Stuck in the Middle with You- I Samuel 29

I Samuel 29
Life is so busy.
So I have been stuck.
I know that it is incredibly important that anything I put out there on the world wide web about scripture not be done in haste. For that reason, it has been a while since I have devo-blogged. (totally not a word)
Apparently,  I have taken “meditating on a portion of scripture” to the next level as I have been “stuck” on I Samuel 29 for quite some time now.
But isn’t God funny?
Why? You ask. Well, Read I Samuel 29and get back to me.
Ok, did you? Well, I will have to take your word for it. In I Samuel 28, David made a really crazy decision. Because he was afraid of Saul, he ran to the Philistines for safety. Yeah. The same Philistines that lost a mighty giant. The same Philistines that pretty much hated Israel. David ran there because his destiny was scary and uncertain. And now he was stuck. David’s decision to run to a known enemy, because of an unknown fear, made no sense. But we all do it. We run to whatever brings us comfort. It could be as devastating as drugs or as mind numbing as television, but we run to something, anything when we have a fear of the future. Jonah did the same thing. Nineveh was a terrifying place to go. Instead Jonah decided he was going to head in the opposite direction. But God had a plan. And ready or not, Jonah’s time was now. Same with David. David needed a little motivation to move because he had grown comfortable in this place of hiding out. In chapter 29 David is ready to go so far as to fight with the Philistines …against Israel because he has totally forgotten the call on his life. Consequently, it takes one of the Philistines to call him out and tell him he is out of place. He doesn’t belong there. And he has to move on.
Moving on is scary. I know this because we are doing it. It would be comfortable for my husband to keep his job as a mechanic. For the last year and a half he has been working part-time at church, and full time at Audi. (that’s too many “times”, for those of you keeping track) and it could not go on like this forever. Being spread too thin, Paul knew it was time to change. But the question remained, which way? He was either going to go back to full time at Audi only, or switch to full time at the church.
Here’s the thing. 
I know Audi. It’s not perfect, but it’s familiar.  Paul has done well there, and had opportunities to move up. The reality is that we have a lot of ballerinas, and swimmers, and they eat a lot! Audi is comfortable. Audi makes sense.
But God gave Paul a dream many years ago. And it wasn’t to be a mechanic. That was his waiting place. Deep in his heart was a desire, given by God, to be a pastor. He has a pastor’s heart. He loves. He forgives. He is unwavering in preaching God’s truth and has done it wherever God has placed him.
Two weeks ago a choice had to be made. Paul was offered a full time position at our church.  Thankfully, through it all, God has been so faithful to show us time and again through His word, through His people, and through His Holy Spirit the way that we should go. 
Isaiah 30:21 tells us that we will hear a word saying “this is the way, walk in it.” 
We had heard that word. And we knew it.
The timeliness of this chapter in Samuel blows me away because it reiterates two basic and timely truths:
God’s watches over His Word to perform it. Jeremiah 1:12
A man plans his way but the Lord directs his path. Proverbs 16:9
More prevalent than a fear of the unknown is the fear of choosing the wrong path. Therefore it is with great comfort I read this passage. God is in control, and He was directing David’s path.

God is in control,and He is directing our path.

I have been “stuck” on I Samuel 29 which is about David being “stuck” with the Philistines. If you have been studying these chapters in Samuel with me you know this isn’t the first time these words, inspired by God, thousands of years ago have been so perfectly timed for my life and yours too. Some of you have told me. And now I rejoice to watch David moving forward, ready or not, trusting God to fulfill his calling. It is also with great excitement and anticipation that we follow the Lord  out of this waiting place trusting Him to continue to lead and direct us through the unknown. And it is with great love and humility that we ask for lots of prayer from you!

It’s a cruel…cruel cruel summer…..-time to review! I Samuel 26-28, and some Psalms

It’s a cruel, cruel, cruel summer….

