Is God My Portion Or A Leftover?

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 23:76

How many times have I described the Lord as ‘all I had left’ – after something of great value was taken away?   “I lost everything and God was all I had.”  Really?  It’s as if the real things of value were removed, leaving me with some stray object, God.

168883-41776The truth is that I have God plus whatever else I enjoy.  God is my portion.  Housing, food, relationships, employment are all extras.

Have I been in a position when employment was removed and our family lived not knowing where our next meal would come from?  Yes.  Did I believe at the time that the Lord was my portion?  I don’t think my heart was alive enough to Him to internalize that.  However, our family lived in prayer for provision and God was faithful.

Have I been in a position to lose precious relationships, in death and in life?  Yes.  Did I experience God as my portion?  Thankfully, yes.  Some of the losses were so staggering that I don’t think I would have survived mentally and emotionally if God had not strengthened my soul and been my companion.

For anyone to really say, “All I need is God” and mean it, it must be tested in the wilderness of need.  I don’t wish that on anyone nor am I sadistic enough to crave any more wilderness lessons for myself.  However, should they come (and they probably will), each of us has the opportunity to press in to the One who satisfies our soul.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 119 is full or promises.  His heart pours itself out like a young person in love, making vows for life.  One thing is clear though, he is not starry eyed and inexperienced.  He has suffered.  His proclamations of love are intense because the pain was intense.  His love language is made up of spiritual grit, a grit carved out of faith that was built in hard times.  So is mine if, when tested, I trust and don’t curse.

You are my portion, God.  I promise to keep your words for the days I have left on this earth.  Amen

Up Against a Wall

The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of His people. Psalm 33:10

Walls keep enemies on the outside but they can also keep someone who wishes to be free on the inside. Walls are their prison.

The Word of God has a lot to say about keeping our boundary lines secure in order to stay spiritually safe. But scriptures also reveal that God builds a wall in order to thwart the freedom and success of a wayward child. Though that is comforting when we want our loved one to be protected, it is also difficult to watch the struggle. We understand what is wrong but they don’t understand what God is trying to tell them.

alone-backgrounds-abyssThe person in captivity lives discouraged because God’s wall obstructs every attempt to move forward. None of their plans come together. What has worked for others just doesn’t work for them. They apply for jobs but never hear back. They save money to fund their dreams but unexpected expenses keep draining their resources. What seems to add up on paper never becomes a reality. Unexpected medical expenses and car repairs (and other flukes) eat into their profits. The result? They are confined inside the wall that Gob built.

And here’s where it affects us. We tell them, “You just need to pray about your future. Only God can fix all of this.” But God is not a cosmic genie – there to facilitate a prosperity that is all about them and not about Him. Telling them to pray and ask for what’s on their wish list doesn’t address the fact that they want everything but God. Until they desire Him and the life He wants for them, the walls won’t come down.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that they did pray, and God in His mercy gave them what they asked for. Would that inspire them to give their lives to Christ? I doubt it. Their new idol would glitter and the joy of success would further shield them from their true spiritual needs.

When we watch someone we love get hemmed in by God, is there anything we can do? Three things.

1.) Bathed with a lot of prayer, there needs to be a conversation with the one who is stuck. They need to know that God is thwarting their path out of love and mercy. He is waiting to bless them, first with Himself, then with spiritual success.

2.) We need to stop trying to help them succeed. We are getting in the way of what God is trying to do.

3.) Ask God to quickly bring them to a place of submission. Ask Him to open their heart to sense His wooing. We are called to fight the fight in prayer by restricting the enemy from deceiving them and releasing them to desire Christ.

Lord, they are in a battle and don’t even know it. I see it so I am putting on my armor to get engaged. I will be Your prophet and your intercessor. In Jesus’ name, Amen



Commander In Chief of the Angel Armies

The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted.  The LORD of hosts is with us.  Psalm 46:6-7

God identifies Himself as the “Lord of hosts” time after time in scripture.  The problem with growing up in the church is that one can hear this phrase but because of its familiarity, the power of the title is never appreciated.  Eugene Peterson’s, THE MESSAGE, translates “the God of hosts” as “the Lord of the angel armies.”  Now that grabs my attention and causes me to consider the implications of this God-declaration.

latestThe critical points made are these:

