Psalm 84 — When All Else Fails God Doesn’t

Psalm 84 — When All Else Fails God Doesn’t

People fail, economies collapse, and nations fall, but when all else fails God never will. He remains constant through everything. How comforting to know that there is One who will never be shaken, who remains consistent and faithful. Jesus spoke of a time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Perhaps, He was describing our incredibly insecure global climate.

A few months ago, I felt a “call” from God to write things which I never intended to permanently set in ink. I wept and struggled as I felt the shaking of my comfortable rhythm. His ask meant opening the gates of my heart in incredibly vulnerable ways. Then I turned to Psalm 84,

“LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.”
Psalm 84:12

Only one path leads to His blessing — the path of humble obedience and radical trust. The Amplified Bible verbalizes this trust as “leaning and believing on (God), committing and confidently looking to (God) without fear or misgiving.” I’m leaning and believing as I commit myself to trust Him in a new way. It would be a stretch to say that my obedience came without fear or misgiving, however.

In these moments, we discover in greater measure that when all else fails God doesn’t!

LORD of Angel Armies

In Psalm 84, the psalmist appeals to the LORD Almighty or the LORD of Angel Armies, just one of many names for God we find within the Scriptures. This name, however, stood apart from the others in that it was understood most deeply when God’s people had fallen away from Him and failed to stand strong in faith.

“In a word, we do not know this name, the ‘LORD of Hosts,’ till we have learnt the Church’s fall … are bitterly divided and destroying one another. But though (we) fail, God ever remains … when His elect have no other helper … God is and must be ever sufficient, for a ruined church as for a ruined world.”
Andrew Jukes1

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
Psalm 84:5-7

We each know valleys of pain and tears. When our trust is in the LORD of Hosts, or the LORD of Angel Armies, those valleys become pools of refreshing, not just to us but to others who follow the same path.

When all else fails God doesn’t!

During our hardest times, God promises to take us from “strength to strength” (NIV) or “increasing in victorious power” (AMP). Only by trusting God in the valley of weeping does the fulfillment of this promise come true. Strength to strength! Increasing in victorious power!

God’s Presence

The writer of Psalm 84 expresses His constant desire to be in God’s Presence.

“I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.
Psalm 84:2

Or,

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
Psalm 84:10

Do these words reflect my heart when I feel the conflicting emotions of weeping in the valley and shouting joyfully in His Presence? How clearly do I recognize my weakness apart from God? Do I long to be close to Him more than anything else — forfeiting everything for even one moment with Him? Or have I grown complacent and indifferent to the open door of access to the Father which Jesus provided?

One Step

The LORD of Angel Armies stands ready to receive us. No matter how far we have fallen or how great our failure, He welcomes us into into His courts, into His house, and into His arms of grace and mercy. One step takes us from where we are to where we could be with Him. We are only one step away!

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; He [presents] grace and favor and [future] glory, honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss; no good thing will He withhold …”
Psalm 84:11

When all else fails God doesn’t! His promise to us stands firm!

As we take that one step toward Him in obedience and trust, He carries us the rest of the distance. Our fears of being rejected or falling short dissolve in His love and grace. Even our flawed efforts become radiant with His glorious touch over our lives.

If we choose to trust Him, my story, your story, all our stories become testimonies for the LORD of Angel Armies. He is the Lord Almighty who saves and restores the undeserving.

Your present point of trust may far surpass mine and your valley deeper and darker. But let’s move together in our fragile trusting, moving closer to our God who never fails.

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  1. The Names of God: Discovering God as He Desires to be Known, Andrew Jukes, (Kregel,Grand Rapids, 1967), pg 157 ↩︎

The Lord is Peace — Jehovah Shalom

The Lord is Peace — Jehovah Shalom

Our King still reigns over all the kingdoms of the Earth. He is the Lord Almighty, the Ancient of Day, Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is Peace. Despite the uncertainty of our time, He welcomes us to seek refuge in His everlasting peace. Throughout the ages, His affirming words have kept the sails of many faltering ships steady as oceans rage.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

Jesus left His followers in the same wicked world we now inhabit. They faced oppression and persecution at levels most of us cannot comprehend. Ripped from their peacefully homes, they were cast into prisons and exposed to atrocities. Yet, they held to the words of Jesus. His promise gave them peace despite anything demonic elements threw at them.

May we find equal courage and strength in the sure Word of our Lord.

Go in Strength

Our God gives us peace out of the essence of His character and name – The Lord is Peace. Israel had walked away from God, facing their self-made destruction at the hands of enemy forces. Deprived of safety, they hid in mountain caves and strongholds while their enemies invaded like swarms of locusts. Impoverished, they finally cried out to the Lord for help (Judges 6).

God raised up the most unlikely candidate as His instrument of deliverance — Gideon. Filled with fear and intimidated by life circumstances, Gideon hid in a winepress threshing out a few grains wheat.

I’ve had plenty of my own hide-out moments — reluctant to take a stand or speak up against injustice. Like Gideon, I have argued with God about assignments He has given to me.

“Who me? I’m the littlest, the least competent, too old, too insignificant, ill equipped, untrained …” My excuses trail endlessly along. Arguing with God never turns out well. Not for Gideon, and certainly not for me.

“The LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have … am I not sending you?”
Judges 6:14

When God is with us, nothing else matters. Despite any personal limitations, God always proves Himself more than enough.

The Lord is Peace

Enough faith in God rises in Gideon to give God his shaky “Yes!” Before he confronts the enemy, Gideon first builds an altar of sacrifice to God. What an example! Every victory begins at the place of worship and thankfulness.

“So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The Lord is Peace.”
Judges 6:24

Though Israel’s condition remained the same, Gideon’s heart had changed. Instead of focusing on the enemy’s strategies, he knelt before the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. He declared the Lord is Peace. Peace exists only through Jehovah Shalom, the Lord our Peace.

Jehovah Shalom

Shalom means to be complete, sound, or absent of strife. It represents a peace of mind, heart, and life. We can only experience the peace of God by first experiencing peace with God. Such peace comes as we relinquish control and yield by faith to God’s grace.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:1

God’s peace implies much more than freedom from conflict. It includes prosperity, health, well-being, and faith in the face of conflict. Gideon began to believe more in the invisible God than in the visible danger surrounding him.

