Trust and Obey. There is no other way…

I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding… Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Ps.119:32, 34-35 NIV

“Be even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases Him.” Phil.2:12 NLT

…for it is God who works in you both to WILL and to do for His good pleasure. Phil. 2:13 NKJV

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you WILL, and it shall be done for you. … If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Jn.15:7, 10-11 RSV

Now glory be to God!  By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.  Eph.3:20 NLT

I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. As a result I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead! Phil.3:9 NLT

…the LORD God Almighty, the LORD is his name!  So now, come back to your God! Act on the principles of love and justice, and always live in confident dependence on your God. Hosea 12:5,6 NLT

Today you must listen to His voice.  Don’t harden your hearts against Him…For the word of God is full of living power. Heb.3:15; 4:12

Ok, so that was a long string of verses.  But they have spoken to me this morning. Sometimes I struggle, often I struggle, to make decisions.  Opportunities come.  I’m asked if I’d like to do this or that and I wonder, should I?  For Jim this is straightforward.  “Well, do you want to? If you don’t want to, don’t do it!”  He has a strong faith in God’s ability to direct him in the path he should take. But I know me, and I know I’m disinclined to do anything new and untried. So I waffle.  I hesitate to say NO thanks, not because I find it difficult, but because it is so very easy for me to slam doors of opportunity. So should I or shouldn’t I? 

What is God calling me to do?  When I’m tormented by doubt even this crucial question is a stickler.  There is no formula for knowing in every situation what God is calling me to. But faith calls me to pause and ask, and then to say YES or NO based on God-confidence not fear. The God who calls me to His service knows me through and through. He resides in me and is well able to direct my heart according to His good pleasure.  By trial and error I am learning this kind of faith.

I admire David’s grasp of the goodness of God’s laws (See: Psalm 119!). He found delight in knowing and doing God’s will. Not perfectly of course.  Sometimes his flesh pounded so loudly in his ears he took no thought of God’s commands, and had to come the long and painful way around to listening…But the trajectory of his life was one of listening and obeying and finding JOY in God’s designs for him.

I am particularly  grateful for the clarity of Paul’s letters in piecing together the connection between faith and obedience… He says, and I paraphrase: Work out this great salvation that God has accomplished in you.  Act on it with reverent fear.  For the God who saves you is at work in You.  He will shape your will and energize your service as you feed on His Words…He will accomplish in you this salvation He has begun, through the process of your faithful service for His Kingdom’s sake.  

My take away is that I am free to walk in confident obedience–not on eggshells of indecision paralyzed by the fear of missing an opportunity or making a poor decision. By faith I can give say Yea or Nay looking to God to make my way perfect, trusting that He sees and knows and works in me for His good pleasure. Trusting too that He will work in me and through me for His kingdom’s sake and His glory!

May He grant us all joyful obedience in doing what pleases Him! Thanks for sharing my morning’s ponderings ( :


Out of Weakness made STRONG!

The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor–Go in this might of yours and save Israel…do I not send you? –the LORD

Please, Lord, how can I save Israel–my clan is the weakest…and I am the least in my father’s house.  –Gideon

‘But I will be with you…’ My power is made perfect in weakness. And the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon… –the LORD

Judges 6:16; II Cor.12:9; Judges 6:34

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me…for when I am weak, then I am strong–Be strong in the LORD and in the strength of His might!  –Paul

II Cor.12:9,10; Eph.6:10

I’m studying the life of Gideon these days.

Timid Gideon–hunkered down in a wine press threshing wheat so there will still be food to eat after the hordes of Midian have descended once again on the harvest fields.

Chosen Gideon–“O mighty man of valor, go in this might of yours and save Israel!” An unlikely selection from any vantage point but God’s!

Cautious Gideon–tearing down his clan’s idols by night because this was the first step before God would step in to vanquish the enemy (and he hadn’t the courage yet to do such a thing in broad daylight!) Then, Double-checking and Triple-checking that God really intended to use him to save Israel…

Confident Gideon–(at last!) having seen pyro-technics, having exhausted tests with fleeces, and having overheard a bizarre nightmare as told by a terrified enemy, Gideon is now ready. With trumpets and torches and clay jars for weapons he and his 300 Hand-selected men ambush the enemy declaring “a sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” though there are no swords in sight but those of the enemy.