Summer….it can’t be over yet. Seriously, where did it go? What did I do? I keep trying to remember, but the thing is, this has been one of the hardest summers of my life. Hands down. A lot of loss. A lot of pain. A lot of trying to keep my head above water and keep doing laundry when all I wanted to do was cry.  But there was also a lot of joy, love, and beauty in the midst of the pain. I haven’t done a devo blog in about a month. But when I sat down tonight to do one, I realized it was time for a recap. (I try to recap every 5 chapters or so to really meditate on what God is teaching me, and it has been more than that.) The crazy part is that these 7 or so devo blogs I needed to review, covered the entire summer.  So as I am trying to recall and review what exactly what happened to this summer, I sit down to type out a devo and what is up next for me to study? A review  of what *God* taught me this summer. Pretty cool. Pre-tty cool. God’s timing. It’s amazing.

I Samuel 26- Excuse me, your fear is showing.

In chapter 26 David displays a healthy fear of God when given the opportunity to end Saul’s life. He feared God more than he feared Saul. And this was to his great credit. We could learn a lot from David here.  Too often we fear man more than God. This truth is displayed any time you try to hide a sin from someone, or fear admitting a mistake. Newsflash: God already knows! Yet too often we can try to hide sin from man, foolishly thinking it matters more what man thinks than what God knows.

Here is a list of things that we fear, and how we show that we fear man more than God:

Pain– afraid of pain? Drink it away.
Disappointment-afraid of disappointment?  Don’t love others. Than you will be safe.

Loneliness– Afraid of loneliness? Date that guy/girl that you know is wrong for you. At least you won’t be lonely.
Failure- Ignore God’s calling. It’s too scary. You might fail. 
 

Yet fearing *God* leads to freedom!
David knew that Saul’s days were limited, because of God’s promise. David knew his victory was going to come directly from the hand of God. He feared God, not man. He was free.
So many things that stress me out during the day are related to fear. I would challenge you to think about  this as you go through the day and find your own stress building.  Don’t let that moment pass you by. Examine yourself before the Lord as we are told to do time and time again. Discover what is causing you to fear. Revisit the above list. Identify the misplaced fear and replace it with freedom. 
Fearing God leads to trusting God.
Just like our actions give away our source of fear, our actions also display our lack of fear. If you do not fear God, it will show.

This is what the Bible says about those that fear the Lord.

Prov 14:26-27 He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.
Ps 34:9  Fear the Lord, all you his holy people; for those who fear him lack nothing.
Prov 19:23  The fear of the Lord is life; he who is full of it will rest untouched by evil.

Ps 118:4  Let those who fear the LORD say: “His love endures forever.”

I Samuel 27- Enough already!

The first five words of this chapter tell us all we need to know about where David is headed. These words here:
Then David said to himself,
This is where the trouble begins. This chapter would tell a different story if it had a different beginning. Oh how I wish this chapter started with ….
Then David sought the Lord”
Because I am just a little tired of people seeking their own hearts for counsel. It is a recipe for disaster.
Humans have this amazing and simultaneously ridiculous ability to convince themselves of anything.

But back to David:
Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. Saul then will despair of searching for me anymore in all the territory of Israel, and I will escape from his hand.” 
 
David felt like he had no choice but to follow his feelings. He acted powerless. So for protection he ran to the Philistines. Seriously David? I mean, you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to know that the Philistines are not who he should be running to for protection. Did David forget his famous standoff with one giant of a Philistine? And now he is running to them for protection. How embarrassing.
 
 

So I refuse to seek my own heart for counsel. The heart is deceitful and wicked. Who can know it?
Instead I will:

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55: 6-7

Read what John Piper wrote in his blog about seeking the Lord:

Seeking involves calling and pleading. O Lord, open my eyes. O Lord, pull back the curtain of my own blindness. Lord, have mercy and reveal yourself. I long to see your face.
The great obstacle to seeking the Lord is pride. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him” (Psalm 10:4). Therefore, humility is essential to seeking the Lord. 