The pictographic symbols for shalom would read “to destroy the authority that binds to chaos.” What a powerful image! Let me say that again.

Peace means to destroy the authority that binds us to chaos.

Restoration

Our great redeemer, the Lord is Peace, comes to not only save our souls from eternal destruction but to give us His supernatural peace.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7

What is at work to bind us to chaos? What is causing complete disorder and confusion to your life? Are there thought patterns, body habits, or toxic environments?

God didn’t suddenly snatch Gideon out of his situation. Rather, He gave Gideon strategies to overcome in the midst of chaotic circumstances. The Lord is Peace, coming beside us in a similar way. As He spoke to Gideon, He speaks to us, “Peace! Do not be afraid” (Judges 6:23).

Do you feel anxious over present circumstances? Or fear?

God again speaks, “I AM with you. I AM Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is Peace.”

“(I) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in (Me).”
Isaiah 26:3

Prayer for Peace

Thank You, Lord! We come before You, laying down our chaotic patterns of thinking and functioning. We receive Your supernatural, divine peace. Fill our hearts and minds with the comfort and knowledge of knowing You alone sit on the throne. All dominions, powers, and authorities must bow before You.
Come, Lord. Give us the faith and confidence to trust in the assurance of Your character and Word. You are Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is Peace. Bind and destroy any and every authority that holds us and those around us to chaos. Surround Your children with Your “perfect peace.” May our minds be steadfast, trusting in You.
There is none like You, O God! We worship You before our situation changes. We set our hearts to thank You, giving glory and honor to Your Name. Be exalted in our day, O God.
Amen.

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Psalm 118 — Thanksgiving Opens the Gate

Psalm 118 — Thanksgiving Opens the Gate

More than the personal transformational power of gratitude, thanksgiving opens the gate, ushering us into the Presence of God. This truth became even more real to me this past week.

Psalm 118 sits between the shortest and longest chapters in the Bible, assuming a central location between the book’s beginning and ending. By accident? Not at all! This psalm contains not only a central position but a central theme relevant for us all. Within these verses, the psalmist encourages us to maintain a heart of praise and thanksgiving toward God.

Did such an attitude come easily? As we read this small psalm, we discover some of the difficulty the writer faced. If he was anything like most of us, to maintain a thankful heart posture took concentrated effort.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.”
Psalm 118:1

The Message translation states it simply, “Thank God because he’s good, because his love never quits.” We all need these affirming words when life clouds our vision, and our perception of God dims. The psalmist reminds us, God’s love never quits. He is always good and always loving.

Love Never Quits

My love quits. It falters and wanes. It has limits — often much too narrow limits. But not God!

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love …”
1 John 4:16

God doesn’t just love, He is love. There is no love apart from God. His love satisfies our soul and sustains us. It never wearies; it builds and releases us to reach our full potential.

A few weeks ago, one of my grandchildren asked, “Grandma, will you ever stop loving me?” Oh, how wonderful to reassure my little one that the love we share would never grow cold. Just like my grandchild, we all need that assurance.

Though people may fail us, God never will. His love never quits.

Strength and Defense

We don’t read very far to realize the psalmist struggled with real fear in the face of real enemies. None of us are promised a tranquil road through life. But just as God’s love and goodness lifted Him through every trial, He will do the same for us.

“When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD;
he brought me into a spacious place.
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid …”
Psalm 118:5-6

Do you feel hard pressed? In distress? Troubled or hurting? Even there, God promises to open a way for us. He will never abandon us. He stays close. In His shelter, all fear flees.

“The LORD is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
Psalm 118:14

As I look back over my life, time and again God became my strength in weakness and my defense in trouble. He lifted me out of the pits of depression and addiction. He rescued me from destruction mindsets and patterns. He protected me from harm. None of it instantly; all of it eventually.

With the psalmist we sing,

“…The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
Psalm 118:15

When we feel like there is no way through, thanksgiving for who He is and all He has done opens the gate.

Opens the Gate

A gate stands before us. Thanksgiving opens the gate to the Presence of God.

Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.

I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.

Psalm 118:19-21

Nothing ushers us into His Presence more than a heart overflowing with thankfulness. A friend’s recent experience illustrates this so beautifully.

God has been doing some incredible things in his life since he recommitted himself to the Lord. But his heart grieves over divisions in his family. As he began to thank God for his family, the whole atmosphere around him began to shift. As an overwhelming sense of God’s Presence descended, he wept uncontrollably with joy. Several hours later, the tangible Presence of God continued to arrest him, filling him with a strong sense of God victoriously working through every member of his family.

Thanksgiving opens the gate, setting us free, planting us in spacious, heavenly places while we walk in the confines of earthly bodies.

Give Thanks

Is this a rare and unusual experience? Not for those who develop the habit of giving thanks to God. Like the psalmist, they have learned the open passageway — thanksgiving opens the gate to God’s Presence.

May the Holy Spirit stir within us, awakening us to this living truth. May our hearts ebb and flow with the rhythms of praise.

“You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Psalm 118:28-29

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Soaring High on Wings Like Eagles

Soaring High on Wings Like Eagles

When fatigued and discouraged, we often find it difficult to envision ever soaring high again, especially soaring on wings like eagles. But God gives a special promise to all of us weary ones.

A rare sighting of bald eagles, passing through our prairie region, occurs only in the spring or late fall. Each appearance of these majestic birds fills one with awe as they spread their massive wings, effortlessly rising to great heights. These stately birds of prey command attention. They were born to soar!

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah promised his weary, discouraged, and defeated nation,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles …”
Isaiah 40:30-31

High Nest

A mating pair of eagles usually builds their nest in one of the tallest trees in the forest or on a high rocky ledge, near fresh or salt water. Perched high above, they defend a territory of up to two kilometers, keeping other eagles and predators at bay. Though impressive in the sky, they awkwardly walk on the ground with a rocking gait.

From the time an eaglet breaks through its confining shell, it sees the world from dizzying heights.

