The Simple Key to Safety and Protection

TheSimpleKeyToSafetyAndProtection

My devotions took me to Ezra 3 this morning. First to back up:

In Ezra 1: 1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

A contingent of Jews headed back to Jerusalem to live.

In Ezra 3, the priests, “builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. 3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.

The Jewish people knew they had enemies all around, people who didn’t want them there, who scorned their God, and who wanted power over them. But the Jews remembered Who they served. They had the Book of the Law. They knew.

They knew the blessings God had promised if they would adhere to His Law (Deuteronomy 28.1). They knew the curses God had promised if His people would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God, to observe to do all His commandments and his statues which He commanded them that day. (Deuteronomy 28.15).

Deuteronomy 28. 1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God…. 7 The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. 8 The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

SO many blessings, in verses 1-14!

But then the curses, if they would not hearken unto God:

Deuteronomy 28. 21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. 22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish…. 25 The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth…. 33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed always.

Pestilence, consumption, inflammation, fleeing from enemies: sound like anywhere you know today?

The people of Ezra’s time knew that, in order to receive the protection and blessing of God, they would have to bow down and obey Him. They knew that their people had refused to listen to God for centuries, and God had, indeed, taken them away captive from their homeland. They knew that, without God’s protection, they would open themselves up to disaster, disease, tribulation, and suffering. Why would they want to go through that again?

They built an altar and worshiped God, as He commanded. They offered burnt sacrifices to atone for their sins. They humbled themselves before their Almighty God.

And they continued in their obedience: Ezra 3.5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.

Are you seeking safety, protection, and peace? Humble yourself before the Lord God. Worship Him. Read His Word to find out how to obey Him. Call out to Him for guidance. Walk in obedience to Him. God always blesses obedience. He will bless you.

Ask for God’s eyes and heart to discern what His protection looks like. King David was a man after God’s own heart. He was often in the midst of danger, and he was spurred into action to go to war for God. Maybe that doesn’t look like safety and protection to many of us. But it did to David. Read his Psalms. David knew he was completely under the protective Hand of the God of Israel Who loved him. David had the peace of God that passes all understanding.

So did the apostle Paul. Paul endured beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, and thirst. But his heart was hard after God, and he knew implicitly that God had His Hand of Protection over him.

Peace with God comes with obedience. The peace includes giving our times, our circumstances, and our wills over to God, and accepting from His Hand all that happens, including death. If we are indeed obedient, we put all our trust in Him. In exchange for our obedience, God blesses us with His joy and peace.

Wisdom is the Principal Thing

WisdomIsThePrincipalThing

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4.7

Proverbs is something of a how-to book on how to live wisely (don’t mess with an angry man; fraudulent food ends up as gravel in your mouth; don’t get drunk and do stupid things; honor the king; don’t be a nagging wife, dripping incessantly on your husband; etc.). The entire book centers on wisdom. Chapter 8 especially lays out wisdom as the remedy for the simple, and outlines some of the many benefits of wisdom. Wisdom is

  • Excellent
  • Right
  • Truth
  • Plain
  • Better than rubies
  • Witty
  • Sound counsel
  • Understanding
  • Strength
  • Riches
  • Love
  • Creative
  • Blessed
  • Instructive
  • Life
  • Favor of the Lord

Wisdom is what leads us and allows us to obey God’s greatest commandment, Love:

Matthew 22.37 – 40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

James was the next-younger brother of Jesus. James grew up with the perfect role model in all things. He writes about wisdom in his book.

James 1.5 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.

From James we learn the importance of asking God for wisdom. I once heard a definition of wisdom: Seeing things from God’s perspective. There must be unimaginable peace when we see things from God’s perspective!

James 3.17, 18 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

James tells us that wisdom (God’s perspective) is:

  • Pure
  • Peaceable
  • Gentle
  • Approachable
  • Full of mercy and good fruits
  • Without partiality
  • Without hypocrisy
  • Full of the promise of peace

I invite you to bow with me as we ask God for wisdom; and to study Scripture to learn what wisdom looks like, how God feels about wisdom, and the importance of receiving wisdom.

Dear Lord, I pray to be more like You. I desire to honor You in all I do, say, think, and feel. Your Word instructs me to get wisdom, and in order to get wisdom I must ask you in faith, not wavering. I do so now ask of You. Amen.

The Storm Coming Home

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On our way back home from Rochester and Mayo, on the Interstate, we ran smack dab into a horrendous rainstorm. I mean, the kind of dumping-buckets-can’t-see-out, wipers on high speed kind of rain. We have a weather radar feature on our console, and we could see that the system wasn’t moving – it was stalled over us. Some of the other cars had pulled over onto the shoulder. If we pulled over, we would be there for who knows how long.

I want to preface the rest of what I’m writing by saying that my husband was driving, and he is a very good driver, as well as a common-sense, good-guy-to-have-in-an-emergency kind of husband, for whom I am very grateful.

While I was glad I didn’t have to drive through this mess, sitting in the passenger seat presented its own challenges. I wasn’t in control. I was in the second-guessing seat. “Shouldn’t he slow down just a bit more?” “Maybe we should pull over like these other guys did.” “Shouldn’t he adjust those wipers up a smidge?”