 
 

When I see you smile..Psalm 17

 
 
I love the Psalms because David feels every emotion and shares every emotion with God and consequently with us. Nothing is sugar coated. But in the end, he encourages himself in the Lord. And that is where I need to be. In that place of encouraging myself in the Lord. At the beginning of chapter 17 we find David in this place of desperation. Running from Saul he took refuge with the Philistines. Why David? How deceived do you have to be to seek refuge with your enemy. He is at the end of his rope. He doesn’t want to fight anymore. So he cries out to God for us to read in Psalms 17
Hear a just cause, O Lord,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
HEAR ME!
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.
HOLD ME UP!

I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;

O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,

Listen to me.
Show your loving kindness.
Keep me
Hide me.
Arise, O Lord,
Confront him, cast him down;
He has run out of ideas. He doesn’t know what to do. All He knows is that He wants God to do it for him.
And I can relate.
Lord, I am out of ideas. I don’t know what to do. I am praying. I am seeking. I am reading. And I am tired. But you. You are good. Hear me. Hold me. Keep me. Hide me.
As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
I want to be changed into his image. And the truth is that I become most like him when I have partaken in the fellowship of His sufferings. Sometimes we are called to act. Sometimes we call out to God to act on our behalf. But always, He goes before us. And He is able! And through it all, in this world filled with pain, I will be satisfied in Him. I will see His face in righteousness. And that is enough.


Don’t Settle for Substitutes! Psalm 35

Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
3 Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
Say to my soul. “I am your salvation” 
I AM. 
He is. Whatever you need. He is.
“I am your salvation”
This is definitely my new “Print it out in about size 80 font and stick it on the wall verse.”
 I need to see this all.day.long!
When I fail – He is my salvation.
When I am weak- He is my salvation.
When I feel strong- He is my salvation. 
It is just Him.
7. For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit,
Which they have dug without cause for my life.
The enemy is digging pits. And he knows exactly what bait to use. His goal? To substitute. To get you to fill your God given craving with a second best substitute. How? Ok, for you it may not that need for communion. For you maybe it is love. We all have that need to feel loved. It was implanted by God so that we would draw close to Him. But when we feel that need for love, where do you turn?
 Or what about approval? Validation? Defense? 
When someone wrongs you, do you take it to Jesus? Do you cry out like David, “Stop those who pursue me. Fight those that fight against me.” Or do you pick up that phone as fast as you can so that someone can know how wronged you have been?
9. And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord;
It shall rejoice in His salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“Lord, who is like You,
Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him,
Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”
Where do our souls find joy? In the Lord. In the Lord. In the Lord! JoyFULL. Then we are full. We are free to pour out that joy, that love, on others.


His name saves- all day long! Psalms 54

54 Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your strength.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For strangers have risen up against me,
And oppressors have sought after my life;
They have not set God before them. Selah
4 Behold, God is my helper;
The Lord is with those who uphold my life.
5 He will repay my enemies for their evil.
Cut them off in Your truth.
6 I will freely sacrifice to You;
I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7 For He has delivered me out of all trouble;
And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.

The power in a name.
There is power in my name. “Mommy said!”
There is even more power in my husband’s name. “Daddy said!”
Power.
In the spirit of full disclosure,however, in most circles, my name does not hold any power. Zero. But in my house, in my family, in my own little world, my name holds a lot of power.

But there is One whose name does hold the ultimate power.
 This is His world. His creation. His name.

Save me O God, by Your name.

He saves my soul. He saves my sanity. He saves my heart, my mind. All of it. I need to be saved. All day long. From myself. From my flesh. From temptation. And that is ok. Because His Name.
It saves! But why?