  1. There are angels around even though I may not be aware of them.  I can be so consumed by the material world that I fail to realize the relevance of what is transpiring in the spiritual realm.  Scripture instructs every child of God to be cognizant of the fact that we are spiritual beings, part of a spiritual realm, citizens of a spiritual kingdom.  That reality is to define who I am and what I do.
  2. There are angel armies and there are also demon armies.  The battle between good and evil is being fought twenty-four hours a day.  There is a war being waged against me personally, against my family, against my church, and even against my city or town.  I can train to fight, appropriate the weapons God has provided in order to be victorious, or I can choose to remain passive and become a casualty.  There is no neutral ground, only winners and losers.
  3. God is the Lord, the commander, of the angel armies.  He wants me to know the chain of command and be comforted by the fact that His hosts of angels are carrying out orders within a hierarchy that is extremely well structured.  God loves His children and has not sent me, nor anyone else, to the front lines to be slaughtered.  He has provided angelic hosts to fight on my behalf, their activity fueled by prayer and faith.

God is not an anemic God.  He may be my Father, tender-hearted and full of mercy, but He is also a commander-in-chief, not to be trifled with.  The One who loved me enough to give His Son’s life to win my freedom is also the One to whom all of creation will one day bow.  I endeavor not to lose my head over things and situations that are temporary.

You, the Lord of the armies, the fiercest of warriors, have me in the palm of Your hand.  Now that gives significance to my day.  I engage in the battle with hope and expectations of victory.  With Jesus’ name on my lips, Amen


Nuggets For The Child

My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!  Psalm 119:27

God’s agenda for me is to strengthen my faith.  Satan’s agenda is to destroy my faith.  He will do it by using pain and pleasure.  The pleasures tempt me to believe that there is something more desirable than God.  The pain lures me to believe that God is not good nor caring.  I don’t know which catalyst, pain or pleasure, is more dangerous to the Christian.

David knows that when he is grieving and about to break under the strain of something heartbreaking, his greatest need is a strength that comes from God’s Word.  The hug of a friend is nice, a good listening ear is valuable, a meal brought in when I’m too sick to make one for my family can be an overwhelming relief, but none will save my soul from melting away in the fire.

Most likely, for the majority of us today, there is something which threatens to break our heart in two.  It is that issue where no words from others can dull the throbbing.  It is all-consuming, bubbling beneath the surface of our smiles.  Unless someone knows us well, they are impervious to the subtle sighs and far off looks that tell the truth of our great heaviness.

pexels-photo-27802God’s Word comes to me in this helpless childlike state.  I may be older, but when hurting, I feel like a child.  God’s child. It is not the wordy discourse on pre-destination that will comfort me when I’m in great distress.  It is the Word in bite-sized nuggets that chip away at my fear and penetrate the darkness.  “I know.”  “I care.”  “I will weep with you.”  “Do not fear.”  “Rest in me.”  “Trust my heart.”  “I’m here, now.”

Little nuggets for little children.  With each one, a big hand takes a little one and trust is momentarily restored.  Grace for the moment.

The strength I need can’t depend on people only.  I need You.  Whisper to me like a child and I will be saved.  Amen



Lifting Up What Is Almost Dead

I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.  Psalm 119:107

Hagar knew what it was to face death and need reviving.  She held her nearly dead child in her arms.  Voice weak, completely dehydrated, half starved.  No water or provision of food was in sight.  She smelled death but refused to succumb to what seemed to be the inevitable.

8889172-barren-desert-land-with-a-single-green-tree-in-the-middle-stock-photoShe poured out her complaint to the God of Israel.  Hagar said, “Let me not look on the death of my child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”  Genesis 21:16-18

Where did Hagar learn to do this?  From the very ones who forced her out of their presence.  Abraham and Sarah.  Oh, the irony.

I’ve cupped my hands around things, and people, who appeared to be dying.  Dreams, health, ministries, faith.  From all appearances, hoping was foolish.  Death was staring me in the face.  All options were gone.

Hagar, the least likely ministry leader, shows each of us the way to glory.  She prayed, listened, cast her hopes on God, and then obeyed.  She lifted up her boy to the God who breathes life into dead souls.  She could not know that a thousand years later, Ezekiel would watch God breathe over a whole valley of corpses and bring them to their feet.  By the breath of His mouth, He would transform skeletons into warriors.

Has God been true to His promise? Did he make Ishmael the father of a great nation?  Yes.  Many Palestinians have, and will, trust Christ.  When they meet their Lord, how passionate they are!

