer the earthbound little catapillars, but instead we metamorph into  most beautiful butterflies, we’ll fly away, and live forever with our Jesus.But maybe this is talking about ‘when the shadows of this life have grown’ in ‘tribulations’ not old age!

After singing this hymn over and over again throughout my day, God has reminded me that there are no shadows at noon when the sun is shining brightest overhead. When the days are carefree and the world is all that it should be. But the shadows grow long as the evening comes, the ‘night’, the ‘tribulations’ that Jesus warned us about. They are the shadows, and oh how they grow!

“I’ll Fly away!” The hymn sings. HOW? When the shadows of this life have grown, how shall I fly away? Like the Psalmist who wrote, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed I would wander far off,…”Psalm 55:6.

Perhaps when the shadows of this life have grown, God has done His greatest work in us. Because we finally agree with the Psalmist and am finally ready to say, “As for me, I will call upon God, And the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:16,17.

And God answers, He doesn’t leave us in the dark.  God knows our trouble. He reminds us that there is Someone  who is praying for us even now,
“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world; but for those You have given Me, for they belong to You.” (John 17:9.)

All Mine are Yours, and all that are Yours belong to Me; and I am glorified in (through) them…And [now] I am no more in the world, but these are in the world and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep in Your name [in the knowledge of Yourself] them whom You have given Me, that they may be one, as We [are one]…”(John 17:10,11.)

“I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil [one]…Sanctify them – purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy – by the Truth. Your Word is Truth.” John 17:15,17.
“And so for their sake and on their behalf I sanctify (dedicate, consecrate) Myself, that they may be sanctified (dedicated, consecrated, made holy) in the Truth…” John 17:19.

OK, Jesus prays for us, and He is an example, but how do the prison bars open? Why do I continually put myself behind bars?
Something has to change, in me. But it is not an easy change,it’s not a one-time decision, it’s a moment by moment, faith-choice, ongoing thig. I  have to change my mind! Do you have the same dilema?

“It is impossible!”  “The prison bars will never open, I can’t be free.” And that is true if it has to do with me! But God…“For with God nothing  will be impossible, Luke 1:37,  and, that “with men  this is impossible, but with God all  things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.

He is faithful to ‘lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil’, if we …present our entire being to the Creator of the Universe, to the God of all creation, to the One who sits on the throne, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, can’t we trust in Someone so Mighty? The question is, “Do I want to be like a bird from prison bars have flown?” God wants me to live by faith today and fly, not live by sight and fear.  It’s not about Him not coming through – He came through, He’s got the key to prison bars and He begs for you and me to come,

(my paraphrase of Rom. 12:1,2)”I appeal to you…and beg of you in view of all My mercies,  to decide today to present all of who you are, as a living sacrifice, devoted and set apart and well pleasing to Me. Don’t worry about fitting into this world, but be changed,  and set free from the bondage that this world puts you in and change your mind, with new ideas and a new attitude, (my paraphrase of Rom. 12:1,2), so that you may prove what is ‘the good and acceptable  and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]Romans 12:2, Amplified Version.

“If any man desires to come after Me,…”(Matthew 16:24.)
Can you and I say, “Lord, I come.”

“Let him deny himself,… (“I beg you, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice…”(Rom. 12:1)
Can you and I say, “Lord, I do.”

“And be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”(Romans 12:2).
Can you and I say, “Lord, I will.”
Then we pray together, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

From the inside out, you and me, we are made new!

And then we sing, “Like a bird from prison bars have flown, I’ll fly away! I’ll fly away O glory, I’ll fly away! When I die, Allelujah by and by, I’ll fly away!”

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You, in God whose word I praise.”

 God’s word – Power, Comfort, Life. God’s word – our instruction manual.

But what happens? It is almost as if the Book weighs a thousand pounds and cannot even be picked up. It is as the heaviness and tiredness of heart, mind, and soul make it even impossible to pull The Book off the shelf. This is what oppression is. This reminds me  of the story when the children of Israel  were hiding in caves when the Midianites had taken over.

Do you feel this oppression? I do. Can I pull that book off the shelf and read a similar story to mine, the story of Gidion? It’s in Judges 6. It takes even prayer to pick up The Book!

The Midianites had invaded the children of Israel and had left no sustenance for God’s people. For 7 years the children of Israel lived in caves, baking bread in secret places. “So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites.” Judges 6:6.  Are you impoverished? Are you surrounded by oppression and fear? I am a child of God, and yes, I can answer that question in the affirmative.

But, what is with this story? Is it, after 7 years, then they cried out? Or was it that they were crying out for 7 years? Well, either way, here is what the next verse says, “…the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But you have not obeyed My voice.”‘” Judges 6:8-10.

So, God is speaking plainly to me, (and maybe to you),  “My child, I have sent you my Son. He brought you out of a miry pit and has set your feet upon a Rock, paying your huge debt in full at the cross. He has given you His Spirit as a guarantee and power within, don’t you remember? “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11). “My child,  I am the LORD your God; do not fear the little ‘g’ gods all around oppressing you. Can you obey Me in this?”