Because:
It is good.
An earthly name has power, but it is not always good, and a bad name holds destructive power. Yes there are certain names that you do not want to be associated with. Names can even  go from good to bad 
in.an.instant.
 Names can even hinder you, not help you.
But not God’s name.
Jesus’ name. It is good. Always. His name is sweet. Say it out loud.
His name is the quickest prayer. The quickest call for help. And the most powerful.
Jesus.

And what is the proper response?
I will freely sacrifice to You.

I will praise Your Name, for it is Good!
Call on His name today. All day. Every day. Praise His name. Praise it to all that you meet. Tell of His Good Name! And because we are saved, we will sacrifice, freely.
 

Thirsty? Psalm 63

Psalm 63
 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

This is such a powerful realization. I believe that this awareness is a key reason why David was God’s choice for king. Above all, he recognized his thirst for God. We all have this thirst. Eternity is written on our hearts. But we try to quench that thirst with the things of the world. And they sustain. For a moment. But it doesn’t last, and not only is the initial thirst magnified, but now we add in the frustration that comes from failing to fill that need. If we go to God first, what refreshment we will feel. Over and over David acknowledges His thirst is for God.We would save so much disappointment if we went to God first to fill our needs. Not to a spouse, a family member, a friend, a social network, and shopping trip, a refrigerator, a drink. God. Early we should seek Him because it is HIM for which our souls thirst.

2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Approach God with expectations of seeing His power and His glory because we have already, so many times.

3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

Do we believe this? His lovingkindness, better than life? The only response will be praise.
Praise.
 Lifting our hands in His name.

5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
The last devo blog was on the power of the name of Jesus. And as is the norm, that devo was mostly for me. But I had no idea how much. I have been so anxious these last few weeks. Anxiety is real. You can tell yourself that your problem does not compare to “real” problems. You can remind yourself that it will be over soon. But in those moments, trying to sleep, trying to function, trying to focus, what helped me? What word kept escaping my lips in a cry for help?
Jesus. One word. Meditating. He was my help, and I will rejoice!

8 My soul followeth hard after thee: 
 
So that’s where that song came from!

Thy right hand upholdeth me.

Today I am thankful for God’s mighty hand that upholds me. I am thankful that His well of living water does not run dry. I am thankful that while I may be surrounded by noise and distraction, His voice breaks through, and He responds with power when I call out His name. Fill yourself with the Living word of God. Quench your thirst in His presence with a position of prayer. And you will see His glory and His power! Amen!!

Saulthern Comfort- I Samuel 28

The Bible is just amazing. And the power it has to speak into our lives daily is beyond anything you could plan. I am literally brought to tears today with the story of Saul, the cautionary tale, and the sad similarities I see around me.
Saul. He was appointed and anointed-by God. But for some time, he has been operating out of the will of God. He has gotten rid of anyone in his life that would bring conviction. However in doing so, he has also eliminated his connection to God and therefore His peace. He is without both, and desperate for answers and comfort.
In this chapter we are reminded that Samuel is dead and buried. Samuel was likely Saul’s last connection to what was right and noble and true. When he died, Saul had completely lost his way.
6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
This verse gave me chills. What a terrifying place to be. He had cut himself off from anything godly, and had gotten just what he wanted.
Silence.
Now, in total despair and confusion, Saul  was left to his own devices. So what did he do? He went back to the sin he knew.
When he was following God, Saul had established accountability. He had Samuel to keep him in check. And scripture tells us this:
And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.
Back when Saul was following God he had established safe guards in his life. He had actually banished all fortune tellers, mediums, and the like because they had no place in a godly kingdom.
But that was then. And this is now. He was anxiety ridden and desperate for answers. So he sought out a fortune teller. But notice the word used in this passage.
Familiar.
We all have things that are “familiar” to us, things that comfort. Comfort food. Comfort tv. Comfort conversation. Southern Comfort. You get the drift. When things get stressful, when your brain is in over drive, where do you turn for comfort?
Saul sought the things of this world to bring him peace. And the enemy was ready and waiting to take advantage of this exact moment.
Saul goes to a “fortune teller” to ask for advice. But he goes in disguise because no medium would admit to being just that to the king that expelled all mediums from the land. Not knowing with whom she is talking, she agrees to conjure up the Spirit of Samuel so Saul can ask him some questions about what to do now. This medium then conjures up a spirit disguised as Samuel. We know this is not really Samuel. Matthew Henry had this to say. And it just blew my mind.
We have here the conference between Saul and Satan. Saul came in disguise (1 Sam. 28:8), but Satan soon discovered him, 1 Sam. 28:12. Satan comes in disguise, in the disguise of Samuel’s mantle, and Saul cannot discover him. Such is the disadvantage we labour under, in wrestling with the rulers of the darkness of this world, that they know us, while we are ignorant of their wiles and devices. 
 
