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Sun and Shield

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Psalm 84:11 NLT
For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Are you feeling unsettled? Are you wondering if there is a God? Are you wondering if He hears your prayers, moments of despair, or your requests? We all have days, maybe weeks or years of questioning? Does He see me?

Sometimes our requests are answered quickly, sometimes it feels like silence and no answers and sometimes it’s “my child, I love you and wait”!

I am learning God can be working behind the scenes and in my hurry to a conclusion I am sooooo impatient. Isn’t self control a fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5 is a gold mine of instruction.

Galatians 5:22-26 NLT
[22] But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! [24] Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. [25] Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. [26] Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

If you aren’t feeling God answering your prayers, maybe what you think is for you is not a good thing.

He would never withold His best from you. Maybe His timing is not now or ever. He can be trusted. Remember He knows the number of your days and holds you in the palm of His hand.

Psalm 139:16-18 NLT
[16] You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. [17] How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! [18] I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Isaiah 49:15-16 NLT
[15] “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! [16] See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.

I have been feeling the need for the Word of God intensify. His words are nuggets of gold. They are not just words on a page but wisdom from above. It doesn’t matter if you were born in times past or present.

I used to think the Bible was filled with stories unrelateable but the more I read and meditate on His Word, the more I see our human nature doesn’t change very much over generations. Sadly, we are a mess without our Savior.

The human race tends toward its own sin nature: selfishness, wanting our own way, pride, jealousy, survival of the fittest, and me me me. I see these traits in myself and I cringe.

This mindset causes conflict leading to unrest, leading to fear, anxiety, depression and maybe war.

Look at the state of our world, our state, our community, maybe even our homes at times. We can be the bearer of unrest and conflict or choose,instead, to be a person who speaks life, pauses to bring words of affirmation, sprinkled with discipline in love, forgiveness and prayer over destructive communication.

It always boils down to choice. I choose peace not victimhood. Love in truth over fear and avoidance.

When I have spoken in fear or anger, I am learning to repent and turn back to Gods ways. It isn’t easy to break habits but it must be done. I must cast aside sins to break generational cycles.

Cast all cares upon Him for He cares for you. 1 Peter 4

What about you? Be the voice in the wilderness filtering your speech after mediating on the word of God. His love is unfailing, He is our strength.

Psalm 117: 1 – 2 1 Praise the Lord, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. 2 For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!

You are a Warrior!!!

We are living in times that require us to rise up in praise. We may be short, tall, slender, athletic, a little meaty ( that’s me) or any other shape. But we are called to stand side by side and be a Warrior. When we fall down, we are called to get stronger. The only way to get stronger is to hold onto our Creator God.

We are called to use our voice to speak truth, to pray for wisdom from God and to move into action by encouraging others and to lift up our voice in song..

I have loved the music artist, Hannah Kerr, since I saw her at Red Rocks; a beautiful outside red rock staired and seated venue outside of Denver. As the moon shone down upon the red rocks, I saw Hannah take the stage. This was her song, ” Warrior” is so powerful. It is an anthem. Its message reminds us we have the ability to stand even if we feel weak because we are strengthened by God.

If you are feeling tired, overwhelmed, and worn out. Hold onto your faith. Praise is a way to actively speak truth. Even if you don’t feel strong initially, keep raising your voice. Even if you feel you cant sing well, lift up a joyful noise. In time, you will feel empowered to be Him-powered. Sing for Him!!

Enjoy this song, ” Warrior”, by Hannah Kerr. Thank you Hannah for singing out truth.

Road less traveled

Jeep travels by Mary Mesikapp
Psalm 25: 4 - 10   

4 Show me the right path, 
O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  

5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you.
6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
    which you have shown from long ages past.
7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
    Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
    for you are merciful, O Lord.

8 The Lord is good and does what is right;
    he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
9 He leads the humble in doing right,
    teaching them his way.
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
    all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

Occasionally, our family travels into the mountains on 4 x 4 Jeep trails. This time in nature reminds me to consider the road less travelled. My husband drives as I navigate with suggestions over the huge boulders, rolling rocks, and tree stumps. Water passages can be tricky especially when you never know how deep they may be. Our youngest hangs on for dear life as the jeep lurches, slides, and is temporarily at an odd angle to the mountain. Our brains are scrambled somewhat by the bumps on the trails yet our brain clears with joy when we reach our destination.

Traveling on Jeep 4 x4 trails takes trust, wisdom and a drive for adventure, much like life’s journey. Trust in the driver and the jeeps solid maintenance is necessity. On jeep trails and in life, there can be opportunities to avoid obstacles.

I can be an avoider, how about you? Yet the more time spent in the Bible teaches me to believe the obstacles may be used by God to deepen my faith.

The Lord is good. He does want to show us the path to follow. We have to let Him provide us with wisdom, which means we must drop our need to control and our pride.

We must be open to redirection, like navigating boulders. We have to take time to read His Word, it is an action step for our benefit.

