Mercy – Hope – Respect

Man praying with the BibleIt’s a new day! Yesterday is now in the rear-view mirror – today is another chance to make good choices and wise decisions. I was reminded this morning how much I need mercy. Mercy is defined as: compassion, forbearance, kindness, blessing, pity, benevolence, the power to pardon and divine favor. I live in the shadow of this word every day and I’m profoundly thankful that the Lord shows me mercy daily.

As I read this Psalm of Assents this morning, I was reminded that along with mercy, I have found hope and I live in respect for the Lord out of that mercy & hope. Check this out…

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his Word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:1-5 NIV)

The more I study the Word of God, the more respect and reverence I have for the Lord. He has NOT kept a record of my sins. I am aware of my sin most days and I’m naïve toward the mercy He has poured out on me. I am profoundly thankful and humbled to think of how He not only forgives me and shows mercy, He calls me His kid. The moves my heart. In His Word, I find that mercy and forgiveness displayed often. In His Word, I find Provision, Protection, Direction, Instruction, Help, Hope, Profound Love. The Lord is in a category all by Himself. He is not just another god – He is the Only God and He forgives and forgets my stupidity. His heart melts when I say I’m sorry. His mercy and forgiveness is immediate. His Presence is constant. His Word teaches me more and more about His heart, Who He is and I’m invited to know Him more personally.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Surround

Smiling manI have believed for many years that a wise leader will surround themselves with wise people. It could be argued that if a smart man surrounded himself with idiots, he would then become one. I do believe that our environment has influence upon us, maybe not to that extreme!

When I’m watching TV and the police surround the place where the perpetrator is, you know it’s just about over, unless he had an escape route planned via tunnel. At night when I set the alarm system of my home, I feel like I’m surrounded with some level of protection. I would probably feel a lot safer, if I had secret service level of protection. The Psalmist writes about the Lord’s protection. Check this out…

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the Lord surrounds his people
    both now and for evermore. (Psalm 125:1-2 NIV)

I feel safe surrounded by the Lord.

I feel protected surrounded by the Lord.

I feel loved surrounded by the Lord.

The Lord’s surround protection works in two ways. He protects me from enemies coming in to attack and He prompts me when I’m stepping outside His protection.

I’m also part of Southern Hills Christian Church and I feel a level of protection from my fellow followers of the Lord. I find encouragement in these surroundings. I find inspiration from my brothers and sister in the Lord. I was also reminded of a passage in Hebrews. Check this out…

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

I’m surrounded by the Presence of God.

I’m surrounded by the People of God.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Shadow

ShadowI’m remember fearing shadows when I was small. In fact, I was probably scared of my very own shadow. A shadow is an image cast of someone or something intercepting light.  This word also means to follow a person closely to see how he’s doing things. I grew up in the shadow of my Dad and my Grandpa (aka Pappy). Now that I’ve become a Grandpa (aka Pop), I love being shadowed by my granddaughter or grandson. I came across a Psalm that spoke into me about this topic. Check this out…

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty*.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2 NIV)

The shadow of the Lord is a great place to be. If I’m in His shadow, then I’m close to Him. He is my protection and my provision. I like it when my children or grandchildren shadow me. I want to do everything in my power to protect them. The * beside the word “Almighty” is because the Hebrew name for God here is “Shaddai” which means: “Almighty God” I was reminded of a song called, “El Shaddai” that Amy Grant recorded years ago that still speaks to my heart. This song was written by Michael Card.

Through your love and through the ram,
You saved the son of Abraham;
Through the power of your hand,
Turned the sea into dry land.
To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God who really sees,
And by your might,
You set your children free.

El Shaddai, el Shaddai,
El-Elyona Adonia,
Age to age you’re still the same,
By the power of the name.
El Shaddai, el Shaddai,
Erkamka Na Adonai,
We will praise and lift you high,
El Shaddai.

Through the years you’ve made it clear,
That the time of Christ was near,
Though the people couldn’t see
What messiah ought to be.
Though your word contained the plan,
They just could not understand
Your most awesome work was done
Through the frailty of your son.

