Stand Your Ground

“You cannot pass,” he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


Last summer I was walking out to my car at lunch when I suddenly found my face within inches of the gravel parking lot. I couldn’t figure out why I was walking one minute and sprawled on the ground the next. Luckily, my large purse caught the worst of it, but one knee and shin took a beating. Afterwards I realized the culprit was a pair of sandals, overstretched and in need of replacing. They had rolled out from under my feet, tripping me and sending me to the ground.

The moral of the story is I should have thrown out the shoes at the end of the last summer. I knew they sometimes would wobble beneath my feet, but they were comfortable and I hate shoe shopping. The truth was they were not solid; they were not trustworthy. As humans, we tend to put our trust in things that are not always worthy of such trust, but there is one thing we can depend upon: The Word of the Lord.

And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 58:11

The Word of God is a spring of living water. Several years ago, I came across a commentary on a scripture talking about how the people had chosen a broken cistern over a spring of water. A cistern is man-made and can only hold rain water, and broken cistern would leak, so it wasn’t very reliable. A spring, on the other hand, is constantly bubbling up water. When we tap into God’s living springs, we will never be thirsty again unless we forget to take a drink. It is always available to us.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:58

We can stand steadfast and unmovable when we are standing on the Word of God. It is a sure foundation.  When we make decisions based on God’s Truth, we can stand with confidence. God calls each of us to different assignments, and we have to act on our individual calling. When we do that, the labor will not be in vain. However, our good deeds and intentions are wrong if they are out of God’s will for us, so keep in the lane God assigned you to and He will use it.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

We can trust God, but trust means letting go. It’s not easy, but He will not force us. He will pursue us, though. There is a lot of peace found in letting go and letting God take the helm. He knows the way and He knows what’s coming.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5

When we are unsure of the next step, we can always get wisdom from the source. God’s Word is full of wisdom, and He will give it to us if we just ask.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 40:8

Best of all, His Word is eternal. Everything else in this world is subject to change, but His Word stands forever. So, we know that we can stand our ground as long as we are standing on His Word.

So, throw away those shoes and anything else that is not trustworthy. Then, when you’ve done all else, just stand (Ephesians 6:13).

Our Only Hope

Near the beginning of the original Star Wars movie, Luke Skywalker finds a message from Princess Leia in which she states their dire situation and begs for Obi Wan Kenobi’s help. She ends it by saying, “You’re our only hope.” Ironically, it is actually Luke Skywalker who becomes the hero along with a motley crew and not Ben who saves the day. Today we face our own situations and are looking for a hero to save us. Unfortunately, we too are looking to the wrong hero.

I started a project I call 40 Days of Hope (#MyHopeNotebook) in which I searched out 40 scriptures on Hope. Each day I draw one, hand write the scriptures, journal and post a picture. I think what the world needs right now is hope; however, they keep looking for it in all the wrong places. The following are the scriptures I drew for the first 8 days:

Day 1

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Colossians 1:27

Day 2

10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:10-11

Day 3

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:2

Day 4

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

Psalms 16:9

Day 5

For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:18

Day 6

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:11

Day 7

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Hebrews 10:23

Day 8

I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.

Psalms 130:5-8

If you notice, not one time did God say trust in political leaders, political parties, or vaccines although He may use them at times. He says trust in Him, hope in Him, have faith in Him. He has a plan for you that no one can change. We just have to wait for Him to work. It is often easier to say than to do, so maybe you should take a moment and write some of these verses out yourself and post them around the house or make your own notebook. Each time you feel stressed or hopeless take it out and meditate on the verses. When we shift our focus in the right direction, everything else will fall into place in His time.

In the meantime, just remember: Our hope does not come from masks or vaccines; it does not come from political leaders or political parties. Our hope comes from God and God alone.

Flowers out of Season

When Tropical Storm Zeta descended on my house in the wee hours of a Thursday morning, I was awakened by sudden silence. I realized the power had gone out, shutting off my diffuser, fan, and nightlight. It was dark and very quiet in the house, but outside was a different story. The wind howled and yanked at the plastic covering some of my windows. Every time I would start to relax it would start again. After several hours, the storm abated enough that I drifted back off to sleep. I woke up the next morning still without power, but the house was intact, so I was grateful and got ready for work by flashlight. When I went out to the car, I saw these lilies and was reminded of God’s goodness.