In the same way, when we come into relationship with God through new birth by the Spirit, God opens our eyes to see from a higher perspective — to cast our gaze over “earthly” regions with altitude vision.

As we back up a few verses, Isaiah directed the vision of his people to a higher level as well. Tired and broken, they felt powerless, lacking any strength to fight. But God!

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become tired or grow weary;
There is no searching of His understanding.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power.”

Isaiah 40:28-29

But God! God is and always will be the “Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator” of all. He NEVER grows tired or weary. His understanding is beyond comprehension. Oh, how wonderful! Because we are His, in a personal relationship with Him, “He gives strength” to all those who are weary. He increases the power of the weak.

The weak will rise, soaring high on wings like eagles!

But Wait

Isaiah reveals the key to accessing all that God has. It involves waiting.

The Hebrew word translated “wait” means to bind together, collect, or expect. The Amplified Bible says, “those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power.”

Sometimes we view waiting as passively, patiently, and quietly staying in the condition we’re in until the right moment. We think waiting is something to be endured.

Waiting with God implies a melding together, surrendering of our will, and aligning ourselves with His purposes. It includes expectation and complete trust. Waiting involves a deepening relationship with God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Those little eaglets don’t despair while flightlessly waiting in their nest. They trust for their daily provision, protection from the elements, and defence from predators. Unaware of subtle changes, their feathers grow in, their wings strengthen, while internal structures develop the power to maneuver their increasing mass.

Only in the waiting, only in the trusting, only in abiding in the “nest” of God’s care does our strength come as well.

He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power.”

Isaiah 40:29

Wings like Eagles

God rescued us from the captivity of darkness and raised us to soar. He calls and equips us to rise to higher levels on wings like eagles.

The enemy desires to keep us grounded, incapacitating us. God never meant us to walk focused on ground-level initiatives. He embedded in us an eagle incentive. He invites us to “nest” with Him and rest in Him — becoming like Him, knowing His heart, gaining His perspective, and growing in spiritual strength and power.

The time to take flight comes only after waiting. Let’s come and wait. Then spread these powerful wings, sons and daughters of the Living God. Together, let’s exercise our gifting and anointing.

They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired
.
Isaiah 40:31

They will lift up their wings and rise up close to God. They will run and not become weary, walking without growing tired. What a promise God gives!

Though the nest has been a comfortable habitation, the adults encourage the eaglets to spread their wings on the upward currents. Some early flights result in crash landings. Ease of flight requires practice. But God created them to soar. This is their destiny.

Rise

No matter what you have been through. No matter how desperate your situation is. Rise little one! Ascend to the fullness of God’s calling over your life.

Eagles roost and rest for the night, but each morning they spread their wings and rise again.

Rest when you need to rest. Wait for God’s strength to surpass your weariness. Then, soar high on wings like eagles. God planted in you the craving for more. Whatever level you are living now is not your full potential.

May God give you courage to push above. May He grant you the strength and vision to ascend higher and to reach farther. Without taking your eyes off Him, fly — fly effortlessly into the next stage of your calling.

Bless you.

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A Time for Rest and Joy

A Time for Rest and Joy

Recently, God nudged my heart to pursue a greater level of consistent rest and joy and bring a healthier balance to committed service. As a retiree, I have the freedom to pack into my self-imposed schedule whatever I desire. Because I enjoy so many things, I tend to fill my time to the brim. Or perhaps over-pack would be more accurate! But I sense I am on the cusp of change.

Cusp refers to “a point of transition between two different states or a pointed end when two curves meet. With many curves to my life and ministry, I’m uncertain to the exact “cusp” ahead. But I need an opportunity to refresh. So, Lord, whatever Your plan, bring it on!

From the beginning, God created work for humanity and humanity for work.

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
Genesis 2:15

I look out my window and laugh as I watch a man walking his dog. Or rather a dog dragging a man through knee-deep snow while chasing a rabbit.

Sometimes my work bares resemblance. I too feel like I’m being dragged into knee-deep pursuits against my will. I wonder if God looks at the pace of my life and laughs. More probably, He shakes His head knowing His plan is better than that.

Rest

I find it interesting that God made Adam at the very end of the sixth day of creation. I’m reminded again that Adam’s first full day was one of rest. Timing perfectly orchestrated!

God planned Adam’s work to be so significant that he needed rest before plunging in. God repeats the pattern again and again for many other people.

  • God removed Moses from the busy affluence of Pharoah’s palace, giving him a forty-year “rest” in the wilderness as a shepherd before his ministry began.
  • The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for forty days before He began His earthly ministry.
  • After his conversion, Paul spent several years in Arabia before embarking on his ministry as apostle, writing the majority of the New Testament.

None of these illustrations would fit snuggly into our definition of “restful.” Even in rest, work was accomplished. But on the cusp of something new, God drew His chosen leaders aside for “rest” — away from the influence of crowds and earthly demands. Rest realigns our souls with God.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says, “only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.”
Isaiah 30:15

Return

God designs the prime motivation of rest to turn, or “return,” our hearts and focus back to Him. When we quiet the chatter of “have to, must do, should do,” we find strength.

The word for strength, in Hebrew, also means “force, valor, victory.” In rest, God brings increased power and strength. He also amplifies our “valor,” or “courage in the face of danger or battle.” To ensure victory in the season ahead, He calls us to rest.

But we, like Israel, don’t always accept His loving invitation.

” … But you would have none of it.”
Isaiah 30:15

I’m not sure what Israel used for an excuse. I know mine. “I must finish _____.” “Let me do _____ first.” “Wait until it’s a little less busy.” “Rest might cost me financially.”

On and on my list of excuses roll. I clearly understand the pressures to work, but only vaguely comprehend the significance of rest.

Rest proves God’s Presence goes with us.

“And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

God gifts us with rest! Despite the insomnia which plagues our culture, God promises,

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 4:8

Another passage resonates with many of us,

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”
Psalm 23:1,2

Perhaps, our restlessness exposes our need for God’s Presence more than we realize. Will we listen?

