Pause for Poetry-Dear Restless Heart

Dear restless heart, be still; don’t fret and worry so;

God has a thousand ways His love and help to show;

Just trust, and trust, and trust, until His will you know.

 

Dear restless heart, be still, for peace is God’s own smile,

His love can every wrong and sorrow reconcile;

Just love, and love, and love, and calmly wait awhile.

 

Dear restless heart, be brave; don’t moan and sorrow so,

He hath a meaning kind in chilly winds that blow;

Just hope, and hope, and hope, until you braver grow.

 

Dear restless heart, repose upon His breast this hour,

His grace is strength and life, His love is bloom and flower;

Just rest, and rest, and rest, within His tender power.

 

Dear restless heart, be still! Don’t struggle to be free;

God’s life is in your life, from Him you may not flee;

Just pray, and pray, and pray, till you have faith to see.

Edith Willis Linn

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You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God the Righteous Judge

balance scalesRight now, I’m reading through the Old Testament prophets. In these pages God, the Righteous Judge, lifted up and tore down kingdoms to accomplish his divine plan. He punished those who turned their lives against him, and blessed those who turned their lives toward him.

God was not to blame for handing down his judgement upon his people then, and he isn’t to blame for handing down his judgement now.

In one of Billy Graham’s devotions in his devotional, Hope for Each Day, Rev. Graham asks who’s to blame; the judge for sentencing the criminal, or the criminal for committing the crime? He goes on to ask if someone deliberately commits a crime and is caught, is the judge to blame for sentencing the criminal, or is the criminal to blame for the sentence he receives?

Yes. The judge is the one who hands down the sentence, but he did so by following the law. The judge is not the one who broke the law.

At the time of the Old Testament prophets, the Israelites worshiped multiple gods, made altars and sacrificed to those gods. Sometimes, they even offered their children as burnt sacrifices. They turned their back on the One True Living God and worshiped idols made by man. They still wanted and expected God’s blessing, but they wanted to do whatever they pleased while receiving it.

Time and time again, God sent warnings to his people. He gave them opportunity after opportunity to repent, get rid of the things in their lives that displeased God, and be restored to a relationship with him. But they refused.

God, The Righteous Judge, sent his rebellious people into captivity. He never stopped loving them, but there were consequences for their actions. His plan all along was to restore them to a relationship with himself, but it would be on his terms.

Like an earthly judge, God hands down the sentence and consequences we, the criminals, deserve. As in Billy Graham’s example, when we break God’s laws, we can’t blame God for the punishment we receive. It’s our fault we sinned, not God’s.

But thanks be to God, when we belong to Jesus and claim him as our Lord and Savior, we don’t have to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus took our debt upon his perfect sinless self and paid the debt we owed, but could never pay. He paid our sin-debt with his blood sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.

We deserve the punishment, but the Righteous Judge made a way for us to be spared when he didn’t spare his own son.

God loved the world so much he sent his only son to this world to die a horrible death for us. As the Righteous Judge, God is not to blame if we don’t accept his perfect gift.

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For God did not send His Son into the world to say it is guilty. He sent His Son so the world might be saved from the punishment of sin by Him. John 3:17 (NLV)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Cowboy Poetry – Cowboy in Snakeskin Boots

cowboy bootsThe following poem, Cowboy in Snakeskin Boots, is written by Brad Curtis. If you’d like to read another of his poems here on the blog, how about The Last Ranch Revival and the story of Jonah? You can find this and other poems in Brad’s book of Christian cowboy poems, He Holds the Reigns.

Cowboy in Snakeskin Boots

 

Never been a soorier cowboy

Than ol’ Devil Red.

He started out as a puncher

On the big sky spread.

 

When he hired on

D.R. was the best.

Not a better cowboy

In all of the west.

 

Now when it came to ridin’,

D.R. was a champ.

A top hand for sure.

Not some saddle tramp.

 

Rope ’em on the run.

Turn one on a dime.