You might need to read that again. This part:
Such is the disadvantage we labour under, in wrestling with the rulers of the darkness of this world, that they know us, while we are ignorant of their wiles and devices.
The devil’s tricks are not new. We should expect them. But we are distracted. And we forget that this fight is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness. And instead of fighting Satan, we fight each other. But I digress.
How do we know it’s a “fake” Samuel?
Matthew Henry had some more great insight!
Had it been the true Samuel, when Saul desired to be told what he should do he would have told him to repent and make his peace with God, and recall David from his banishment, and would then have told him that he might hope in this way to find mercy with God; but, instead of that, he represents his case as helpless and hopeless, serving him as he did Judas, to whom he was first a tempter and then a tormentor, persuading him first to sell his master and then to hang himself.
This is Satan’s typical technique. His calling card. He lures you into sin, into anxiety, into deception, and then, when you give in, he humiliates you and tells you that you are hopeless and worthless.
Saul sought comfort from that which was familiar. And in the end, it brought nothing but despair.
But God.
Saul did not have to have this ending. Maybe the reason that he heard nothing from God was because he already knew what he was supposed to do, yet he refused to do it. I once heard a pastor say that when you feel that God has become silent, think back to the last thing He told you to do, and do it. It is important to note that Saul was not the only one who endured the Lord’s silence. In fact this is one of my favorite Psalms, written by someone Saul knew quite well.

Psalms 13
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

BUT……..Here is the difference. Here is David’s response to silence. Here is the response we need:

5 But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

I pray that we would seek God, and that even when He seems “silent,” I pray that instead of going to what seems “familiar” for comfort, that we would trust in His mercy, That our hearts would rejoice in His Salvation. That we would sing to the Lord. Because He Has Dealt Bountifully With Us! Amen!!

Thirsty? Psalm 63

Psalm 63
 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

This is such a powerful realization. I believe that this awareness is a key reason why David was God’s choice for king. Above all, he recognized his thirst for God. We all have this thirst. Eternity is written on our hearts. But we try to quench that thirst with the things of the world. And they sustain. For a moment. But it doesn’t last, and not only is the initial thirst magnified, but now we add in the frustration that comes from failing to fill that need. If we go to God first, what refreshment we will feel. Over and over David acknowledges His thirst is for God.We would save so much disappointment if we went to God first to fill our needs. Not to a spouse, a family member, a friend, a social network, and shopping trip, a refrigerator, a drink. God. Early we should seek Him because it is HIM for which our souls thirst.

2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Approach God with expectations of seeing His power and His glory because we have already, so many times.

3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

Do we believe this? His lovingkindness, better than life? The only response will be praise.
Praise.
 Lifting our hands in His name.

5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
The last devo blog was on the power of the name of Jesus. And as is the norm, that devo was mostly for me. But I had no idea how much. I have been so anxious these last few weeks. Anxiety is real. You can tell yourself that your problem does not compare to “real” problems. You can remind yourself that it will be over soon. But in those moments, trying to sleep, trying to function, trying to focus, what helped me? What word kept escaping my lips in a cry for help?
Jesus. One word. Meditating. He was my help, and I will rejoice!