We must discern who our tribe will be. Who is the leader? Who is the follower? We have to seek accountability from the right people who want us to be examples of integrity and character. There will always be people bent on our destruction. We must choose wisely who we believe.

The Lord is faithful and He is love. He is the Ultimate Best Friend and Wisdom Giver. Let Him be your navigator. He is the Compass directing you to the best things.

Thirsty

Let the Living water of God fill the empty places and bring refreshment. Are you parched in the weary state of the world or in your private life?

Let the Lord quench your thirst. I love this song by Shane and Shane. Living Water flow through Jesus and fill your life.

https://youtu.be/DlnAREAjTfU

Psalm 107:9 NLT
[9] For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

God bless you today.

Speak

Our Sisters and Brothers in Christ across the world need our prayer, whether Afghanistan, Nigeria, any where there is persecution for being a follower of Christ. I feel called to speak this truth as we are seeing the turmoil continue to grow. We can lift up our voice on behalf of those who are in trouble it could be in our own family or across the world.

Scripture tells us we belong to each other, in Romans 12, God’s word is clear:

Romans 12: 1 - 4    And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

3 Because of the privilege and authority[c] God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.[d] 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

It is time to move in prayer and praise, our God is bigger, better, stronger. Lift up the Name of Jesus right now on behalf of the persecuted in the world. This song by Chris McClarney, spoke the words I was feeling as I continue to pray for those in the family of Jesus.

Thank you Chris McClarney for poignant lyrics.

Relate

I can relate to this new song from For King and Country, so relevant, enjoy!!

You are not alone, you are a treasure.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NLT
[6] For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. [7] We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

God sees you!

El Roi is the Hebrew name for “the God who sees me.” It is found in the story of Hagar (Genesis 16). There are days when we feel unseen, passed by, invisible. It can be as a result of our timid nature, a struggle of confidence, circumstances done to us or as a result of our own choices.

Hagar was in the unfortunate position of servant to Abraham. Abraham and his wife Sarai wanted a child and were blessed by God to have a son. They were impatient in their old age and decided to have Hagar surrogate their son. Then Sarai was sad because she was not the mom. So Hagar and her son were not treated the best. Hagar took her son Ischmael into the desert to run away. There in the desert she called out to God and God came. What an encounter, the well (place) was named, ” God sees me”.

God sees you. He knew you from the moment of conception. He knew what you would look like, He orchestrated steps, He will be the still soft whisper in your ears, He will be the Shepherd to us, His sheep.

Psalm 119:18 NLT Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.

God sees you. He knows everything about you, your mistakes, your laughter, your times of despair, your times of triumph. He wants to be in relationship with you.

Psalm 139:23 NLT Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

God sees you. He awaits your voice. He waits for you to reach out to him, He wants you to choose. He wants to spend time sharing wisdom as He did with Hagar. He knows the voice of each of His sheep.

We have one goat, when I hear her loud voice, I know it is her speaking. There are other goats in our neighborhood. These fainting goats have a higher pitched sound. I can tell the difference. If our goat, Loute (her name is German for Loud), makes her voice known, I answer her concerns by checking in on her needs. Usually, her concerns are an alert to let me know her best friend, Opie the horse has escaped his corral.

God sees you!! Call out to Him. Tell Him your concerns. Listen for the Shepherd. He will give wisdom.

Pray this scripture below, Ephesians 1:4-11 placing your name inside it, such as “ Even before He made the world, God loved me ( )He chose me ( )in Christ… God decided to adopt me…etc.” Complete the scripture aloud. He wants to hear your voice.

Ephesians 1:4-11 NLT Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. [5] God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. [6] So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. [7] He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. [8] He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. [9] God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ-which is to fulfill his own good plan. [10] And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ-everything in heaven and on earth. [11] Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

God sees you! He is good. Reach out to Him! It is worth the risk.

Love really has Won!!

Sometimes a song hits you right when you need it. “Love has won!” by Citizen Way is powerful. It reminds us that we are not alone. That God is for us, that He conquered the grave and He has plans. Songs can bring hope, healing and peace. Thank you Citizens Way for the inspirational song.

I hope you feel the love of Jesus as you listen. Bask in His Love!!! His Love has Won! Thank you, Jesus!

Driftwood and Criticism

Criticism is not fun even if it is constructive. I consider criticism a statement of failure and condemnation, being judged unfairly and not measuring up to someone’s standard. It kept me angry. Synonyms for criticism vary from censure to review, assessment to appraisal. There can be negative or positive results.

Can there be rewards for constructive criticism? Should I be open to grow and be transformed into a better version of myself while I am feeling chipped away? Is there any truth to the criticism? Is this a healthy relationship?

I pondered, should I allow myself to be whittled like a dry tree branch? I have always been fascinated by people who can take a piece of driftwood or an old part of a tree and create something one of a kind, beautiful. They are able to see the beauty underneath the surface. Think about it, our God sees us the same way!!!

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On the outside the scrap driftwood appears to be dry and useless as it holds no life. It has been broken away from the main tree trunk. There are no longer pathways of sap to provide sustenance and energy. Maybe it has been floating in a river or ocean quite a while becoming further withered.