Joy

If I find rest difficult, what about joy? At first glance, most people who know me would consider me quite joyful. I enjoy every aspect of my life. My faith, family, work, and ministry all bring me joy. And yet God welcomes me into deeper levels of both rest and joy.

I shared God’s prompting with a close friend. She laughed at me! Yes, laughed! Then she pointed to Jesus’ parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-28. The master gave one servant five talents, who quickly went out and earned five more. The master also gave another servant two talents, who faithfully went out and earned two more. Then a wasteful servant, who was given one talent, buried it in the dirt.

My friend asked, “What was the response of the master to the first two servants?”

I quickly responded,

Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Matthew 25:21

“And?” she questioned. Hesitantly, I responded,

“You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”
Matthew 25:21

“And?” she asked again. My blank look invited her to complete the passage.

And

I remembered how the master gave each person talents. He rewarded their good work with more responsibility. But I forgot there was more. He invited them, as He is inviting us all, into the best part.

Come and share your master’s happiness!”
Matthew 25:21

What? How could I miss something so significant?

Other Bibles versions say, “the joy of the Lord!” How much joy does God have? Everything about Him, including His joy, is immeasurably more than we could ever think or imagine.

Do we consider God to be such a cruel task master, that He would deprive us of joy? Is that why it is easier to work “for” Him than “rest” in Him, experiencing His unlimited “joy?”

I don’t comprehend, even in a limited way, the exceedingly great joy God has for us — not just later in Heaven, but for us now.

Strength

Nehemiah refused to allow his people to become stuck in a rut of mourning or weeping. God gifts us with joy!

” … This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10

This Hebrew word translated “strength” means “a place or means of safety and protection.”

Both rest and joy come from God, originate with Him, and flow out of Him. Even amidst seasons of grief and loss, God offers us His gift of rest and joy. This combination becomes our strength, protection, power, courage, and victory.

God prepares us today for the unseen tomorrows. Through rest and joy, He builds in us everything we will need beyond the cusp of transitions ahead.

I resolve to not follow the example of yesterday by committing myself to a season of God’s rest and joy. Whether that season is forty years, forty days, or forty hours, I trust Him to do through and for me what He knows I need.

My friend acknowledged that God was speaking to her in a similar way. Would anyone else like to join us for a little more rest and joy?

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Winning and Losing — Gideon — A Great Warrior

A Great Warrior

When I look at Gideon, a great warrior in the Bible, I ask, “What constitutes great leadership? What propels a person beyond the normal? Why do some people fall from leadership, while others rise above?”

Did Gideon’s father and mother see greatness in their squirmy, newborn son when they chose his name. Gideon means great warrior, great destroyer, one who smites and cuts down, leaving only a stump. He entered the world while Deborah, another magnificent judge, led Israel to victory and renewed worship of God.

How quickly Israel forgot, abandoning their God for lesser things! So God, for a season, abandoned them to their enemies. Hordes of Midianites swarmed upon their land, completely decimating everything in their path.

“Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.”
Judges 6:2

LIzard in Cave

While hiding like lizards in the caves, they cried out to God for help. God responded, sending a prophet to confront their idolatry and wickedness.

Every time someone spoke his name, Gideon was reminded of the greatness encrypted on His life. However, the evidence of such greatness hid as illusively as the people within the mountain caves.

Gideon’s Call

God often speaks suddenly when we least expect it.

“When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.'”
Judges 6:12

“Warrior!?” I can almost imagine Gideon looking around, sure that someone else was hiding with him in the winepress.

Though, God spoke truth about his identity and purpose, Gideon hesitated and resisted. He even quarreled with the LORD. “Look! God isn’t with us! He has absolutely abandoned us!”

Gideon saw only depressing and oppressive circumstances. God looked and saw Gideon, a great warrior. Gideon preferred to settle — to seek whatever shelter, safety, or comfort he could, hoping someone else, anyone else, would correct the situation.

Iguana

The LORD is With You

God listened to Gideon’s complaint for a while.

“The LORD answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
Judges 6:16

“You, Gideon, a mighty warrior, arise! Strike down all your enemies.”

We may try to debate, hesitate, and procrastinate when God presses us into the impossible. Yet God invites us to situations where only He can see us through.

“The LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
Judges 6:14

God doesn’t pump up Gideon’s ego or remind him of all the wonderful attributes he possesses. God points to Gideon’s inadequacy. The Hebrew word for “strength” used here has a double meaning. First, koah means power or strength, but it also refers a long, slender reptile considered unclean to Israel.

Lizard in Water

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
1 Corinthians 1:27-29

What made Gideon a great warrior wasn’t his name, his character, or his stature. God made Gideon a great warrior. May we always remember that it is only through Him and by Him we accomplish anything, big or small.

“I will be with you” should be the only God response we need! Godly leaders know it takes God’s strength to overcome “lizard” tendencies. He brings worth and value to everything He does and everyone He calls. He is enough!

The LORD is Peace

When Gideon acknowledges the littleness of himself and the power of God’s Presence, he swings into action.

“So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace . . .”
Judges 6:24

Worship shifts us from apathy and self-protection to God direction. The only peace any of us experience comes through following God whole-heartedly. In following Him, we fight. Most of us won’t face the battle Gideon faced, but we all have the same enemy, satan, who seeks to obliterate us, our families, and our nations.

Sleeping Chamelion

Every step we walk with God into the battle, He fills and surrounds us with His peace. Peace holds the implication of the permanence of wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety, and prosperity. But in moving toward peace, we must deal with our unclean, “lizard” nature that operates contrary to God.

Cut it Down

Gideon’s name comes from the Hebrew verb “gada,” also meaning to hew down or cut off, mostly of religious regalia and holy trees. Strikingly, there are no nouns formed from this verb, suggesting that whatever was cut off, was even cut off from speech itself. Gideon, a great warrior, must first become a hacker who hews down familiar idols!

“That same night the LORD said to him . . . ‘Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height . . .'”
Judges 6:25-26

“Cut it down, Gideon! Destroy all foreign worship that you, and your own father, and your own community depended on. Then build Me an altar,” God commands.

