Call to me and I will answer you…

“Thus says the LORD who made the earth…:Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. —Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 

From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit…For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 

And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are—The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 

…remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, …that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe… 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding—If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 

Jer.33:2-3 ESV; Rom. 11:33-34 ESV; Is.64:4 ESV; I Cor.2:10-12 ESV; Gen 41:38-39 ESV; I Cor.2:14 ESV; Eph 1:16-19 ESV; Prov. 3:5 ESV;  James 1:5 ESV

I lack wisdom.  The way is not clear.  Rearing children to adulthood was one thing.  Tending parents in their return to dependency is another.  The twos and the eighties are challenging years.  My puzzled mind wakes me at night weighing factors, pointing alternately to tidy solutions and then to their infeasibility.  Guilt, Fear and the  Turmoil of conflicting voices and multiple allegiances wrestle with my sleep-fogged brain.  I want to do what’s right.  I also want to please…everyone!  What course does Love dictate?  These things are not clear.

Joseph’s story, and Jeremiah’s, encourage my heart that God knows the things hidden from my understanding and He can be relied on to convey the truth I need in order to navigate these unfamiliar waters.  He can show me what to do and when and how.  He can enable me to wait in faith, to lay me down and sleep in confidence that He is in control and His direction never too early or too late.  As pressure builds to “DO SOMETHING!” I can trust Him to make a way in perfect timing.  I do not want to run ahead driven by guilt and anxiety or lag behind in timid fear.

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long…Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you…Ps.25:4,5,20 ESV

I’m grateful for the Word of God, the Spirit of God and the People of God.
Thank you for your prayers as God directs.



In our holiness let there be JOY

“You love what is right and hate what is wrong.  Therefore God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”

This was said of Jesus, which suggests to me that the holiest of people should be the most joyful of people.  This is God’s design, but it has not always seemed true in my experience.

The church tradition I grew up in was big on a form of ‘holiness’ that did not often exude joy.  Austerity, conformity, and a forced piety overshadowed our bouts of joyful singing and marching ’round the auditorium.  A long list of taboos kept pleasure in check.  And the saints who testified most loudly to their ‘sanctification’ were some of the least inviting people to be around.  Pride makes poor company.  So it has been a lifetime dawning on me that holiness is truly a BEAUTIFUL attribute.  God is beautiful. His work is beautiful.  His designs for us are beautiful. And He is the essence of HOLY!

… Lift up a present, and come before Him. Bow yourselves to Jehovah, in the beauty of holiness.

The Old Testament, with its intense array of laws governing all of life, might seem to affirm a kill-joy view of holiness.  But David didn’t see it that way! “Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.”   God’s laws did make His people stand out in territory surrounded by idol worship and lawless paganism, but they were not arbitrary stipulations meant to thwart pleasure.  Rather His commands are more like guardrails on a mountain highway–not for looks, but to prevent a dive over the deadly precipice.  Sin is that precipice. It maims and destroys the design of holiness for which we are intended.  It pulls us away from our source of Joy and sets us off in hot pursuit of dead-ends and cliff edges.   

“If your law hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. I will never forget your commandments, for you have used them to restore my joy and health.

Still, I am surprised when I bump into joy in the Old Testament right in the middle of talk of tithing and law-keeping. Consider God’s instruction to His people regarding the use of their tithe money:

When you arrive, use the money to buy anything you wantan ox, a sheep, some wine, or beer.  Then feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and celebrate with your household.

Sounds like a party to me!

And this was Nehemiah’s counsel to people overwhelmed at their failure to keep God’s laws:

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!

I can only conclude that God means for His people to know JOY, and the closer we get to His ideals for us (holiness), the more we will know that joy.  It won’t be found in buckling down to ‘keep the rules’…

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

But He will produce it in us as we walk by His Spirit in the counsel of His Word.

But the fruit of the Spirit is…joy…

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

Beware of counterfeits. Holiness is beautiful, not odious.  Its by-product will be joy!

For the LORD God is our light and protector.  He gives us grace and glory.  No good thing will the LORD withhold from those who do what is right.  O LORD Almighty happy are those who trust in you.

Heb.1:9 NLT; I Chron.16:29 YLT; Ps.119:35 NLT; Ps.119:92,93 NLT; Deut.14:26 NLT; Neh 8:10 NLT; Rom.14:17 ESV; Gal 5:22 ESV; I Thess.1:6 ESV; Ps.84:11,12 NLT


But I’m afraid to surrender!

I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his people, his faithful ones.  But let them not return to their foolish ways—Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone.  Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.  But now in these final days, he has spoken to us through His Son— Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light. 

And we are God’s household, if we keep up our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.  That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today you must listen to His voice. Don’t harden your hearts against Him as Israel did when they rebelled.” 

For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ…there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who enter into God’s rest will find rest from their labours, just as God rested after creating the world. 

Ps.85:8NLT; Deut.13:4NLT; Heb.1:1,2NLT; Matt.11:28,30NLT; Heb.3:6-8NLT; Heb.3:14;4:9,10NLT


God speaks peace to His people. He offers an easy yoke.  He calls us to trust Him in everything and so to find rest for our souls.  Do I walk in this rest? Or am I driven by fears and insecurities to grasp for control of as many factors as I can so that I can secure my best life now?  These thoughts challenge me as I put myself in Jeremiah’s shoes.  I’ve been reading through his book at a snail’s pace lately and I find we have this in common–he too found great delight in God’s Words.