And I know that I can’t. Because I know that I will fear. I know that I will strive. But I will pray,

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You, in God whose word I praise, in God I trust.”Ps. 56:3.

Oh, how I love the very next verse in the Book of Judges, 6:11 because it says that God Himself comes, the “Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree..and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

Is that how God is? He affirms a cowardly man who is hiding in secret places to make bread! Yes, that is how God is. He is saying today to you and to me,

“I the LORD am with you, you CAN do this!”

And I love Gideon, because he is just like me, and he asks God,

“O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about…? but now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Judges 6:13. Why? How come Lord?

But God doesn’t answer his question, He simply gives him a job to do, “Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

So today, God is saying, “Go in this might of yours,” (which is no might except for Him,) and tell the world…that Jesus loves them. Can you believe that I am with you?”

I suppose, one step at a time, I can ‘do the next thing’ and walk in the power of the Spirit of God that was given to me,  and keep His word on my tongue,  “When I am afraid, I will trust in You, in God whose word I praise, in God I trust.”(Ps. 56:3)

I will be afraid, I will fail, but I will trust in the powerful and precious Word, (which is Jesus Himself,(John 1:1),

and I will be comforted by His mercy because, that heavy and most dreaded Book at times actually tells me

 ” His anger is but for a moment,

His favor is for life;

Weeping may endure for a night,

But joy comes in the morning.” Ps. 30:5.

And one step at a time today, the joy of the Lord will be my strength.

We’re all laboring! “Listen to the sound of your breathing!”

The battle continues to rage during a time of crisis in my life, and I continue to fight to believe  the elementary truths that ‘God is with us,’ that ‘He knows my name,’ that ‘this too shall pass’.

He sees my thoughts, He knows my heart has failed me. Saying things  continually like, “I can’t do this.” “God’s plan is not for good.” “Why did He allow this?” Being that I have gone through labor 11 times, the memory is clear, this is like the ‘transition period’ in labor, when the laboring mother is moving into the final stretch of her labor and it gets real hard and very concentrated.

This is the time when she says, “I can’t do this anymore.” “Tell me, ‘I’m almost finished,  tell me this is almost over!”

But what is so amazing about this battle that I am in, and perhaps even you,  is …there is the next breath.

“The next breath?” you ask, totally thinking, “yes, this woman has lost her mind.”

You see God, at this time in my life, has me training and coaching expectant mothers for labor and delivery. To simplify things the first 3 important steps are, 1. Stay in the present! Don’t worry about what was behind and don’t project an unknown future! 2. Listen, to the sound of your breathing. Don’t just breathe deep, ‘LISTEN’ to the sound of your breathing! 3. On the exhale, take notice to tension and stress and tightness held in the  muscles  and let it go. Then,

you listen to that next breath!

Well, amazingly enough, some very simple, (but certainly not easy) skills and thoughts of the mind and an understanding of the process helped me through labor each time, and many others as well; but not only that, they have helped me in many moments of crisis. Crisis comes, fear of pain comes, and the training  was there, “Listen to the sound of your breathing.”

But today, in my crisis, where I am finished, exhausted, weary, not sure I can go on, it’s as if God, through the Holy Spirit is whispering to me,

” Stay in the present.  Listen to the sound of your breathing.  ‘He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him.'” (Is. 26:3.)

Ironically enough, we are all groaning in pangs of labor ourselves, even today – men and women! (Sorry men, God’s word not mine!)  “We know that the whole creation (of irrational creatures) has been moaning together in the pains of labor until now.” Romans 8:22, Amplified!

And we all know how important the role of the ‘coach’ is to a laboring mother. They don’t know while they are in the middle of all that ‘intensity’ (a much better word than pain,) that it is almost over! The laboring mother doesn’t think she is doing a good job! But the coach is there, much like the Holy Spirit in our lives saying,

“Listen to the sound of your breathing:

“Be still and know that I am God.” Is. 46:10.

“Come to Me, all you who labor,…and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”Proverbs 3:5,6.

And your heart may still be failing, like mine is, but I hear a word from behind saying,

“Listen to the sound of your breathing…”

So I obey and take that next breath – and calm my thinking and choose to keep my mind…

stayed on Him: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”Psalm 73:25,26.

I’ve failed. But God never gives up on me, (or you), ever…

It says about our Jesus that,

“A bruised reed He will not break. And a smoking flax He will not quench, or snuff out.”

Let the facts be known, in case anyone thinks that because I write about Bible verses that I always walk in faith.

Please know, it is because I am most bent to make ‘flesh out’ choices that I so desperately need the word of God – and THAT is why I write the word! ‘Prone to sin’ as the children of Israel were under Moses’s leadership, is this child of God the Father, who’s Son paid my debt in full, and has given me the Holy Spirit to guide me into all truth.