Despite fearing the outcome, Gideon obeyed. During the night, Gideon stepped into the beginning of his call. That very night, courage pushed through, little strength proved enough. In dark obscurity, the evidence of his greatness shone.

The Battle

“Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel.”
Judges 6:33

The moment we choose to live for God, we can expect the enemy to push back and the battle to intensify. Godly leaders know when to fight. They refuse to back down.

Iguana - WIld

Gideon sounded the trumpet, calling his people to battle. God immediately thinned Gideon’s army of thousands to three hundred. He wanted everyone to know this was His victory, not man’s. What a victory it was! A hundred and twenty thousand enemy swordsmen fell that day. Only two kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, with fifteen thousand remained.

Gideon kept up the pressure.

“Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them, routing their entire army.”
Judges 8:12

Finish Well

Gideon’s story didn’t exactly start well. It doesn’t end extremely well either. Gideon followed God after much deliberation and hesitation. He finished the same way.

God instructed Gideon. “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Gideon almost finishes the task. His army annihilated the joint forces of the entire eastern army except for the remaining two kings — Zebah and Zalmunna.

“Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, ‘Kill them!’ But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.”
Judges 8:20

Lizards

Gideon passed the sword to his young son, expecting someone else to finish what he had both the power and authority to fulfill. Gideon started his journey by prodding God to choose someone else, anyone else. Now, at the end, he pulls back again. How tragic.

“Zebah and Zalmunna said, ‘Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’ So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off the camels’ necks.”
Judges 8:21

Victorious Power

The word Gideon’s enemies used for “strength” refers to the LORD’s mighty hand that delivers His people.

“Now this I know that the LORD saves His anointed. He will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.”
Psalm 20:6 NKJV

Even before Gideon completed his mission, he became distracted by the gold ornaments around the camel’s necks. After asking each of his fighting men for a gold earring from their spoils, he created a new idol, an un-god, to worship, repeating the sins of his fathers and perpetuating it to his sons.

“Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it here, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.”
Judges 8:27

Anger rises in me as I read these verses. Through God, Gideon broke the generational strongholds of idolatry his father committed. Through God, Gideon united Israel to fight and defeat enemy invaders. Gideon even destroyed the leaders who murdered his own brothers (Judges 8:19).

Warrior Lizard

Instead of returning to the altar he built and dedicated to the LORD, Gideon reached for the ornaments of gold. He turned back to his “lizard” ways, worshiping frozen gods made with human hands.

What if? What if Gideon would have walked with God in whole-hearted devotion rather than reluctant obedience. How different his story would end!

The End

We may draw many key principles from Gideon’s wins and losses.

God challenges me through Gideon’s failure in several ways:

  • Step into whatever open door God provides without excuses or hesitation.
  • Do not shun opportunities, ministries, or leadership roles that He opens.
  • Acknowledge and repent of my own “lizard” qualities of fear, insecurity, and misplaced dependence.
  • Keep my focus on Him, knowing He is the Source of all things good and great.
  • Never quit fighting this war between good and evil — whether before the battle, in the battle, or after the battle.
  • Pursue God with wholehearted devotion.
  • Do not depend on someone else to finish what God has called me start.
  • “Build a proper kind of altar to the LORD (my) God,” returning again, and again, to worship Him.

What about you? What challenges is God speaking to you through Gideon’s wins and losses?

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Overcome Spiritual Fatigue: Minister Out of the Overflow

Overcome Spiritual Fatigue

These last few months have been a sometimes-up-sometimes-down battle to overcome spiritual fatigue. It’s a battle I’m winning! Sensing the pressures, first emotionally and then physically, I realized too slowly the true intensity of the battles I was facing.

God desires that we minster out of the overflow of the Spirit, rather than a dry well of exhaustion. Recently, I knew I was due for a personal inventory check. It was time for me to lean into God’s promise through Isaiah.

“He gives strength to the weary and
increases the power of the weak.”
Isaiah 40:29

At times, we all become weary and weak. However, when fatigue lingers, becoming constant and limiting, we are wise to take heed and evaluate the cause.

Fatigue

“As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.”
Psalm 103:13-14

Dust is the humbling, present reality of these bodies we occupy.

Taking Inventory

My first step to overcome spiritual fatigue began with this basic inventory check:

  • healthy diet
  • adequate sleep
  • routine exercise

It sounds far too practical, but these daily consistencies are critical for overall health and vitality. Any lack in these areas seriously affects my ability to function and reach my potential. Unhealthy cravings, irritability or lethargy often trace back to imbalance in one of these three elements.

Lethargy

Jesus set such a wonderful example in caring for His disciples. When they were hungry, He provided food. He often drew them away from the demanding crowds for much needed rest.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ “
Mark 6:31

A healthy diet goes far beyond food. What am I filling my mind with? Am I pacifying, or medicating, an important need with a cheap substitute?

What about rest? Am I getting adequate sleep and guarding a “Sabbath” rest? (This has honestly been a struggle for me!) Exodus 31:17 tells us that God, who never runs low on energy, “rested and was refreshed” on the Sabbath. How much more important for us? Recreation gives God time to re-create and re-fresh us. Having fun is seriously important for stress packed lives.

Sometimes, to overcome spiritual fatigue, we must begin by taking care of physical and emotional needs.

The Problem

Because much of the work I do involves people in critically disturbing situations, it often drains my energy reserve and leaves me feeling fatigued. Some of what I witness is extremely dehumanizing. Ultimately, behind the scenes of each one of these lives lurks spiritual entities, attempting to “steal, kill and destroy” people whom Jesus loves deeply.

Sleep

Regardless of the situations which are making withdrawals from our inner reserve, God’s promise remains,

” ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ ”
Matthew 11:28-30

Just reading these words offers insight and breathing space. Whenever I’m feeling “weary and burdened” and the “yoke” weighs heavy, I know I’m carrying something God willingly offers to relieve me of. Only He possesses the strength and power to carry the weight of human oppression, injustice and indignity.

“Come to me,” Jesus invites.

The Solution

Don’t discard God’s solution as overly practical. “Come!”

Do you know Jesus Christ? Are you living in personal relationship with Him? Great!