But I also see how much he suffered on account of these words!  His delight went beyond the comforting lines to a hard obedience.  He was called to repeat God’s message when noone wanted to hear it and this mission brought him to death’s door.  Chapter thirty-eight of his story finds him sunk in mud at the bottom of a cistern in the middle of a city about to be decimated by war, famine and disease. He knows this judgment to be coming because God has said so.  But there is nothing he can do to preserve his own life; he cannot flee the city or surrender to the Babylonians.  He must rest his own case with God. I see in him a soul rest I find enviable.

Two men walk into the story at this point, demonstrating for us the consequences of trusting or rejecting what God has said, even when we are terrified of what’s going to happen next.

Both hear Jeremiah’s message from God:

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life. They will live!’ Jer.38:2NLT

And both men are terrified at its prospects.  But each responds differently and this makes all the difference in what comes next for each of them.

King Zedekiah, on the one hand, calls a private meeting with Jeremiah to verify what the Lord has to say about his predicament.  He has been appointed king in Jerusalem by the Babylonian king, in exchange for his loyalty.  But he is loathe to surrender without a fight.  Surely God will not let His beloved Jerusalem be sacked by the wicked Babylonians?! Zedekiah listens carefully to God’s words via Jeremiah:

Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the Babylonian officers, you and your family will live, and the city will not be burned down. But if you refuse to surrender, you will not escape! This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground.'” Jer.38:17-18

But his pride and his fear cause him to harden his heart against turning to the LORD and following His counsel.  He responds:

“But I am afraid to surrender, for the Babylonians may hand me over to the Judeans who have defected to them. And who knows what they will do to me!” Jer.38:19NLT

His own fears of ‘what if’ make him deaf to God’s promise of life.  He refuses to believe Jeremiah’s reassurance:

You won’t be handed over to them if you choose to obey the LORD.  Your life will be spared, and all will go well for you. Jer.38:20 NLT

Instead, by his own choice, all does NOT go well for him. His life concludes in cruel exile—his eyes gouged out after witnessing the murder of his own sons and nobles. In rejecting God’s Word Zedekiah forfeited the mercies of God extended to him. He trusted in his own stategies for well-being and reaped the results.

But among Zedekiah’s frightened palace officials there was a man who refused to act out of fear. When all the rest of the officials were intent on Jeremiah’s death, Ebed-melech stepped forward and pled for his life.  He personally saw to Jeremiah’s merciful rescue from the Pit of YUCHHK!  Despite his horror at the prospect of Babylon’s onslaught, he honored God’s Word by protecting His servant, risking the king’s wrath being turned on him.

And God sent him this personal message:

“I will do to this city everything I have threatened.  I will send disaster, not prosperity.  You will see its destruction, but I will rescue you from those you fear so much.  Because you trusted me, I will preserve your life and keep you safe.  I, the LORD, have spoken!”

I love that!  God saw Ebed-melech’s fear.  He also saw his brave rescue of Jeremiah.  And for his faithfulness God preserved his life when others were slaughtered.  He showed Himself to be the only King worth fearing, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, in whose service we can confidently live all our days, resting our souls with Him.

Incidentally, do you know what happened to Jeremiah when Jerusalem was sacked and its occupants carried off into exile?  Special orders had been given by the King of Babylon to keep an eye out for Jeremiah and to protect his life.  When the Captain of the Gaurd found him chained with the other exiles he let him free and invited him to come along and be well cared for or to stay behind with the poor remnant in Judah, his choice!

“The whole land is before you–go wherever you like.”

David’s testimony could well have been his:

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.  The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.  Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. Ps.116:5-7ESV

Having delighted in God’s word and feared God alone, Jeremiah found rest for his soul in very difficult times.  He had learned the lesson of his predecessor:

“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. Is. 8:12-13 ESV

By God’s grace, I want this to be my testimony, the key to my strength and stability in tough times.  May my delight in God’s Word go beyond comfort to obedience even when fears threaten to dissuade me.  This is my hope and prayer.

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling… Is.30:15 ESV

This I know, that God is for me.  In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can man do to me? Ps.56:9-11


You can read this story of Jeremiah and the fall of Jerusalem for yourself in
Jeremiah 38,39 & 52 and in II Kings 24,25 and II Chronicles 36.

Follow HIS Heart

Do not let your heart turn away from the LORD to worship other gods.

There it jumped out at me.  The human heart is not something to follow, but to chaperone!  It can not be trusted to take a person in the right direction, until it has been captured by the greatest of Loves.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

And only that Love can keep it in the way of life!

Show love to the LORD your God by walking in his ways and clinging to him.

Admittedly I’m not capable of loving God without His intervention.  We only love Him because He first loved us. But I can come acknowledging my ways are wrong and His right.  He delights to rescue the humble.

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. … The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

For His own glory’s sake He rescues us from our duplicitous hearts and grants us hearts bent on loving Him. And as we love Him we delight to obey Him, and as we obey Him we are brought into the life we could never find by ‘following our hearts’.  This is  the everlasting kind of life we were designed to live from before the foundation of the world.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

So the next time you (and I!) are prompted to just ‘follow your heart’, to do what seems best for you, think again.  What might it look like instead to deny yourself, to take up your cross, and to follow God’s heart as He’s shown it in His Word?  This is the challenge I’m considering today.  Thanks for joining me.


For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.

Deut.11:16NLT; Deut.6:5 ESV; Deut.11:22; Ps. 51:9-10, 17 ESV; Ez. 36:25-27 ESV; I Jn.5:3-4 ESV

P.S. I’ve been reading G.K. Chesterton’s ORTHODOXY and considering his thoughts on self-confidence.  This is so closely related to following your heart that you might be interested to read it also at my Book Quotes and Notes site.

G.K. on “The Sin of Self-Confidence”