A cow didn’t have a chance,

When D.R. threw his twine.

 

Always packin’ iron,

He never had to draw.

Fast as blue lightnin’.

The quickest I ever saw.

 

Now this cowboy

Was perfect in every way.

Cowboyin’ was his life.

He’d do it for no pay.

 

But the longer he was there

Riding for The Brand,

The more he began to talk,

How he was the best in the land.

 

Then the day came

While breaking a bad hoss.

D.R. told the boys

I think I’ll be the boss.

 

He said, “Boys, I’m takin’ over.

Gonna rustle the herd.

My pistols are loaded.

You can pass the word.”

 

That’s when the Boss rode in,

Said, “D.R., I’ll break your pride.

You’re headed down below.

On the big sky, you’ll never ride.”

 

“You were my top hand.

Now you’re as sorry as can be.

You’ll work on a ranch,

But not one for me.”

 

“The ranch that you will work

Is hot as the sun.

No water anywhere.

Grass…well, there’s none.”

 

“Yep, you’ll be the boss

Of your own spread.

But it is a place

Where everything is dead.”

 

“So pack up your gear.

That nag you’re ridin’ you can take.

You’re headin’ down below,

You ol’ sorry snake.”

 

Brad Curtis

Just like Ol’ Devil Red in this cowboy poem, Lucifer thought he was hot stuff. Best in the land. His pride became his downfall. Satan figured he’d take over the reigns in heaven. He figured no one could stop him. But the LORD God Almighty, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, LORD of Heaven’s Armies, told the devil otherwise.

Satan rules alright, but not in heaven. That snakeskin boot wearer is destined to eat dust all his days in a land where there is no light. A land of eternal darkness absent from the Father’s glorious presence.

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How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground—mighty though you were against the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, “I will ascend to heaven and rule the angels. I will take the highest throne. I will preside on the Mount of Assembly far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Envy and Comparison

statues at palace

Envy and comparison are not new.

The writer of Psalm 73 dealt with envy and comparison. He began his psalm stating God is good to those whose hearts are pure. Then the psalmist admits his envy took him close to the edge of the cliff.

But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff. My feet were slipping and I was almost gone. For I was envious of the prosperity of the proud and wicked. Yes, all through life their road is smooth. (2-4)

When the psalmist looked at the prosperous people around him, he couldn’t understand. Their lives looked trouble-free. Why did God allow the wicked to prosper? The psalmist wanted a life like that.

They aren’t always in trouble and plagued with problems like everyone else. It is so hard to explain it–this prosperity of those who hate the Lord. (5, 14)

As the psalmist struggled with his feelings, he went into the LORD’s sanctuary to meditate. There, he thought about the future of these evil people. While in God’s presence, the psalmist realized all wasn’t as it seemed.

Then one day I went into God’s sanctuary to meditate, and thought about the future of these evil men. What a slippery path they are on. Their present life is only a dream. They will awaken to the truth as one awakens from a dream. (17-18, 20)

With this realization, the psalmist saw himself as a stupid animal. He’d been envious and jealous, when all that matter was his relationship with the Father. God held the psalmist right hand. God would keep right on guiding him all his life. When the psalmist life on earth ended, God would receive him into the glories of heaven.

Whom have I in heaven but you? My health fails, my spirits droop, yet God remains. He is the strength of my heart. He is mine forever. (25)

God remains. He is our strength. He is ours forever. (26)

But those refusing to worship God will perish, for he destroys those serving other gods. (27)

But as for me, I get as close to him as I can! I have chosen him and I will tell everyone about the wonderful ways he rescues me. (28)

The writer of Psalm 73 figured out the cure for envy and comparison. Spend time with God. Realize the stupidity of envy. Acknowledge the faithfulness of God. Get as close to God as possible. And tell everyone about the wonderful ways God rescues.

What worked for the psalmist in combating envy and comparison centuries before Christ was born, works for us.