“. . . He saved us through the washing of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
Titus 3:5

The renewal by the Holy Spirit is ours. Not just a onetime, special, salvation offer, but a continual opportunity to come to Him for a redo!

Tired

The solution to overcome spiritual fatigue also appears simple and practical. In coming, we:

  • spend time with Him daily in prayer, Bible reading and meditating on His Word
  • pursue a heart attitude of worship, quietly or expressively
  • adopt praise, being thankful to God in the midst of all situations and struggles

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles: they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:30-31

When you’re feeling more than a little fatigued and stumble, don’t panic. For those who “hope in the Lord,” it is a temporary condition.

Sit at Jesus’ feet, receiving and being filled anew with His Spirit, He will renew your strength. Just like exhaustion came gradually, often restoring takes process as well. Come! Drink deep from His reserve — drink again and again.

Resting

Overcome Spiritual Fatigue

To overcome spiritual fatigue might require one more step — identify unnecessary hindrances.

“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 . . .”
Hebrews 12:1-2

I’ve been asking God to examine my heart to expose any unresolved issues of unforgiveness, bitterness, critical judgements, selfishness or pride. Yours may be different, but these are often my tangle points. God clearly says the responsibility to “throw off” these weights belongs to us.

After this last step, the flow into our lives through Holy Spirit runs pure and strong. As we identify the problems and develop solutions to overcome spiritual fatigue, the overflow comes clear and constant.

Horse sleeping

How much better and more fulfilling to minister out of the overflow of Holy Spirit, rather than from the stagnant sludge of spiritual fatigue. Through these practical steps, God’s renewing and revitalizing pours through us and from us to others.

I hope my brief progress report on how to overcome spiritual fatigue encourages you. My dad would say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Whether we’re needing prevention or a cure, an ounce or a pound, God is able. Come!

LORD Almighty – Blessed is the One Who Trusts

LORD Almighty – Blessed is the One Who Trusts

The LORD Almighty promises to bless those who trust in Him. Psalm 84 has brought me encouragement, hope and help in suffering on many occasions. As a result, this psalm ranks among my favorites. The last verse creates a summary.

“LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.”
Psalm 84:12

LORD Almighty, is Yahweh Sabaoth, the LORD of Hosts — the God of armies or powers. This name declares God’s sovereignty over every army, both spiritual and natural. It was the name used when hope for deliverance through any other means vanished.

Each one of us, at one time or another, will have no one or nothing sufficient to hold to, except for God. This short psalm continues to acknowledge the LORD Almighty from beginning to end. The writer declares Him worthy of adoration and praise.

Wooden Doorway

When we, like the psalmist, put God first, sustain an awareness of Him through thick and thin, ups and downs, good times and bad, it is then that we discover Him to be truly sovereign over all — seeing us through to the finish.

LORD Almighty

Whether the psalm speaks of the exiles returning or the annual pilgrimage of worshipers to the temple is uncertain. No matter the occasion, these God-seekers possess one provoking attribute — a hunger for God alone.

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.”
Psalm 84:1,2

Every part of their being hungers for one thing, or rather One Person, the LORD. Long before Jesus’ words echoed across the Judean countryside, these pilgrims walked the talk,

“. . . Love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Matthew 22:37

Doorway Grand Entrance

They passionately longed to dwell with God forever, praising Him. Is that my longing? Is that the underlying hunger of my own heart? Does such a passionate desire drive me deeper into a personal relationship with God, not just when everything else fails but constantly declaring Him to be

“. . . my King and my God.”
Psalm 84:3

God my Strength

Along the trek between where they were to where they needed to go loomed a dreaded valley, the Valley of Baka. Baka means “weeping.”

Sound familiar? Smooth pavement may be our expectations, but rocky trails, steep climbs and deep valleys also crisscross our paths from where we are to where we need and want to go — God’s Presence.

Unwelcome but necessary; for them and us.

“As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.”
Psalms 84:6

In the valley, when weeping is all we know, we dig deep. We dig deep into the barren places, the drought-stricken hidden places of our souls, and find God present. The Living Water meets us, sustains us, refreshes us, and moves us closer to Himself.

Palace Entrance

These springs and pools of relief, that we discover in the LORD Almighty, dot our personal pathway. They become significant places of refreshing for all future travelers that follow behind us.

Oh how often God uses someone’s experience of venturing through a dark valley to bring life and light to others following the same path. The victory of one becomes the victory of many. The strength God offers to one becomes strength and hope for multiple others.

Strength to Strength

In the Valley of Weeping, little strength turns to great fortitude, weak strength becomes tenacious and strong. The strength of one creates a life link for others every bit as significant as a fresh pool of water in a wasteland.

“They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.”
Psalm 84:7

The Amplified Bible says, “They go from strength to strength, increasing in victorious power.” Isn’t that what we all desire? I pray that increased victorious power would be the aspiration of us all. Unfortunately, we want it without the weeping, without the valley, without the struggle.

Just like the pilgrims of old, we too must be willing to walk the difficult path. In the midst of the struggle, the LORD God Almighty draws close. The Passion Translation says that in the valley God gives, “them a brook of blessing filled with the rain of outpouring.”

Entrance Fountain

My heart cries out, “God if a valley is what it takes, lead me through the valley. If a valley will reveal your sovereignty, then prepare me for the valley. May I not miss it! May I not choose an easier way, a quick fix!”

I love this next verse in the Passion,

“Your wrap-around presence is our defense.”
Psalm 84:9

Now if only, we can maintain that imagery in the midst of our tears. The LORD Almighty wrapping His Presence around us, protecting, shielding, and comforting. Yes, Lord, wrap us in Your Presence.

God’s Presence

Any problems we face and all sacrifices made dims in God’s Presence. Just one moment with Him makes the journey worth it. Everything else fades behind us; the struggle seems all but forgotten.

“Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper
in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
Psalm 84:10

If you could choose anywhere to be, where would you go? What type of escape from work or responsibility floats through your thoughts with the notion?

Ancient Doorway

For those whose souls, hearts and flesh yearn for the living God, only one thought permeates theirs. “One day” with God, even if it is only from a distant “court”, surpasses all other desires. Even assuming the lowest position in God’s Presence, as a doorkeeper, outweighs the highest comforts the world could ever offer.