8 My soul followeth hard after thee: 
 
So that’s where that song came from!

Thy right hand upholdeth me.

Today I am thankful for God’s mighty hand that upholds me. I am thankful that His well of living water does not run dry. I am thankful that while I may be surrounded by noise and distraction, His voice breaks through, and He responds with power when I call out His name. Fill yourself with the Living word of God. Quench your thirst in His presence with a position of prayer. And you will see His glory and His power! Amen!!

His name saves- all day long! Psalms 54

54 Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your strength.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For strangers have risen up against me,
And oppressors have sought after my life;
They have not set God before them. Selah
4 Behold, God is my helper;
The Lord is with those who uphold my life.
5 He will repay my enemies for their evil.
Cut them off in Your truth.
6 I will freely sacrifice to You;
I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7 For He has delivered me out of all trouble;
And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.

The power in a name.
There is power in my name. “Mommy said!”
There is even more power in my husband’s name. “Daddy said!”
Power.
In the spirit of full disclosure,however, in most circles, my name does not hold any power. Zero. But in my house, in my family, in my own little world, my name holds a lot of power.

But there is One whose name does hold the ultimate power.
 This is His world. His creation. His name.

Save me O God, by Your name.

He saves my soul. He saves my sanity. He saves my heart, my mind. All of it. I need to be saved. All day long. From myself. From my flesh. From temptation. And that is ok. Because His Name.
It saves! But why?

Because:
It is good.
An earthly name has power, but it is not always good, and a bad name holds destructive power. Yes there are certain names that you do not want to be associated with. Names can even  go from good to bad 
in.an.instant.
 Names can even hinder you, not help you.
But not God’s name.
Jesus’ name. It is good. Always. His name is sweet. Say it out loud.
His name is the quickest prayer. The quickest call for help. And the most powerful.
Jesus.
But:
His name also divides.
You can say God. Just don’t say Jesus.

Here is a strange truth.  People will say all day long. “Why can’t Christians be more like Jesus? Jesus was kind. Loving. Forgiving. Accepting.”

Ok, Can I pray in Jesus name?
Um no. Definitely not.
Can I mention Jesus name?
Um no. Please don’t.
His name divides.

Is he ok with this? Well, He seemed to expect it.

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” Luke 12:51.
Peace on earth? Not yet.
Peace in your heart? Absolutely. Peace that passes all understanding.
By His name.

Save me by Your name!

And what is the proper response?
I will freely sacrifice to You.

I will praise Your Name, for it is Good!
Call on His name today. All day. Every day. Praise His name. Praise it to all that you meet. Tell of His Good Name! And because we are saved, we will sacrifice, freely.

