Saturday, February 11, 2017

"The Lord is Close"

The fact of the matter is, we all go through difficulties; small stuff, big stuff, ordinary, everyday affairs that have their own set of challenges.  Then there are the life altering events that take us to places we certainly never planned or imagined that seem to knock us off of our feet.  We had a completely different idea in mind.   

But I don’t want to wallow away in my sorrows, although there are more times than I’d like to admit when I have.  The Lord said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)  He calls and equips us to do the same as we are filled and empowered by His Holy Spirit.

And so, I seek a Savior who is not unfamiliar with my propensity to focus on the problem and begin to grumble; but He shifts my attention, He quiets and settles my soul as He points me to the One who is the solution and returns me to His rest as I fully rely upon His grace.
It's not that my situation always changes.  I live daily with chronic illness and its limitations due to the effects upon my body, mind, emotions and finances.  It has been life-changing for sure, not only to me but to those around me. 

There are times I become discouraged, feel guilty, and honestly, get downright mad!  But I know a God who is faithful to speak to me His word as I seek Him, where He helps bring me through my current condition and straightens out my tangled up thoughts; Who lifts me out of the muck and the mire and who comforts me in my distress as His truth penetrates and reforms my heart. 

It was recently as I was feeling disappointed, down in the dumps, and just so brokenhearted and isolated, when this Scripture unexpectedly came to me, followed by my art work and the devotion it inspired:  Psalm 34:18 - The Lord is close to those who have suffered disappointment.  He saves those who are discouraged.

How blessed I am to have the time to dwell in the secret place, alone with my God, to commune with Him and to hear what His Spirit is speaking.  How blessed I am to pursue the things of God as He allows me to create art work that speaks so deeply to my spirit, and I pray, into the lives of others as the Lord releases me to share.  How blessed I am that as I wait upon Him He opens my eyes to see wondrous things from His law.  How blessed I am that He puts all the pieces back together and makes me whole again.  How blessed I am as the Lord reminds me, I am chosen and a child of the King!

I pray for you, I pray for me, that God's word would go down deep to quicken and enliven our spirits, imparting His hope and a fresh, new vitality in Christ Jesus.  

And, if we should find ourselves in perhaps some very unexpected places, may we search out to discover and embrace God's most perfect plan right there in the season He's set us, faithfully walking with Jesus, our friend, as all our trust is placed in Him.  

The Lord is close, and truly, He cares.

Prayer and Declaration:
Lord, You surround me with songs of deliverance; sweet melodies that sing I am free.  You hedge me in, behind and before.  You leave no open gaps, but fill every crack.  You close the distance, drawing me near where we meet together, enveloping me with Your love, encircling me with Your army, protecting and keeping me safe. 

Your gentle hand is mighty upon me.  You lead and guide me as I hide away in You.  You restore my soul.  You have so perfectly planned the direction of my life even when I cannot comprehend or see it. 

You provide me with streams of cool, clean water in desert places; the truth of Your Word that jump-starts my heart, invigorating me as You impart to me the fresh energy of Your Holy Spirit.

In the wilderness You reveal to me a pool where healing rivers flow and where I see the power and victory of Your righteous right hand.  You fight for me.  You have dashed the enemy in pieces.  The earth has swallowed them up.  The Lord is a man of war.  The Lord is His name.  He has triumphed gloriously, bringing me through impossible situations.  

You are a very present help in time of my great need.  You allay my every fear as I put my hope in You.  I hear Your voice speaking, "Be still and know that I AM God." 

And so, boldly I come to the throne of grace; to a compassionate, kind, all-knowing and powerful God who understands and knows all of my ways, for You are the One who formed me just as You pleased, and You delight in me.

Losses and disappointments I have suffered.  Untold blows have been thrust upon me.  Many I endure still.  I have been perplexed regarding the way things have gone and confess my lack of understanding and my nearing the edge of despair.  I have been struck down but You have not allowed my ruination.  You have not permitted the enemy to lay waste of my life.

No, but You come as the lifter of my head, assuring me that You have not forgotten or forsaken me.  You breathe life to dry bones and You say, "LIVE!".  You are my defender.  You are my redeemer.  I have been bought with a price and I am Yours.

I thought I'd be crushed under the wearying weight of grief because of the multitude of trials, threats, and false accusations from foes.  The relentless assaults by tempters and tormentors of the troop sent against me to invade and wreak havoc in my life made me to wish for a swift end. 

My strength failed me, but You come as the strength of my life.  You are my light and my salvation so whom shall I fear?  Though I have been hard-pressed on every side, You have not allowed my foes to crush me, but rather, faithfully, You further manifest the life of Christ in me according to Your promise.  You are my shield, my exceedingly great reward.

You hold me steady and in a place where hope is renewed, faith is strengthened, passion is reignited and trust is restored.  You remind me once again that I am only passing through, a stranger and pilgrim in this earth, but heaven is my home.

Father, I rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory as You bring me through the fire to reveal the genuineness of the faith that You have produced to bring You all praise and glory and honor.  I wait upon You; I look to the One who bears me up, who keeps me from fainting and gives me the courage to hold tight, persevere, and believe.
Scripture Meditation:
Psalm 34:18
- The Lord is close to those who have suffered disappointment.  He saves those who are discouraged.
Psalm 139:5 - You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.
Psalm 32:7 - You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.
Isaiah 30:15 -  In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.
2 Kings 6:14-18 - Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city.  And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots.  And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master!  What shall we do?”  So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.”  Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.  And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.”  And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
Isaiah 41:18
- I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
Exodus 15:1-19
- Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying:  “I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously!  The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!  The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.  The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is His name.  Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.  The depths have covered them; they sank to the bottom like a stone.  “Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.  And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; it consumed them like stubble.  And with the blast of Your nostrils the waters were gathered together; the floods stood upright like a heap; the depths congealed in the heart of the sea.  The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my desire shall be satisfied on them.  I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’  You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters.  “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?  You stretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them.  You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation.  “The people will hear and be afraid; sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia.  Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling will take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.  Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of Your arm they will be as still as a stone, till Your people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over whom You have purchased.  You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.  “The Lord shall reign forever and ever.”  For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought back the
waters of the sea upon them.  But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.
Psalm 46:1-2
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea...
Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God...
Hebrews 4:14-16
- Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Romans 5:1-5 - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
1 Peter 1:3-9 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love.  Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
Psalm 139:1-5 - O Lord, You have searched me and known me.  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.  You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.  You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.
Psalm 139:13-16
- For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 27:1 - The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?   The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:14 - Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 - 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.  For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So then death is working in us, but life in you.
Psalm 3:1-4 - Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!  Many are they who rise up against me.  Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.”  But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.  I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.

Ezekiel 37:14I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live...
Genesis 15:1 - “Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” 
Hebrews 11:13-16 - These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.