Earlier in the summer some friends and I were trying to get my yard under control. Weeds had overtaken my flower bed. In the process of cutting down tall weeds with a Weed Eater, some of my lilies were mown down, too. I was sad but hopeful they would return in the spring. That morning not only had the lilies miraculously returned, they were also blooming in all their splendor totally out of season. God was kind enough not to make me wait; He sent me flowers as a reminder that He was listening to my prayers and was able to answer.

So, as the season for thanksgiving approaches, let us remember that it is always the season for thanksgiving. No matter what the situation, no matter what the problem, God is always the answer and no one else.

21 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. 23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. 25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. 28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Psalms 107:21-30

No matter what kind of storm we are facing outside, we can have a haven of rest inside when we trust in the goodness of God. When we cry unto the Lord in our trouble, He will bring us out of our distresses and into our desired haven. Above all that, sometimes He sends us flowers out of season just to show us:

 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

Thankful for God’s Provision

Thanksgiving Psalm

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” It is a verse that we often quote, but sometimes I think we don’t really rest on this promise. We are prone to worry and try to figure out a plan on our own, but God is JEHOVAH-JIREH, which means the Lord will provide. I saw Philippians 4:19 in action this week.

Early in 2019 a company I had worked for part-time closed abruptly still owing me one paycheck. I had given up hope of ever receiving the funds given that the company had gone bankrupt. In the meantime I was also putting off a dental procedure until my insurance covered it and I had the money to cover my part of the cost.

This past weekend it became obvious that I needed to go back to the dentist and take careToothache of the problem. On my way home from work, I prayed, reminding God that I still did not have sufficient funds to cover the procedure. I ran through all the possible scenarios in my head as I drove but I still couldn’t see how I was going to make it all work.

MailWhen I got home, I went out to check the mail. There was an envelope from my old employer containing the last paycheck, more than enough to cover the first part of the dental procedure. I could not have planned that or made that happen, but God could. He wanted me to know that I could rely on the truth of Philippians 4:19 and trust Him to provide. It let me know I could trust Him to provide enough to pay for the rest of the procedure as well.

I went the dentist’s office on Monday without an appointment, and he was able to work me in and give me a temporary fix until we could schedule the first of three appointments after the holidays. The delay, along with another short-term job in the meantime, made it possible to stretch out the payments for the rest of the visits. God knew what I would need and worked it out ahead of time so that my need was supplied.

He truly is Jehovah-Jireh, my provider.

Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey is a song I have sung in church since before I can remember. It’s as familiar as a favorite sweater, but because it is so familiar, it is easy to overlook the words. It is even easier to overlook the meaning of the words much less how they should work out in our daily lives. Trust is easy when the going is smooth and even, the road stretched out clearly before us. Trust is something else altogether when the road is full of curves, the end unseen, and rain coming down so hard you cannot see the next curve until it suddenly appears in front of you.

Passage after passage in the Bible tells the story of people, ordinary people, called to step out in faith and trust and obey. They were asked to do build a boat when there had been no rain, pray fire down on a soaking wet altar, or walk on water. We think how amazing those people were but they are no different than us. They were merely believers who trusted and obeyed. Saying we trust means nothing until we actually obey, actually take a step forward in faith.

To walk out on the water sounds so difficult, but we have to remember Peter was looking at Jesus and hearing his actual voice calling to him. In John 20:29 the Word of God says, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” It takes more faith to trust and obey when you can’t see at all. I was watching Field of Dreams this morning while I was eating breakfast and trying to get motivated. The whole story is one of trust and obedience and not understanding why he was asked to do things that made no sense while his world seemed to be crumbling around him. His obedience is rewarded in a way he never dreamed with the fulfillment of worldly needs (money to pay the mortgage) and spiritual/emotional needs (a chance to make it right with his father).

It is hard to continue to move forward on a path that the world says is not logical or practical. It is hard to trust when bills loom in the distance and we don’t see how it will get paid. We are tempted to fall back into old patterns of trusting on what the world says is the way to go, but God says, “Trust. I am doing something new” (Isaiah 43:19). We will never see God work in glorious new ways if we never step out. God is working in the background for our good (Jeremiah 29:11)we just have to hold tight to the promise and Trust and Obey.

Trust and Obey