Will God hear me when I take what is weak, infirmed, perhaps even dead, and lift it toward heaven?  Yes. Hagar was told to lift Ishmael up and hold him fast with her hand.  Instead of laying him down in defeat, she embraced him in heartfelt prayer.  And oh, what an outcome.

I’ve laid some things down prematurely.  I’m picking them up again.  You defeated death and long to breathe over all things expired.  Amen

Journal Question:  Hopeless talk infects an atmosphere of faith.  What have you recently declared hopeless?  Pick it up.  Cup your hands around it.  Lift it up to feel the breath of a life-giving God.

My Personal Spiritual Director

I will run the path of your commands because you have already widened my heart. Psalm 119:32

I was once turned off by the words ‘command’ and ‘commandments’.  Like everyone, my life had saving thorns. I perceived God as a general who did nothing but bark orders.  His leadership was impersonal and He held the bar very high with no consideration for my strength or aptitude.  Oh, but finally I experienced joy after being led to the truth ~ a truth that was exhilarating.  If Hebrew had been a required subject in the Baptist Church where I attended as a child, I would have fallen in love with a Spiritual Director rather than a military archetype.

‘Command, in Hebrew, means ‘to direct and point the way.’ So, now contemplate the gorgeous expression of discipleship in today’s scripture. Oh Spiritual Director, I will run the paths You have pointed out to me because you have widened my heart to love Your ways.  It says it all, doesn’t it?


Ever had a spiritual director? A mentor?  Perhaps you were in a haze and although you knew the scriptures, you were unclear as to how to apply them. God’s Word was clumsy in your hands because of the complicated circumstances. You needed someone trustworthy to find, and then interpret, God’s directives in the midst of the fog.  How life-saving were the words of your counselor!  Their counsel made God’s path clear.

The Spirit of God is also a mentor.  He gives very specific instructions if I listen carefully. He interprets directions (commands) very uniquely, according to my present dilemma, and then graces me with the desire to follow them.  Though there are myriads of commandments, He feels no confusion about which ones apply to my situation at any given time.  He places a road sign on my pathway that says, “Take this way next, my child.”

Commandments are beacons in the night. Through them, crooked roads are made straight and a steep path becomes level and smooth.  Commands are directions for every critical juncture of life. What kind of divinity cares this much?  A guide, not a drill sergeant. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 31:21

You have change my initial negative reaction every time I saw the word ‘command’.  You have widened my heart to see Your goodness in all Your words.  Thank you for joy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Keep Your Defense Handy

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart.  Psalm 119:34

‘Keeping God’s law’ doesn’t mean to obey.  I never knew that.  The word for keep is ‘shamar’ ~ which means to preserve and defend.

When was the last time you defended someone who was being maligned and misunderstood? Perhaps something that person said was taken out of context and you stepped in to clarify. You re-framed what had been said and defended their character.

I am to preserve God’s Words when they are misused and misunderstood. Let’s face it. God is seen as someone to distrust in this post Christian age. Even in the church, people are biblically illiterate. Many only know clichés and quote them out of context. God is vilified due to ignorance. When that happens, lovers of God are to rush in and say, “No, let me show you what that really means. God can be trusted!”


Preserving God’s words is a privilege and a full time job. As one in a teaching and mercy ministry, I am called to restore the breach between people and God. Hurting people inevitably stumble over God’s goodness. They distrust His promises. They flounder when His deliverance takes too long. They fall into a pit of disappointment when life fails to turn out like they thought it would. Once hope dies, it is hard to restore it.

The breadth of my teaching, and my music, is to reassure them that God is worthy of our trust. He is driven by love – not malice. Compassion – not revenge. Acceptance – not prejudice. Kindness – not cruelty.

Accusations against God can be many and old discriminations are deeply entrenched and ironclad. Only love can melt a heart of stone. Only grace can penetrate the crusty exterior of a suspicious heart to make it confident again. As God’s servant, I am an integral part of that process. As I hear other’s stories and come up against their disillusionment, I have the privilege of seeing God use my words to begin to erode their veneer of disbelief. His Word is preserved and His character is revealed. May I not be mute when an opportunity reveals itself.

Lord, I can see that my words will be hollow if I have areas of unbelief in my own heart. Heal me of all hopelessness. In Jesus’ name, Amen