Do you ever feel like driftwood? Floating along, perhaps feeling alone, lost, distracted? The Master Craftsman could be waiting for you to float onto the shore and be ready for new things. If we ponder, the tools needed for this transformation we may use: Stillness with God, the Bible and humbly allow the cutting away of sin, forgiving ourselves, repenting and asking God for a new beginning. We must choose to let him carve away the dry.

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A wood carvers tools of the trade may be straight chisel, wood carving gouge or whittling knives each serving a specific purpose. A knife cuts away at the unnecessary layers of dead wood. It digs away layers slowly from the outside in. Could that be a chronic sin such as telling little white lies so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings instead of being truthful?

Proverbs 27 :5  An open rebuke is better than hidden love!

The gouge may allow the craftsman to gather the dry parts quicker, yet with care and patience the carver is hopeful not to gather too quickly. The gouge may be the deep consequence of returning to angry outbursts instead of listening intentionally.

Proverbs 15:1  A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

The chisel removes debris closer to the surface. It’s a skimmer of sorts. Perhaps an example of this in humans may be, the gentle rebuke from a parent, ” Hey, do you want to try that response again? Deep breath and we can talk more.” or ” Forgive me!”


Proverbs 26 :28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

Corrie ten Boom was such a humble example of Christ, she gained more self-control as she was in the trial. Her quotes from her time in a concentration camp are found on the internet and in her book, “The Hiding Place,” a biography from World War 2. She witnessed the oppression of Jewish community including her friends. She, along with her family, chose not to stick with the status quo and many lives were saved by not turning a blind eye to the atrocities on their fellow country man.

The world is better for women such as Corrie and their example of putting to practice the words of scripture. I do not know if I could have forgiven those who committed evil. I would pray that I would choose the wisdom of God were I in her shoes.

One of my favorite quotations from Corrie ten Boom: Our critics are the unpaid guardians of our souls. 

What a timeless quote for daily mediation. I think honest critical comments can help us grow into who the Lord already knows we can become. There is a difference between constructive, loving communication and criticism that is meant to devour another person. Loving communication must start with words of affirmation, truth and love.

James 3: 2   Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.



James3:6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

The enemy wants us to switch gears in our minds and use our tongues to sear in fire those created in the image of God.

We must seek truth in Christ, be bold in speech and allow Him to grow our faith and bless our lives.

Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.     

I need to allow the dry places in my soul to be touched and sharpened by those who can help me grow. However, I am not open to be devoured by another whose intention is destruction. I pray for discernment of the Holy Spirit.

Choose wisely who we trust with wisdom. God first, of course, then friends who want to reflect Him to the world, like Corrie. May be the unpaid guardians of our soul need to be given thanks. Let God, the Master Craftsman, cut away the dry places and bring out the beauty just as driftwood!

Proverbs 27 :17   As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Would you take a hike?

A hot, summer day in Colorado, my youngest daughter and I were running the usual errands for groceries, animal feed and spending quality time together. I was driving home on the interstate when out of the corner of my eye I saw a man dressed in Bible time costume dragging /carrying a wooden cross. I was traveling the usual 60 MPH, when the traffic slowed to a crawl. If this had not occurred, I would not have seen this man.

It was near 100 degrees with 50 percent humidity. I said to my daughter, “I don’t know who that is, but I am praying he completes the call God may have placed on his day”. I was especially concerned about the possibility of hyperthermia, dehydration and heat stroke.

You see, I used to be an Emergency Trauma Nurse. Once a nurse, always a nurse. Ask my daughter. I couldn’t get off the highway to hand him a bottle of water as there were no close exits.

I have often wondered what kind of person would take a walk carrying a wooden cross like Jesus? I assume a devout follower of Jesus on a pilgrimage or someone trying the spread the Gospel message of Jesus.

I was amazed when a few weeks later, a longtime friend, brother in Christ, who I hadn’t seen in over a year texted me. Chris texted, “I am thinking of you, Mary, and I want you to check out an interview I did at my church”. I responded “Sure, no problem, I will check it out”.

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I had been praying for my brother in Christ, Chris, even more frequently the past 18 months, since his wife Tracey passed away suddenly. This amazing couple served in church, in Bible study, prayer teams, on the worship team, in kids ministry and also on children’s plays with me. They are humble and use the gifts the Lord gave them for serving others. Many people have been blessed.

I am so excited to share his testimony with you. If you have the time, it is an amazing example of hearing the Lord ask you to action, like the Bible story of Jonah and his call to visit Ninevah. In that story, the whale swallowed Jonah and he had a testimony that is still shared today.

We never know whether that still small voice of God exists. In our human perspective, it is illogical. But God can do anything. Are we listening for his calling on our lives? Are there other people created in the Image of God that need to connect with you and see Jesus in your words and actions? It is convicting but amazing.

Would you take a hike? Chris made me ponder that question. I plan to listen with two ears not one, and to slow down for rest. Who knows, maybe I will hear the Lord speak. Onward and upward, one step at a time.