Why?

Grace and Favor

When one comes to know Him and experience Him in a personal way, He is both all one longs for and all one needs. The pilgrimage becomes worth it; the blessing of His Presence fully satisfying.

“For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield;
the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor
and [future] glory
(honor, splendor and heavenly bliss)!
No good thing will He withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11

Our relationship with the LORD Almighty isn’t ‘pie in the sky when we die.’ He releases the outpouring of His blessings to us continually, here and now.

The blessings of knowing God and being loved by Him endure beyond time. They can be summed up only one way, “No good thing will He withhold!”

Palace Stairway

What a promise! Now, I look back at my life remembering valleys of tears I feared I’d never escape and the toil of digging deep. Decades later, I continue to hunger for one thing — that moment in His Presence — sensing His voice.

LORD Almighty, blessed is the one
who trusts in you.”
Psalm 84:12

The LORD Almighty remains worthy of our trust. Yes, “blessed is the one who trusts, leaning and believing on You, committing and confidently looking to You and that without fear or misgiving.” (AMP)

Greater Things than These – The God of Greater and Greater

Greater Things than These – The God of Greater and Greater

God exceeds all expectation. What if greater things than ever before are coming our way? Greater than anything experienced to this point in history. The bible reveals sufficient evidence to cause us to believe that what lays ahead is far better than anything in preceding times.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me
will do the works I have been doing,
and they will do even greater things than these,
because I am going to the Father.”
John 14:12

The disciples witnessed Jesus perform many miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead, calm storms, cast out demons and feed multitudes.  He taught scripture with indisputable authority, confounding His strongest opponents. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, His followers continued to teach and perform supernatural miracles. They were ordinary men doing extra-ordinary works through the Holy Spirit.

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John
and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men,
they were astonished and they took note
that these men had been with Jesus.”
Acts 4:13

The only explanation for the supernatural works of God moving through natural man was they “had been with Jesus.”

Glory to Glory

The Kingdom of God refuses to remain stagnant. In fact, “The Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing despite great opposition. (Matthew 11:12) Everything originating through God contains the seed of reproductivity and increase.

Entering the Presence of God caused Moses’ face to radiate with God’s glory. All who looked at him were overcome with fear and awe. Paul tells the Corinthian church even greater glory is coming.

“And we all with unveiled face,
beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image
from one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

Far greater things — expressions of God’s glory — awaits us. Why? Because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

Strength to Strength

One of my favourite psalms talks about the people of God triumphing over adversity as they continue to pursue His face. Even in the Valley of Baka (Valley of Weeping), they leave behind places of refreshing for others who have found the journey difficult.

“They go from strength to strength,
until each appears before God is Zion.”
Psalm 84:7

Only God provides us with that kind of momentum, ever-increasing levels of spiritual strength. capable of propelling us to finish well. Listen closely to these words,

“He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
…walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40: 29-31

Although my running days are over, walking is one of my favorite pass times — especially when I can stroll outside the city limits. The truth is these frail bodies have a propensity to wear out and fail us. We all face varying degrees of personal limitation.

Yet, God gives His people a capacity to exceed any natural boundaries. He gave Elijah the ability to outrun a horse and chariot (1Kings 18:46). Moses endured two back-to-back forty-day fasts — something humanly impossible. Samson with supernatural strength wrestled a stone palace to the ground with one mighty push. The feats of David’s top warriors (2 Samuel 23) remain unparalleled in history.

But even in our mundane day-to-day activities, for “those who hope” in their God, He grants us the capability of exceeding normal limits. Though my personal examples don’t compare with these biblical counterparts, I have experienced times when beyond a doubt, God, and God alone, carried me through.

Faith to Faith

After Jesus had established His ministry in the surrounding territory, He returned to His hometown.

“And he did not do many miracles there
because of their lack of faith.”
Matthew 13:58

On another occasion, He was astonished by a centurion’s “great faith” — a faith greater than anyone else in Israel! (Matthew 8:10) The disciples asked Jesus to “increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5)

“For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God
is revealed from faith to faith,
as it is written,
‘The righteous shall live by faith.'”
Romans 1:17

The Good News of the Gospel awakens within believers an increasing progression of faith. The kind of faith that expands and deepens to even greater faith. Paul commended both the Corinthians and the Thessalonians for their faith that was “growing and growing.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3). Their ever-increasing faith became evident in the increase of love displayed toward each other.

Latter Is Better

I enjoy reading about the great revivals that have awakened and transformed the church over the generations. Faith sparking reading to be sure! However, even these remarkable revivalists were aware that what they experienced did not yet measure up to what is yet to come.

Whatever supernatural God encounters mankind has witnessed in the past pales in comparison to what is ahead!

“This is what the LORD Almighty says:
‘In a little while … I will fill this house with glory,’
says the LORD Almighty.
‘The silver and the gold is mine,’
declares the LORD Almighty.
‘The glory of this present house
will be greater than the glory of the former house,’
says the LORD Almighty.’…”
Haggai 2:6-9

The Lord God Almighty continues to be the God of greater and greater things. Our difficulty is

visualizing beyond former paradigms.
believing past the natural,
receiving God’s truth as infallible,
and responding to Holy Spirit incentives.

Isaiah declares

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it…”
Isaiah 43:18-19

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.”
Isaiah 44:3-4

As much as I am inspired by past revivals, they are but a foreshadow of what is ahead — a taste test of the main course to come. God promises such a mighty outpouring of His Spirit that the world cannot fathom. All things are possible for the “LORD Almighty!” 

Greater Things

I pray for an increased, faith-filled expectation for more. The world, my own flesh and the devil creates a gravitational pull that attempts to ground all such heavenly vision. As God begins to pour out Holy Spirit in greater measure, these counter forces work to diminish the effects of God’s live giving flow.

“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”
William Carey

God is prepared to pour out far more than even our greatest expectation. This greater glory will require even greater faith to lay hold of the promised out-pouring. Greater strength, wisdom and sensitivity will be needed to steward well what God is about to do.