______________________

I want to live in the shadow of El Shaddai for sure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Lead Me

 

Follow The LeaderI believe the most productive thing I can do today is let the Lord lead me. I have a lot of things on my calendar and on the “to do list” today. The Lord is very capable of leading me through my day. He will improve my day if I will trust Him. He works behind the scenes of my day to lead and direct my day. My role is to listen and trust Him.

When I read the Psalms, I often gain perspective on God and on life. David often wrote some of his strongest stuff in the middle of a crazy and scary time. I find encouragement in his writings during these times because it showed his humanness as well as his simple but profound faith in God. Check this out…

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. (Psalm 61:1-4 NIV)

I underlined three important words in this passage. First, I want the Lord to lead me to Himself. He is strong and fully equipped to help me handle whatever the Lord throws at me. Second, I want to dwell with the Lord – wherever He goes I want to go. I want to hang out with Him. Third, I want to take refuge in the Lord. I want His Protection and His Provision. I am certainly not capable of doing anything of value in my own power. When I’m tired and weary – this Psalm gives me a plan that will work.

As I look toward the next 12-16 hours of my life, I realize more than ever that I need Him in the everyday routines of my life. I also need Him in the deep weeds and deep water of my life as well. If I will have the courage to let Him lead, hang out with Him and take shelter in Him – my day will “level out” considerably.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Ransomed

First RespondersI get pretty uptight when there is a kidnapping on a television show and the bad guys are using a person’s life to extract money from another. The ransom demand is stiff.  It is impossible to put a price tag on loved ones. I can’t imagine having to walk down that road. I obviously am not wealthy or “stupid rich” that it would be worth someone’s time to extort me by taking a family member. I would be that guy who would give everything I must to ransom my loved one. All my stuff is replaceable, but a life doesn’t work like that.

King David is often an emotional wreck when he cries out to God in one of the Psalms. He battles fear on so many levels. It seems that his personal struggles here in Psalms was unknown to his enemies because he was also a strong warrior. Check this out…

16 As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
17 Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.
18 He rescues me unharmed
    from the battle waged against me,
    even though many oppose me.

22 Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
    into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
    will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you. (Psalm 55:16-18, 22-23 NIV)

The Lord ransoms and rescues. David speaks out of experience. He has seen what the Lord is capable of to protect and provide. The Lord will do what it takes to rescue or ransom His kids from the enemy.

I’m learning that my role is to trust in my God Who is stronger than I can imagine. He can endure more than I can wrap my head around. He created the whole universe and He cares for me and my struggles whether big or little. I’m so thankful for His promise to rescue and ransom me. There are times, that He saves me from myself. I need rescuing pretty much every day. He is so up for the task!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

He Made The Way

 

Christmas Nativity SceneI love celebrating Jesus’ birthday – Christmas! The story of His birth is beautiful and I’ve heard this story all my life. I don’t get tired of hearing it because the story of Christmas is about God making the way for me to get to Him. He came to earth as a vulnerable little baby to fulfill the plan of The Father.

As I read through the Old Testament, they are predicting and preparing for the Messiah (aka Jesus) to come. The Psalmist David writes about his relationship with God and he gives such great perspective of our God and just how He loves, provides and protects us. Check this out…

1 I love you, Lord, my strength.

2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

    my shield (sovereign) and the horn (strength) of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

    and I have been saved from my enemies.

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

    he drew me out of deep waters.

17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,

    from my foes, who were too strong for me.

18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,

    but the Lord was my support.

19 He brought me out into a spacious place;

    he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:1-3; 16-19 NIV)

I feel loved, protected, rescued and connected to my God through His Son. I can’t imagine doing life without Him. I want to grow in my knowledge and understanding of Him. He made the way for me to have a close relationship with Him. He is always making a way – that Who He is. He is so creative and consistent. This thought reminded me of a song I heard many years ago called: God Will Make A Way by Don Moen.

God will make a way

Where there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see

He will make a way for me

He will be my guide

Hold me closely to His side

With love and strength for each new day

He will make a way, He will make a way

 

By a roadway in the wilderness, He’ll lead me

And rivers in the desert will I see

Heaven and Earth will fade but His Word will still remain

And He will do something new today

 

Oh, God will make a way

Where there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see

He will make a way for me

He will be my guide

Hold me closely to His side

With love and strength for each new day

He will make a way, He will make a way

Pressing On!

Dwayne