Whenever the twinge of envy raises its head, we should do what this psalmist did. Seek out God in his sanctuary. Draw close to the One who will never leave; the One whose opinion matters most.

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But as for me, I get as close to him as I can. I have chosen him and I will tell everyone about the wonderful ways he rescues me. Psalm 73:28 (TLB)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Image by Laurent Verdier from Pixabay.

Don’t Negate the Benefit

The other morning I read an article which said pistachio nuts can help lower triglyceride levels. Yay. I enjoy eating pistachio nuts, so this is good news.

Not too long after reading the article, I thought, now I can eat more pistachio ice cream. Yum. Maybe not. That would probably negate the benefit gained from eating pistachio nuts, don’t you think? It’s a nice thought, though.

As I considered this, I thought about how sometimes we take the good God permits, twist it to our liking, and negate the benefit we could gain from it. In 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23 Paul talked about food and drink. He said everything was permissible for him, but not everything was beneficial or constructive.

He went on to say everything was permissible for him, but he would not be mastered by anything. Although Paul was talking about food and drink in these instances, he said whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble. Seek the good of many instead of our own good.

Moderation. Restraint. Anything we overindulge in can negate the benefit.

Like me thinking about eating pistachio ice cream to lower my triglycerides. Or me buying one more writing journal, when I already have a shelf full I haven’t written in yet.

Overindulgence can become an addiction regardless of what we overindulge in. It doesn’t have to be food. What about overindulging in social media or television? While neither of these are necessarily wrong, too much can be. Given the past few years we experienced, I’d say many of us have weighed in heavy on the too much end of the scale with these two.

Those who have read this blog for any length of time know I post gluten-free recipes. I don’t eat gluten-free to follow a trend. I eliminate gluten from my diet because I am allergic to wheat. It literally makes me ill. The pain gluten causes me is not worth indulging in anything that contains it.

Yeah. I miss eating a lot of things I used to take for granted I could eat, but there are so many more gluten-free foods available now than there used to be. It isn’t quite as painful.

Like the teen aged fast-food worker said when I explained why I needed my meal without the bun, if he had to be gluten-free, he would tell God, “Take me, now. Because life wouldn’t be worth living anymore.” I believe he had southern biscuits and sausage gravy on his mind when he said that. I laughed, knowing it’s kinda how I felt hearing my initial gluten allergy diagnosis.

I doubt Paul had gluten on his mind when he said everything is permissible for him, but not everything is beneficial. However, whenever we face a choice, perhaps like Paul, we can say even though Christ may not have said no, that doesn’t mean it’s beneficial for us. Why negate the benefit of what he gives us?

Pistachio ice cream is permissible, but if I eat it to excess, and claim it is healthy because it has pistachios in it, I’m twisting something good to suit my desires. I’ve allowed it to get a grip on me I can’t easily stop when I want to.

Moderation. Restraint. In all things.

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 I can do anything I want to if Christ has not said no, but some of these things aren’t good for me. Even if I am allowed to do them, I’ll refuse to if I think they might get such a grip on me that I can’t easily stop when I want to. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (TLB)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Thwart the Enemy

Currently, I am reading a novel about World War II. Although the story has nothing to do with the resistance fighters of the war who often gave their lives to thwart the enemy, that’s what I’m thinking about today.

World War II freedom fighters did everything they could to defeat the enemy and stop the forces of evil. As I ponder those brave men and women, I wonder, to what lengths do we, as Christ followers, go to thwart the enemy, Satan, and stop his forces of evil?

The freedom fighters blew up bridges to keep the enemy from crossing and gaining ground. What are we willing to blew up to keep the enemy from gaining ground? Are we willing to remove the things in our lives which easily hand ground over to the enemy? Are we willing to get rid of the things in our lives which are contrary to God’s Word?

Resistance fighters flattened tires to slow down the enemy, and perhaps, gain time to warn those in harm’s way. Are we willing to do whatever it takes to slow down the enemy’s attempts to destroy others? Are we willing to warn others about Satan’s attempts on their life?