“I also pray that you will understand
the incredible greatness of God’s power
for us who believe him.
This is the same mighty power
that raised Christ from the dead and
seated him in the place of honor
at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 1:19-20

Let’s get ready! Greater things are coming!

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The Sovereign LORD is My Strength – Habakkuk 3:19

The Sovereign LORD is My Strength – Habakkuk 3:19

Habakkuk anchored his life in Yahweh, the Sovereign LORD. God forms the solid foundation upon which he stands firm in strength and walks in power.

I’m not sure what it is like in other parts of the world, but in North America people of all ages spend countless hours and dollars at the gym in the effort to increase their strength. At one time, I was physically strong. Age has faded youthful vigor somewhat.

Yahweh never fades. Habakkuk teaches us that any authority, power, or strength we possess comes from God alone. He illustrates this reminder for us in a single sentence.

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”
Habakkuk 3:19

Yahweh

Yahweh is a proper name for God, like Susan or Michael. This Hebrew word emphatically declares “I AM”. His name presents to us a consistent reminder God is. He always was and He always will be!

God first identified Himself as Yahweh when He commissioned Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Suddenly and unexpectedly, God interrupted Moses’ quiet shepherding career. He introduced Himself as “the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (Ex 3:6)

God’s Voice trumpeted from a burning bush giving Moses seemingly impossible directive. Moses questioned God’s identity,

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.”
This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
I AM has sent me to you.'”
Exodus 3:14

“I AM” the infinite God, without beginning and end. Yahweh, unchangeable God, self-existent and independent of all others God. “I AM”, absolute God — absolute truth, purity, beauty, power, wisdom, and so much more.

Habakkuk acknowledged, “I AM” is all I need. The Sovereign LORD is more than enough.” Through multiple interviews I have conducted with people, who are powerful and effective in prayer, this constant theme is voiced, “God is enough!” He is sufficient!

My Strength

Listen to the Amplified Bible translation,

“The LORD God is my strength,
my personal bravery,
and my invincible army.”
Habakkuk 3:19

The Hebrew word Habakkuk uses is a “first person singular” noun —my strength.” It is one thing to know that God is the “I AM.” It is completely another thing to know the “I AM” personally — to understand that all He is, He is for me.

This kind of assurance and faith flows within secure, confident hearts. The “I AM” is mine! I am His! Divinely orchestrated relationship, fellowship, and communion!

The Sovereign LORD is “my strength” and more. That word represents not just personal strength and force, but also personal wealth, virtue and valor. The “I AM”, Yahweh, provides.

My Feet,

I don’t typically draw attention to my twisted, dusty, calloused feet. Yet, God uses a beautiful analogy to describe feet yielded to His leading

“…he makes my feet
like the feet of a deer…”
Habakkuk 3:19

I have always enjoyed viewing wildlife. So, from very young, I would walk alone through the prairie bluffs and woods surrounding my home. Once, I came across a large herd of white-tail deer in rutting season. Even though I knew it was quite dangerous to be so close, I hid downwind hiding behind a clump of willows. I hoped to watch them without being noticed.

A large buck, sensing danger, approached my location snorting and flinging dust in the air with his sharp hooves. He shook his broad antlers aggressively challenging my presence. Mesmerized by his strength and beauty, I held my breath, sure he could hear the pounding of my heart.

Suddenly, with the slightest flick of his tail, he gave the warning signal. The entire herd turned, leaping over fences with ease. The lightness with which they carried themselves in great smooth strides captivated my heart. Their speed and agility stunning!

Though I have had many encounters with white-tail deer since that time, this memory has been seared into my mind forever.

Habakkuk’s heart and mind were imprinted with many memories of God’s working in his life. “He makes my feet like the deer” paraphrased says, “God has made me, put within me, and positioned me with agility, strength, ease to maneuver the times and seasons I am walking in.”

He unashamedly gave all credit and glory to God.

Enables Me

There are many opportunities before me that I feel competent, equipped and able to accomplish. Others feel overwhelming!

“…he enables me to tread on the heights.”
Habakkuk 3:19

Let’s back up a bit to get a clearer picture of the ground Habakkuk was treading on. Among the long list, we find violence, injustice, destruction, strife, and conflict.

“Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.”
Habakkuk 1:4

The situation surrounding Habakkuk caused him to cry out for God’s intervention, raising the trumpet sound of warning to the nation. The conditions within Israel appeared hopelessly impossible.

But God! The presence of Yahweh, the “I AM”, enabled Habakkuk to rise, “up, over and against” any opposition, any “height”, or high thing, that might stand in his way.

Tread on the Heights

Read in the Amplified Version again,

“He…will make me walk
(not to stand in terror, but to walk)
and make (spiritual) progress,
upon my high places
(of trouble, suffering or responsibility).”
Habakkuk 3:19

Honestly, some days just getting out of bed and choosing joy, feels like a great accomplishment. Leaping like deer and mountain climbing are unfathomable. But when the Sovereign LORD is present, nothing — absolutely nothing — can stop or impede our progress.

Habakkuk says,
“When conflict and strife raise their ugly head,
when destruction seems inevitable,
or violence and injustice overwhelm,
the Sovereign LORD
‘makes me walk’!”

The mountains of trouble, suffering, and overwhelming responsibility become the training ground for “height” walkers. This is perfect ground for spiritual progress.

As I look back over my life, I see that it was in the darkest moments, the most difficult circumstances, that God was the closest and doing His greatest work in my life.

Sovereign LORD

Yahweh, the “I AM”, remains true to His character and faithful to His Word. What He has done for others, He is present to do for each of us.

Joshua declared at the end of his life, “The Sovereign LORD, Yahweh, kept every one of the promises He made.” (Josh 21:45) I could certainly echo both these and David’s words,

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble,
they will never fall,
for the LORD holds them by the hand.
Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.”
Psalm 37:23-25

In a single sentence Habakkuk articulates the strength and agility God provides for us to be able to move from under-dog to overcomer. No matter what we are facing, God is enough. The “I AM” is present in every situation equipping us with power to prevail.

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”
Habakkuk 3:19

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