I didn’t voice any of those thoughts. I vocalized agreement with his comments. I prayed.

I thought of Peter, when he walked on the water toward Jesus. As long as he looked at Jesus, he was walking, doing fine. When he looked at the storm, he started sinking.

I took my eyes off the road. I looked at the glove box directly in front of me; sometimes I looked out my side window. When I risked glances up front, out the windshield, into the storm, my blood pressure rose again.

But when I didn’t look at the storm, and thought of Jesus, and my verses, I had perfect peace.

“Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.”

“Fear not, for I am with thee. Be not afraid, for I hold you with My mighty strong arm.”

“What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee.”

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.”

“God loves us. Whatever happens is okay with Him.”

I didn’t know if I was saying all my verses correctly, but God’s Word, His presence, was with me. I was at peace. (I had to look it up – Isaiah 41.10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.)

Mind you, this continued for about 100 miles, off and on (mostly on). It was white-knuckle driving, down to 35 mph.

One of the times I looked up, there was a big ol’ semi passing us. Up ahead, we could see brake lights of cars pulled off to the right shoulder. Then the semi’s brake lights came on (still in the passing lane, ahead of us). There was a car behind it, and those brake lights came on. The semi started inching over into our lane (he had room, now, and we flicked our lights so he would know that). As we slowly passed, we saw that another car had also pulled onto the shoulder – THE LEFT SHOULDER! The skinny little left shoulder, not wide enough to fit a car. That car was half in the “shoulder,” and half in the passing lane. Stopped. On the Interstate, in a driving rain with maybe 50 yards of visibility. With other cars pulled over onto the other shoulder.

We shook our heads, commented on God’s grace, and thanked God and the truck driver for having quick reflexes and wisdom.

We made it home without mishap. We looked at each other, high-fived, and gave thanks to our Heavenly Father.

Saira

Saira pic in the midst of her

She was born backward in a dark back room

in a blue tarp house in a blue tarp town.

Momma worked sometimes, and drank most times.

Big sister Mara watched little baby Saira,

in the house ‘twixt the tracks and the creek.

Saira watched it all with her intense, wide eyes.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

Baby Sissy came next, when Saira was five.

Mara did her best to bring ’em up right.

Saira did her part, getting right to work,

quiet like a lynx between the shadows and light.

But Saira was a wanderer, she’d be gone for hours;

brought home her first meal when she was turned six.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

The three girls took to schoolin’ when they could,

mostly for the lunch they got there.

Momma drank and fidgeted; Mara was the anchor;

Sissy the flirt, and sassy.

Saira coming home brought vittles for their bellies:

berries and meats and strange kind ‘a tuck.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

She found an old backpack in the woods one day,

brought it home and squirreled it away.

Mara watched it grow with secret things inside,

saw Saira take it with her every time she slipped out;

and she knew Saira was not long for this blue tarp town.

Saira was learning, with no one to teach her.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

Came the morning she took Mara by the hand,

kissed her and looked her long in the eyes.

A caress of the cheek, and she was gone.

Saira and her backpack melted away into the trees.

Mara, stoic and dry-eyed, watched her go,

and wondered if they’d ever see her again.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

The years came and went, and Momma died.

Mara buried her and moved to the city.

She left Sissy to fend for herself, pregnant and belligerent;

most likely to turn out just like Momma.

Mara was washing her apartment windows in June

when there was Saira on the other side.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

She came in for coffee, and Mara noted

the weathered face, the worn hands, the scar,

the animal skin tunic and trousers;

and Saira’s ghost of a smile

that came more easily.

That was about all Mara learned from Saira about Saira, because

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

She gave a slight nod of the head when Mara asked

if she’d stay a while.

She even met Mara’s husband

and listened to him

and listened to Mara

with peace in her eyes.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

Saira disappeared for hours at a time, and

after three days Mara knew that Saira had to go

back to her wilderness, back to her home.

She gave a civilized good-bye, and then she was gone.

Mara went to wash the bed linens, and saw

that Saira hadn’t used them, must have slept on the floor.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

And Mara loved her.

3-Days of Quotes: Day 2

Know Jesus Know Peace

My thanks again to Amy Blount for the nomination. You haven’t read her??? Seriously, go and read and be enlightened.

The Quote: “No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace.”

My Peace I Give Unto You

Peace is not something we deserve

Or can earn

Peace is not in us,

Not something to learn.

 

In storms of life, through sorrow

And trial,

We gnash our teeth

And cry and revile.

 

We plead and beg

“Oh, change my life!”

So we can have peace

And control the strife.

 

But Peace is a Person

Peace is the fruit

Peace is a gift

Only God can impute.

 

Peace is Jesus, and He

Longs to give

The release, the quiet

And wisdom to live.

 

If you have Jesus, then you

Have peace.

This fruit of the Spirit

That never will cease.

 

I nominate Danielle Marcantel for this 3-Day Quote Challenge. She has some very insightful writings, and I recommend a good sit-down-and-read.

Here are the rules (if you choose to participate);

Thank the person who nominated you.

Post a quote for 3 days and explain why it appeals to you.

Nominate bloggers each day!