Those working in enemy factories often threw scraps of metal into the machinery to stop the assembly line production. Although the Bible can in no way be compared to scraps of metal, how often do we explain the Scripture to others to thwart the enemy, and slow down his attempts to create more chaos and condemnation?

Gasoline was siphoned from enemy vehicles. Gun powder was drained from explosives. Railways the enemy used were blown up. Telegram wires were cut. Weapons the enemy of God uses to advance his agenda of world domination need to have the power siphoned, drained, blown up, and cut to render them powerless.

To do that, we must put on the whole armor of God to withstand the enemy’s attacks. We must fill our lives with what is good, honorable, true, pure, and holy, and think on those things.

All of this, and much more, was done during World War II by resistance fighters to make sure the enemy was stopped.

Just like the brave men and women of the resistance groups of World War II, we face a powerful enemy, but not one who is invincible. We face an enemy who has already been defeated by the power of our Resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Victor of the Battle.

Jesus defeated hell, sin, Satan and death. The enemy has no power except what God grants.

To be sure, a war is being fought. The stakes are high. Everyday the enemy tries to advance and gain more ground. He is relentless in his pursuit of sowing evil. He will use any and all methods he feels necessary to meet his goal.

And as those whose Commander is the God of Heaven’s Army, we must use any and all methods necessary through the power of the Holy Spirit in us to make sure Satan fails.

What tactics do you use to thwart the enemy?

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Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart. 1 Peter 5:8 (TLB)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry-Be Not Anxious

mountain lake

Be Not Anxious

Annie Johnson Flint

I cannot change the yesterday when I distrusted Thee,

Though all my fears unfounded proved, and shame me now as then;

I cannot promise that my faith will last throughout the night,

Or that, when Thy tomorrow comes, I will not doubt again.

But grant, O faithful Lord and true, that I may trust Thee now,

Just now, each moment of each hour of this Thy present day;

That, looking backward, I may read the record of the past,

And, forward, see Thy steadfast word light all the future way.

With Memory to guard the rear and Faith to lead the van,

And all Thy tested promises like beacon lights to shine,

How can I dread that demon shape of anxious, faithless fear?

For he shall lose his power when I fully trust in Thine.

Annie Johnson Flint

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You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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When God Provides

motel no vacancy signThere are dramatic stories of how God provided for someone’s needs when the situation seemed hopeless. 

No food in the cupboard and a bag of groceries appear on the doorstep.

The need for a transplant donor and one becomes available just in time.

Someone knows someone who knows someone and a job is secured before the last penny from the last paycheck has been spent.

While you may have never participanted in anything you’d call dramatic, I’m sure if you look back, you’ll see God’s hand always present, large or small, providing in ways only he can.

A time I feel for certain God provided for my parents, brother, and me was when we traveled back to the States from Panama after visiting Sissy and Chief in the Canal Zone.

The Miami, Florida hotel clerk informed my dad there were no available rooms. It was late, Dad, and the rest of us, were tired after our flight. This wasn’t the first hotel we’d tried to find a room at and the prospects for finding a room for the night did not look good.

As my dad turned away, the hotel clerk called him back. Seems he just so happened to have a room left after all.

Now, I know finding a hotel room does not rank up there with receiving a transplant donor, but the point I’d like to make is this. We need to keep our eyes open to see God’s hand at work in our lives.

There’s also been the time I thought I lost my wallet. Pilot and I looked all over and couldn’t find it. Until…I looked one more time in my purse, of all places, and there it was.

God doesn’t always work in dramatic ways, but he is always at work.

And don’t you think he’d appreciate it if we thanked him for the things we consider small, just as much as we thank him for the things we consider big?

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And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by KEEM IBARRA on Unsplash

It Is Never Too Late To Do God’s Will

older man with sonHave you ever felt like perhaps it’s too late to do God’s will?