This is as far as I’ve gotten in the story. It has been plenty to ponder. Clothed with the Spirit of the Lord, armed with the Sword of the Spirit, equipped with faith in Almighty God, there is no exception clause for whom God might use and there’s no telling what He may yet do through me and you as we move forward one Spirit-led step at a time in this our/His strength!

Let’s be listening and watching, praying and hoping. And who knows if the LORD may use us to be solutions to the problems that most vex us!

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. … These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Heb.11:32-34, 39-40 NIV

There is yet room for us in the annals of faith, by God’s grace!


The Antidote for Self-Centric Thinking

How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!

Ps.139:17 ESV

Let the unrighteous man [forsake] his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon… For my thoughts are not your thoughts…declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are… my thoughts than your thoughts.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does… We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

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. … “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,…he made himself nothing…[and] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death…

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

… Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! 

Is.55:7-9 ESV; II Cor.10:3, 5 NIV; Rom 8:5-6 ESV; I Cor.2:11-12, 16 ESV; Phil.2:5-7 ESV; II Cor. 4:5 ESV; Ps.139:17, 23-24 ESV

I think one of the greatest reliefs of Heaven will be self-forgetfulness. I was never designed to be pre-occupied with myself, but with God and His glory. Even now, because God’s vast encircling thoughts have got me covered–from before conception through all eternity (see Ps.139!) I am released from the burden of looking out for my best good, freed to pursue what pleases my Creator, freed to live a life driven by love of God and others rather than love of me!  The One who knows me best, sees my worst, and loves me most has got me covered. Living for His glory is the only response that makes sense.

Self-love can’t compare to this.  Self-help is futile.

One of my prayerful hopes this year is to grow in self-forgetfulness, to be delivered from caring so very much what people around me are thinking of me. Here is the perfect antidote:

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

If I comprehend God’s love for me and relish His thoughts above my own flawed impressions and fallen thought patterns…If I believe His Words and let His desires give shape to my agenda…how can I stay tangled for long in the morass of self-centric thinking?!

I will never win the war with self by resolve and mind-control strategies, be they a sanctified form of eastern meditation or a rigorous self-help prescription.  But with the Lord as my shepherd I have everything that I need.  He has given me His Word.  He leads me by His Spirit.  This is the only path to life and peace.  The mind set anywhere else is death!

The Spirit of the Living God resides in those who trust in Christ as Saviour, conditioning us for the epic day when we shall see His Glory as we only now imagine it. This will be a view unobstructed by selfie sticks. For this Jesus prayed:

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world….I have made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

John 17:24 ESV

In this will be our greatest Joy. In the meantime, may we learn to prize His thoughts above all others, because in the end they are the only ones that matter.

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of your hands. 

Ps.138:8 ESV


Settling into my Inheritance

“The LORD was with the people of Judah, and they took possession of the hill country.  But they failed to drive out the people living in the plains because the people there had iron chariots.”

Judges 1:19 ESV

January is for me a month to take stock of the past year and recalibrate for the new.  And I find myself paying extra attention to models in Scripture who had territory to step into that they were intimidated by. Take for instance the Israelite tribes crossing the Jordan into the land of ‘milk and honey’.

The years of bondage in Egypt were behind them, and the years of trekking around in the desert wastelands.  It was time to move into their new home! But it wasn’t that simple.  There were people living there already– people whom God had determined to displace because of their detestable God-defying customs (Deut.18:9-14).  God had given His people explicit instructions. No treaties were to be made.  No exceptions. Yes, the nations were strong, stronger than Israel’s own resources, but God would be with them; He would go before them.  This land was to be their inheritance but they would have to do some conquering and cleaning up to remove every trace of pagan idolatry.  Then God would settle in with them; they would be at home in their own land at last–a People dearly loved, the apple of God’s eye, and His own precious inheritance!

I want to be at home like that–settled in my inheritance, living at rest with God at the helm, living by faith and done with personality struggles and perplexities of identity, knowing and fulfilling my calling without angst…at home in my inheritance.  I take note that this didn’t happen for the Israelites in the straight-forward faithfully obedient way God intended.

The record shows that tribe after tribe defaulted to failure.  Not only did they fail to drive out the enemy but they decided to keep them around as servants! (See Judges 1) And before long God’s beloved people had adopted pagan gods and were copying the odious practices of the people they were meant to disinherit.  The book of Judges bears witness to the chaos that ensued.  What had happened?!

It started with excuses.