Yesterday, I pushed the panic button. Yesterday, I resorted to thoughts of, “I can’t take this anymore.” “I can’t do this,” etc. I am not sure that you can even relate, but if you can – I share with you, once again,

the love of God.

“Wait, first you talk about ‘giving up on life’ and then you talk about the love of God?” thinking I talk in circles.

Yes, because I am a bruised reed. I am not perfect. I have been bruised and messed up. But Jesus doesn’t pick me up and say, “This one is good for nothing,” and then proceed to break it. No, He takes it and wraps it and mends it, and hopes for it. And in my pitiful  situation, today, He comforts me with His word.

And because I can’t handle all the things that life throws my way, and I grow weary and discouraged and even despair of life many times over, kind of like a ‘smoking flax’, one that isn’t in a great flame – He, my Jesus, He doesn’t just snuff me out and say, “This one will never amount to anything, this flax won’t burn bright.”  “…And smoking flax He will not quench.” Is. 42:3.

So, in my weakness and failure, the Lord picks me up, the ‘smoking flax’ that I am, and He blows His breath of life on me to rekindle hope.

And, this morning, the Holy Spirit  brought me to the very first Psalm. I’m thinking,” bring me somewhere ‘easy’ Lord, just sing over me somehow. Psalm 1 sounds good.”

Psalm 1, Amplified, “BLESSED -happy, fortunate, prosperous and enviable – is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advise, their plans and purposes], (but God, there are billboards, and social media, and Universities, and music, and movies that are always counseling!) not stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk,( but, Lord, the two roads – the choice to flesh out or the choice to follow a spirit of faith – one is so easy and the other so hard), nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.” (This is the temptation to simply give up and complain about it all and ‘sleep’ it off.)

But the Lord knows that I want to be happy, and instead of giving up after reading 2 verses,  He kept my eye on the page to read the next few verses,

“But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law -the precepts, the instruction, the teachings of God – he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.”

He wooed me and said, “Look to me and be saved. Remember, I am Your Savior, not your bank account or your doctor, or your many ‘counselors’ throughout the day. Trust Me.”

“And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth his fruit in its season; his leaf also shall not fade or wither, and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].

Do you think God can take my ‘bruised reed’ and make it like a tree?

He is my only hope. He is my all in all. ‘This is my comfort in my affliction, Your word has given me life,’ Ps. 119:50 says. I am absolutely a failure, but with God He can even do something with a failure. He breathes His word into our weak and bruised and ‘faithless’ moments, and He brings hope, and He increases our faith,

but best of all, He caresses us with His love. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.”

“Jesus loves me! Loves me still, Tho’ I’m very weak and ill; That I might from sin be free, Bled and died upon the tree…”

“Jesus loves me! He who died. Heaven’s gates to open wide; He will wash away my sin, Let His little child come in…”

“Jesus loves me! He will stay, Close beside me all the way; Thou hast bled and died for me, I will hence-forth live for Thee. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. 

The Bible tells me so!”

Thank you Lord for C.H. Spurgeon!

 2 Cor 1;8b-10… we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.

I am so glad this is in the Bible. Paul was burdened beyond measure, yes we know by reading the Book of Acts in the Bible, that  even Paul had moments when he despaired even of life.  I was given as a gift a small but powerful book called, ‘Beside Still Waters‘ by C.H. Spurgeon.  On page 162 in this little book, the words are not easy, but oh, they are so right:   Weighed in the Balances. Daniel 5:27.

“Some of you are hurting. Your earthly prospects grow dark, and it is midnight. Your business is failing. You have sickness in the house. Your darling wife is languishing before your weeping eyes. Your children, by their ingratitude, have wounded your spirit.

You are a believer, and you know that God is testing and trying you. God wants you to know that a summertime religion is not  sufficient. He wants you to see if your faith can stand the test of trial and trouble. Remember Job? What a scle he was weighed on! What weights of affliction were cast on him? He was a mountain of sore trouble, and yet he could bear them all. He came out of the scales as proof against all the weight that Satanic strength could hurl.

Is it this way with you? Can you say, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job1:21)? Can you submit to His will without murmuring? Can you still say, “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15)? Remember, if your religion will not stand in adversity, it will not give comfort in the storm. You would be better without it; for with it, adversity deceives you. Without it, you might discover your true condition and seek the Lord as a pennitant sinner. If a little adversity breaks you, what will happen when all God’s storms are let loose on your soul? If mere trials distress and grieve, what will you do when all the hurricanes of divine vengeance sweep across the earth and shake its pillars?

Dear friend, I want you to see how you handle your trials and troubles. Does your faith stand? Can you see God’s right hand even when it is wrapped in clouds? Can you discover the silver lining of tribulation’s black clouds? God help you come out of the scales, for many are weighed in them and found wanting (Dan. 5:27).

“Can you see God’s right hand even when it is wrapped in clouds?” Yes, we can! How the word strengthens us,

For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed –

always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the

life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”2 Cor. 7-10.

And we can pray, “In my life Lord, be glorified.”