Don’t Settle for Substitutes! Psalm 35

Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
3 Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”
Say to my soul. “I am your salvation” 
I AM. 
He is. Whatever you need. He is.
“I am your salvation”
This is definitely my new “Print it out in about size 80 font and stick it on the wall verse.”
 I need to see this all.day.long!
When I fail – He is my salvation.
When I am weak- He is my salvation.
When I feel strong- He is my salvation. 
It is just Him.
Can we talk nutrition for a second? Ever hear that when you are craving sweets, it’s because your body is naturally craving fruits? But the thing is, we have perverted the body’s natural desires by feeding it a super sweet substitute….refined sugar. We have conditioned our mind to interpret that natural craving into…maybe…donuts….or a chai latte! Hello.
Did you know that our spirits crave communion with the Father? Did you know that there is no way to the Father, but throught Jesus? (His words, not mine.) 
So my spirit is craving fellowship with the Creator, through His Son, my Savior, and yet when that craving hits, I have too often filled that need with convenient counterfeits. I have conditioned my mind to think…I need fellowship with……my friends! With….my facebook. With……my phone. Instead of with my God. Yes, we do need friends. Yes, facebook is fun. (I know, that’s up for debate) But (confession time) if my first inclination when that pang of loneliness hits (extrovert stay at home moms, I know you hear me) is to reach for my phone, I might have a craving that has become distorted.
7. For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit,
Which they have dug without cause for my life.
The enemy is digging pits. And he knows exactly what bait to use. His goal? To substitute. To get you to fill your God given craving with a second best substitute. How? Ok, for you it may not that need for communion. For you maybe it is love. We all have that need to feel loved. It was implanted by God so that we would draw close to Him. But when we feel that need for love, where do you turn?
 Or what about approval? Validation? Defense? 
When someone wrongs you, do you take it to Jesus? Do you cry out like David, “Stop those who pursue me. Fight those that fight against me.” Or do you pick up that phone as fast as you can so that someone can know how wronged you have been?
9. And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord;
It shall rejoice in His salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“Lord, who is like You,
Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him,
Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”
Where do our souls find joy? In the Lord. In the Lord. In the Lord! JoyFULL. Then we are full. We are free to pour out that joy, that love, on others.
I have not felt that full lately. But I have substituted. I know better. But how good is Our God to remind us? And I will ask Him, with David, “Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” And I will sit. And listen. I will stop and give him the opportunity to say things to my soul. I will quiet my distractions. I will be full of Joy, and my bones will say “Lord! Who is like you!! Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him!” Because nothing is too difficult for thee. Nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.  He is greater. He will deliver. But I must choose!
And truth be told, that is sometimes the hardest part. Because the couch is comfortable. Friends are familiar. Distractions distract from pain…for a season. But we are missing out. Sweets are nice when they complement the meal, but when they become the main thing, we grow so weak.
Yet this we know: His grace is sufficient. And when we call, He answers. I pray that we would call on Him first, in our every moments. Whether you are about to lose it from the traffic, from the kids, from work, from family issues; or whether you are overflowing with blessings. Let us go to Him first and continually. 
Communion with God. It is everything. 
Let us pray without ceasing. All day. Talking and communing with the one that draws us to Himself.
Luke 24-
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him;
After the resurrection, Jesus was with them. He was in their midst, and yet they didn’t know it. But when they broke bread, when they stopped and had communion, then their eyes were opened and they knew Him. I want to know Him. I want my eyes to be opened to see.
I have been so busy, like Martha, I have been worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and now I will chose that good part, which will not be taken away from me.

27 Let them shout for joy and be glad,
Who favor my righteous cause;
And let them say continually,
“Let the Lord be magnified,
Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
28 And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness
And of Your praise all the day long.

When I see you smile..Psalm 17

 
 
I love the Psalms because David feels every emotion and shares every emotion with God and consequently with us. Nothing is sugar coated. But in the end, he encourages himself in the Lord. And that is where I need to be. In that place of encouraging myself in the Lord. At the beginning of chapter 17 we find David in this place of desperation. Running from Saul he took refuge with the Philistines. Why David? How deceived do you have to be to seek refuge with your enemy. He is at the end of his rope. He doesn’t want to fight anymore. So he cries out to God for us to read in Psalms 17
Hear a just cause, O Lord,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
HEAR ME!
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.
HOLD ME UP!

I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;

O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,

Listen to me.
Show your loving kindness.
Keep me
Hide me.
Arise, O Lord,
Confront him, cast him down;
He has run out of ideas. He doesn’t know what to do. All He knows is that He wants God to do it for him.
And I can relate.
Lord, I am out of ideas. I don’t know what to do. I am praying. I am seeking. I am reading. And I am tired. But you. You are good. Hear me. Hold me. Keep me. Hide me.
As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
I want to be changed into his image. And the truth is that I become most like him when I have partaken in the fellowship of His sufferings. Sometimes we are called to act. Sometimes we call out to God to act on our behalf. But always, He goes before us. And He is able! And through it all, in this world filled with pain, I will be satisfied in Him. I will see His face in righteousness. And that is enough.