“The hill country is not enough for us, and the Canaanites in the lowlands…have iron chariots–they are too strong for us!” (Joshua 17:16) 

Joshua 17:16

This was the complaint of Joseph’s descendants.  The Joseph who had risen by God’s favor from being a lowly prisoner to riding in a chariot as co-regent with Pharaoh, that Joseph’s descendants were bemoaning their helplessness in the face of enemies with iron chariots…Where was their faith in God’s promises?

Joshua called their bluff and spurred them on to action:

“Since you are so large and strong, you will be given more than one portion.  The forests of the hill country will be yours as well. Clear as much of the land as you wish and live there.  And I am sure you can drive out the Canaanites from the valleys too, even though they are strong and have iron chariots.” (Joshua 17:18 NLT)

Joshua 17:18 NLT

He left no room for their excuses or their faithless timidity. He challenged them:

“How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?”

Joshua 18:3

Good question. I turned 57 this month so the question is not lost on me.  What conquests remain for me? What iron chariots to be defeated?  I am not the picture of competence and maturity I once imagined I’d somehow just be by this stage of life.  There’s nothing automatic about taking God at His Word and marching into all he intends for me.  Faith is a battle with a real enemy.  Fears of failure and disappointment lure me to settle short of destroying the ‘iron chariots’ that stand in the way of God’s good purposes for me…

I had a slow read through the first couple chapters of Judges just lately. This sad tale of “Failure to complete the conquest” depicts the disobedience that always accompanies unbelief and the subsequent powerlessness to withstand the enemy.  But God is here too, assuring of His faithful love, warning, sending judges to the rescue and generally being all that a Shepherd has to be to stubborn sheep!  Despite all this:

“They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.”

Judges 2:19

Those words arrested my attention.

It’s one thing to launch a new year with new disciplines and good intentions but perhaps the most needful thing is to back-up and assess what habits need to be broken!  Iron Chariots indeed.  I suspect for me the conquest will be in the area of long-entrenched beliefs that simply are not valid. 

I want 2019 to be a year of recognizing truth, taking God at His word and moving forward into a greater possession of my inheritance in Him.

There are iron chariots.  There are strongholds.  There are life-long patterns that need to be rooted out. There is an enemy of our souls who would see us deprived of enjoying the inheritance Jesus has bought for us.

For this He has given us His Spirit.  For this He has given us Himself. And so we walk forward by faith…

I’ve been spurred on this week by many good words in Scripture.  I offer them to you as together we go forward into a new year.

  • “You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.” Deut.3:22
  • For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. I Jn.5:4 ESV
  • In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Eph 6:16 ESV
  • “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD…Is. 54:17 NASB
  • The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places: indeed I have a beautiful inheritance. Ps.16:5,6 ESV
  • [May] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory… give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, 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…Eph.1:17-19 ESV

What truths is God challenging you with these days? What are your ‘iron chariots’? Thanks for joining me here.


Be imitators of God…

 Only God can create a sunrise–

Fall is the time of year that we have our most glorious sunrises, or perhaps they’re always glorious but I’m just not up to see them until the days shorten on both ends!  Whatever the case may be, as the morning breaks at the end of our valley and streams its light up over the ridge, I sit at the window having breakfast with Jim before he heads out the door.  And some mornings I pop up to snap pictures!

One morning after kissing him goodbye and shutting the door I remained standing at the window watching God throw lighter and lighter washes on the distant sky. And thinking…

Only God can create such a sunrise–

BUT we are made in His image, given the ability and the desire to reflect His beauty in some way.  Some will imitate Him with paint and brush, creating art that reflects God’s greatness.  Others speak of the Wonder in carefully crafted words.  And some radiate Him best by the way they relate to others… In whatever way we are called to imitate Him we proclaim His beauty.

I have been largely silent here for a few months partly because I’ve been experimenting with another creative outlet which is more about color and water than typing and words.  It is not my natural domain so has been a great struggle but something in me insists that I must try, must show up for practice in a regular way and just maybe my ‘right brain’ may get a say over the tryrannical sway of the ‘left brain’ that clings to the safety of words and habits I’m more comfortable with…

I can’t say the ‘experiment’ has been entirely successful.  I am short of persevering in the face of doubt.  Even Creativity must be cultivated… But I have missed writing here and sharing the glory of words God gives.

So I hope in this New Year to appear at the page more consistently with my bits of manna for TODAY.  And I thank-you for pausing in the business of your day to share this picnic with me ( :


As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace  I Pet. 4:10 ESV