In Christine Caine’s book, Unexpected, she relates the story of Caleb, showing it is never too late to do God’s will.

Right now, in this season of my life, I’ve questioned whether it’s time to move on past certain dreams I’ve long held or keep pressing on. Christine’s recounting of Caleb pressing on even into his eighties, proves it’s never too late to pursue the call God has on our life.

We remember Caleb as one of two spies who, along with Joshua, entered the Promised Land, saw the giants, and announced, “No problem. With God on our side, we can take them. Those giants are gonna fall.”

Unfortunately, the people believed the fearful accounts of the other ten spies, refused to take the land, and wandered for another forty years in the wilderness.

Christine says:

During all those wilderness years, he kept believing. And he kept himself vitally alive — spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally — eager to possess what God had promised him. Over the course of four decades, he never let go of the promise that Hebron was his. His attitude was all in — he looked to the future with nothing but hope and courage.

Caleb never quit. He refused to allow himself to stop believing he’d reach the Promised Land, even after four decades of trying. He refused to sit back and rest on previous victories. He held firm to the belief it was never too late to see God’s promise fulfilled.

When Caleb was eighty-five years of age, Joshua gave him the land of Hebron as the Lord commanded. But first, Caleb had to drive out three clans of the descendants of Anak. That fierce giant who stopped the Israelites from entering forty years earlier.

Caleb was prepared to take his rightful place in the Promised Land.

He put in the hard work to reach it.

He didn’t give up when opposition pressed against him.

He could have retired and let others fight the battles, but he didn’t.

He fought for his Promised Land.

How willing are we to keep fighting, and truly believe it’s never too late to do God’s will?

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Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” Numbers 13:30

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Walk on Water

row boat on waterAndrew Peterson wrote a song which said, “If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.” Shortly after, books popped up with the same title, based on the Bible story of Peter walking to Jesus on water.

How many of us would love to have the faith to walk on water? But there’s a catch. In order to walk on water, we’ve got to haul our self out of the safety of the boat. We have to take that first scary step into liquid.

We remember the story of Jesus walking on the water to the disciples’ boat during a storm. At first glance, the disciples believed he was a ghost. When Peter realized it was the Lord, he decided to get out of the boat and walk across the water to him.

All went well until the waves began to lap around Peter’s knees, and he took his eyes off Jesus.

Jesus asked Peter, “Oh, ye of little faith. Why did you doubt?”

Why did he doubt? Why do we doubt? Why was his faith small? Why is our faith small?

In Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, he says, The key to getting out of the boat is hearing the voice of God. If you’re going to get out of the boat in the middle of a lake in the middle of the night, you better make sure that Jesus said, “Come.” But if Jesus says, “Come,” you better not stay in the boat.

I used to be rather fearless, but I’m not so inclined these days. Decades ago a friend and I climbed up an open look-out tower on a small Native American mound on an island in the middle of the St. John’s River in Florida.

As we approached the top, I stopped and latched onto the metal rail like my life depended on it, bent forward, and waited for the earth to stop shaking. Vertigo, compliments of an inner ear nerve imbalance, gripped my body and I knew for sure I was going to careen to the ground in a broken heap.

My friend looked at me, asked if I was okay, then said, “I’ve never known you to wimp out of anything before.”

Just as my vertigo prevented me from going any further up that ladder to see the view only possible from way above the ground, our fear oftentimes stops us from climbing to the heights Jesus wants us to reach. It freezes us, and keeps us from putting one leg after the other over the side of the boat, and stepping on top of the water.

We wimp out.

Jesus wants us to experience a life of faith in him. He wants us to achieve more than we could ever imagine. He wants us to remember he is right here with us, holding our hand when the waves threaten to pull us under. He wants us to get out of the boat when he says, “Come.”

If we allow fear to keep us in our personal safe boat, we’ll never walk on water.

Are there times you’ve stepped out of the boat in faith, even when you were frightened?

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But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:27-31 (NIV)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash